Jinrui wa Suitai Shimashita – 07

The key to time travel is the lowly banana (see also: Steins;Gate)

The previous arc was a prequel, so why not continue that by making this arc a prequel to that one? We rewound back to before the main character met her assistant so that we could follow her journey to finding him. More than anything, this episode was confusing as heck, though it was by design. And it got me thinking a lot about bananas and how they connect with cloning, time loops, and the decline of humanity.

Some moral boundaries seem worth crossing given the massive increase in productivity.

There was a lot of stuff to unpack in this episode. We got to find out that fairies like cakes so much that to make them, they would clone the main character, something she finds morally objectionable. Their method of cloning seems to be via time loop, where the main character kept jumping back in time, but her original self stayed where she was, with each iteration started by tripping on a banana peel. And I don’t know if the author intended it, but the banana was a great choice for this trigger. Obviously, it was used in its classic slapstick way here with the fall initiating something, but what I’m getting at is how well the banana goes with the theme of humanity in decline and especially with the cloning and time loop seen in this episode. I figure enough of you listen to NPR that I don’t need to elaborate, but surely there are plenty who haven’t run into it yet, so I’ll explain.

Cavendish banana. 99% of bananas found in US supermarkets are this kind and share almost all share almost the exact same DNA.

I’m coming from an American perspective, but banana commerce is similar in most other first world countries. Americans eat about 3 mllion tons of bananas each year, but very little of it is grown there – only on the order of 10,000 tons a year in Hawaii. So the vast majority is imported from places with more tropical climates, like South America, Africa, and India. So bananas have to travel thousands of miles in ships and planes to get to the supermarket where it’s sold. Transporting fruits is tricky due to their fragility as well as the timing issues of ripening. Not all types of banana are well suited to survive the trip. For that reason, virtually all bananas sold in the United States is of one particularly durable type: (Dwarf) Cavendish. But things weren’t always that way; before the Cavendish became ubiquitous in the world of banana commerce, the Gros Michel (“Big Mike”) held the same spot from the late 19th century to the early 20th. In fact, during this time, the Cavendish was looked down upon for being flavorless. But by the 50s, Gros Michel banana farms were nearly wiped out, necessiating a replacement type, which was the Cavendish.

Why were they nearly wiped out? Here’s where the cloning comes in: bananas reproduce asexually, which means children have the same DNA as their parents. This leads to a lack of genetic diversity in the population, which means that one weakness can be deadly to an entire population. And that’s exactly what happened with the Gros Michel. It took half a century, but a fungal infection of the root called Panama disease stubbornly spread from farm to farm – the clone-reproducing bananas unable to evolve a resistant strain – and by the 50s, it was close to extinct in the major farming areas. And that’s when the lowly Cavendish, resilient against the fungus, swooped in. Because it was an even hardier banana than the Gros Michel, despite its worse taste, it quickly took over as the new ubiquitous banana in international commerce. And it worked for a few decades, but the fungus has continue to evolve for the past 50 years while the Cavendish has stayed still. I’m sure you can see where this is going: the Cavendish is being killed off by the same Panama disease, and we’re facing very much the same crisis as 50 years ago.

The allegedly more flavorful Gros Michel banana. 70 years ago, this was the only one you could buy. You can still find them at obscure locations.

Here’s a brief recap: through (natural) cloning, humans made one type of banana ubiquitous in order to feed consumer demand; the ubiquity lead to that type being wiped out, leading humans to come up with hardier replacement of another type; in order to feed consumer demand, that new type also became ubiquitous; the ubiquity of this new type is going to wipe it out. The 1st time is a mistake, but the 2nd time is tragedy. It’s like watching a time loop. A stupid, wasteful, and harmful result caused by humans acting without a proper plan or conscious thought. It’s exactly what Humanity Has Declined is all about. Here’s a positive note, though: none of these bananas have gone extinct and are still grown in areas that haven’t been infected by the fungus.

Again, I doubt that the author inteded all these connections, but hey, they’re there, and he deserves credit for putting them in. The episode was quite entertaining otherwise, though the laughs weren’t all that related to social commentary. The sundial watch with a built in compass had me in stitches. What a statement the casual use of such a tool makes about the state of things in this setting! And seeing a dozen main characters all obliviously going about making sweets without even recognizing herself was funny in its absurdity. The incredible “immoral” power of self-cloning used for making sweets! The time loop is a tough tool both to use and to make sense of. Excellent examples exist like The Tatami Galaxy or Steins;Gate (a series that also featured a prominent banana), but you also have extremely poor examples like The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya (2009) or Magical Girl Madoka Magica. It’s hard to pass judgment on a use of this plot device until the end, so I don’t consider the confusion of this episode to be a bad thing. And Humanity Has Declined has done a fine job setting up its 2-episode arcs as Answer-Question pairs. Let’s see what answers the end of this arc has in store for us, and hey, maybe the banana is going to end up more important than I think?

Perhaps the assistant can answer our questions? And what’s with the dog? There seem to be as many of them as the clones of the main character…


A math/science geek and a self-dubbed cynical optimist. I don't care if it's deep, if it can make me feel something or laugh, it's fine in my book. @lvlln
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17 Responses to “Jinrui wa Suitai Shimashita – 07”

  1. JPNIgor says:

    Jinrui is becoming even more bizarre .-. Well, I don’t have too much to say, but even though it’s bizarre, I still enjoy watching it.

    Also, I haven’t even thought about Steins;Gate but man, it’s a very good reference ._.

