Jinrui wa Suitai Shimashita – 4

This is the introductory paragraph for a blog post about Jinrui wa Suitai Shimashita.  The purpose of this section is to establish a subject for the majority of the post while providing the reader with general background information on the topic.  The next sentence usually helps by beginning to specify a particular theme for the post or to provide an opinion from the writer based on their reaction to this episode.  After that, the paragraph concludes with… actually, screw that, not doing a meta post because this episode of Jinrui was meta.  Also, someone who posts on time probably already did it, so no point in… right, stop being meta.  Okay, instead, let’s discuss something neglected: the assorted perspectives in Jinrui wa Suitai Shimashita.

Perspectives play a vital role in storytelling, providing a specific scope and angle to the story which allows it to unfold the way the author intends.  Every character has their own perspective based on their knowledge, involvement, and other factors.  As you could guess, a story told through the point of the view of the villain (with all the knowledge of the situation and just sitting back and watching their cronies die in every episode) would be uninteresting compared to that of the protagonist.  There’s also the third-person view which generally shifts around a few character perspectives allowing for more flexibility and variability with the characters and story.  Many anime follow this third-person perspective pattern, allowing for scenes to be transitioned away from the protagonist to develop the story elsewhere, but Jinrui wa Suitai Shimashita follows Watashi (or Sensei) around giving it a distinctive first-person perspective feel.  And no, this doesn’t mean we see the anime through her eyes but that we are around her the entire time and thus, the story is specifically told through her character.

Watashi’s perspective drastically influences the story and the setting.  As she is the mediator for this humble village, we see her witness all the events occurring in this town through that of the town authority, something akin to an overarching view of the town and its people.  Additionally, she also interacts with the fairies who, after seeing them run away from Y in this episode, are figured to be unseen to everyone in the anime but Watashi, her grandfather, and Assistant (and those people in the factory).  With her impressive intelligence, indifference, slightly lethargic behavior, and general disdain for her fellow peers, Watashi is able to paint a negative image over the village and mankind in general.  From her perspective, humanity has declined.  Her criticisms and quips go unnoticed to everyone but the audience but she generally has a disapproval over most of the happenings in the series.  And with that, we get the title of the anime and receive this general feel for most of the series.  But what if the perspective was shown through another character, how would that affect the anime?

Let’s take Y for example since she has received the most screentime of anyone not named… erm… well… that’s not Watashi.  Y has a characteristically different outlook on life than Watashi as seen through her motivation, energy, entrepreneurship, and optimism.  Had the anime followed her around rather than Watashi, we’d have the series shift toward something positive.  If Jinrui’s perspective were shown exclusively through Y, we’re find appreciation in mankind’s achievements through the social revolution of manga, bringing various people together of a similar passion for entertainment and discourse, as well as enjoying the time spent within the manga by trying to improve it through various tricks-of-the-trade.  The comedy might suffer since it would be directed less at herself and more at the others in the cast, especially since many instances of comedy come through Watashi’s remarks.  Furthermore, we’d never see the fairies since they always disappear or remain undetectable to Y, making the series a bit more mysterious but much less adorable.  Oh, and since Y never sees the fairies, we’d assume Watashi has some severe schizophrenia or mental conditions since she sees Watashi talk to nothing from time to time (actually, I hope that happens sometime during the finale where we discover the fairies never actually existed).  Either way, Y would put a positive or emotional spin on every scene in the anime, thus giving the anime a very different feel than what we see currently.  Hell, we may not even understand the name Humanity Has Declined anymore because Y would never illustrate the anime in that way, especially with her success in bringing people together with their love of manga.  The perspective of Jinrui wa Suitai Shimashita greatly affect our perception of these events, so it can be expected that switching it around from character to character would radically alter the series.  You could expect it to be different through the grandfather, the Assistant, or anyone else we see.  With everyone having a unique perspective on the events and story of Jinrui, we can better understand how Watashi influences the anime for us.

But what of that third-person perspective, the one that bounces around with the characters and shows the story in a highly complex and structured fashion?  Well, the series would be less consistent than with one viewpoint, but the varying perspectives would allow for more diversity in how the various characters interpret their situation.  The series could still be dominated by Watashi and her pessimism, but we’d get various spikes in optimism, energy, excitement, or whatnot depending on how the scenes are portrayed.  This style could still be effective, but it wouldn’t be nearly as complete, informative, or entertaining as it is with just following Watashi around.  There is a reason why the anime has selected to follow Watashi around as a protagonist rather than switching between character to character and perhaps it is because the story could be told the way the author wants with it centered around Watashi.

And what of that perspective of humanity?  Would they agree that they’ve declined?  Well, the general feel of the population on their situation, regardless of the characters we’ve seen thus far, would probably disagree with Watashi’s perspective on humanity.  Mankind would probably point to the decrease in technology and farming as a negative but point out the entertainment and free-time are nice perks to the current society.  Not only would they choose to ignore the declining birthrate (uh, how many years in the future is this?) but they’d elect to say that their societies are peaceful and easygoing, showing only minimal amounts of stress.  Of course, humanity is generally stupid and lazy, too, so you’d have to take this perspective with a grain of salt.  Also, this perspective would be poor to direct an anime from since it’s so general and basic, if not banal, so it is understandable to pair the camera with Watashi since she is far more amusing, knowledgeable, and interesting than just about anyone else in the anime.

