Of all the shows I’ve watched, there were only two that truly stood out the most. The first was Hyouka, for it’s overall excellence in animation, bouts of creative storytelling and a cast I could truly care for. Jinrui however has only of these traits (creative storytelling) but boy, it knows exactly how to tell a story of both the decline of humanity on a literal basis (population) and their decline in every moral sense of the word. Jinrui was the kind of show I yearned for: a kind of dark humor and satire that I wish there was more of, being a very cynical person myself just like Watashi.
** Reviews for Tari Tari and Gundam AGE will be up soon, maybe Natsuyuki Rendevous too. **
I had no clue what this show was about – something about a guy with the funny name of Romeo Tanaka, something about his small, yet dedicated fanbase and something about cute fairies with dark ambitions that put every cliche villain in shame. Now the first thing that has to be addressed: this isn’t the kind of humor you’ll see in shows like Binbougami ga where it’s straight comedy, this is the kind of humor if you think other people’s misfortunes and shortcomings are fun to laugh at. Yes, this is a show for us cynics – you’ll either love this or if you’re an optimistic person, you’ll outright be disgusted by this show’s brutally mean-spirited take on humanity’s decline. That being said, while there was some glimpses at a happy outlook on life, this show was grounded in it’s bleak yet hilarious view that humanity has declined in more ways than just population-wise.
Who would have though a show could single-handedly tackle issues like false advertising in consumer products, fujoshi craziness, the rise and decline of a political establishment, space exploration, bullying, time travel and subtle jabs at religion? And on top of all of that, this show occasionally found time to put very clever puns in some of these issues: episode 1’s bread incident. “Pan” is the Japanese word for bread, the bread died….dead pan. Get it? There’s also jabs at real life events (Pioneer and Voyager space crafts), and jabs at the manga industry (The Faeries’ Subculture). Honestly, Jinrui accomplished so much in creating so many different examples on the moral decline of humanity, along with its near accuracy in subtle puns and not-so-subtle jabs at corporations, Fujoshis, sci-fi nerds and a whole host of other victims, that it inadvertently left out something that keeps it from being a perfect A in my book: characterization.
Now I’m not sure if “left out” would be the best phrase to describe Jinrui’s biggest weakness – heck, I’m not even sure if the word ‘weakness’ should be applied here. For some, this lead them to proclaim that because they couldn’t sympathize with any of the characters, what would be the point in watching? But here’s what I think: the characters weren’t meant to be loveable, or people you should be rooting for. This frustrated me as well, but the main draw of the show is not the characters but rather what’s happening all around them. Humanity has declined, a new race takes over and the repercussions of the faeries’ arrival are the main focus. Did I want more Grandfather? More Y? More Assistant? Yes to all of those, but that wasn’t really the main point: we got just enough of their backgrounds to get a good idea of who they are, and while I definitely wanted to see more Assistant, I was pleased enough how each character got a fair amount of screentime.I’m confident in calling Watashi the Kyon of this series. They’re both ridiculously witty, full of interesting ideas, act as the narrator and surrounded by a bunch of freaks. These are the kind of characters that I like the most, and to have such a protagonist lead this extremely bizarre and surreal series was a genius move. This show was like Haruhi Suzumiya, minus the distracting moe and loud annoying title character. This show even did a sort of Endless Eight during the time travel/banana peel two-parter. Honestly, I didn’t expect much of Jinrui and I was rewarded with a wildly creative story of bread suicide, the power of fujoshi, time traveling, jabs at religion and the overall middle finger this show gives to the optimists that humanity can change for the better. Maybe it can change in the real world, but Jinrui will (and should) stay being the bizarre and imaginative world it is.
Animation – 8/10: Very bright, very crayon-like and very much what you’d see in a storybook. The manga episodes really were full of some nice animation, along with the episode where Watashi becomes God of a new Faerie kingdom.
Story – 13/15: Wildly creative, Jinrui’s (almost) reverse storytelling may have been a double edged sword: It fits well with the weirdness and chaotic nature of the series, but for the longest time you expected a bit more depth in character that came pretty much at the end of the series.
Characters – 16/20: Watashi earns a place in my top favorites (notoriously hard to get into..) on the basis of her pure snarkiness, deadpan humor, excellent job as the narrator and being quite the complex character.
Sound – 8/10: No matter what people say, I love the OP. But I LOVE the ending even more: beautiful visuals, solid vocals and a very creepy message if you pay very close attention to the imagery, such as shots of the Taj Mahal and the Eiffel Tower. Soundtrack did its job well, but the voice acting was pretty super.
Enjoyment – 39/40: Jinrui was a series that I really, really liked. The bleak, satire and dark humor are things I want to see much more in anime, being a pessimist and immune to the ‘feels’ of certain anime and shows that are artificially sweet and full of manufactured rainbows. I know some people are totally against such pessimism and negativity, especially in anime, but this is something that personally clicked with me.
Total Score – 84/100