「妖精さんたちの、おさとがえり」 (Yōsei-san-tachi no, Osatogaeri)
“The Fairies’ Homecoming”

Having already demonstrated its brilliance at slapstick and satire, Jinrui wa Suitai Shimashita this weeks conclusively proves that it can do emotional depth, too.

There’s just so much more going on in Jinrui right now than anything else airing that at times, it can almost feel like a lot of work to watch. This is very intellectually dense material to begin with, and the anime packs it full of sight gags and visual puns and multiple narratives – and the thing is, this isn’t just noise. While some of it is undeniably silly for its own sake, mostly this series is a marketplace of ideas, social commentary and philosophy and even character dynamics (which are slowly emerging as an important part of the series). Jinrui definitely rewards the viewer who wants to be challenged and likes to pay attention to what they’re watching. I wouldn’t want every series to be that way, but thank goodness we occasionally get one that meets the description as an antidote to the dozens that don’t.

In addition to providing the least ironic material of the series this far, this sixth episode also answers some questions (while in the process, of course, raising others). Rather than a flashback this arc was apparently simply aired out of sequence – to what end I can’t say for sure – and it concludes just prior to the events of the first episode. In doing so it explains just what Watashi did to get herself punished and her hair chopped off. Perhaps the “Secret Factory” arc was aired first simply because it’s somewhat more approachable and certainly lighter in tone than this one – maybe Kishi-sensei just didn’t want to scare people off. I can’t think of any continuity-based reasons why this arc couldn’t have aired first, though a case could be made that it’s more effective now that we’ve gotten to know the world and the characters a little.

As for the arc itself, as speculated here last week “Pion” and “Oyage” are indeed “Pioneer” and “Voyager”. As this ep begins Pion – who Watashi decides to call P-Girl – seems to have no memory of who she is or what her purpose is. In fact, she continually insists she’s a human – and points out as evidence the very things that define her as a robot. It quickly becomes clear that Oyage has preceded her to Earth, and when Watashi and Joshu-kun encounter him in the subterranean hikikomori city, trouble follows. Oyage (Hiyama Nobuyuki, really great here) provides quite a sharp contrast with Pion. He appears as male, and more importantly, he seems to be quite willfully suppressing his memories. Rather than remember, he prefers to dwell in the “City full of toys” like his Killdozer, transform into giant cats and play forever – and vows to destroy anyone who tries to force him to do otherwise.

The conceit that drives this storyline is an interesting one – that Pioneer and Voyager are sentient beings, and were homesick ones at that. This plays out on two levels – the philosophical aspect as it relates to the two space probes, and the story-specific elements (which are quite intriguing, and which I’ll get to in a minute). Oyage (O-Boy) suggests that the two probes didn’t gain sentience as a result of some anomalous event in space, but were self-aware from the beginning. Oyage returned home of its own volition, and Pion followed – though she was given no order to do so (and who would have been around to give it?). Oyage even references the so-called Pioneer Anomaly – the unexplained deceleration of the Pioneer probes that cannot be directly explained by any known law of physics – as proof of Pion’s self-awareness.

It’s an interesting thought – two probes rocketing through the cold depths of space, longing to return home to the warm embrace of Earth. Given how iconic and elemental the thought of those lonely craft leaving the solar system was, many people surely anthropomorphized them a little – I know I did – and no culture anthropomorphizes more than the Shinto Japanese. It certainly affects Watashi. After Pion defeats Oyage and Grandpa rescues everyone from the underground city, everyone involved with the Human Monument Project is thrilled to be able to access the two probes’ memories – and plans to ship them back to space to continue their mission the very next day. But Watashi steps in and sabotages the connection to the satellite, thus eliminating the electricity source that would have launched Pion and Oyage back to space. And for doing so, she’s punished – including the removal of her hair (though Grandpa can’t bring himself to have her shaved bald). This is a very human moment, one of the warmest of the series – Oyage’s plaintive desire not to return to the coldness of space is probably the most honest emotion of the first six episodes, and Watashi’s actions are certainly understandable.

But that’s really only half the story. It seems very possible that there’s a direct connection between the probes and the fairies. In the first place, the probes apparently can’t see the fairies – Pion can’t, anyway. We also learn that Oyage and Pion have their memory repair function kick in when exposed to microwaves – and that Oyage was intentionally shielding himself from microwaves as a result, possibly using the multi-colored goo. That multi-colored goo, of course, is Fairies (where’s Charlton Heston when you need him?), and all this makes me wonder if the Fairies didn’t somehow come into existence when Oyage returned to Earth (we don’t know how long he’s been back, but clearly it’s been a while). Even if that’s not the case, we know that the Fairies too avoid microwaves (by sabotaging the generator Watashi also ensures that they stick around, of course), and it seems almost impossible that there’s no direct link between Oyage, Pion and their existence.

As if all that weren’t enough there was plenty else happening. In the first place that whole sequence with Watashi reading the fairy book about what happens when humans fall from a 20-story building got its payoff in a big way. And though satire was merely the side dish this arc, Oyage’s underground playground was itself a kind of satirical look at shounen tropes – most enthusiastically embraced by Assistant, fittingly. There’s something happening all the time with this show, something meaningful to look at and to listen to (and sometimes multiple things at once) and it seems almost nothing is truly random – it all fits together, and if we’re paying attention it makes sense. Jinrui is part slapstick, part satire, part hard sci-fi – and completely unique. As such, it’s already establishing itself as one of the best and most important anime of 2012.


  1. I wonder if this was based on Star Trek’s V’ger…

    Also, I found the writer’s departure from norm (seeing the universe as cold and empty) very interesting. Bleak, perhaps, but showing a bit more of his personal convictions than he might have willingly wished to convey.

    Anyways, very enjoyable episode.

