「妖精さんの、ひみつのこうじょう」 (Yousei-san no, Himitsu no Koujou)
“The Fairies’ Secret Factory”

Tanaka Romeo and Kishi Seiji have thrown down the gauntlet: is it possible to make an anime that’s too weird? The answer, my friends, is a resounding “No!”

But Kami-sama, how in the world did I get stuck with the job of making sense of it?!

I can hardly begin to describe what happened, so for the sake of my own sanity points I’m just going to assume you’ve seen the episode and not even really try. From my perspective Jinrui is the best series of the season so far, for a few reasons. Mostly because it’s absolutely fearless, making no attempt to dumb down the source material in order to provide a traditional narrative or character development, or to be “tasteful”. Perhaps must obviously, because it’s fiercely, spectacularly funny – I haven’t had this many out-and-out laughs from a show since… well, what – maybe Mitsudomoe? Because it’s incredibly smart and actually about something, whether people want to see that ugly side of it or not. And because it explodes creativity from every pore from the second the episode starts until the moment it ends, and it’s living proof in a season riddled with formula that you can still produce anime that weren’t written by the Marketing Department.

There were several elements that jumped out in this second episode, which actually managed to up the insanity ante from the batshit premiere. The Fairies may not have been the bad guys this episode, but they continue to be subtly creepy at every turn (the “compass” had a Hitler mustache, for example). What do subtle hints like “The Fairies reproduce naturally when they’re having fun” mean, I wonder? Among the first notable turns this week was the revelation that Assistant-kun is someone to watch out for – his picture-book “Story of the Seven Children” (that narration!) had me howling and shaking my head in disbelief at the same time, and actually drove Compass (Kobayashi Yumiko) into Watashi’s pocket to “Reflect on the meaning of life in a dark place.” If that’s Assistant’s idea of a joke…

It’s as this point that the weirdness really starts. We meet the manager of FairyCo., who also happens the be the director of UNESCO (oh, boy…). He’s a sniveling, scheming climber (he cites Nixon as a model of “plausible deniability”) looking for any way to maneuver things to his advantage, and like the factory receptionist he seems to have never met the ones who actually run the plant. One by one Watashi is separated from her companions – Grandpa, Uketsuke-san, Assistant, and finally Manager-san. On a couple of occasions she’s saved from certain death by the mysterious “Hand of God” (the true genius of this will only be revealed later in the episode). Eventually she ends up confronting “The Board”, who are revealed to he none other than the headless, skinned chickens we met last week (or their relatives).

I can’t really justice to the sheer lunacy of this whole sequence. In effect the chickens have gained sentience somehow, trapped the Fairies who ran the plant in blister packs and plan to take over the world. Watashi can’t understand anything they say in their voices (kazoo-assisted) which sound like a cross between – well, a headless chicken – and Charlie Brown’s teacher. But Compass has a handy pair of translation glasses (I’m not at all suspicious of how the Fairies always seem to have just the right item at hand) which add fansubs to the chickens’ speech. The subs aren’t very good but the gist comes across – it’s megalomania mixed with a non-stop barrage of expletives.

Just when things are looking hopeless Assistant-kun shows up and attacks the scheming industrialist chickens with what scheming industrialist chickens fear most – exposure. With his mighty camera he sends them into full panicked retreat, often intercut with Sam Peckinpah-style slow-mo to the accompaniment of “Ave Maria”. As they flee through the factory (the headless chicken factory workers are wearing hair nets) they end up on T-shirts and pressed into DVDs and aluminum cans, and Pan-tan Mark II makes a brief appearance, gaily dancing. Finally Assistant and his camera drive the survivors off the edge of a cliff, “Thelma and Louise” style (“Shall we dive? I cannot fly.”). But like I said, words can’t really do all that justice.  And the deadpan nonchalance of Watashi and Assistant in the face of all this is what really seals the deal.

Some other things to watch out for here: while Grandpa is explaining his theory of what happened to Watashi (speculating that things like jars of marmalade and artificial sardines gained sentience too, but had no way to express it) UNESCO Director-san is giving a rambling speech about how he plans to establish an oligarchic “dictatorial democracy” and rule the world. And remember that “Hand of God” that kept helping Watashi out? Turns out the hand of God (“Kami”) was actually her now-sentient hair (“kami”) – the same hair which grew back thanks to “FairyCo. Hair Restorer”. And those headless chickens are still raining down from the sky, including through the stained-glass window of a ruined church were a young girl is feeding her siblings “weed soup”. Turns out the chickens are now “regularly appearing as offerings for the children, and stop moving whenever touched by human hands – as if genetically engineered to do so.”

There, was that so hard? Well, yes it was – and sadly, no attempt to capture Jinrui was Suitai Shimashita in words can possibly come close to the experience of watching it, so I think I’ll go ahead and do that again myself, just to try and pick up on some of the stuff I’m sure I missed. I hope Kishi and Uezo-san are able to keep this kind of manic creativity up for twelve episodes – I know enough of Romeo-san’s LNs to know that there’s plenty of insanity to drive the series, as long as the director and writer don’t lose their nerve. But one of the reasons I was so excited to see those two in charge of this adaptation is that whatever their faults, they’ve shown a willingness to go all-in on the bizarre and not pull their punches – I hope (and believe) this is a case of the perfect combination of original creator and anime staff.