So, what does this all mean?  Well, by dissecting the perspective and attempting to understand its structure and purpose, we can see how Watashi’s perspective and personality influence the series.  It’s ambiguous at this point on humanity’s decline since it is relative and rather obscured.  Watashi’s pessimism characterizes the general situation they’re in as negative one, one in which humanity has declined, but Y would argue against her point given what she’s seen and done in the anime thus far.  What we can take from here and move forward is that Watashi affects our perception of the series through her storytelling perspective and that she views thing different than how everyone else does.  It’s not that this is a bad thing, actually it might be the best thing, but it’s just an effect of having the anime narrated in the way that it is.  It’s not wildly important or anything terribly significant but it’s fun to see how different the series would be had we been forced to follow Y around rather than Watashi.  I can see it now, the new title would be: Humanity Has Manzines.

This really isn’t that important, but for a final point on this episode, I’d like to highlight something that I found amusing.  Through the episode, Jinrui explained a very basic approach to the manga industry and various genres and tricks and whatnot.  When trying to attract viewers toward the middle, with Y sprouting nonsense to make everything dramatic as a means to attract readers, I would’ve figured they’d include fanservice somewhere in there.  Well, technically everything she was doing was fanservice since it was material with the intent of pleasing the fans, but I would’ve assumed there’d be some ecchi elements in there or that they’d say they tried some ero-manga contents in there somewhere as a means to attract readers.  Of course this anime is, thankfully, fanservice-free, but the whole point of the original manzines was BL or homoerotic stories of men falling for other men.  Obviously there were some sexual elements in the previous episode, so why didn’t try pull that off as a joke in this episode as one of the means to attract readers?  Hell, that could’ve been the example that began the downfall of their readership, too, making the joke even more critical of the manga industry.  But whatever, it’s not like it was anything vital or significant to the scene, just something that was left out that I assumed would be there.  There was that shower scene with Watashi but it was never brought up directly as a trick of the manga industry to attract viewers and increase popularity.  Oh well.

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  1. #1 by shirayuki75 on July 24, 2012 - 7:42 PM

    I’ve been waiting for this post since forever! I didn’t expect you to make point-of-view your topic for this week, but then again, talking about how wonderful the meta was in this episode would be too mainstream. It would have been cool to see how you would write a meta post on episodic posts, but that would have been too difficult, since every blogger has a different style. But then again, there seems to be a dull formula for episodic posts that I’ve seen too much of lately. Your blog stands out and you deserve more readers. I just had to say that.

    The author employs the MC as an embodiment of his perspective on humanity. I wonder why he chose a dashing female as his avatar. Moreover, what events in her past clouded her view of humanity? Do you think the anime will delve into her past? Perhaps the MC makes her judgments based on her more balanced role–her status as “mediator” gives her access to the fairies, the rising species. By the way, I am still not sure what role the fairies and mediators serve in that world. I must not have been paying enough attention to the first episode.

    Anyways, the shift of perspective to Y would provide an interesting governmental perspective to round out the MC’s one. However, it would be less broad, as the MC seems to be heading towards exploring the entirety of this world; Y seems to be restricted to where her work leads her. Thus, following Y would also give us a more limited view of this world. This brings us to the reliability of the narrators, which I would like to hear your thoughts about. :D

    • #2 by avvesione on July 25, 2012 - 1:17 AM

      Thank you very much for the kind comment, especially since this post is already a few days late as it is! I truly am fortunate to have readers like yourself following my blog.

      While it would be simple for the author to project his perspective on the main character, I’m wondering how much of it is his and how much is different than him. I assume those amusing quips and commentary are his own on these situations, but how many are based on him wanting to make the character more interesting or engaging? And I assume he made her a female character since, well, they’re more attractive and more people will pay attention to a girl than a guy in anime. I’d like to see her past, one which explains her upbringing and current behavior, but I’m not sure if we’ll see that unless the fairies are able to conjure up a time machine with their magic.

      And you’re right about Y having a narrow and more selfish perspective than Watashi, something that would inhibit the series given its current structure. It’s true that Watashi has a broader and more open perspective given her position and personality, so it’s better to tell a story from her perspective than Y’s. Whereas Watashi would allow every piece to be heard and allowed representation, Y would assume the position of dictator and tell the story in her own way or concern it with only things that concern her. Not the best analogy for the situation but I feel the story is more open being told through Watashi than it would be through Y.

  2. #3 by windyturnip on July 26, 2012 - 8:32 PM

    When examining Watashi’s role as the narrator, you have to keep in mind both the literal and figurative meaning of the word “humanity.” She may be human, but, as you pointed out, she’s more intelligent than her peers and has a greater understanding of how the world works. I believe that this puts her outside the bounds of general “humanity.”

    In most cases, any member of a group is going to do their best to display their group in the most positive light, and humanity is no exception. Watashi is meant to be a neutral third party, a lens through which we can view the world. This certainly matches well with her job as a mediator. Sometimes thing we consider normal can only be considered crazy when we take a step back and look at it from a fresh perspective

    • #4 by avvesione on July 31, 2012 - 10:59 PM

      True, Watashi is more intelligent than most humans in this society but I don’t believe that’d exclude her from being included under the label of general “humanity”. She might not think or act like the rest of her society, but she still lives within it, interacts with the people, follows their rules, and is an active member of her township. I feel it’d be incorrect to say that she’s removed from this humanity and is now an outsider examining it much like we, the audience, are watching this anime.

      As for the second part, I think it can be reduced from a humanity point to more a societal one or even as little as what one is familiar or knowledgeable of. I know people who I work with and go to school with who do not understand my fascination with sports and athletics whereas they are confused at why I don’t appreciate the arts or dance like they do. It’s just like you said that we consider each other crazy from our different perspectives. I guess the differing levels of experience and influence really dictate the perspectives we have on various subjects. Watashi is a wonderful lens for which to explore the anime since she has enough intelligence to understand everything around her but little experience for which to be influenced by, thus giving both her and us the same amount of impression when we see something new.

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