Title: Humanity Has Declined aka Jinrui wa Suitaishimashita
Company: AIC A.S.T.A
Format: 12 episodes
Dates: 2 Jul 2012 – 17 Sep 2012
Synopsis: The end is nigh as humanity struggles through an unforgiving post-apocalyptic world. Amidst this slow decay, a young girl serves as a mediator between mankind and fairies, which are seemingly cute, happy go lucky creatures in search of fun and sweets. Though they are pure of heart, the fairies can be quite mischievous in a manner troublesome to humans.
Dark humor: Genuinely hilarious.
Set-up to the punch line: A slow and tedious march.
Social commentary: Not much in the way of solutions but it certainly does probe into the problems.
Cynicism is in season with Humanity Has Declined. This highly unusual “comedy” about a UN mediator tackling the problems of a slowly crumbling society quietly pokes fun at the predictable idiosyncrasies of humans before suddenly shanking it with a deeply cynical joke. Instead of coating mankind’s fall from grace with drab grays and gothic blacks, this anime bursts forth bloomy colors complete with cute fairies sharply contrasting rainbows and sunshine with the fact that humanity has declined.
Conflict is one of the primary spices of life, and this anime doesn’t have any for extended periods of time. As a result, the show can be quite boring at times. There is no overarching narrative, the characters lack chemistry and very little happens on screen aside from a UN mediator doing her day job. The animation is subdued, and the music, while effective, doesn’t particularly stand out, making the experience even more dull. Without grandiose motions, flowery backgrounds and all the pizzazz normally found in anime, the slog of everyday events seem downright banal. What prevents the series from becoming the preferred anime equivalent of a sleeping aid is the ultimate punch line, which is absolutely hilarious.
Forget muffled chuckles at a Family Guy-esque reference — Humanity Has Declined can draw genuine, lung-depleting laughs. The show seems like the most boring thing in the world one moment, and then it goes into such extreme and unusually funny expressions of insanity the next. The genius of the show is that the jokes aren’t just there for humor’s sake; there’s a disturbing undercurrent of truth to the jabs at humanity… or it could be that the jokes themselves are unsettling. Due to the cute facade the show puts on, it’s hard to tell. What’s for certain is that anything in this show’s world has a dark underbelly. Like a de-motivational poster, there will always be someone or something that gives a moment of true clairvoyance in the most cynical manner possible. Though the jokes may take a snore and a half to develop, they do ultimately hit hard with their dark absurdity.
Humanity Has Declined is a rather rare beast of the medium. Much like how Higurashi no Naku Koro ni takes the concept of saccharine cuteness and contrasts it with horror, Humanity Has Declined contrasts its bright fluffy world with the dark secrets underlying it and plays the whole thing for laughs. The problem is that all the show has is this one gimmick, and it doesn’t always work. There are several episodes that are brilliant, but there are others that whiff completely. The ones that miss are just as memorable as the ones that hit, because sitting through twenty-odd minutes of boredom for no payoff is absolutely torturous.
If you want something that strays off the beaten path and does something truly unusual, Humanity Has Declined is worth a watch. Though the show fails to be engaging at times, a little bit of patience will allow you to experience the bastard child of cuteness and cynicism.
The Rating: 6
Reviewed by: Shadowmage