Yes, Irina had a much better titled blog post about this long time ago. You should read her review for the same reason you should read all her posts. Because it’s pretty great. It’s what got me interested in watching this show in the first place. Of course, there is a little bit more to this story as well. I first watched a few episodes before Sakuracon this past year in a screening room before opening ceremonies. It was one of those “I need something to keep myself distracted for a little bit” sorts of things. Since I’ve heard about this anime from Irina, I wanted to know more about it and that’s where I watched the first three episodes. That inevitably lead me to buying the DVD at the con along with five mecha dvds. So thank you Irina for stopping myself from being all mecha.
Humanity Has Declined takes place in a world where, you guessed it, human kind is barely holding on to their existence on Earth. There is a very vague sense of an after war sort of feel that permeates through out the air. Possibly the usual post apocalyptic thing. Or it could probably be because I’ve been watching too much mecha anime recently. Again. Forever. But anyway, cities no longer exist because there are barely enough people in the world to live in villages, electricity is scarce and rare, technology is mostly unknown, and food is hard to come by. It’s clearly evident that our time on Earth is almost done. On top of that exchange our fairies, or the new humanity. Smaller human beings looking creatures with no good sense of morality from our limited human perspective. It’s that clash of human morality and whatever the fairies are up that makes Humanity Has Declined works. It’s a great and creative premise honestly.
It’s really hard to carve out a singular plot in Humanity Has Declined really. Not only because this is a light novel adaptation that is build from different arcs in it, but also because it’s constructed from mostly two episode arcs that don’t have a linear flow from one arc to the next. I think there is some genius to this construction though. The first arc is a good set piece to launch the series off. It introduces us to the world, gives us a central point of conflict with humanity falling because of the lack of meat, and the relationship between our lead point of view girl with pink hair, mediator and the fairies. It’s the most normal sort of arc and makes you question what is going on and how things got here. Questions that are sort of answered as the series continues. Possibly not in the way you would expect it to.
With that cleverness of it’s construction comes it’s humor. I think there is two ways to describe this humor by being incredibly witty and intellectual with some cynicism on the side. From my personal view, Humanity Has Declined is an analysis of humanity from a writer who doesn’t like it. When I showed my friend the first four episodes, he remarked that this show is what happens when the only people who are left on Earth are politicians. Both seem accurate to me honestly because I’m sure that both are the same in some way. Each arc is completely different from the others in what the story is, what they want to say and how they say it, but that solid and clever humor is there because our mediator is there to react to it all in a similar way. She’s kind of great by the way. Of course, that’s the human side of the equation.
Another central point of the comedy comes from the undefinable morality that comes from the faeries. They do have that sense of their existence as only plot elements to drive episodes forward in some way and that’s true, but I would go with the argument that the faeries are magical creatures while we aren’t. How are we supposed to define them in a way that makes sense to us when they are higher level beings? With that said, whatever craziness they pull off each episode is pretty great. Especially when it takes some time to put together what happened. Did they create a food company that went beyond their control this time? Did they throw in our protagonist and friends (?) into a manga where they can only escape when their ratings are too low? What anime is this show referencing today? What about that one time when they created an entire country around our beloved mediator? Even the normal reactions between them and our mediator are laughable because their responses are so off the wall and wonderful. How mediator can survive being the connecting points between them and humanity is beyond me honestly. She’s got guts.
When it comes to character names, this is finally a show that gives me simple names that I can easily remember and don’t have to look up on the internet to be correct. Honestly guys, I’m bad at names in real life and in fictional media. With that said, I love all of these characters. Even if they’ve already had their arcs in the beginning of the show and are fully realized. Then again, that’s sort of true because their arcs appear later on. I’ve already talked about how Mediator is our lead and I really do like her. She has a fantastic sense of humor, incredibly witty, and is extremely shy when encountering most human beings. So basically, relatable here. Mediator is much more attuned to faeries the anyone else. She reminds me a lot like Kino from Kino’s Journey where she is our well characterized reference point in places unknown. Wherever she goes, we always have some semblance on how she’s going to react. That marks her a good reference or anchor point.
Then we have other characters that make a recurring entrance in the series. Mediator also has her grandpa who is her boss. Grandpa is kind person that lets mediator do crazy things, but can also be strict and even when mediator goes too far in her gags and craziness. He also loves cleaning the guns on his wall that he never uses and has a love of antiques, but then I know a lot of old people who like antiques. He’s always a fantastic presence to have on screen because he’s just a lot of fun. Assistant, another character in Mediator’s group, is also there who is a short blonde boy with a Hawaiian shirt who never talks. He just helps out whenever he can because he’s taken a liking to Mediator much more then other people. Lastly, the character that shows up quite a bit, though not as much as the others, is Y. She is this pushy, self obsessed girl who loves Boy’s Love manga and is very out going. Somehow mediator is friends with her if you can call it that. Y is another fun sort of presence, which is why I’m glad she isn’t there all the time. Over using Y would be a crime.
Humanity Has Declined’s animation is almost non existent. Some people would say that’s a negative thing and it’s a little bit, but I don’t think that diminishes anything the series is more about talking then anything. I’m honestly ok with it all being still frames with good dialogue to keep it going. Especially since those still frames are wonderful to look at. The faeries do look the same from a distance and the human designs can look the same here. For one thing, there are a lot of faeries to draw and sometimes human characters look the same on purpose depending on what arc you watch. That simplification of art is a good and bad thing here. The simple art and character designs and fairy tale colors really work here too to provide a very cool atmosphere to the show . Once again, it reminds me of the 2003 Kino’s Journey in a good way because that’s Kino’s Journey’s aesthetic too. This series is pulling off similar things to what that series did and it’s great.
What can I do here other then recommend Humanity Has Declined. Of course, that comes with an asterisk. If you like watching with a dry, British sort humor to it, then you will like this series. You know, things like Red Dwarf and Monty Python. If you like those things, you might miss the necessary British accent because a dub doesn’t exist, but Humanity Has Declined is in your alley. Otherwise, try it out and see if it’s to your tastes. If it’s not, that’s ok. Not all of it’s elements are going to appeal to everyone. Though, I know that I had a blast watching it myself. There is just something interesting, relatable, and wonderful about it that I liked. Once again, thank you for writing about this series Irina. I’ve had a wonderful time getting to know this series.
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