「正しい社会」 (Tadashī shakai)
“A Proper Society”
I’ve known for a good while that AI no Idenshi is subversive, so in that sense an episode like this one is par for the course. Still, this was the most overtly subversive so far. In Japan, a society consumed with conformity and deference to the powerful, the bar for what meets that description is laughably low – but AI no Idenshi clears it comfortably. Bear in mind that the horrendous abuse of boys at Johnny and Associates has been known to all the major “news” organizations for years if not decades, but was never reported so as not to cause trouble to such a rich and powerful corporate entity. And that’s the rule here, not the exception.
For reasons I’ll get into shortly it was the second chapter this week that really resonated with me, but the first one was pretty on-point too. The theme this week (the two chapters always share a theme) is humanoids being more interested in preserving “humanity” than humans. The first subject is a guy named Oyamada, humanoid creator of a popular anime called “Shadow Bushido“. In the future an anime can be created by one person (hey, Shinkai basically did it for his first two movies 20 years ago). “Shadow Bushido” is about a total bad boy, a violent high school ruffian, who also happens to the the protagonist.
This pisses off the usual suspects, the thought police who find the series a bad influence on their kids. One of them (head of some or other generic “concerned parents” group) goes to Oyamada’s apartment to personally call him out, but Oyamada is resolutely disinterested. He’s doing this because he’s disgusted by the way all the things that make us human are being legislated out of existence (like driving yourself around). He’s unrepentant to say the least, and a frequent patient of Sudo-sensei due to his disregard for taking care of himself. He, like his protagonist, is basically a decent guy who just doesn’t like conformity. It’s an oversimplification, but the larger point comes across pretty clearly.
Now, that B-part… Let me just say, as someone who has extensive experience working in the Japanese public education system, that so-called fiction is often the most truthful thing there is. We have a young humanoid teacher (played by Hanae Natsuki) who takes a job with a school that has a reputation for having anti-A.I. prejudice. “Teaching young humans how to be human, with a curriculum designed by humans”. The kid is smart enough to realize this place is bad news for him, but he needs a job and it was the only offer he got. I feel you, Buddy.
Apart from the whole A.I. bigotry angle (and the “virtual gymnastics“), I’ve seen literally everything depicted in the episode happen in real life. Up to and including parents watching streams from the classroom, which is absolutely one of the most misguided developments in the history of education. “The nail that sticks up gets hammered down” is never more nauseatingly on display than it is in Japanese schools, where students and teachers both are discouraged from doing anything to differentiate themselves. Our humanoid friend is an idealist, and this naturally leads to big trouble for him.
The part that really got to me was when the teacher said “I thought I’d just try and hang in there till the end of the year, for my students’ sake”. My God, did that hit hard – that feeling is so familiar. Sudo-sensei gives him the right advice – the best medicine would be to get the hell out of there – but in Japan, that’s never as easy as it sounds. Our guy lands on his feet, working at an “independent” school full of kids who don’t fit in (where Perm-kun also “works”). Let’s just say he’s one of the lucky ones.