The Secret Stars of Anime: Humanity Has Declined

One of my favorite anime of all time, Humanity Has Declined (Japanese title: Jinrui wa Suitai Shimashita) is one of those anime series that reminds you that Japan likes to make some… weird stuff. Based on a light novel series by Romeo Tanaka (who also wrote for the visual novel Rewrite, which has been covered on this blog before), the basic premise is that, well, humanity’s population has declined due to various reason, and the world is instead slowly being overrun by “fairies”. These fairies are both incredibly inventive and incredibly stupid, they have a liking for sweets, and they multiply when they are having fun. The main character, whose name we never know, is a girl whose job is to be a mediator between the fairies and the humans, and who has quite the snarky personality to help deal with the fairies. The anime has a number of one- or two-episode story arcs which are told in anachronistic order, showcasing some of the various, crazy adventures that the Mediator ends up in thanks to these fairies.

It really is something to be seen to be believed. In fact, if you have not already, I encourage you to go and watch the first two episodes right now, because those episodes have some of the most ridiculous scenes I have ever seen in anime. That said, I will be talking about a different episode/story arc of the show; specifically, episode 9. In this single-episode story, the Mediator and a couple of fairies get stranded on a deserted island. The fairies quickly make the Mediator their “queen”, and soon enough, the craziest game of Civilization begins as the Mediator tries to run a country of fairies.

It’s a good thing she’s the ruler, and not these fairies, right?

Did I mention that this show also features a good amount of social satire in addition to the rest of its insanity?

Warning: spoilers for episode 9 after the jump. No spoilers for the rest of the show, and if you want to just watch episode 9, you can.

Running a Country is Hard

While the Mediator is at first unsure of taking up the role of the queen of this group of fairies and the island that is now their country, she soon realizes that she can take advantage of their blind obedience to make things better for her. The fairies build her a house, develop electricity, and just overall make life comfortable for her, and she just has to make them sweets and take audiences and make some decisions here and there. As the fairies multiply from the fulfillment of work, the country soon starts to thrive, hits a small speed bump, and then really takes off once the fairies discover candy-producing plants. Suddenly, the island is a thriving paradise where Mediator can live comfortably, not having to worry about making sweets for the fairies, and everyone just spends their time celebrating and having fun.

Naturally, things go downhill fast. The fairies start getting bored of the constant celebration and want to make monuments for themselves. Said monuments get out of hand and ruin the soil, which pretty much ruins the rest of the ecosystem as well as Mediator’s comfortable life. Everyone is depressed, and Mediator decides she must leave the island, but… well, you can watch what happens then for yourself.

I’m sure someone’s tried to recreate this in Civilization games but it’s not a good idea in real life.

This picture of the rise and fall of a civilization works quite well as a piece of satire, and might hit a bit too close to home for some with how quickly the economic boom turned into economic collapse. We can look at how Mediator failed in running the “country” properly, but she was trained in fairy mediation, not government, so that was to be expected. Some specifics of the episode might be relatable to the current political and economic climate, but as I would prefer these posts not get too political, I will leave that analysis to someone else.

Rather, I think the thing I most took away from this episode was that, simply, ruling a country is hard. Granted, I already knew that, as the very thought of being responsible for an entire country of people intimidates me. Seeing the specifics of someone being thrust into a leadership position and trying–and failing–to make it work, though, helps make things clear on just how hard government is. It is so easy to do something you think is for the good of your nation, only for it to turn out to be bad in the long run, possibly long after you have left office. At least the fairies are a bit too stupid to think past their depression; in modern society, the usual response is to blame either the current leadership or whoever was the last major leader whose policies we disagreed with.

Christians have one verse in particular to keep in mind when dealing with ruling authorities, though. In Romans 13, Paul instructs Christians in Rome to submit to and not resist Roman authority, claiming that all authority figures have been instituted there by God. Many who talk about this verse will focus more on the exceptions to this verse, i.e. when to disobey authorities because obeying them means disobeying God. However, I think the issue here goes beyond just a matter of what laws we follow or reject: it is a matter of respect for authority figures and rulers. Regardless of whether they are good for the country or not, God has put them in a very difficult position, and while ideally a good leader would work with God, who knows all about how to govern people, reality tends not to lean that way. It almost should not come as a surprise when leaders make mistakes, even big ones.

As such, I always have some respect for those in power above me, even if I do not agree with their policies. Even if they do make things worse in some ways, as long as they are holding the country overall together, I think that is already impressive enough. At the very least, nothing as bad as Mediator’s attempt at ruling the fairies has happened yet.

