The Saccharine World of Humanity Has Declined

For this summer anime season I’m going to try to write posts on various topics that come to mind, rather than focus on reviews, critiques, first impressions, and whatnot. I’ve already written a great deal about Humanity Has Declined since I’m blogging that episodically for Sea Slugs (note the tab I’ve added to the top of my blog), but I’ve been listening to EDs all day and I couldn’t help but wonder what to make of the ED for Humanity Has Declined.

The ED shows Sensei (in silhouette) getting up, walking along, and enjoying the candy-filled world of the fairies. They begin with the likeness of some of history’s most famous structures (eg the Pyramids of Egypt, the Taj Mahal of India, the Grand Cathedral of Italy), which perhaps stand as a testament to humanity’s progress throughout the ages. This gives way to what seems to be the likeness of a giant amusement park and rows upon rows of massive television screens. Perhaps this is alluding to how humanity eventually became much more focused on constant entertainment rather than continuing to accomplish matters of much greater significance? Or perhaps it can be interpreted as a fanciful representation of the age-old saying “ignorance is bliss.”

Next we see the structures in the background quickly deteriorating, which culminated with Sensei slipping on a banana peel (the point at which humanity has declined, perhaps). There’s even a “blood” splatter that follows to drive this downfall home (though I’ll presume it’s some kind of sweet jelly). Sensei can’t help but cry a little at this point, and sets herself down to lie in an incredibly dejected position. The flowers that grow around her in the end may stand for the passage of a great period of time (without any sign of human progress), or it could represent some degree of hope for the future. Perhaps humanity can rebuild and learn from the mistakes of its past? (If going by the last five episodes… probably not! HA HA! Dark humor is awesome.)

All in all it’s a rather sad little ED, in stark contrast with the wonderfully giddy OP. (This year has been a great year for amazing anime dances, I’ve noticed.) And in general Humanity Has Declined is pretty positive in my opinion, despite the fact humanity is supposedly at the brink of extinction. At least, it’s not a show that makes me depressed, by any means. But it is pretty blunt in its criticisms of modern-day societies, which I’ve find thoroughly enjoyable to analyze.

This show makes me wonder a bit about the “cards” we’re dealt with in life. We’re not in control of what time period or what part of the world we’re born into. We’re not in control of what kind of family we’re born into, what social class we’re born into, or even what ethnicity or gender we’re born as. And, obviously, as individuals we have extraordinarily little control over the world around us. Episode by episode, Sensei is flung into all sorts of unbelievable circumstances thanks to those mischievous fairies. In general there is little she (or anybody) can do about these situations. It’s one of those things where the more you think about it, the more you realize how little control over your own life you really have.

But it’s not an entirely depressing truth, since this is how it is for everyone, and at the end of the day you still have complete control over how you will live your life every single day. It’s probably putting it lightly though to just tell everyone to be positive and live life to its fullest, but it’s at least worth thinking about just how much you can reshape your life and change the world around you. Even Humanity Has Declined seems to agree–after all, those skinless chickens did manage to take over the entire fairy-run factory, and Y did indeed start an impressive boys’ love manga renaissance that swept the land. And of course, Sensei and Assistant were able to defeat said skinned chickens, and were able to make their way through the fairies’ bizarre manga world. And though the villagers may be exasperating at times, Sensei still manages to go about things with a pleasant attitude regardless. I find it all pretty refreshing to be honest, especially when compared to the vast amounts of post-apocalyptic and dystopian fiction we have these days.

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2 responses

  1. My take on the ED: the fairies are rebuilding the monuments of humanity. That is, capitalizing on the fads they love so much. So when humans close their eyes at the end for the last time (I think they do) it is with the knowledge that the Statue of Liberty remains–but that it is made out of sweets. Their accomplishments, and their very culture, have been stolen out from right under them by creatures who are even BETTER at that game than they are.

    Wrote a Tumblr post on it a while back, actually!

    August 1, 2012 at 6:28 pm

    • That’s a great take on the ED, Wendeego! Ep 3 certainly expounded on the theme of many copies following any single new development, and the fairies do enjoy mimicking the works of humans (for good and for ill).
      I feel that the candy-versions of these landmarks are more or less mockeries of humanity’s achievements over the millenia. They’re artificial and have lost any meaning that the original versions may have represented, at least. But perhaps many people today would be more impressed with a Candy Coliseum than the real thing–after all, it is candy, and the argument can be made that modern society has an insatiable appetite for whatever brings instant gratification. How often does society today value that which is “fake” over that which actually has lasting value? (This theme was certainly expounded upon in episode 1 with the processed food factory.)

      August 1, 2012 at 7:03 pm

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