Three reasons Humanity Has Declined deserves your attention:
Wit. In a medium where appreciation of irony often seems at a premium, Humanity Has Declined stands head and shoulders above with its bracingly open satire. In the course of just twelve episodes, the show sets its sardonic sights on consumerism, manga culture, corporate hierarchy, government, religion, and more. This is not an anime that pulls its punches.
Whimsy. You might think using three-inch-tall, permanently smiling fantasy creatures as a primary plot driver is strange enough, but that’s by no means the limit of Romeo Tanaka’s imagination. Try skinned chickens falling like manna from the heavens as the Ave Maria echoes in the background. Try a sentimental homecoming between two anthropomorphized space probes. Try the rise and fall of entire fairy civilizations in twenty minutes. I could go on.
Stellar voice acting. Humanity Has Declined wouldn’t be half the show it is without Mai Nakahara, who knows exactly how to sell the protagonist’s deadpan humor. The rest of the cast is nothing to scoff at, either. Miyuki Sawashiro turns in an almost predictably excellent performance as Y, while the various fairy voices serve as a perfect mix of saccharine innocence and morbid darkness.
9/10. This is show of the year material.
It may have a lot of flowers, but Natsuyuki Rendezvous is not a pretty show. I’m not talking about the visuals, of course; the technical execution is fluent enough to make discussion superfluous. No, the ugliness lies in the characters and the story built around them, one that’s rent with jealousy, dishonesty, and selfishness.
This dark, cynical view of romance is actually refreshing, in a way – a mature acknowledgment that well-intentioned misunderstandings don’t even begin to cover the depths to which human relationships can plunge. Natsuyuki Rendezvous simply makes its point a little too well. It does a good job of showing how flawed its main cast can be, but often forgets to balance the negative with a little of the positive. Even if the intent is to illustrate that love isn’t the panacea that it’s often cast as, it’s hard to take this lesson in stride when the characters seem drawn towards their own destruction from the outset. The heart of the story, after all, kicks into action when one side of the central love triangle gets himself drunk, then in a fit of self-loathing agrees to let the ghost of his beloved’s dead former husband take over his body. It takes him nearly the entire series to realize that this might not have been such a good idea.
I wouldn’t go so far as to condemn Natsuyuki Rendezvous’ characters as bad people. On a logical level, their words and actions make sense to me, given their respective histories. On an emotional level, though, the series veers dangerously close to making them impossible to relate to, something that never bodes well for a romantic story. It’s this division that leaves me rather ambivalent about the show as a whole. If you want a quantitative verdict, I’ll give it a 6 of 10, but more so than usual, I don’t think a number is nearly representative enough.
Tumblr oughta love this.
Lookin’ pretty spiffy. Here’s to hoping that Production I.G can leave Guilty Crown in the past, in favor of another Ghost in the Shell. I’d even go for a repeat of Eden of the East.