Humanity Has Declined can be streamed on Crunchyroll. While gore and sexual content are pretty much nonexistent, the satirical nature of the show might not suit some viewers, especially as the show does take some digs at religion.

12 thoughts on “The Secret Stars of Anime: Humanity Has Declined

  1. There’s a running joke that being the President ages you by ten years in four, and I think there’s some truth to that. You wonder why anyone would ever want to be elected King (Which Presidents in America effectively are, rather ironically), but there are still people who do it. The lure of power and importance turns slowly into the hell that is being hated by half the country for flimsy reasons at best, being accused of being the Antichrist (I have this idea that the real Antichrist, if such a thing will exist, would actually be handsome, charismatic, strangely void of personality, and rather well-liked and ruthlessly effective as a leader– For a while), and a mountain of paperwork that never ends.

    I’m not sure why we disrespect the people who would willingly do that job in America, but I don’t think we should. I think God had it right the first time.

    1. On a side note, your idea of the Antichrist pretty much matches how he is portrayed in the Left Behind series of Christian fiction novels about the end times. Considering how he is meant to be a deceiver, it does make sense that he’d be charismatic.

      1. I’m not sure a being like the Antichrist is a thing that will exist, to be fair. The Bible mentions multiple deceivers and false prophets in most translations, and a physical appearance of Satan on Earth in Revelation, but there’s nothing about an “Antichrist” in the sense people seem to interpret that term. It would honestly be a bit strange if the Devil did something like that, given his tendency to disseminate information and express himself in a more deliberately fictional, media-traveling form.

        But yes, if such a being did exist, it would presumably act like the Left Behind entity.

  2. This is a show that I remember seeing ads for when it was airing, but never got around to checking out myself. This is a good reminder to do that!

    1. WHAT? You haven’t seen this glorious anime? It has all the brilliance of Tanaka Romeo with all the absurdity of Nichijou. Also, Mai Nakahara’s perfectly dry sarcasm throughout the show is icing on the cake. Definitely one of my favorite anime.

  3. I loved Humanity Has Declined. I think it may have been the very first show that started as it was still airing, and I thought it was really witty and enjoyable. Good to know some people still remember it.

  4. It’s good to see an article on this anime. I was wondering if you guys would make one on it. Informative as always. 🙂

      1. Unfortunately, a dub for this show seems unlikely. Sentai Filmworks already released this show on Blu-ray and DVD sub-only in December 2013, and while they do sometimes add dubs and re-release shows, it’s been almost three years since its release, so a dub re-release is unlikely at this point. As fun as it would be to hear an English voice actor try to out-snark Mai Nakahara, I guess the show just lacks mainstream appeal.

        That said, I should mention that this show was among one of the very first shows Sentai Filmworks released on Blu-ray without a dub. Up until that point, Sentai would only release a show on Blu-ray if they were also dubbing it, claiming that the high costs of Blu-ray replication made it only worthwhile if the show was popular enough for a dub. This show, along with “The Pet Girl of Sakurasou” (another great, underrated show) and “So, I Can’t Play H” were part of an experiment to see if sub-only Blu-rays could still be profitable. Clearly, the experiment was a success, as ever since these shows’ release, Sentai has sought to release as many of their new shows with Blu-rays as possible, dub or no dub (though sometimes they are forced by the licensors to release the Blu-ray much later than the DVD).

        So as bummed as I am that this show didn’t get the popularity for a dub, I’m glad that it got to landmark a very good change for Sentai Filmworks and the North American anime industry as a whole (Sentai wasn’t the first to start releasing sub-only Blu-rays but they arguably made it the industry norm for as many new shows to be released on Blu-ray if possible).

  5. Added to queue 🙂 I think that rather than “anachronistic,” you probably meant achronological or unchronological. (I looked for a way to send this as a private message but didn’t find one)

  6. Just started watching this show and I must say, it is ridiculous, but interesting satire on society. Another point that Paul made in his letter to the Timothy was to pray for our leaders. It seems like a minor thing to do, but as Christians we know prayer has power. Some find it hard to pray for some of our leaders, especially those we consider enemies or opponents, but remember who was the most important leader in Rome when Paul wrote that letter? Nero.

    The same Nero who executed Christians brutally (eaten by dogs, crucified then set on fire, etc). This same person, Paul exhorted Timothy and the believers in his church to pray for. Let us remember that being a leader is hard, but also that even the worst of leaders need our prayer.

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