31 CommentsHumanity has Declined / By Scamp /

Humanity has Declined episode 10 – War is Over, Now Let’s All Die

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.

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31 Comments

  1. Chipp
    Posted September 6, 2012 at 9:06 pm | Permalink

    So when will you start reading Yume Miru Kusuri? :3

    • Blackstealth97
      Posted September 7, 2012 at 2:02 am | Permalink

      I’m going to start :) Just looked it up thanks to your post and it looks interesting :)!

    • Scamp
      Posted September 7, 2012 at 9:01 pm | Permalink

      “I am just an average student, living an average, colorless life” ssssnnnnnnnnnnoooooooooooooooorrrrrrrrrrrrreeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee wut?

      • Walao
        Posted September 8, 2012 at 3:49 am | Permalink

        Well, the story’s about him having crazy encounters and coming out of it… kind of.

      • Chipp
        Posted September 8, 2012 at 5:46 am | Permalink

        Why won’t you at least give it a try?
        And I won’t even talk about the summaries made by licensing companies (moreso about VNs) – most of them sound as generic as possible, or even worse.
        And I’m sure that you’ve been sceptical about Jinrui too before you started watching it.

        Well, here’s opening of this game – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w7jASiYVo4k

      • Scamp
        Posted September 8, 2012 at 8:09 am | Permalink

        Nope, in fact Jinrui was my most anticipated show of the season behind Moyashimon Returns. This was almost entirely because of the trailer, with its jigsaw wall and suicide bread. If you were trying to sell me on the VN with the opening then…yeah

      • Chipp
        Posted September 8, 2012 at 1:21 pm | Permalink

        I wasn’t trying to do this – just wanted you to watch it to have the general idea about the scenario of it.

      • Chipp
        Posted September 8, 2012 at 2:12 pm | Permalink

        On the other hand there’s another novel (http://vndb.org/v914) with more interesting summary for you (I guess). I liked it very much but it’s not as enjoying and much-much-much more depressing (the situation is much worse than, let’s say, Tokyo Magnitude 8.0).
        It was written by another author though…

      • Chipp
        Posted September 8, 2012 at 3:08 pm | Permalink

        Oh, and last, but not least – you should complete this (http://vndb.org/v1390) before watching Psycho-Pass, really.

      • Walao
        Posted September 8, 2012 at 3:47 pm | Permalink

        I doubt Scamp will want to read Swan Song, he has quite a weak stomach despite his sharp tongue.

      • Chipp
        Posted September 8, 2012 at 6:38 pm | Permalink

        Well yeah, I remember that scene with a dog eating woman…

      • Scamp
        Posted September 8, 2012 at 8:15 pm | Permalink

        I’ve heard of Swan Song. It was one of the ones floated when I went through my short-lived VN phase. Can’t remember why I passed it over. Not because I have a weak stomach anyway (which I do, but hey I enjoyed Saya no Uta well enough)

      • Walao
        Posted September 9, 2012 at 11:15 am | Permalink

        Well, Saya no Uta had a monster/alien/cthulhu doing bad things and seducing the protagonist into joining her/it. Swan Song on the other hand had a relatively normal central cast progressively losing their marbles and doing bad stuff to each other, which can be more horrifying in a way since they were just being human.

        As for why you passed up Swan Song – http://thecartdriver.com/the-devil-on-g-string-visual-novel-review/#comment-18957

        I couldn’t find any of those tags though. Maybe they need the “spoil me!” button but I haven’t read it yet, so…

  2. Posted September 6, 2012 at 11:08 pm | Permalink

    Yeah, the point you address in the final paragraph was one of the most potent in the series so far. It partially instigated that conversation we were having on monday morning (afternoon for you) about the idea of post-apocalyptic fiction being disingenuous in its very premise.

    It won’t be an event that causes our downfall, no it won’t be so glorious as something like that. It’ll a be a slow, weary acceptance of the fact that humanity is just unable to move forward as a species anymore. Perhaps we’ve exhausted the resources on the planet, perhaps the our economies could no longer sustain our societies. Jinrui robs us of the final fantasy we hold as a species that states that when we go out, it’ll be in some kind of blaze of glory. No, it’ll be far more pathetic, frankly. I have sincere doubts as to whether we can manage to stick around in our current capacity until the next meteor strikes.

    Goddamn this is such a mean show. I love it!

    (btw: found an article when looking up the idea of multiple intelligences in one biome. I thought I remembered a specific philosopher or author who tackled this idea before, I think it was Isaac Asimov actually. Anyway, here: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/46076176/ns/technology_and_science-science/#.UEkcK5Z1eLU)

    • Scamp
      Posted September 7, 2012 at 10:02 pm | Permalink

      I’ve always figured there would be a big apocalyptic thing and then the rest of humanity would slowly whither away after that. I guess this thought comes from me watching too much anime. I wonder what caused humanity in this show to reach that state though? The world isn’t a hellish landscape. They just sorta…stopped caring. That’s the craziest part to me.

      Of course Asimov would talk about something like that :D

  3. Anonymous
    Posted September 6, 2012 at 11:34 pm | Permalink

    Philosophers may think that war is a human nature thingy. But really, the homogenizing of culture and the rising importance of communication, trade and whatever other interaction we may have between far away places –and the humans that inhabit those places– shall bring forth a co-dependency that envitably will make war unprofitable for all possible parties and effectivly make it obsolete.

    And now, if you’ll excuse me, I’ll halt this ideological rambling and enjoy my Chines cartoons.

