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Humanity Has Declined (Jinrui wa Suitai Shimashita) PDF Print E-mail
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Tuesday, 15 January 2013 00:00
You'd perhaps expect a world where humanity is on its way out to be a rather depressing place - but when mankind's successors are a bunch of playful, childlike fairies who like nothing better than to play pranks on humans, creating a world here nations can rise and fall in a day and where yaoi can somehow become a global phenomonon, that really isn't possible...

Earth, an unspecified time in the future. Humanity is still around, the United Nations still exists - but technology, and how to use it, is slowly being forgotten. Old pastoral ways of life have returned to the fore, and marks of civilisation like schools and cities are slowly disappearing - humanity, as the title says, has declined, and in its place have risen the fairies - small, slways smiling, childlike in outlook and behaviour, and nearly always mischievous, they're the new master race. Just don't ask how that worked out. Now, enter the Mediator - a young woman, not long out of school (the last graduating class of the last school, as it turns out) and now working for the UN as liaison with the fairies - and flighty enough that she often seems away with them. Take the Mediator (whose real name we never get to find out), her Assistant (likewise), and a series of unrelated story arcs describing thier adventures, and you have Humanity Has Declined.

You're probably looking at that description and going 'huh?', which in many ways seems to be the point. The series uses the eyes of the fairies, and the Mediator's general bemusement at the relics of the old world that she keeps finding, to point out the flaws in modern life: the sudden rise (and equally sudden fall) of yaoi manga after some old digital files are uncovered talks of the fickleness of popular media; the opening arc takes a look at the absurdities of modern corporate management; Mediator's role in creating & destroying a new Fairy nation highlight the ease with which someone with charisma can gain a following. On the surface it's bright, pastelly and wryly humourous - but pay attention and scratch beneath the surface and there are other messages being given out by the series, should you wish to go looking for them. And even if you don't, and just take the show at face value, it's still entertaining.

It's arc-based 'anthology' nature is probably is biggest weakness, as some are of better quality than others, and they clearly aren't shown in chronological order - there's jumping back and forth being done, but with some stories referring to others, there are times when you're left wondering what happened in a particular scene, until 2 arcs later when the "past" event referred to is finally shown. There are also some inconsistencies, such as the Mediator being left with 'living' hair by the fairies, that happen but then are equally quickly forgotten about. This can get a little on the annoying side, depending on how much attention you're paying, as once you spot the flaws it's hard to ignore them.

But the general appeal of the setting, and the characters themselves, carry the series nicely through such annoyances. Humanity Has Declined is light, fluffy, and entertaining, while still managing to make a little wry social commentary in there as well - not an easy thing to pull off, normally, but in this case done with ease. Don't know how quickly I'll go back to it, but certainly well worth watching once.

Rating - ****