  2. Click says:

    My… body can never be ready for this show. As someone who loves to find the subtext behind the subtext, I was genuinely stumped for the first time. Awesome catch with the bananas, mate.

    Something I happened to noticed about Jinrui this week is that they constantly emphasize that the Watashi’s Gramps is a man of extreme ego and selfishness. It showed up in episodes one and two through the town meeting, in five and six through the appearance of the tablets, and here through the clocks. It’s obvious that he has access to multiple watches (he even notes the exact time outside), but he chooses to give her a sundial instead. In a way, he plays both the classic egomaniacal tyrant and the incompetent leader of the town.

    • lvlln says:

      I wonder what kind of relationship the grandpa has with the main character. At the very least, he’s pretty unsympathetic, leaving her to her own devices many times, but it might go further than that. Like at the end of the previous episode, the main character commented that “fortunately,” he didn’t hit them. Is he a physically abusive boss/grandfather? Could be.

  3. Highway says:

    I think I’m finally starting to see some observations that I can get into in the show: That an essential quality (well, at least one) of “humanity” that we have now has been transferred to the faeries. That is the spirit of experimentation, working through failure to find success. The humans in the show are repeatedly shown as giving up when something doesn’t go right, of making excuses, of finding scapegoats, or even just shrugging it off, but not “Well, that didn’t work, so let’s adjust it and try again.”

    On the other hand, the faeries seem to have inherited these traits. “The next (banana) will have taste.” “How can we make more sweets?” Then they use the resources at their disposal (even alternate dimensions) to make it happen, even if it takes multiple tries, and failures.

  4. lvlln says:

    Yes, that fits in with what I wrote last week. The Fairies are hyper competent and able, but they choose to use their magnificent abilities on mundane pleasures like sweets. On the other hand, these human are generally well meaning, but they’re both incompetent and easily distracted. It seems to me that they are divergent offspring of humanity who declined in different ways.

    Something I’m curious to see if they’ll explain further.

    • Highway says:

      The same criticisms are frequently made of humans right now. In general, humanity in 2012 is the most well-off it’s ever been, yet we spend so much time on, as you say, ‘mundane pleasures’. It feels like I’ve read more than one article complaining about people and societies prioritizing the wrong thing (although usually, those are complaining that they’re not prioritizing the pet cause of the article writer).

      It will be interesting to see if they name a cause for this, or just continue as if the humans don’t know or care why. To this point, they seem to have given off an attitude of “Well, we’re just not doing very well.”

      • lvlln says:

        Yeah, and Fractale was an example of a show that made it a point to very specifically criticize the meaningless things people spend time on.

        Personally, I find that idea ridiculous. As you say, 2012 is the most well-off year that humanity has ever seen (well, maybe 2007/8 might be, but that’s another discussion). That’s because society tends to get better over time. Better technology makes things easier for humans, more convenient, which is the way it should be. All the talk about kids these days who have it so easy but spend their free time on meaningless fluff seem to miss that point: the fact that kids have more time to spend on meaningless fluff is a good thing, because it indicates that society has made life more convenient.

  5. Joojoobees says:

    V. interesting explanation of bananas. I had no idea they were self-cloners. Now I’m looking forward to the second part even more.

    • lvlln says:

      Well, they are seedless, or rather, they were cultivated to be so, which is part of why they are so popular, but it also means that sex is out of the question for them. And lack of genetic diversity is a dangerous situation.

  6. Foshizzel says:


    This episode was a bit of Steins;gate and endless eight mixed together in one insane time repeating episode! Also the clones? Dammmnn there were a lot of Watashi’s walking around…

    YEAH WHAT About that dog!? It had me guessing the entire time like who or what is that thing? Probably another magical creature or an alien…yeah! Lets go with that for now hahah

    • lvlln says:

      Based on how many of the same looking dogs there were, I’m guessing that the cloning technology the fairies use involve using those dogs somehow, maybe transforming them. Which would also explain their apparent low intelligence.

      • Vargas59 says:

        But it does raises some questions in terms of why the dog was portrayed as a humanly figure right at the beginning and does not do so in the rest of the episode. It seems to be foreshadowing something that has yet to be told. But I do feel that the dog is a cloned animal b/c of the bizarre eyes and just maybe, assistant’s got something to do with it?

  7. akagami says:

    Those Gros Michel look gross and diseased. I’ll stick with my pretty-boy bananas, thank you very much =P

    • lvlln says:

      The Gros Michels aren’t lookers, that’s for sure, but from what I’ve read, they put the Cavendish to shame in taste. Since we’ve grown quite accustomed to the Cavendish as being the “normal” banana taste, I’m really curious how the more flavorful types would taste to my palette.

      • akagami says:

        Please let me know, if you do try (or if anyone else has tried) them. I love the bananas we get in North America, I usually eat a minimum of 1-2 per day. =)

  8. Overcooled says:

    While I found the episode to be pretty boring, I never really thought about bananas and their link to cloning. It’s something we talked about in my human genetics course, but I completely forgot about it. I love science in my anime posts! Nice one! :3 Jintai really is more interesting to think about after watching it than it is during the time I’m watching it.

    • lvlln says:

      Even if everything hasn’t fit together perfectly, Jintai’s been able to make us think about – or at least remind us of – some interesting modern events and issues, like the space probes last episode. This banana thing was quite a stretch to pull out of this episode, but it’s fun to talk about things the author probably never intended.

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