I was supposed to watch Jinrui, also called Mankind Has Declined, about more than a week ago. It was a recommendation by a friend. He said it was pretty interesting and so, I took him up on the suggestion. If you go by the synopsis available on MyAnimeList, you really can’t deny that Jinrui sounds just as advertised by my dear buddy.
Synopsis from MyAnimeList: For years, declining birth rates have forced what’s left of the human race to cede more and more territory to other beings who 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 fairies —tiny, ten-inch tall creatures of surprising intelligence. But humanity’s importance isn’t over quite yet, as young Watashi 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 a wisdom far beyond her years to achieve her most important mission.
Now if you have a habit of judging things by the cover then you’re in a bit of bad luck. I went into Jinrui expecting it to be a somewhat fresh take on the post-apolyptic shitfest genre with a sprinkle of comic moments here and there ala the style of Steins;Gate. It actually turned out to be way much more different than I thought.
The very first thing you should know about Jinrui before starting it is that the story does unfold in chronological order – unlike the original Light Novel. Most of you will be thinking, “So what?” And, well, yeah. So what? But in my honest opinion the story is more enjoyable if watched in proper order. You’re still free to watch it in broadcast order, though.
11+12 (Watashi’s flashback to the past/backstory) > 10 > 7+8 > 9 > 5+6 > 1+2 > 3+4
Jinrui’s story has no conclusion. I don’t mean that it ends on a cliffhanger: it’s just not meant to go anywhere. The main purpose of the story is to crack silly jokes while giving a pretty witty commentary on social issues varying from consumerism to the well-known edginess of kids wanting to be alone in school due to their arrogance. As such, if satire is not your thing then you’d best avoid Jinrui because it could be a chore – which it was, at times, for me.
Most of the events taking place in the story are quite random. You’ll have a time-loop caused by fairies in an attempt to fuel their need for sweets and also a battle initiated by a giant cat piloted by a sentient space probe. So, rest assured, Jinrui can get weird a lot even for those who inhale comedies like air.
Coming to the writing, Jinrui really does a neat job. All of the random-ish things occurring are so succinctly chained to each other with such finesse that when the dialogue is delivered, you feel like it’s from the bloopers collection of Chris Pratt from Parks and Recreation.
While the dialogue and general writing is pretty great, there’s also the downside, as a result, of proper thought having gone into the world of Jinrui. The facts that exactly how mankind has declined and just what exactly are and how came to be are never really explained. This grinds my gears to no end. For most, this would be but a slight inconvenience but I like my comedies to have proper world-building if they are set in a fantasy setting. If the world was fleshed out in detail then Jinrui would have been an instant 9/10 for me.
What really makes the show are the characters. The main character does not have an actual name: she’s just called Watashi which means ‘I’ in English. She may appear all sweet, kind, and caring at first but over the course of the show, you’ll find that she’s a hard cynic ready to shoot quick quips of banter, mostly to herself, whenever the opportunity arises. Considering the nature of Jinrui’s story, I can assure you that she fires witty responses at a rate of 3 wr/p. That’s quite impressive.
The rest of the cast is equally… eccentric, to say the least. Watashi’s Grandfather seems quite strict but can be rather aloof when he wants to be. Grandfather’s Assistant can’t speak but is the source of most of the visual gags in the early episodes. Y, Watashi’s friend, is an arrogant raging Fujoshi.
And finally, the Fairies. Oh, the Fairies. One second they’re cuter than two kittens snuggled together and then the next moment nihilistic thoughts begin to surface. The Fairies deliver most of the non-banter witty playfulness of the dialogue. Don’t try applying any sort of logic to them, though. You’ll only end up with a new friend called Bafflement as a result.
The animation by AIC A.S.T.A is superb. The lush watercolor style with bright colors and clever play with shapes is very fun to watch and suits the show well. The brightness could be tad too high on occasion, though.
The voice acting follows a whimsical tone with nobody (well, except for Grandfather, I guess) sounding even remotely normal. Just perfect for the show. A job well done by the voice actors.
The background music is rather forgetful. The OP and ED are catchy. You will probably end up putting them on loop in your head after the 3rd episode if you’re infected by them.
Despite my praise for the top quality dialogue and characterization along with appreciation for the colorful animation, Jinrui still falls short in a number of areas – the two largest of which concern the world of Jinrui itself and it’s tiny sugar-junkie inhabitants. It’s a matter of wasted potential, to be honest. A 7 out of 10 for Jinrui!