I didn’t think that Jinrui could shock me with any antagonist that it could conjure up at this point. We’ve had headless chickens, corrupt corporate pawns that care for little more than climbing the corporate ladder, and anthropomorphized space probes, so the level of quirkiness would have to be off the charts to even register with me at this point. That’s why, even considering the simple yet effective fever dream-like quality of the plot and the way that it hinted at their involvement along the way, I didn’t expect that the fairies would finally take an active role as antagonists.
Of all the zany shenanigans that comprise most of Jinrui, very few have been a direct, conscious result of the fairies. In spite of the pivotal role that they play, they’ve been portrayed more as brilliant, if careless creatures rather than manipulative or self-serving; most of their goods are made to help a far-gone, dependent human society on its last gasp, rather than directly suit their own needs. This is the first episode that’s established the mischievous nature hiding behind their perpetual faces of surprised joy, and the effect is only eerier when examined with more scrutiny.
The argument could be made that Jinrui has always hid its darker nature behind the cheerful veneer of washed-out pastels in an environment reminiscent of a fairytale, so seeing the ubiquitous fairies assuming a similar role was only a natural, logical progression (though admittedly I have trouble following the string of logic that connects “suicidal robot bread” to “obsessive boys’ love enthusiast”). Well I say nuts to that, because this was the creepiest episode that I’ve seen yet, through proving that the Uncanny Valley can be an effective means of setting the mood without actively giving away any details or making the viewer feel uneasy. In particular, the color saturation grows to almost agonizing levels as the time paradox continues, which furthers the impression of drifting deeper into a dream-like, surreal, but ultimately harmless state.
Not to beat this dead horse for the millionth time, but it’s somewhat reminiscent of the Cat Town arc of ARIA, where Akari is drawn into the world of Cait Sith time and time again in ways that only get more dream-like and surreal as the series goes on. The world of Alternate-Neo Venezia is certainly alien, but it’s hardly threatening, which is how I’d describe what Jinrui was going for in terms of atmosphere.
Naturally, since this is a show that’s proven to have deeper meaning and a loose grasp on the implementation of subtlety, there’s bound to be some subtext hiding underneath these Groundhog Day shenanigans and eye-blinding color saturation.
My argument, admittedly a stab in the dark, is that it’s an indictment against the attempts of organizations, like student loan offices or certain government-run institutions, to provide benefits that seem advantageous at a glance, but only serve to trip up those that it purports to help in order to fit its own needs. There are two reasons why I make this bold claim:
1. The banana does this to Watashi each time that she unwittingly accepts it and regardless of what she does with it. When she starts the trip each time, she remembers just a little more of her past adventure, but not enough to take another course of action simply because there is no other way of finding the assistant in the short term. Her endless trip to the forest bakery is only put to a halt once the fairies have what they want from her, the servitude grinding to a halt once they have their sweets.
2. I wanted an excuse to have a post lead up to a tenuously relevant Tenacious D song.
That’s as good a reason as any, right?