「妖精さんの、ちきゅう」 (Yousei-san no, Chikyuu)
“The Fairies’ Earth”
I’m starting to run out of ways to describe how Jinrui continues to amaze me.
What’s one step up from “Queen”? Why, God, of course – and Watashi learns a valuable lesson (yes, another one) in the danger or impulsive behavior where the Fairies are concerned. Of course this being Jinrui, this was her first lesson, as we’ve had yet another time jump, and this was apparently the first episode of the series in regards to internal continuity. I never want to assume anything with this show but given that she hadn’t seen her Grandfather in years and mentioned that this was her first day on the job, I’d say the evidence is pretty solid that this ep predates all the others.
More and more Jinrui seems to be focusing in on the nature of the Fairies, and how that nature relates (and reflects) on humanity. I’ve mentioned my growing conviction that they represent some kind of spontaneous physical manifestation of humanity’s collective psyche – as if some catastrophic event caused them to break free of the realm of the mind and become entities. Nothing the Fairies do is original – it’s all a funhouse mirror-reflection of who we are. Religion, technology, politics, even mundane essentials like food – they take everything we do and go well past the point of common sense and reason into a theater of the absurd. Fairies are more than simply humans with no restraint, but that lack of any kind of judgment as regards the right place to stop is a fundamental aspect of who they are.
There are lots of interesting tidbits and clues in this story of Watashi’s first days as a UN Mediator. Grandpa tells her that the Fairies “like to inhabit places where humanity once dwelled.” Watashi herself draws the analogy of them as a “new human race”, where humans like her represent the old human race – a race that’s “retired”. Grandpa seems to know much more than he’s letting on – he encourages Watashi to take it easy and not worry about her mediator duties, but when she expresses a desire to do actual work he tells her she “needs to suffer a little”. There’s also the matter of the journal of his predecessor (who mysteriously died), who starts out as a bright-eyed and eager young administrator and after meeting and befriending the Fairies and dining at their banquets of delicious food from mysterious ingredients, gradually degrades into a food-addict whose final blog entries are nothing more than “Steak and wine. Steak and wine. Steak and wine.”
We wouldn’t have a story if Watashi was the kind of girl to leave well-enough alone, and it’s when she makes first contact with a group of Fairies at a garbage dump that things really take off. After a couple of false starts she baits them into the open with rock candy, but they flee at the sight of her – except for three of them trapped in the tin she used to hold the bait. She effectively kidnaps them and brings them back to her room, and by all appearances they seem legitimately terrified (her joke about eating them doesn’t help) but again, she bribes them with candy. The real problems come when she decides they need names (there are mysteriously four of them now). The concept of names is foreign to the Fairies, but this seems innocent enough. The first two she names Cap and Nakata (he looks Japanese – “We’re counting on you to fight 24/7 with suit, glasses and camera.”). The last two decide to name themselves – the first “Sir Christopher McFarlane” (if there’s a historical significance I can’t find it) and the last “Sir Chikuwa” (Sir Fish Paste).
The results are predictable given the pattern that’s established itself. The introduction of this new social element immediately transforms the dump into a futuristic metropolis complete with its own giant robot defender, and when the Fairies decide they all want names, rather than try and tackle that massive job (there are at least hundreds of Fairies there now) Watashi gives them a rhyming dictionary – and when she returns the next day they’ve now established her as their God. Wanting no part of this she declares that God is a game of tag, and passes the responsibility on to Nakata – who’s even more horrified at the notion than she was. This act has Watashi re-branded as the devil, and the entire Fairy society collapses and turns back into a dump overnight. Yes Tanaka-sensei, the point is made…
Obviously, Jinrui can be viewed on two levels (well – several, truth be told) given that the scenario with the Fairies is obviously a comment on the decline of human culture in the modern age. But it’s also a fascinating case-study within the mythology of the series itself. Grandpa, upon seeing the results of Watashi’s intervention, declares that the Fairies are a “giant melting pot of culture and science – a single spark will set them off. Basically when a lot of Fairies gather, they will do something fun.” In effect he sums it up for Watashi this way: “You have to take it easy when you’re dealing with the Fairies.” This is a lesson she’s struggling to learn even in the chronologically later arcs. I’m wondering if we aren’t reaching a sort of meta-fictional point, where the Fairies role in the story is overlapping with their role as a metaphor for human society – a place where the line between symbolism and literalism disappears.
Apart from that, one thing’s for sure – they Fairies are hilarious and unspeakably kawaii, often at the same time (for example, when they go “Saa!” every time they don’t know the answer to a question). When frightened, they “ball up” like pillbugs. They pee pure water every time they get extra scared. They say things like “I wrote a will for nothing!” when Watashi says she isn’t going to eat them. They’re sinister and creepy at the same time they’re irresistibly cute, they say things humans could never get away with, and they make any idea, no matter how absurd, feasible. As imagined by Tanaka, the Fairies are one of the most unique and brilliant literary devices I’ve seen. Inside the story and for the author itself, they make the impossible possible.