    • Scamp
      Posted September 7, 2012 at 10:06 pm | Permalink

      I’m not necessarily saying I agree with the show. I just find that concept fascinating. Heck, I’m very anti-nationalist and pro-globalisation, but wars over resources I think will still occur in the near future with the way the planet is heading. Whether they’re conventional wars is a different matter altogether

  4. Posted September 6, 2012 at 11:38 pm | Permalink

    Religious zealotry, racial bigotry, jingoistic nationalism, and whatever other ideological stripe we might paint ourselves with all point to the deep-seeded, violent tribalistic drive that allowed our ancestors to survive a dangerous world with only rocks and sticks. Band together with those you have kinship with, and murder those that are different before they have a chance to get you first.

    I’m heading into my own realm of speculation now, but Humanity Has Declined likely avoids the messy business of war not as a political statement of idealized pacifism but out of practicality; there are plenty of other works that handle the complications of warfare and its effect on the human psyche (LIEK MUVLUV AMIRITE?) that it can leave the topic alone and target other social issues. After all, it handwaves over things like sex and political institutions as well.

    • Scamp
      Posted September 7, 2012 at 10:08 pm | Permalink

      Well of course a satire with a focus as broad as humanity itself is going to paint some things in fairly broad strokes. I’m not expecting it to go deep into the psyche of single humans and their nuanced feelings on conflict. Heck, it was a single throwaway line anyway

  5. Posted September 7, 2012 at 12:17 am | Permalink

    Jumping off of your last paragraph, it’s important to note that the fairies, a brand new civilization, immediately resort to defensiveness and violence upon Watashi’s return. Forget that it took the form of a ridiculously cute robot for now. The pacifistic Watashi, someone oblivious to and uninterested in war, is seen as a threat only because of the difference in both sizes and cultures.

    However, it is her tiny outreach, just small pieces of candy, to the fairies which eventually starts off the relationship between the two races and entwines Watashi and the fairies for the rest of the show. While Jintai also brings up the passion, the fire, of humanity’s will to survive, it doesn’t ignore the other problems with war and how our innate defensiveness of reaching out to other cultures causes problems. Incredibly idealistic? Sure, but I love it.

    Also of note, Watashi’s grandfather is constantly hinted to be representation of an aggressive, selfish, and most of all, ambitious leader. The aggression is self-explanatory (he’s constantly seen holding firearms all the time), but it is also his ego which deludes himself into being the greatest leader. His bloated ego is constantly noted in every arc without any exceptions. Circling back to the point on war, he’s a breathing symbol for humanity’s overwhelming ambition and desire which can and has lead to violence between two groups.

    • Scamp
      Posted September 7, 2012 at 10:11 pm | Permalink

      I’ve always wondered what the deal with the granddad and his gun stroking fetish was all about. Seems like such a strange trait.

      Also the fairies had a reason to be scared of Watashi. What was her last involvement in the city? To bring about its destruction through her awesome godlike powers.

  6. Posted September 7, 2012 at 4:44 am | Permalink

    The parallel to neanderthals and humans is a great one that I didn’t notice. I thought more of the fairies and humans as representing different aspects of humanity, but matching it to actual species that used to exist is more elegant. The references to modern science issues like that, the death of bananas, or the Voyager anomaly really help me feel more connected to the show; there often isn’t much to latch onto since it doesn’t have much in the way of narrative direction. Even if it’s doubtful that some of the connections were purposeful, it certainly doesn’t make them any less meaningful.

    • Scamp
      Posted September 7, 2012 at 10:13 pm | Permalink

      Previous episodes have definitely had the fairies represent parts of humanity rather than a successor, especially the fujoshi arc. In a way, this arc is also supposed to represent parts of humanity, in how the fairies rise and fall is supposed to mirror humanities too. I didn’t really go into that with this post, but I was kinda busy with other stuff :P

  7. Posted September 8, 2012 at 12:28 pm | Permalink

    You drew very interesting parallels, I have to admit. You say that you destroy comedy shows by writing about them, but to me, you just make Jinrui even stronger by doing this.

    One thing I have to ask though (completely unrelated to the show itself): what purpose did Haruhi have to air out of order?

    • Scamp
      Posted September 8, 2012 at 8:21 pm | Permalink

      By showing before and after the episode 6 confrontation relationship, they show two different sides to how Haruhi and Kyon interact. The two different versions compliment each other. Also there’s the obvious fact that the episodes after the ‘final’ episode are fucking boring when the finale happens halfway through

  8. Mr. Anon
    Posted September 8, 2012 at 7:20 pm | Permalink

    >So Muv Luv is now officially dropped.

    So which one of you guys are now going to pick up Hyouka?

    • Posted September 8, 2012 at 8:04 pm | Permalink

      Inushinde is the only one of us still watching it (Scamp dropped after the first episode, and I dropped it a third of the way through the third), and I don’t think he even likes it all that much.

    • Scamp
      Posted September 8, 2012 at 8:18 pm | Permalink

      When in doubt, Inushinde is probably watching it. While he’s seen less anime than myself or Shinmaru, he watches more currently airing stuff than both of us combined

  9. Golos
    Posted September 9, 2012 at 10:28 pm | Permalink

    >Dropped Muv Luv

    You made the right choice.

  10. CTB
    Posted September 14, 2012 at 4:52 am | Permalink

    crap, that last part blew me away. interesting incite.

  11. Posted September 14, 2012 at 2:38 pm | Permalink

    I’m surprised that nobody’s mentioned this so far, but it has more or less been proven that the size of an organism’s brain alone has little to do with its intelligence. Even brain size relative to the rest of the animal doesn’t really account for all of the differences. There doesn’t seem to be any measurable difference in intelligence between humans with different brains sizes, for instance.

    This is the reason whales are too dumb to avoid boat motors and shallow beaches they obviously can’t squeeze over despite having a brain the size of a Cadillac, yet humans with their tiny melon heads are capable of defying their own instincts to the point where they can dissect nature itself, learn how it works, and rearrange the face of the planet into a perfect habitat for more humans using this information.

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