Review: Humanity has Declined

Release Date
4/4/2016
Format
Blu-ray / DVD
Studio / Publisher
AIC A.S.T.A. / Animatsu Entertainment
Certificate
12
Language / Subtitles
Japanese / English
Episodes
1-12 + ONA & Specials
Discs
2
Run Time
306 Minutes

I fell in love with this series when it originally aired back in 2012. It boasts a unique story, art and overall style that you rarely find within anime today. I’m really beginning to feel that my love-hate relationship with Seiji Kishi (Angel Beats!, Assassination Classroom) is definitely on the cusp of change. With series like Humanity has Declined rebuilding my confidence in him, I’m optimistic for his future projects.

Humanity has Declined is a great new addition to Animatsu Entertainment’s growing library in my eyes. The series feels like such a rare breed compared to almost everything else we’ve been treated to in recent years. While it may not look like much on the surface, I implore anyone to give the series a try. Remember to never judge a book by its cover. Humanity has Declined, or Jinrui wa Suitai Shimashita as it’s known in Japan, is based on a light novel written by Romeo Tanaka. Known more for his work in adult visual novels, he has also written the scenario for Key’s visual novel Rewrite which will see an anime adaptation coming July 2016.

“For years, declining birth rates have forced what’s left of the human race to cede more and more territory to other beings who have appeared to take advantage of the emptying ecological niche. Now, only a handful of humans remain among the remnants of civilization and Earth is dominated by faeries – tiny, ten-inch tall creatures of surprising intelligence.

But humanity’s importance isn’t over quite yet, as young Watashi learns as she makes the decision to return to her hometown and assume her grandfather’s position as an arbitrator between the races. Unfortunately, the job isn’t going to be anywhere near as simple as she expected, and it’s going to take wisdom far beyond her years to achieve her most important mission.”Animatsu Entertainment

If you walk into Humanity has Declined expecting some kind of coherent story then you’re in the wrong place. For starters, the series is shown out of chronological order with the beginning of the story being shown at the end. Now, before you start looking up the chronological before watching I would suggest watching it as is then on another viewing go the chronological route. I say this because the series is laid out this way for a reason and your introduction to characters actually works better. Once you have a feel for the characters and the odd world they inhabit, then a second viewing in chronological order will feel less confusing. Well as less confusing as it can be as a series that features talking dead skinned chickens that plot to take over the world.

The story, no matter what order you choose to watch the series, will leave you feeling a little bemused. It’s certainly not an engaging drama or action-packed shounen series but it is charming, unique and thought-provoking when you consider the characters’ world and circumstances. There’s something for everyone here as the series parodies a lot of anime tropes. If you’re looking for a series a little outside of the norm then Humanity has Declined is a perfect fit. Though I would suggest spreading out the viewing experience as it’s not the kind of series you can easily binge.

Visually I love the series; I think it has a unique charm that very few titles can pull off. The fairy tale art style really feels at odds with the current state of the human situation but fits perfectly with the new humans – the fairies. The series also features a pretty good soundtrack, although it only comes with Japanese audio. The opening theme, “Real World” by Nano Ripe, is a fun little number but can lead to misconceptions on account of how happy and upbeat it is. The ending theme, “Yume no Naka no Watashi no Yume” by Masumi Itō, has got to be one of my favourite endings of all time. There’s something slightly eerie in its unique delivery that never fails to pull me in and listen each and every episode.

This release features a good selection of extras in the form of the usual clean opening and closing animations. There are also Story Digests, a six-minute OVA of the main points in the series, Survival of the Fittest, a series of six specials, and everyone’s favourite, Disc Credits. As usual, there is a selection of trailers for Sentai Filmworks titles including: Girls und Panzer, The Pet Girl of Sakurasou, Little Busters!, Say, “I Love You”, BTOOM! and So I Can’t Play H.

Verdict
If you’re looking for a series a little outside of the norm then Humanity has Declined is a perfect fit. It boasts a unique story, art and overall style that you rarely find within anime today. While it may not look much on the surface, I implore anyone to give the series a try. Remember never judge a book by its cover.
8
VERY GOOD