Humanity has declined? Nah, humanity has already declined; humanity is dead. Or at least that’s one interpretation of where this anime is going. The other, and an equally possible alternative, is that humanity is indeed in a steady decline but it can redeem itself and eventually be saved. The reason why and how both these understandings of Jinrui wa Suitai Shimashita exist is due to the ability of the audience to view this anime through two completely opposite perspectives and arrive at entirely different outcomes. In order to understand the enigmatic message of this anime accurately, we must first ask ourselves this question: is Jinrui wa Suitai Shimashita pro-industry or anti-industry?
Depending on your own personal philosophy and idea of industry, you may already have an answer in your head. The way Jinrui has progressed thus far, it’s presented the issue in a way that almost forces the viewer to realize the circumstances at hand and create their own opinion on the matter. However, while it places this dire situation before our eyes, it doesn’t tell us what decision we should be making. That is, it’s open to interpretation on how to understand the industry within Jinrui and thus, as a consequence, understand the nature of the decline of humanity. Let’s start by taking a glance at what I assume is the less popular of the two options: the pro-industry side.
By viewing Jinrui wa Suitai Shimashita as a pro-industry anime, the first step is to determine that humanity declined through its excessive and wasteful consumer lifestyle. And while this lifestyle is an effect of industrial production, the industry does not dictate how the consumer behaves and ended up at this stage through the means of the previous and current social structure. What industry does, however, is provide for the humans in ways they cannot for themselves. Humans depend on the industry to feed them through any methods possible because they cannot fend for themselves. If we take the villagers as examples of modern humanity, we can see they refuse to slaughter chickens for meat yet they want to be provided it nonetheless. This is where industry can step in and save humanity. With the decline of industry saw the decline of humanity, so logically, the rebirth of industry would see a similar parallel in humanity. Through this perspective, we can see that Jinrui wa Suitai Shimashita is a pro-industry anime. And not only that, but you can rationalize this position further.
The series has also incorporated symbolism through that can also be interpreted as a pro-industry message. Perhaps the most memorable of these would that little dance that Sensei and the fairies perform in the opening credits. The dance is incredibly simple (and awkward) with a push, reset, kick back, reset, and repeat. This motion shares a striking similarity to the motions of a piston. And with everyone performing the dance in perfect harmony, it resembles a machine vigorously working, producing a sight to behold coupled with all those tasty treats and fairies flying every which way. Another suggestion toward the pro-industrial perspective is how reluctant Sensei was about the helping the villagers slaughter the chicken but was eager to discover and explore the factory. Furthermore, if you believe this perspective of a pro-industry approach to saving humanity, then you must also discount most of the humor pointed at the industry regarding its unknowledgeable employees, abysmal products, and the skinned chickens running the show as just humor and not a criticism of industrial production and management. After all, the humor is spread around among all aspects of humanity in this anime.
The other perspective on Humanity Has Declined is the anti-industrial perception, one which blames industry for the decline in humanity and its inevitable death. One can assume that the current consumer lifestyle is a direct result of industrial production. The humans became lethargic and indifferent with the ways in which humanity sustained itself and became reliant upon industry to provide for them without requiring an ounce of thought or effort. The decline of humanity mirrored the decline of industry because humans evolved to become dependent upon industry as a means of sustaining life. As a result of industry, humanity is where it’s at right now. While some may argue that humanity is already dead, a community of zombies who exist without the knowledge, capacity, or desire to sustain themselves in their current situation. There is, however, a way to rescue humanity and that is to become self-reliant and independent of outside influences. If humanity is set on surviving, it must first shed its previous lifestyle and rediscover what humanity is all about. And the first step in doing so would be to rid itself of relying on industry and the consumer lifestyle and begin fending for itself with a new mindset and collective social personality.
Additionally, there other facets of the anime which support this perspective. Perhaps the most obvious is how the industry was portrayed in this episode: dimwitted employees unsure of how anything works and unable to do anything about it, products of inferior quality (and probably safety, too), and a pack of headless chickens managing everything with an intention of ruling over humanity through deceit and violence. Even though everything it performed in a humorous light, it is clear that these subjects are criticisms of the current industrial model. It couldn’t be more obvious unless it had a subtitles saying “Industry is corrupt” across the bottom the entire time. Likewise, the rampage through the industry which saw the deaths of many processed chickens is a critique on the perceived notion of how unsafe industry is. Though in our current society where safety is a priority, the belief is still that industry is dangerous, unsanitary, and unconcerned, which is why the chickens were able to be killed in such simple manners. I feel anything from The Jungle by Upton Sinclair would do well here (but alas, I have no read that novel). Similarly, humanity is suspicious of the appearance of processed and canned goods despite the fact that they’re starving. This can be interpreted as a negative of industry as the people are unwilling to use their products for whatever reason despite them essentially needing it to survive. That am I’m sure you could work in some employment quip in here, too. And even without that or any number of other additional criticisms, a strong anti-industry stance exists in Jinrui wa Suitai Shimasthia.
So, of these two perspectives, which is the correct one for Jinrui wa Suitai Shimashita? I belong to the camp that believes the anime has a strong anti-industry message to it, though I would not be surprised to find it has a pro-industry side to it as well. I don’t believe these opposites are mutually exclusive and that the true criticism of humanity comes from both perspectives. However, this episode further entrenched my rationale for why this anime is anti-industry as for the decline in humanity. Should the anime reveal itself to be the opposite or some combination of the two, then I’ll consider myself surprised. However, my current understanding of the anime is that it is anti-industry and that humanity has declined as a result of industry. Whether this is the true message of the anime or not has yet to be discovered.
I found the use of a kazoo to be brilliant in how the headless chickens communicated. Though the biologist within me was writhing in pain, I enjoyed how the anime used the kazoo to give the chickens a bizarre voice for which to further differentiate them from the humans and fairies. Had it gone with a sophisticated accent, as I expected from a cigar-smoking CEO, then it would’ve been a more literal depiction of industrial management and been somewhat typical and tame. But Humanity Has Declined is far from those norms, differentiating itself from every other anime in almost every possible opportunity. While I’ve heard various voice adjustments used in anime before to create silly or intimiating voices, I’ve never heard nor ever would’ve imagined the use of a kazoo to portray a unique voice. And I couldn’t imagine how much fun the voice actors had playing around with those toys in the studio, too. And with that added touch to the chickens, I think I’ve been thoroughly impressed with every aspect of this anime thus far.