Humanity has declined is a surrealist-slash-macabre social commentary that utilizes the advantages of satire and black humor to get its cynicism across to the audience in a backdrop of a post-apocalyptic pastel-colored dreamland.
With the pretentious plug out of the way, I can finally focus on why I enjoyed this show very much. First of all, there’s the mood. Despite the lighthearted appearance of the whole thing, I could clearly sense from the first segment that this show is not fooling around. Any laughs that I got out of this show came from pure, distilled cynicism – which makes me kind of question my own personal values.
One good example is with the segment about food production and the consumerist economy. What is food, and to what lengths will we go to obtain or produce it? The answer should be obvious, yet the anime clearly doesn’t want it to be. How did the economy survive (probably) centuries of steady population decline and still be stable? If these aren’t what you would call food for thought, I don’t know what would be.
There are also a lot of other ideas mixed in too, all in a span of 23 minutes. Are authority figures just assemblies of conspirators fooling the ignorant masses? And are these ignorant masses so dependent on authority figures that they are willing to believe every single nonsense that comes out of the big house? What about board meetings? Are they really just held to give an illusion of formality and deliberation? Is “positive reinforcement” really a good standard of quality assessment for the most basic needs of humankind? I haven’t even scratched the surface of the sheer amount of commentary the writing provides. These ideas are presented very casually and jokingly, it becomes funny in a depressing sort of way, especially since I come from a country where these topics are extremely relevant. Well, I guess with a writer like Romeo Tanaka, who happens to be the one that wrote cynical works like A Drug that Makes You Dream and Cross Channel – great visual novels by the way, I guess I should have seen this coming.
There’s also the overlying theme – humanity in itself. By giving us a very small sample size (the decline of the population), we are able to see the little things that we mostly take for granted. Once you get over the trippy art style and cutesy facade, you will see the anime in a new light.
And there’s the presentation of the writing. In a way, the show is quite brilliant in the use of first person narration from a mostly neutral stand (a la Kyon from Haruhi). She acts as a part of the audience while still being part of the whole system, much like how most of us claim to be. The directing may be a bit clunky given that Seiji Kishi isn’t really the man I would hire for a show like this, but the potential of this show is just too high, I’m willing to forgive the apparent lack of directorial skill. The animation is pretty solid as well.
So yeah, I really, really like how the show is going so far. Some things need fixing, but I don’t find the flaws to highly detract from my overall enjoyment of the show. I would probably have a blast writing about this one from time to time.