Humanity Has Declined
For years, declining birth rates have forced what's left of the human race to cede more and more territory to other beings that have appeared to take advantage of the emptying ecological niche. Now, only a handful of humans remain among the remnants of civilization and Earth is dominated by faeries - tiny, ten-inch tall creatures of surprising intelligence. But humanity's importance isn't over quite yet, as young Watashi (never named in series) learns as she makes the decision to return to her hometown and assume her grandfather's position as an arbitrator between the races. Unfortunately, the job isn't going to be anywhere near as simple as she expected, and it's going to take wisdom far beyond her years to achieve her most important mission.
(Source: Sentai Filmworks)
Sometimes it is nice to remember that, to a certain degree, humanity does kinda suck. I am not one to wail and moan about it, there are plenty of good things about humanity that we can hear about if we watch enough Star Trek, but at the same time I also like the fact that there are shows out there that are happy (or should I say, overjoyed) to remind us of every bad little thing that makes up our proud little species and have a lot of fun with it. For this I have to say that Humanity Has Declined might be one of the finest names ever given to any show anywhere. It not only describes the context of the show's plot quite perfectly but also tells us what we are to expect from it in terms of content. The show is going to show us how humanity has declined.
At its best, Humanity Has Declined is a very funny show. It picks apart business culture, politics, the entertainment business and pretty much anything else you can think of in terms of popular culture in its broadest terms - less direct parody and more in terms of general commentary on the topics. The jokes are often pointed and sharp, framed by Watashi's dry sarcasm and perceptive commentary - pushing ideas to glorious absurdity with the show's twisted logic.
Watashi is also a great source of humour herself. Her cynicism and her overall moral ambiguity (her contempt seems to stretch to include things like honesty and hard work) make her a product of humanity's decline as much as she is an observer of it and her misadventures make for great television. The fairies too deserve a mention. Their vacant smiles and ever cheerful voices make a creepily amusing contrast to their sophisticated and often rather dark conversations. This jarring and alien quality to their characters helps the humour to be both funny and damning. They aren't little humans but still come across enough like a little humanity to make the satire stick in the most brutal ways.
As a story, Humanity Has Declined also has a lot to its credit. Watashi is a character with a lot of depth and charm and the anachronistic ordering of episodes outside the context of their mini-arcs (most stories are split over two episodes) shows a reverse sort of characterisation that is as equally fascinating as the regular sort - it shows us where and how that cynicism that marks her character came to be. The show also makes serious efforts to be poignant on a level beyond its satire. The school arc of the show cleverly delivers a message of tolerance between individuals, forgiveness and acceptance that borders on moving, building over what had been taken apart over the course of the show.
There is so much in Humanity Has Declined that it does lead to problems though. The different aspects of the show (its social satire, its periods of story and its explorations of the human condition) seem to exist as a lumpy plum pudding rather than a perfectly blended whole. None of its constituent parts can be described as bad or poorly done, it is the inconsistency in content and intent that are jarring and disrupt the flow of ideas. I often found myself missing the style of presentation that the show had just been using only to come to enjoy the switch before it switched again. It dabbled in a lot of good things without really satisfying my desire for any of them.
In any case, Humanity Has Declined is a very good show. It has a unique, appealing and strangely paradoxical aesthetic that I found pleasing to the eye and the music is fun and effective. Strong dialogue gives the show a real character and the use of clever analogues and precision absurdity makes for a well-rounded and intelligent comedy. It may well rank as the funniest show of the year and could well be the cleverest too. It is a top recommendation despite the inconstancies.
I would LOVE to give this five stars but it just falls a little short. If your sense of humour is a little twisted and you love clever yet brutal satire then this a must see. — Aiden Foote
Recommended Audience: Some of the humour is dark, the now (in)famous bread suicide scene for example, and it is also plainly not meant for kids in the first place despite the bright pastel colour scheme the show is depicted in. It's not an objectionable show in a traditional sense but it takes a little world experience to appreciate.
Version(s) Viewed: Digital Source
Review Status: Full (12/12)
Humanity Has Declined © 2012 Romeo Tanaka / fairy / Shogakukan
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