34 CommentsFirst Impressions, Humanity has Declined / By Scamp /

Humanity has Declined episode 1 – Carrot Bread Suicide (Scamp’s take)

I bring in a bunch of new writers, only for them to bugger off to AX and leave me trying to make sense of anime carrot bread suicides.

Before I get into my usual bout of being an overly critical moaner, I have to give Humanity has Declined serious props for being chock full of interesting ideas. Particularly after winning cliché bingo with Campione and snoozing my way through that Italian reverse harem anime, Humanity has Declined rather defies classification. A sci-fi post-apocalyptic cutesy fantasy dry cynical moe comedy? Whatever it is, it’s brimming with ideas. The premise is that humanity has been dying out (or ‘declined’ as you might put it) and they’re now living in a world where they can’t even control chickens. Also there are fairy people who make food. Or synthetic non-food. Or it’s not even made by the fairies. Or something.

It’s a genuine struggle to try list out the themes laid out in this episode alone. Board meetings are just for show, ultimately useless wastes of time done for the sole purpose of keeping up the facade of order, democracy, and legitimate deliberation. The deadening of human realisation of what food truly is, lost in its commodification to become both food and living, commercial and human, edible and emotional. I’m really stretching my vocabulary trying to articulate the concepts brought up. Suffice to say, it certainly gives you a lot to think about.

But a coherent whole it is not. Fans of the original material (although I don’t think any english translation exist, so that basically means maybe that one Japanese guy who reads this blog) will be delighted to hear me pin this blame on the directing. There’s the easier to spot problems, such as letting the main character narrate her entire way through the episode rather than letting her actions tell the story. For all its pastel colours and occasional weird imagery, it’s fairly dully directed. The dialogue doesn’t really click either, mainly because every character she’s talked to are total brainless idiots. Her conversation with the fairies was slightly more interesting, in a completely surreal sort of way, but most of the rest of the dialogue is really boring. In fact, there’s rather worryingly long stretches of dullness in between the surreal and imaginative concepts.

I feel the director doesn’t really know what to do with this bizarre series he’s been given, so it feels disjointed at the moment. Perhaps this is just me being picky, asking for it to lay its cards on the table in the first episode, which it has no obligation to do. It’s certainly got my interest. I just hope a clear story starts in the next episode. I don’t think it, or any anime, can survive on interesting concepts alone.

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  1. Anca
    Posted July 1, 2012 at 11:22 pm | Permalink

    That’s because the director sucks monkey ass balls on anything that’s not comedy: it’s Seiji Kishi at work a gain.

    • Posted July 1, 2012 at 11:34 pm | Permalink

      Wait, this wasn’t supposed to be a comedy? Could have fooled me.

      • Anca
        Posted July 2, 2012 at 11:19 am | Permalink

        It was? It sure fooled me.

      • Scamp
        Posted July 2, 2012 at 12:08 pm | Permalink

        A bread ripping its head open clearly isn’t comedy. It’s the greatest tragedy in anime history

      • Posted July 2, 2012 at 12:56 pm | Permalink

        It depends on whether or not you consider something like Brazil comedic or simply bizarre. I certainly got similar vibes from this series and its absurdly bureaucratic world full of strange redundancies and occupations.

      • Anca
        Posted July 4, 2012 at 1:44 pm | Permalink

        That bread scene gave me nightmares, not laughs.

  2. luffyluffy
    Posted July 1, 2012 at 11:37 pm | Permalink

    Damnit this was the most interesting thing this season shfbvsdsghffd

  3. Posted July 2, 2012 at 12:19 am | Permalink

    I am still interested in it. Gonna watch it tomorrow or on Tuesday and see for myself. You’ll keep watching it, won’t you? I wouldn’t be mad if you even blogged it :3

    • Scamp
      Posted July 2, 2012 at 12:09 pm | Permalink

      In my newly founded super sentai blogging bridage, I placed dibs on this pre-season, so I’ll probably keep blogging it. There’s certainly no shortage of stuff to talk about

  4. Posted July 2, 2012 at 12:27 am | Permalink

    Scamp, where’s your write-up on that shitty Spaghetti Bishounen anime? You don’t get a chance to bash Italy thrice a day very often so hurry before it’s too late!

    • Scamp
      Posted July 2, 2012 at 12:10 pm | Permalink

      I would write about it, but I genuinely can’t think of anything to say. It exists

    • Posted July 2, 2012 at 12:46 pm | Permalink

      A man produced a lit stick of dynamite from the inside pocket of his suit, then threw it at a teenager wielding a sword five feet away.

      A car from 1910 was destroyed by another man with a bazooka from the second world war, who was later shown standing on a 16th century galleon.

      Random people in the street were shown wearing everything from 1800’s coat-tails and top hats to 1930’s suits and ties, to modern jackets and slacks, to Elvis costumes.

