Some notes and views on Jinrui wa Suitai Shimashita
I was planning to make this a carefully written coherent entry, but that's not happening. So this is going to be more or less point form notes before more of my thoughts slip out of my mind.
I was previously somewhat ambivalent on Jinrui. I take that back because in retrospect there were only two episodes that I felt were beating me over the head and I've become convinced that those episodes were necessary. I now feel that Jinrui was the most interesting show of the Summer 2012 season; it was the one that most consistently fascinated me and made me think and it had the highest number of moments of awesome. It was at least sometimes subtle and beautiful, which is more than most shows ever manage.
I wrote my theory of decline partly with Jinrui in mind. I think that a low birth rate is the best explanation for humanity's decline, but that's partly because Jinrui doesn't really explain the decline. There's some evidence for it, especially in the school episodes (11 and 12), but I think there's also some counter evidence. In particular, in both the first and third episodes we see a fair number of other girls and young women of Watashi's rough age (and in the first episode they're all in one village).
(If anything, young men seem to be the missing element. Although we do see some of them other than the Assistant.)
As I tweeted, I think that the school in #11-12 isn't there to educate the students but instead to socialize them, something that's necessary because many children are growing up without other children around (as suggested by Watashi's opening narration in #11). One strong reason I feel this is that both Watashi and Y are clearly both very smart and quite well read (Watashi from the very moment that she shows up at the school); 'unschooled' clearly doesn't equal 'uneducated' in their cases. In any school that really wanted to put them in an appropriate grade, they'd rapidly be moved up through the grade levels. But instead the school forces them to sit in various early grades for a fair amount of time, which makes perfect sense if the real goal is to socialize the kids instead of just teach them.
(As noted, I kind of think that the school shut down because it wasn't working. As demonstrated by Watashi and Y's experiences, its pupils may have been getting progressively weirder and more disturbed over time and the school environment itself may have been feeding that. This is probably taking this theory too far.)
For the record, if people have any doubt by now:
Liked: absolutely, at least right now. Once I got going with it, it was the highlight of the season (against strong competition from Eureka Seven AO).
Rewatch: quite possibly, because I strongly suspect that there are things I will pick up on a second watch.
(I do hope for someone to do a roundup post on Jinrui commentary and analysis. I want to read it all, because I'm sure there's things about Jinrui that I missed.)
Sidebar: Jinrui and Eureka Seven AO
The quick summary is that these are both good shows but they are so different that I can't compare them directly. Jinrui is a show that is very much about (meta-)commentary, analysis, and paying close attention to the non-obvious. AO is a much more conventional show that is at the same time somewhat less obvious and more subtle about things; it never pushes its themes to the forefront in the way that Jinrui sometimes does. You can enjoy AO purely on its surface narrative while I'm not sure that Jinrui is always interesting at that level.
Despite all this I found Jinrui more interesting and fascinating than AO; it made me think in a way that AO didn't. Jinrui also had more straight up awesome moments than AO did (eg, eg). This is not to say that AO has been without awesomeness; AO just spreads it out over more time rather than concentrating it in focused moments.