In past posts on Jinrui, I’ve flirted with the fact that the show’s strengths lie in its ability to create stunning, bizarre set pieces to revolve each episode around. Aside from Watashi, who’s apparently witness to nearly every strange happening in the post-civilization world, none of the characters are all that distinctive by themselves. Hell, even she doesn’t stand out much, despite her often taking an active role in the events of each episode. She’s a reactionary element, the audience surrogate and pink-haired, snarky life preserver to cling to as the events of each episode increasingly lose connection with reality, and she doesn’t fare well when out of her element.
What the story does best is create outlandish situations that don’t challenge the audience’s disbelief; we’re supposed to consider each episode a strange slice of a larger package, not blindly go along with the zany plot of the week without question. Up until this point, Jinrui hadn’t deviated too far from the formula, for (mostly) better and for worse. So when we finally get an entirely Watashi-centric episode where she plays a pivotal role, it lacks grace when compared to previous outings.
The biggest problem with trying to throw Watashi into a hostile school setting is that it kind of runs counterintuitive to everything that’s been shown so far. Compared to anthropomorphized space probes trying to avoid more space travel and Groundhog Day: Fairy Edition, Watashi trying to keep her head down while fending off other antagonistic students is kind of boring. She isn’t a compelling character without the fairies around to provide a reason for her to crack wry observations at every given opportunity. It’s not like Jinrui didn’t try to explore some themes while it looked back on Watashi’s formative years. Social isolation, bullying, and loneliness are all paid a fair amount of attention to, but the potential is squandered on Watashi instead of another character like K or Watashi’s creepy stalker, both of whom would have better fit the situation.
At its most basic level, Jinrui has a distinct, rigid formula that surprisingly allows for a large number of fluid, distinctive set pieces at the cost of overall character development. It’s hardly a bad thing, but deviating from the norm leaves it wanting for pizzazz that it otherwise lacks. After all, once you start making puns like Time Paradog, it’s kind of hard to go back to slightly disturbing school antics and janitorial robots running into walls.