「妖精さんたちの、さぶかる」 (Yōsei-san-tachi no, Sabukaru)
“The Fairies’ Subculture”

In 22 minutes, Jinrui wa Suitai Shimashita pretty much obsoleted Bakuman as a chronicle of the manga industry.

Well, not really – I love Bakuman, so please watch it or read it if you haven’t. But that doesn’t change the fact that Jinrui has somehow managed to shoehorn even more brilliance and mass tonnage of ideas into an episode than it did last week. As high as my expectations for this show were – and it was my pick for best series of the Summer – through four episodes they’ve been exceeded. Jinrui is categorically one of the smartest and most insightful anime I’ve ever seen.

After stripping the flesh from the doujinshi trade last week and laying it bare for all to see, Jinrui turns its attention to the mainstream manga industry to conclude the two-part “Faries Subculture” arc. I know a little about the manga industry – I mean, I’m a huge fan, I’ve watched Bakuman, I’ve read up on it as much as I could – but I’m certainly no expert. As blown away as I was by this episode, someone who really knew that world (or even lived it) must surely have been even more floored – in a very disquieting sort of way. Tanaka Romeo’s satire is savage and brutal – absolutely pitiless and to the point.

Plainly speaking, there was enough intellectual content here to power three or four episodes easily (and the line to see that would form behind me). Any one of the subsections of the plot could have been explored further – and even more, the genre parodies could have been extended without any difficulty whatsoever. But what we got was a non-stop barrage of satire and farce, entertainment and hilarity for 22 blistering minutes. Indeed, as Watashi suggested, this scenario of being trapped in a manga was the Fairies doing. Some of the ground rules were truly ingenious – the brighter the lighting, the more popular the manga is because it means more people have it open. The panels ascend and descend based on popularity, and in order to “clear” a panel, something exciting has to happen (Da-dum!).

In reality, of course, what Jinrui is showing us here is a dramatization in the life of a mangaka – with all the requisite pressures and perils. Here, Y is forced to confront a completely different set of realities than she did as a “manzine” creator – this is all about mass appeal and financial survival. She proves herself adept at gimmicks and flavor of the moment tricks, but her style doesn’t have much staying power. Fortunately Joshu-kun is (in addition to practically being moe) both artistically talented (as we saw in episode 2) and pretty sharp – he’s the one who figures out most of the tricks of the trade the Fairies have left for the trio to navigate. And because this is mainstream manga, he’s thankfully not forced into any unsavory situations by the unscrupulous Y (though if there’d been another male trapped with them, who knows).

Waiting at the end of all this, of course, is escape – or death, or whatever the nebulous fate the Fairies have promised for failure is. The agony is that the manga needs to maintain popularity and find a way to end while still on top – a near impossible challenge. This is the challenge of the mangaka – find a genre, climb in the polls and dodge the editors comments in the margin (“Only editors can use the margin!”), keep things exciting. The first course the trio takes comes from Assistant’s suggestion of a chess manga – because “People used to think analog games were moe”. When this turns boring he suggests baseball, but Watashi declares that “even more boring”. Even more genres are tried – Saint Seiya rip-off, romance – until Y hits on the dubious idea of throwing a cliffhanger at the reader every panel. Brilliant idea, right?

And so it seems – for a while. After all, Y tells the others, “If you give them anticipation and impact with every panel, they’ll ignore what came before!” And the manga rises in the polls, all the way to #1. “New character introduced! A new arc begins! Anime announcement!!!” All is bliss – except the readers eventually grow tired of being brought to the edge and never allowed to finish time and time again, and the manga becomes a hopeless tangle of genres and styles that makes no sense whatsoever. It begins to slip in the polls, forcing all kinds of desperation ploys like massive 2-page spreads – eventually landing (in a thoroughly appropriate development) an updating of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” with Joshu-kun as Puck. But this too fails, and the end comes – and this is true disaster. For you see, mangaka have no marketable skills, and if a manga fails when they’re in their 30s or 40s, it’s too late to do anything else. In the end things are so bad the trio are reduced to a storyboard (“You could at least have inked it!”) and the manga goes straight to the ban list as Watashi descends into the abyss to receive her punishment – but fortunately it’s not death. No, it’s the curse of taking over the family business – which as it happens, she’s already doing.

Now, I suppose you’re either going to find all that hilarious or not – much like all comedy, really – but for me, it was truly spectacular. So smart, so on-point, shedding so much insight on reality through absurdity – which is exactly what great satire is supposed to do. And this is great satire, no doubt about it – the best I’ve seen in anime in years. As a bonus, I’m really loving both Watashi and Joshu-kun as characters. Watashi’s smiling snark and world-weary asides are a constant delight, and her relationship with Assistant (the scene where she “translated” his lines was a classic) is actually providing some humanity to the show. It seems to be based on real “Onee-san” type affection from Watashi, the one element in the show that doesn’t come off as ironic – and it really works in that context. I could go on and on about how much I love the two of them, and this show – but you get the picture. This is easily the best new series of the season for me and I only wish it were slated for more than one cour.


  1. It’s too good. I was laughing the whole time.

    And I agree with you: Watashi and Joshu-kun are incredibly good characters.

    I can’t wait to see what gets picked apart next time…

  2. >forcing all kinds of desperation ploys like massive 2-page spreads
    *cough* Bleach *cough*

    >In the end things are so bad the trio are reduced to a storyboard
    *cough* HunterxHunter *cough*

    1. Sorry to double post, but I also loved the Jojo reference. Its definitely an anime that prioritizes impact over completeness of storyline.