      A guy with silly hair is repeatedly shown pointing a pistol at his own head in an attempt to appear edgy and dangerous.

      To Japan, this is what transpires every day in modern Italy.

      • Kiseki
        Posted July 2, 2012 at 2:02 pm | Permalink

        Still better than Katekyo Hitman Reborn…

  5. Posted July 2, 2012 at 1:08 am | Permalink

    Something between an anime version of Radiohead’s “OK Computer” and a good version of “Alice In Wonderland”.

  6. Boku
    Posted July 2, 2012 at 2:52 am | Permalink

    “Fans of the original material (although I don’t think any english translation exist, so that basically means maybe that one Japanese guy who reads this blog) will be delighted to hear me pin this blame on the directing.”

    A translation of the first chapter is here:
    It looks like the anime starts at a diferent point then the novel.

  7. Daniel
    Posted July 2, 2012 at 6:33 am | Permalink

    “I just hope a clear story starts in the next episode.”
    Oh yeah, I’m sure it gets better.

  8. Posted July 2, 2012 at 11:21 am | Permalink

    No mention of the ending? Awww.

    I didn’t really notice the dull direction since I was chuckling away at everything. It was so bisarre.

  9. Lanf
    Posted July 2, 2012 at 1:54 pm | Permalink

    I fucking loved this one. I loved how just about every scene and every line of dialogue mocked modern culture and in a way, explained why humanity has declined.

    I laughed harder at the bread scene than I probably ever will at anything else this season, so props to it for that. For me, it was every bit as a weird and wonderful as I was hoping it to be, I love everything about it.

  10. Kamui
    Posted July 2, 2012 at 1:57 pm | Permalink

    Gosh, I kept getting flashbacks of that one Hitchhiker’s scene with a cow asking if they wanted to eat his rump or shoulder then going off to shoot itself. Really one of the greatest literary scenes of all time.

    • Scamp
      Posted July 2, 2012 at 2:07 pm | Permalink

      Interestingly, I wouldn’t call Hitchiker’s a coherant whole either. I guess Humanity has Declined has the chance to emulate that style of satire if the writing picks up. It certainly has the right ideas

      • Kamui
        Posted July 2, 2012 at 3:04 pm | Permalink

        But isn’t the absolute and cruel randomness of Hitchiker’s part of the appeal? It’s just one big gelatinous glob of a joke really. Kinda like life sometimes.
        Also, sorry for saying ‘his’. Its supposed to be ‘its’, since it’s described as a bovine-like alien creature. Please accept my humblest apologies and don’t burn me at the stake all you HHGTG fans.

  11. Nebulous
    Posted July 2, 2012 at 3:33 pm | Permalink

    I liked her better with short hair.

    • Desi
      Posted July 2, 2012 at 4:00 pm | Permalink

      I was thinking that the OP,ED, trailer, everything showing her with long hair was going to be a troll.

  12. Posted July 3, 2012 at 12:22 am | Permalink

    The guy who wrote the book this is based off of, Romeo Tanaka, also wrote some of the best Visual Novels of all time, ie Cross Channel and Yume Miru Kusuri. So I wouldn’t be worried about the quality of writing. I just hope the material is done justice.

    • Scamp
      Posted July 3, 2012 at 10:05 am | Permalink

      *sceptical face*

      When visual novel fans consider nasu a good writer, I look on with scepticism

      • Posted July 3, 2012 at 6:27 pm | Permalink

        I understand your skepticism. I too have been burned by the skewed taste of the VN community, but I assure you Nasu wishes he was half the writer Romeo Tanaka is.

  13. Adrian
    Posted July 3, 2012 at 3:08 am | Permalink

    Omg, the bread commited suicide. Haven’t come across such wtf moments since the epilogue on the last episode of Panty&Stocking. I get the vibes that I’m watching a western cartoon when somebody suddenly stabs their own chests with absolutely not a care in the world for what they’re doing and no emotional appeal attached to it.

    • Posted July 3, 2012 at 9:35 am | Permalink

      So… Invader Zim?

      • Adrian
        Posted July 3, 2012 at 6:12 pm | Permalink

        Yeah, that’s right, Nickelodeon is fond of these bizarre cartoons.

  14. Posted July 3, 2012 at 4:18 am | Permalink

    I like how light and matter of fact the main character sounds when she mentions that humanity will die off soon. Also, the crazy chicken had me rolling, but I think all birds are hilarious (when they aren’t being utter douchebags). And the bread suicide is of course hilarious. Three big laughs is enough for me to stick around.

    • Scamp
      Posted July 3, 2012 at 10:09 am | Permalink

      I only had 2 laughs. The :D faces going “we’re all going to die of starvation” and the carrot bread suicide. Mind you, I laughed for about 15 seconds straight at the bread suicide so that’s probably enough

  15. diz1776
    Posted July 3, 2012 at 8:07 pm | Permalink

    Best anime this season all other anime just go home

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