The shows that have been airing this season (summer 2012) have always been the standard for almost every anime season. Pretty girls, boobs, robots (not trying to describe one show here), high school related plots, and many others probably listed at the TvTropes section for anime. But one show has piqued my interest, and likely most of the current anime followers (*cough* weeaboos *cough*) had caught on also. It’s Jinrui wa Suitai Shimashita (or Jintai for short), from the light novels written by Romeo Tanaka and animated by the anime studio AIC ASTA.
I am in no position to talk about Romeo Tanaka and/or his previous works. But for a brief background, he used to write scenarios for adult visual novels. You might have seen them if you browse 4chan frequently, especially around /a/ or /h/. You know, that picture of a school girl being choked. Or the same girl being threatened with a knife. Or another girl, clinging on a tree branch, looking scared as hell… Oh wait, you haven’t seen those yet? Well, let me do that for you.
Come here little kitty
Anyway, one thing I have been noticing as of late is the recent rise of eroge game writers participating in actual anime production. And it has been a positive thing so far. People like Gen Urobuchi have been getting attention from the industry and the fans lately, and people like Jun Maeda are already participating in works outside visual novels. But I digress.
About two weeks ago when I watched the trailer, I found it not that impressive, and pretty much standard anime. Colorful backgrounds, fairies (a topic usually brushed on in anime, along with turning of several mythos into little girls), and a pretty lass with short hair (or long hair, depending on which part of the trailer you were watching). I was pretty much passive throughout until halfway, when suddenly a piece of bread showed up, with arms and legs, and a cute smiling face. And then I thought… Cinnamon Bun? But I wasn’t doing any justice since the latter is butt-ugly, so I later fixed my original observation with someone relatively similar (B-MO), and then very next thought I had after that was none other than…Japanese Adventure Time!
Poor old Cinnamon Bun
I mean it makes sense right? Anyway for those who has no idea what Adventure Time is, it is an American cartoon about a boy and a dog, created along with this simple cartoon style of cast and characters. It’s also one of the current shows popular within the internet community, just like that pony show and that game about the thrones thing (if you happen to not get the sarcasm, I also watch both of them)
So you may ask, where do I come from with this observation? First of all, Adventure Time is quite famous for its surreal humor, and sometimes, outright disturbing scenes, coupled with these cute, childish characters. From a cute scene of a boy fist-pumping with his dog, to a horrible scene of hell demons with their organs shown cross-section and/or decapitated candy people. This was helped mostly from the cooperation of some of the staff from other surreal cartoons (notably Derek Drymon, creative director of the first Spongebob seasons and, Fred Seibert, producer of almost all good cartoons).
Now going back to the other show. Like I was saying earlier, Romeo Tanaka has a somewhat notorious reputation for his works on several adult games, primarily Cross Channel and Yume Miru Kusuri, which many have been regarding as one of the more edgy (not the tentacle-rape kind of edgy) thought-provoking and good suspense visual novels out there. Not that his signature style has been obvious in the Jintai anime, but it becomes so once you’ve seen it.
First, Jinrui wa Suitai Shimashita in English literally means “Mankind has Declined”. Provided the light-hearted narrative and the colorful style the show has, it says a LOT. Naming a show about a sweets girl and fairies “mankind is almost destroyed” gives the show a very disturbing, eerie vibe. And the best thing about it is, it is not even embarassed by it. Some other shows have at least the decency to hide the real premise of show by its cute title.
Narutaru? Must be like Naruto, amirite?
But comparing Jintai to something like Narutaru is a stretch. This show is NOT a deconstruction by all means, but in a way it kinda is. I mean look at the main character. She is referred to in the show as the “United Nations Compensation Commission’s mediator between humans and fairies”. So my question is, why the need to slap the “United Nations Compensation Commission’s mediator” part, where a simple “she can fairy talk” could work? And she is a little girl for Christ’s sake. Why is the show doing this, while being wrapped up in this silly magical-like universe at the same time? And don’t get me even started on the magical part.
That’s so typical UN
Why the flipping fuck are those fairies always smiling, even when they’re displeased, or sad? Listen, last year had been pretty traumatic for me with regards to cute characters being all overly obsequious and obtrusive at the same time. What happens if you don’t feed the fairies the sweets they need? Will they cause mankind to even further decline? I am still not sure. And while Jintai has been giving all these subversive psychological undertones, it’s also doing the surreal part very… Adventure Time-like, for a lack of a better word. Anthropomorphic bread bleeding all over with strawberry? Anthropomorphic dead skinned headless chickens running around? It’s only the first episode, and I believe we ain’t seen nothing yet.
Stares into your soul
I wasn’t prepared for this
But make no mistake, Jintai is no way a carbon copy of Adventure Time, neither a comedy, nor generally a cartoon made for children. Well, at least that’s what the target demographic of the light novels say. You can’t even compare this and Adventure Time in terms of dialogue and humour. This show is much slower paced, too story-driven, kinda grim-dark, and I might even say too “anime” for normal people. And I don’t even think Jintai has all the things Western audiences usually expect in their cartoons. But I can say, after watching, I’m certain Jintai has evoked into me the similar reactions I had after watching Adventure Time. This sad yet colorful post-apocalyptic setting that most wouldn’t think of, let’s say, Fist of the North Star. This refreshing, almost magical world with these innocent looking creatures, and humans that don’t paint the words “mankind is almost dead omg where da fuk is my goddamn bazooka” all over their faces. So you know where I’m at least coming from with the analogy.
And Jintai presents itself in a way that is pretty much like Adventure Time – earnest, childish yet mature, light-hearted yet thought-provoking, colorful, and has a style that doesn’t make your mother think you were watching porn middle of the day. It’s a nice fresh of air from watching all that boob-jiggling fanservice, half-assed mediocre premises that couldn’t even end a paragraph without uttering the words “high school” or “transfer student”, and all other things that made anime what it is now, for better or worse. But as much as I want praise Jintai, we have yet to see what the rest of the show has to offer, so as of now I can only give my take on the first episode.
But I believe this show will not disappoint me… hopefully.