  1. Them subs lol.
    And I think I’ll pass on eating chicken for a few days.
    This episode was crazy but I loved it from start to finish.
    Want more of this.

    Heh. Pan-tan…

  2. LOL Ave Mari Choir version. Love that piece, but in here it is just funny XDDDDDDD Especially during the poor girl and her family in the church part. Really, just LOL

      1. I notice Ave Maria the moment it started. It is interesting that this charming piece become more wild known through anime. Now I think anime is a advertizement for pieces like this. I notice most comments for classic music on YouTube are like, “xxxx anime bought me here” and so. It is like people now days listen less and less about classic music, not saying other types are not great.

        If you like classic music, “A Moon filled Sky_violin”, “Amazing Grace” sing by Hayley Westenra or by flute/violin, “Seven Children (Japanese Nursery Song)“_Piano, and “Canon” in D major Violin/Piano, are also wonderful to listen to.

        I wonder if Jinrui will introduce other pieces in the future, because Ave Maria was used very well here XD

  3. This show has a lot of steel balls and brilliance to pull it off what was definitely a mix of the surreal, social commentary and black comedy. Couldn’t stop laughing. :))

    This, ladies and gentlemen, is a REAL winner that is an exception to the “three-episode rule”.

  4. I haven’t laugh at a any cartoon this much in a twisted way since Invader Zim. I was even laughing through the picture book…. there’s something wrong with me o___O but you knew it was only going to get worse.

    The last comment before the epilog…. I know my hair has a mind of it’s own to but it never once saved me from anything.

  5. All of this is more akin to a hilarious parable of humanity’s loss of autonomy through dependence on leadership and on companies despite their fraudulence, rather than general weirdness.

    A good example of the first would be how during the first episode, during the town meeting, the a man from the council suggests an awful solution towards incident. Despite being rejected, Watsashi’s grandfather, a leader in the village, steps forth with the same proposition and it is immediately taken. Similarly, the girls in the village want for food, but are unwilling to kill, until Watashi steps forward. Furthermore, when they fail, Watashi uses fear and blackmail to stay in power.

    The company is a similar. Despite being manager of the plant, this man is essentially an useless pawn, unaware of what even goes into food. The only real (human) player in the company is the director who, naturally, is a schemer and lives for rank climbing, ignoring the what goes on in the lower echelons in the company. In episode 1, Watashi and her assistant grade the food as “fair,” in the name of positive reinforcement. The synthetic bread is fucking made of garbage. And while Watashi mocks the food quality in her mind, we remember that even she used the hair growth potion, despite its shadiness.

    The greatest part of the episode is Assistant’s use of the camera. I mean, how many companies have taken huge, huge hits because an exposé? However, despite knowing the truth about their shady origins, people still consume their products.

    I’m not to sure about this, but the fairies may represent city life as a whole. Even when separated by only a few layers of wood, they lack the ability to interact with others, much like the decline of interaction between neighbors.

    Jinrui is completely fearless in making fun of everything, and better yet, it’s funny. Very very funny. This is making an early bid for best of season, neck and neck with Moyashimon.

    1. After thinking about the episode some more, I’d also like to throw out a couple more presumptions to that poorly typed out, broken English-littered mess of post above.

      The headless chickens and fairies themselves may be very well be an extremely literal representation of upper management. The heads of the company are exactly what they are portrayed as. The previous, childlike simpleton heads of the company are usurped by a newer, scheming staff who run around like headless chickens (get it?) when under pressure. While the term is a Western colloquialism, it may still very well apply, functioning as a stab against upper management choosing awfully poor, seemingly random solutions in times of crisis.

      The ending scene may also be shot both at man’s tendency to dub seemingly supernatural events as miracles and at the laziness which almsgiving can sometimes produce. As seen in the previous episode, the poor girl in the church is one of the few girls desperate for food, yet unable to kill. She wants to survive, yet lacks the conviction to develop the skills necessary. In other words, she is lazy. Yet here, her lack of conviction is awarded with food, hilariously sent from “the above,” through a church’s stained glass window. She’s spoon fed with a temporary fix that only delays the inevitable and prolongs the period of ignorance. It is very likely that the same girl will become even lazier from the experience and will once more blow off obtaining a necessary skill set for survival.

      1. Another take on the first episode scene with turning chicken into meat, is the state of our current society. Just remembering some programs/documentaries many children and housewives don’t even know where their food come from or the process to turn the raw food into the packed food you buy at supermarkets. They picture meat as those shrink wrapped trays, not the living cows, pigs or chickens. Some kids in another program when potatoes are mentioned they can’t link the word to the round, brown Tuber shape but the long strips of french fries/chips. Thus showing that all the women in the village don’t know what happens between the hen and chicken meat. And don’t even mention that the men can’t hunt for their own survival.

