Quick admin note: After tossing Muv Luv Alternative Total Boredom between each of the staff members, we’ve eventually had to concede that none of us have the willpower to cover it any further, especially since MAL claims it’s going to be running for 24 episodes. So Muv Luv is now officially dropped.
Humanity has Declined episode 10 is the quintessential Humanity has Declined experience. You could boil down everything this series is and has to say using this episode. So much so that I have to wonder why they didn’t have this be the actual first episode. I heard from folks on twitter that this was indeed the first part of the novels. I don’t get the intention of airing the episodes out of order. Unlike something like Haruhi, it doesn’t appear to have a narrative purpose. Or maybe it will all make sense in the last episode.
I find the idea of the ‘new humanity’ fascinating. I’ve always liked the idea of a different race of intelligent beings for humans to be able to interact with in some way, and how the face of humanity would change through that. Obviously sci-fi does this plenty, but there is an example of such a thing actually happening with humans with Neanderthals. A sub-species of humans who lived at the same time as humans, but went extinct about 25,000 years ago which, when you consider the age of the earth, is really not all that long ago. Apparently there’s a whole lot of debate in the archaeological community about them, but the popular conception is that they were stronger but more primitive and less intelligent versions of humans. Considering this concept, the conclusion you might draw from that is that humans might have kept them as slaves to do their work and (since there was apparently a lot of interbreeding) for pleasure too.
It swings around to this idea of racial power fantasies and the belief that these people are somehow racially superior. It’s like how I’M NOT RACIST BUT people try to quote scientific facts about how black people have smaller brains, which ties in quite nicely with the similar idea that they’re more physically adept than white peolple, bringing up the idea of the tough but dumb Neanderthal. At the risk of inciting Godwin’s Law, this kind of scientific approach to racial analysis happens with a lot of racial conflict. There’s the crazy Nazi scientists who performed experiments on Jews and measuring nose sizes on Aryans, with similar things happening in places like the Rwanda genocide too. I think there’s something in people that makes them want to believe they are somehow superior to something else. Heck, doesn’t the Bible say that God created man in the vision of himself?
Sci-fi stuff deals with this all the time. The concept of the next logical evolution step and how the current form of humanity needs to die out and let this new version take over and mwahaha I shall now kill you all because I’m superior. Usually this snobby person is fought off by our brace hero. Humanity has Declined approaches this from an entirely different angle. The fairies are the ‘next humanity’, but they aren’t necessarily any better than humans. They can barely think for themselves, such as how they don’t consider giving themselves names until Watashi suggests it. They even go so far as to call Watashi a god, even though humanity has already given them the title of the next humanity. Enzo over at RandomC makes the important observation of how the grandfather said the fairies “like to inhabit places where humanity once dwelled”. They are the next humans, but they are chasing and copying what humanity has achieved.
Consider how quickly the fairies build up a city. The speed is phenomenal, far beyond what humans could ever hope to achieve. But if you consider the rate at which technology has spread since the industrial age compared to pre-historic times, the time ratio isn’t that much different. Going back to Neanderthals, one of the reasons why there’s some debate about what Neanderthals were actually like is because the actually have bigger brains than humans. So they’re stronger and smarter and yet we still have this popular perception of them being dumb? Were humans like the fairies once? Idolising the strong and intelligent Neanderthals, much to the confusion of the Neanderthals who had long since given up the fight for survival? So long and thanks for all the mammoth tusks?
Been going some crazy places with this post, but allow me to go to one more. One little throwaway line I loved was how humanity has become so accepting of their demise that they no longer even get into wars anymore. The elimination of war has always been considered as some sort of glorious end goal for humanity to reach, but here it’s treated like something humanity has stopped bothering with because they’re all going to die out anyway. It paints war as one of the most significant signs of humanity’s will to survive. The fact that you’re willing to go to war shows you are willing to put everything on the line to fight for what you consider to be the way for you to move forward. This will sound slightly hyperbolic, but that is a rather shockingly profound little bit of insight, one I had genuinely never considered before. The elimination of war will not come from the end goal of everyone finally getting along with each other, but through apathy when nobody has anything they consider worth fighting for anymore.