      They’re making an anime that’s going to start in October, so I’ll be looking forward to see how Western audiences react/

    2. Hunter x Hunter actually does really well, but from what I’ve heard only Togashi and sometimes his wife draws the manga, while most mangakas usually have assitants. Not to mention that by the time they are out in manga volumes he has cleaned it up so it looks a lot better.

      1. No disrespect to HxH in any way. It is nothing less than a testament of Togashi’s genius that he gets by with such an irregular update schedule in such a competitive industry. I’m just referencing that his irreverent ways are a bit of a running joke.

  3. Watashi’s smiling snark and world-weary asides are a constant delight, and her relationship with Assistant (the scene where she “translated” his lines was a classic) is actually providing some humanity to the show.

    The thing with Watashi is that, well, she’s us. She actually is the viewer, a representation of us acting inside the screen. She snarks at the absurdity going on inside her world and laughs at all the comical aspects. She laughs with us, because she is us. But the brilliance in this is that, despite her stinging criticisms, she just goes along with whatever is going on, even if it makes her a hypocrite. I see her as a sort of mirror to everyman; even though we may give a lot a shit to other people for doing something wrong or absurd, we sometimes fail to abide by our morals or beliefs.

    A lot of this makes plenty of sense if you put your mind to it. It’s probably why the main character is named Watashi, the Japanese pronoun for “I.” It’s very clever and also very Yojouhan Shinwa Taikei-esque and anything which even remotely reminds me of that show gets exceptional bonus points (except for Endless Eight, fuck Endless Eight).

    Anyways, take it, leave it, do whatever you want with it. For now I’m digging how hilarious and stinging this show is, even if all of this means nothing.

  4. Lovely episode, i really enjoyed it thoroughly … it was both funny and informative at the same time .. showing the inner workings of the manga industry (and how brutal it can be like any other industry out there .. it isn’t all roses, rainbows, mecha and hot blooded teenagers action/romance XD) .. also funny thing that i was reading recently about the failures that Kubo (mangaka of Bleach) had with his first manga series “Zombie Powder” and how it got canceled because it wasn’t popular enough .. but somehow he recovered from that and made “Bleach” which was -and still is- a big hit .. interesting coincidence XD

    I also liked how the analogies where made between the real-life manga industry and the Fairy version of it .. very brilliant and creative.

    But one thing i have to say .. every time the Fairies do something why do i get creeped by them even more -with their wide open mouths and cutesy attitude that hides their “lethal indifference” towards humans- i’m i the only one who is getting creepy vibes from those -seemingly innocent- Fairies !!?

    1. You’re certainly not the only one who thinks the faires are disturbing. Especially the first scene with the editors underlined that; their talk about the possible horrific consequences of getting canceled, all while having the same big smirk, gave off some seriously creepy vibes. They kind of remind me of Kyubey in that regard. Though this was hilarious at the same time.

      This entire episode was a work of demented genius. It was a brilliant satire on the entire manga industry, filled with interesting visual gags, lots of sarcastic commentary from Watashi (damn, I love her) and surreal comedy (I was laughing my ass off at the storyboard part, hello HxH!).

      This ep was definitely worth the build up of the previous ep and has cemented this show as one of my favourites of the season.

      1. These fairies don’t remind me of Kyubey at all. Sure, one can find Kyubey cute, but she had very articulate voice and sounded way too smart to be just a furry ball. On the other hand, these fairies are way too cute and don’t sound menacing at all! Even their words are baby-talk! Only just some of those words are deceptively menacing is all.

  5. Watching this show while eating is a hazzard! When they got to describing the shipping possibilties between the different chess pieces I almost spat by breakfast across the room! It just got better and better from there on! I love this really dry satire. Awesome show!

  6. There were so many TakeThats to the manga industry, I can’t even begin to start on who’s face would become beet-red upon seeing all their shit thrown at them! Y’s pretty much pointing out the flaws of them without realizing they’re flaws, yet it’s her very nature that tries to have them escape and fail. The ending (all a dream) seemed like a cop-out, but you can’t expect everything in this show to have a happy ending, would you?

    1. Who said it was a dream, they just went back to the real world … i think Watashi clearly established early on that the Fairies technology is very advanced, won’t be surprised if they can trap people inside a pocket dimension and then teleport them back when they are done (when their managa fails XD), we could only confirm it was a dream if Y and Assistant tell Watashi they don’t remember anything from what happened (which would mean she was dreaming).

  7. This anime is so good! Aside from the smart satire, the fact that it’s all cute and fantasy-like makes it so unbelievably good. You wouldn’t expect something so human from a setting like this. Jinrui just shot up to number 1 on my week’s to-watch-list.

  8. so let see this ep

    main & Y in room of white then some search a door & oh here main’s assiant.
    room getting darker so draw something it works.
    seeing in world of manga making so much idea for manga story to go all up.
    from battles to sports to food & etc oh door here fairy say goes light-out cue “bye”.
    see list of manga then Y going many ideas seem working.
    til slowly JUMP THE SHARKS of many even try expand it sinking.
    after running going to point to classic designs cue the “bye”.
    & oh everyone look ok give wonder was it real or dream or inception?

    onwards to next ep.

  9. As always, excellent review by the great Enzo sama 😉
    Quirky and smart at the same time, this is definitely the best episode yet. While it took me some time to warm up to Jintai, the last two episodes completely blew me away. As much as I’m enjoying the character dynamics between Watashi and Joshu-tan, I hope Y sticks around and stir up more trouble for our dynamic duo. She’s hilarious and more Sawashiro Miyuki is always a plus XD

    Seishun Otoko
  10. Woah, I’m suddenly reminded of Madoka by the art in the ED. Not good, considering the fact that I’m already trying my best not to think about Azumanga Daioh every time I hear Itou Masumi’s voice.


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