      2. On the chicken: Many blogs have noticed this already, and I’m in total agreement with you. However, I do believe that the imagery goes two ways. Either way, it’s a brilliant parody on humanity’s decline and a completely hilarious sight gag which I love entirely.

        On the villagers: This is probably one of the coolest parts of Jinrui and one of my favorite themes. Keep in mind the setting and the expectations that it brings to the table. Naturally, the pastoral setting oftentimes brings to mind escape, retreat, and peace. The farmland is often thought of a separate, relaxed, green world from the smokey, mechanical hubs which we call our cities. However, the relationship between the city and farmland is completely reversed. The countryside is no longer the provider and is now completely dependent on the fairies (the urbanized working class!!!) who provide products with their factories. The farmers, of all people, are the ones who rely on industrial production for meat, the one product they should keep in stock. They can neither feed themselves nor have the drive to learn how. The incompetency of the villagers mocks the viewer’s expectations of the countryside and leaves an intriguing role reversal between the settings.

    2. I think there’s risk in trying too hard to quantify every gag in Jinrui as symbolic. The series is obviously a satire and there’s a lot of biting social commentary here, but I think sometime Tanaka (and Kishi/Uezu) are just trying to be funny. Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar: or, as Paul Benedict put it on “Seinfeld”, “Well, Ms. Benes, cartoons are a little bit like gossamer. And one doesn’t dissect gossamer.”

      In short: I like the kitty.

      Now, as relates specifically to the chickens, I do see the two competing interpretations running about and I think this one is pretty clear. In addition to the obviously hilarious sight gag, I think the allusion here is “running around like headless chickens” as Click suggests – not chicken as in “cowardly”. That metaphor is not nearly so well-known or widely used in Japan as it is in America.

      1. Over-analysis is always a danger with identifying themes in a cultural work, especially in one as satirical as this. While I find it rather unlikely, there always remains the chance that the entirety of Jinrui has no connection to the real world at all. However, even if the social commentary isn’t there, Jinrui would still manage to survive on its own with its absurdly high entertainment value, much similar to Mawaru Penguindrum. Even if everything flies over your head, you’re still marvelously entertained. It’s hard to imagine anyone being able to sit through any of the Assistant’s scenes without a straight face.

        But hey, look on the bright side! So far, none of us are trying to assassinate John Lennon or Ronald Reagan for being a supposed ‘phony’!

  6. I think all the amusing parables (and I think there was a reference or three to other anime tossed in) can still be boiled down to: What the hell did I just watch?

    I haven’t seen anything so weird since Trapeze.

  7. “Taste like chicken” just have a whole new level of meaning, I wonder if the “Godhair” is made of chicken too. This series is why I love anime: unpredictable, surreal and fun to watch at the same time. I hope there are more anime like this!

    Drive by
  8. Somebody on the “Jinrui” production team is a Cowboy Bebop fan — “Ave Maria”, the shootout, and the fall through a stained-glass window are all from “Ballad of Fallen Angels”. That makes the assistant into Vicious!

  9. What do subtle hints like “The Fairies reproduce naturally when they’re having fun” mean, I wonder?

    Enzo no ecchi. I thought Stilts was the only one. (>: )

    -I really don’t understand why people(chicken in this episode) , who thinks highly of themselves, cause they have the power, say stupid nonsense just to make themselves look cool. But when you really corner them, they become afraid and still spout those stupid f*cking nonsense(reminds me of those DOTA tournaments back in those days). And when they have a comeback, they become so arrogant and still spout nonsense to make them look cool again. *sighs*

    -Those translation glasses tells me that no matter how convenient the item it is, there will always be flaws in it.

    – Thinking that this fairies were wrapped, I bet they were also manufacture as ……. this?

    -This scene reminds me in an office setting. When a person has an ambition aim for a higher position, I somehow see those supervisors faces saying “BRING THAT STUPID FAG DOWN!”.

    -Lol. Nice one spotting hair(髪,kami) and God(神,Kami) gag. I never thought of that while I was watching show.

  10. Again, what did i just watch? hahaha… not really, this is saner than the previous episode but I need to rewatch it again to get the whole picture. this is a good brain practice since i’ll have exams soon and currently it’s malfunctioning hahaha

  11. This episode made me care less about the show than I already did (ie: little).
    I got small laughs out of the intimidation tactics and positive reinforcement joke last time, but this time all the humour fell flat for me.
    While I believe I “got” all of the satire, nearly all of it felt weird for weirdness sake or overly heavy-handed, if not both.
    All in all, “Jinrui” feels like a failed attempt to hide bitterness with surrealism.
    One more episode to find out…

    Bio D
  12. the only words think on this ep yea if anyone seen chicken run indeed the chickens are revolting!!!

    yea take vid camera flash shot take all down in many way lmao really who came up with show this more YES YES YES i want more it & what else to expect on it?

  13. Okay I took your advice and saw the episode and am now caught up.

    ….. if I had a fetish for odd shows that make no sense to the normal human being and makes up its own logic that DOES make sense, I think I would have a boner right now.


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