Featherless Chickens; Jinrui Episode 1

“Um. Uh. Whut. What?”…..

…would probably say everything about this show, which wavers between being surreal and bizarre to become the one of the strangest shows I have ever seen. It seems like there’s competition every season- first Penguindrum, then Nazo no Kanojo, to be triumphed with the strangest, sickening delight of an episode which features fairies, bloody exploding dancing bread loaves, and a headless slimy chicken running amok. You heard that right.

Underneath the ridiculousness however, lies some really interesting commentary; in a world where humans are declining, fairies are taking over. Whereas our image of fairies are those of mystical, wonderous creatures that fly back and forth and spark magic in the world, Jinrui‘s fairies are rather the eccentricities of humankind imposed on, and contrasted with, our worst points and traits. What do I mean? The idea that fairies are obsessed with consumer products- from all sorts of sweets to sardines to their very selves. Egocentric and completely ignorant of their surroundings, these fairies represent the worst of humanity, but are ironically doing the very best for themselves. Their intelligence has served them well, creating bizarre machines that make their way of life a comfort- almost a ridiculous extreme of comfort. Even the main character, after applying a bottle of hair-growing back shampoo, wakes up to find her hair perfect and comments “It worked too well.” And she’s right.  Jinrui is a show about contrasting the extremes. Underneath the bright, dazzling colors (similar to Tsuritama‘s design) and happy faces lies a horrific portrayal of human doom. Where the end result is a human being (aka a fairy), happy in their cubicle, unaware and free to the point where moral and ethical boundaries don’t exist. Where starvation and death is talked with a laugh, because these things don’t exist in the fairies’ society. Where reproduction is plentiful and needs limits because then fairies would overpopulate the entire world. The idea of a fairy is the perfected human. It is the image we desire, based on the traits we admire best- integrity, love for oneself, intelligence and being able to use the best of our survival traits. But whereas we look at these traits in the most ultimate creation here, fairies are depicted as lazy, innocuous beings that are too perfect, too self indulgent, and so oblivious that they are ridiculous. The world has become a utopia, created with dystopian elements. Where everyting is too perfect to the point where it’s almost sickening. But it’s equally hilarious, because in watching Jinrui, we are watching a show that pokes dark humor at our very selves, at our very core. At the hypocrisies that we build ourselves upon. Jinrui is a show about humanity. Humanity at its worst, but ironically, creating itself the best sort of environment- if you can call it that way.

That’s not to say this episode had its faults- the comedy for this show felt way too forced and disjointed. Because Jinrui is over the top in its portrayal and satire of the human race, it is also over the top in trying to be over the top. It tries too hard. As a result, a lot of things that could have popped up more as funny things felt overdone or just…out of place. A nice touch I did like was the protagonist, who anchors the line between the show becoming a surreal and twisted landscape of satire, to becoming the very sugary, colorful sweet that is so overloaded with happiness that it gives you a headache. She’s bold, she’s witty and she’s frank. Most of all, she’s the most sane and human character (yes, even she is twisted, but at least that’s realistic) in a show where everything is surreal and manipulated to become one extreme or the other. As a mediator between fairies and humans, she’s also a mediator between the two contrasting halves of the show, allowing them to complement each other well enough to make a show that doesn’t overstep its boundaries. Overall, we’re looking at a very interesting show here- kind of like the more egocentric and ridiculous version of Penguindrum combined with Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei, sharing the same bizarre commentary, parallels and contrasts and satirical take on society’s hypocrisy.  You all know far too well how much I’m a fan of anything that bears resemblance to these shows, so there’s a good chance I might blog about it. The only issue is: how long can this show keep it up?

Enjoyment Level: 8/10

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4 responses to “Featherless Chickens; Jinrui Episode 1

  1. Good call on the fairies! Those were exactly my thoughts, and so many people have been saying “oh my gosh this show so random” that it’s great to see people poking at Jinrui’s weird exterior and looking for the meat. It’s strange and avant-garde but I think it’s definitely there.

    Interestingly enough: Jinrui is written by Romeo Tanaka, i.,e. famous writer of incredibly complex and often depressing visual novels. I’d never heard of Jinrui until it was set to be adapted, but it looks like the series was Tanaka’s chance to goof off, pay his bills and troll the people of Japan with biting social commentary. Look at it that way, and maybe the director’s a pretty good fit considering his previous work and obvious proclivities–it’s only been two episodes and it’s succeeded at all those things already!

    I don’t think this will be anything more than Yokohama Kaidashi Kikou+Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei, but that’s alright. I wish that they’d somehow adapt Cross Channel into the best anime ever but I’ll take whatever animated Romeo Tanaka I can get.

    • Wow, I had no idea that Jinrui was written by Tanaka- that definitely makes sense now, because I’ve heard a thing or two about her novels as well. I really enjoy how off the wall and surreal the humor is and how it clashes with how simple, straightforward and biting the commentary is. It’s a great combination that sets up for good laughs, great energy, and interesting commentary about society and human traits overall.

      I guess people’s criticisms about the ‘randomness’ of Jinrui kind of ring a bell to me in terms of how they seem to skim over the commentary just for the aesthetics because that’s exactly what happened with FLCL, when people said that it too, was random and failed to notice the symbolism and coming of age story. I do agree that Jinrui competes on the level of Sayonara (especially when the writer of SZS is in charge of Joshiraku, a show that’s also airing this season and happens to offer some insightful commentary- alas, it’s just not for me though) but I find it to me more…entertaining and refreshing? A problem I faced with Sayonara was how repetitive (and I understand that the repetition was part of the process in the first place) the jokes got at certain points. But I do love how both shows have a good taste in dark humor.

  2. YES! This series is very much like Tsuritama as far as amazing artwork goes and the fairies chat was also so random and hilarious, but the first episode killed me with the epic bread robot and the naked chicken running around? Seriously I could not stop laughing!

    I love this series so far because it can be random and out there, but yeah that aside I am curious to see where things go who knows maybe we have found the second Mawaru Penguindrum? If so this is going to be a fun ride <3

    • It’s so bizarre! But I love it and it’s really fun to blog. I wouldn’t call it Penguindrum yet, but oh man, it definitely shares some of the same traits and atmosphere at times. I’m really excited to see how much energy it has!

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