  2. I can’t wait to get to the end of this series so I can marathon it all at once. No matter how intently I watch, I always feel like I’m still not getting everything going on (which is fine by me for the rewatch value).

    This show makes me laugh, makes me think, makes me empathize. But most importantly, it makes me smile, and I couldn’t ask for anything more.

    1. This episode preludes episode 1, so her hair has only been cut once.

      In other news…Jinrui: making sure I never look at space robotics the same ever again. I thank the show for being creative in the topics it tackles…I find it hard to predict anything that’ll happen next, something I find hard to find these days. I can’t wait to discuss this during the podcast! ^^

      1. Looks like I really miss some thing here, where in the Anime did it states that ep5 is a preludes of ep1? Please do tell, I am really trying to make sense of this series.

      2. Admitted I didn’t clue in until her hair was chopped as punishment as to this being a earlier episode in the time lime. Although I definitely prefer the first story arc as the first episode as it just really sets up the world/mood of this series so well before getting to heavy.

        Also Watashi still doesn’t have a name…. Not even her grandfather refers to her by name yet.

    2. This arc is a backwards timeskip, there’s been plenty of evidence of it.

      Last episode she was first introduced to the UNESCO director, who she was already familiar with during the Fairy Co episodes. This arc also had the start of the Human Monument project, which was already underway during the fanzine arc.

  3. I think because I read the original, this episode was three episodes and the required contents.Where the fairies comes back we at least wanted to watch.

    Also has been cut from the original in this anime, you’re great has been fairly reasoning.

  4. I really hope Japan likes this show. Because I sure do and there’s enough material for another 12 episode season, bringing it up to 24.

    Maybe I should get the novels. I’d reckon it’s a bit harder to read though… Maybe on winter break when the Anime is finished. Currently reading SAO and playing Time Travelers and Nayuta no Kiseki anyway, that’s enough Japanese for now :(.

    This is, by far, the best show this season. While I enjoy SAO, Hyouka and Eureka Seven, this is just something different and thoroughly entertaining. I came for the bleeding bread, I stayed for the intriguing themes.

  5. That concludes another week of Jinrui’s wonderful world of negative things.

    I liked how they subtly called back to plot points from the last episode. Watashi wondering about how she survived that fall. Remember the lesson on fairy density in the last episode?
    Also, the fairies getting all sluggish after being exposed to the microwaves, a type of EMR.

    On a different note:

    That multi-colored goo, of course, is Fairies

    How did you get to this conclusion? The green fairy said that he collected the slimes and fiddled a bit with them to make them merge like O-Boy did. I don’t think there is much more of a connection between slimes and fairies.

    1. I believe the same, the fairies played with the oozes.
      On the other hand as Guardian Enzo pointed out, at least Pion couldn’t see the fairies. In a way ironic because Oyage on the other hand said their final mission was to find alien life. I would definitely call the fairies alien, and they can’t see it. 🙂

  6. This episode certainly made me think a lot. In that short time, the thought of launching probes into space, to gather data on it’s own, felt really lonely. Anime that makes me think are quite rare, and Jinrui managed to make me think, let me feel for the characters and made me smile.

    This episode might just be a glimpse of how the probes may feel if they were self-aware.

  7. this ep

    after being saved main girl called pion the name p-girl then continue explore.
    give main girl assume p-girl a robot then meet other named oyage aka o-taro.
    cue big bulldozer attack til p-girl charge it then all fall in hole.
    all ok now in see water with o-taro in battle armor with a drill.
    then decide to combine with slime to form tengen toppa giant cat!!!
    give assistant with shield & sword to fight but main girl said no need.
    then cat attack til cue help from shell squid piloted by fairies.
    p-girl call got microwave blast on giant cat to stop o-taro.
    then all get found & rescue give main’s grandpa bit hmm.
    oh both p-girl & o-taro are space probes in human forms.
    give after some talk village people want to send human probes to space.
    main girl sorta “oops” it give only cost her hair.
    so now let both p-girl & o-taro stay in give they need wind-up powered.

    to the next ep.

  8. I found the last 5-10 minutes of this episode really interesting. There are some things that the show points out about humanity of today. One including how Watashi mentions she was saved/found herself in a better position because of her connections with her grandfather. Isn’t it interesting how people today also find themselves better off with connections to someone higher up? Then you have the meeting where they charged Watashi with breaking the generator. The other members were listing out the hard work they put into it using numbers; they just listed out a bunch of statistics without actually understanding the feelings of Pion and Oyage.

  9. Ever since seeing the first episode I’ve absolutely loved this series.

    I really enjoyed reading your review!

    Hmm, but I thought that the goo was being eaten by the fairies and they were just sort of replicating on their own?

    This episode was the first to make me feel sad (but then happy again, in a heartwarming sort of way.) I think it was aired at an interesting time, especially because of the Curiosity rover’s landing last night (or early this morning) and the recent data from the Voyager (hey look who showed up!) spacecrafts as they exit the solar system.

    The shounen parody was just great. I loved how they had Voyager over-explaining the technical details of his “Killdozer,” and then the later inclusion of “justice will prevail.” Too funny.

    The questions it raises about humanity’s decline are perhaps the most interesting. By sabotaging the relaunching of the spacecrafts (it would probably have been the greatest scientific achievement since humanity’s downfall) and getting rid of the generator, did Watashi effectively further the decline? Or would ignoring the pain of the spacecrafts and relaunching them be a greater ‘decline’ for humanity. Personally, I think the latter

  10. I wonder if the microwave cat was a reference to the urban legend. XD

    I read that the voyager’s estimated life span and expected mission was only for a few years, but it kept going strong and after several decades, they are now leaving the solar system.
    And they’ll probably keep on going… even after the humanity completely declines.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *