Didn’t she say last week that religion wasn’t one of the things you invented?
|Just one week after presenting us with a use of the common main-character-becomes-god trope, Humanity Has Declined went right back to it, rewinding all the way back to the main character’s 1st project as mediator to show us her first experience with fairies. It was somewhat disappointing to see the show repeat the same joke so soon, but there isn’t much time left in the season, and given how well they fit in with the show, they have to be shown. This episode may not have brought a lot new to the table, but it was still fun in the same way this show always is.|
This is not a pipe. This is a screen shot of an animated video of a picture of a pipe.
The timing of this episode was very curious. Since the episodes have been airing out of chronological order and this one was the earliest, there must have been some intent behind having this one follow an episode with almost the same gimmick. I just don’t know what, because I thought this could have fit right in early on in the show; having a gap between the past 2 episodes would certainly have lessened the feeling of deja vu. I already explained why this god gimmick was perfect for this show, so I don’t have an issue with it being used multiple times, but I do have to dock it points for its timing.
Despite its repetitive style, one thing this show has continued to do well is to feed us little bits of new information with each episode. In this one, the main character explained to the fairies how the fairies were the “future humanity” and the current humans were the “old humanity.” I had gotten that sense already from this show – I believe it might have mentioned something like that before – and this really made it explicit. The main character’s attitude seemed fatalistic, as if this decline was an unstoppable force, rather than dependent on the future actions of humans. It feels like a self fulfilling prophecy: humanity is in decline because humans have conceded that humanity will decline.
“Did I or didn’t I?” “You did.” “Didn’t I or did I?” “You did.” “Did I or didn’t I?”
And what replacements they’re leaving behind! The previous 2 episodes displayed just how far ahead the fairies were in terms of technology, but they both also showed them turning into a shivering mess of their own urine, too. If one were to consider the fairies and humans as different aspects of humanity, the fairies are the unbridled creativity and drive that pushes us forward, while the humans are the bureaucracies and institutions that hold us down. Unfortunately, they’re both hampered by our fear of accountability, which leaves them both unable to do anything productive. I had to laugh seeing the main character and Nakata try to dodge responsibility in choosing to give everyone names, then in being a god, a title which the main character relinquished only to see Nakata turn around and attempt to do the same thing.
Indeed, while the main character’s dry wit and sarcasm has sometimes made her feel like an outside observer like ourselves, her actions have revealed her to be just as much a contributor to humanity’s decline as anyone else. She was obviously lying about her motives in becoming a mediator due to her laziness, something her grandfather saw right through. And in the previous episode she had fallen into complacency due to luxury provided by the fairies, much like the previous mediator whose food diary we saw read out loud in this one. How ironic that she fell to the same trap as him last episode while looking down on him in this one. That’s a joke that would’ve worked but very differently had this episode aired early on in the series.
So this was a pretty fun episode overall that gave me a bit more to think about with respect to the roles the fairies and humans play in this show, despite its placement in the order of episodes being rather puzzling. It’s often difficult to judge these non-chronological shows before they’re over – it took me 3 viewings of The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya to appreciate what I consider to be easily the best TV show of the 2000s – but I currently think that this was a bad call. Actually, the order of arcs overall has been unsatisfying, feeling largely arbitrary and without clear direction. But maybe something will happen in the final 2 episodes. I’m doubtful, but if there’s one thing that Humanity Has Declined is good at, it’s surprises. Time to see if AIC saved the big guns to give it a proper finish.
I think this screenshot sums up Humanity Has Declined nicely.