All for the sake of a bad pun! And yet, this was the most interesting arc of Jinrui yet.
From the headless fairy football, to the grim dogs, to the perfectly paced build up toward the climax reveal in the last two minutes - Jinrui these past two weeks has had me hooked from beginning to end. Whereas the last couple of weeks had their relative ups and downs, I felt that here, this arc excelled in just not giving a f*** and going all out, splashing mindboggling time paradoxes, well placed humor, and repetitive scenes to create a witty conclusion. It was nonsensical, and yet, there’s still enough space to go on talking about how Jinrui delivers on a meta level as well as an enjoyable one.
Looking back, Jinrui‘s plotline has been inconsistent in being chronological. This is the second arc to be a prequel to the actual story in the show, but it doesn’t feel or function as a prequel as most would do. We don’t expand our characters’ histories in the most fleshed out way possible. Rather, Jinrui follows more of a thematic coherency than a plot line one. Each arc has delivered some sort of ‘theme’ or ‘focus’ and pokes humor at genres along the way. This arc was something a little more special. I didn’t feel like there was any sort of social commentary around; instead, high game mindscrew was put into effect, resulting in complete nonsensicalness. But the brilliance of it is that Jinrui still manages to be complex, intricate and sound. There’s a fine line between becoming ridiculous and being brilliant, and this show manages to tread exactly on that line – an accomplishment worth noting, considering how anime tends to fall on one side or the other most of the time.
The episode spends a good while recapping last week’s events (I got confused at one point if I was watching the same episode because of it) but retells the story in a much more coherent way. The notation of “First time” or “fifth time” really helps sort the events out into chronological order. There are new scenes to bridge out one time loop to another, such as how our Narrator really lost her watch, or the production of the bananas. It certainly helped me understand what happened last week, but even I can’t keep up with so many time paradoxes. Or “Paradogs” as the show finally reveals that all of the buildup was for a lame pun, but a pun of brilliance no less. I know it’s corny, it’s ridiculous – but that’s why it’s funny. As someone who doesn’t get anime humor too often, I found this build up to be a perfect subversion of fictional storyline mechanics. We’re all told that a story, in order to be coherent and interesting, needs to follow a precise order: a setting, the characters, the problem, the build up followed by the climax and then the resolution. In this arc, all of this is swapped around – we have a character whose identity is only established by future events, a problem that none of us know about and a whimsical resolution and climax.
What’s interesting are the ideas presented behind the story. For one thing, the fact that Assistant-kun is exactly the sum of the Narrator’s wishes when she spoke at the tea party makes me wonder if the Assistant really is a figment of her desires. Does he even exist? We know he was found as one of the last of his ethnicity and that he had no sense of identity, but other than that, we know literally nothing else about him. He is quiet, he has soft hair….all of the things Assistant-kun embodies are the same wishes of our Narrator. It would make sense then, that the Narrator would be able to understand Assistant-kun in the first place when he barely talks, as seen in the arc with Y and the manga panels. She literally created him. If that’s true, then our Assistant is the ideal foil to Narrator’s Grandfather, who was everything our Narrator disliked (and thus spoke out about the traits that would make Assistant who he is in the first place). But what does this all exactly mean? Are identity constructions so simple? Do we just ‘absorb’ what people say about us and become what society deems us to be? The theorizing stops here for me as Jinrui leaves us with straws to grab at again, but I can’t help but feel that underneath all this comedic relief there’s something to be looked at. Of course, meta isn’t the defining point of this show. Topped by some excellent humor – the timing of Assistant-kun’s ability to speak, as well as the reveal that the Pervy Assistant our Narrator met was actually her Grandfather – and you’ve got a fantastic episode here. Constructively speaking, the episode doesn’t have much to go for it, but since when has Jinrui ever been about ‘solid construction’? It takes pleasure in its whimsical hilariousness.
And Jinrui messes with our heads for the better of it. Weighing existential and identity conflicts along with the subtle, dark nature of the fairies with the idea of a ‘paradog’ reminds me why I watch anime in the first place; sure, there’s a bit of randomness, there’s a bit of meta, but in the end, it’s all good fun. We watch media to enjoy and to consume – and Jinrui proves that consistently, if nothing less.
Enjoyment Level: 10/10