Editorials · On Themes

Authority Has Declined: Leadership in Jinrui wa Suitai Shimashita

Only but a small piece of Jintai's leadership food chain.

God, this show is absolutely brutal to everything. And I sure as hell love it.

Right from the very beginning, Jinrui wa Suitai Shimashita managed to establish its place at the helm of the season by taking on a rather unique identity: a full-bodied critique on modern society. Up and by far a social commentary before anything else, Jinrui takes shots at absolutely everything, ranging from silly pop culture cliches to the low hanging fruit in the manga industry, through the magic of absurdly funny sight gags and righteous parody. However, Jinrui is always at it’s very strongest when it shoots for the more ambitious targets, namely the monotonous and oftentimes outrageous behavior of modern-day society. Commenting on our current civilization’s lack of grace, know-how, and savoir-faire is Jinrui’s definite specialty and claim to fame. And what better way to do this than to target our very own figureheads and leaders, our best representatives of mankind’s print on the world?

With the recent string of episodes, it has become absolutely clear that authority, no matter the form, is often seen in a rather negative light inside the Jinrui universe. While episodes nine and ten have made this blatantly obvious through the use of Watashi, the incompetence of authority figures has been a recurring theme all throughout the series, taking the form of company heads, town leaders, and even gods. No matter what idol or form of leadership presents itself before the citizens, Jinrui viciously cuts them down with mercy or bias. Though each individual in question is treated and addressed in a different manner by the show, at the bone each unit is unfit for the role of leadership due to either the possession of a bloated ego rooted in material desires or the failure to understand that they are limited by the world and systems around them.

Despite the rather impressive regalia, she lacks leadership qualities.

In every incarnation, Jinrui manages to present an odd sort of leadership hierarchy within each arc’s character dynamic. Each arc, a ladder of social standing extends through almost every character who appears on the small screen. The most obvious example for the recurring motif is the clear-cut food chain of authority found in the very first two episodes. The chickens at the head of the factory hold authority over the manager, the manager holds authority over the factory, the factory holds authority over the town, the town employs and authorizes the work to Watashi’s Grandfather, Watashi’s Grandfather holds authority over Watashi, and finally, Watashi  holds authority over children, who are completely inept and do nothing but thoughtlessly mooch the chicken. This ladder has managed to wear several different veils over the course of the series, but it still holds the same face underneath every time.

The chain is repeated over and over in the following arcs. Y and her relationship to the manga industry, Pion and Oyage’s duty to the scientists, and Watashi’s command over the fairies all feature a specific sequence of influence and authority. While the show deliberately changes around the appearance of the chain on the outside in order to suit the points made by the narrative, a chain of command is present in every arc without any exceptions, merely swapping the side characters for newer models with each revolution. However, despite the innumerable amount of changes to each arc, each appearance of the chain features the same set outline complete with recurring themes and characters who retain their roles inside.

The biggest joke in Jinrui’s portrayal of leadership is the high level of incompetency among the cast. Despite the long, winding sequence of authority figures, each link in the chain is noticeably ineffectual when it comes to commanding their underlings. This is especially noticeable in arcs which focus around a single character’s influence in the Jinrui universe. While major authority figures are clearly present within the story, each is portrayed as a useless incompetent, incapable of performing efficient work.  Each sphere of influence can be grouped into two categories: those who are distinguished by their vast egos and those who, despite their good intentions, are limited completely by the ground rules of the universe and their poor understanding of how to lead. When it comes to calling up two names who fit those bills perfectly, two names in particular immediately come to mind.

Didn’t feel like writing a good transition paragraph, so here’s a picture of a cat.

The Grandfather, one of the most notable head honchos of the narrative, fits into the first category without any kinks. Often seen with his collection of large firearms, Watashi’s Grandfather is portrayed as a representative of the bellicose, selfish, and most of all, blindly ambitious leaders of the world. Throughout Jinrui’s story, we get a slight glimpse of his true nature and delusions of grandeur, despite being far from an outstanding leader in his community. This is done multiple times throughout Jinrui; despite the clear lack of understanding, Watashi’s Grandfather will throw out a “keikaku doori,” in order to stroke his ego and to appear qualified for his job.

Watashi’s Grandfather puts on a display in front of the other characters multiple times during Jinrui. The most blatant examples of his negative attributes are his appearances in episodes seven and eight. When Watashi asks for a watch, he instead chooses to give her a primitive sundial, despite the presence of several working clocks around the room. His role as leader of the scientists in the third arc also exemplifies this. While the Grandfather first states that a tablet sent from above could not possibly satisfy his genius mind, upon the discovery of Oyage’s and Pion’s appearance as the tablet, he feigns enthusiasm and puts on a font of false front of intelligence in front of his colleagues. In order to not lose face, he dons a mask of intellect in order to shield his ego and retain his status over the pack.

On the flipside, Watashi herself manages to fill a number of roles in her arcs, dabbling in both categories, but stays mostly rooted in the latter. During episode nine, Watashi acts as an innocent, fairly kind ruler of the fairies. The fairies are happy to serve under her and to bend at her whim regardless of the task. However, despite her kind demeanor, Watashi ends up destroying the fairies’ civilization, due to her poor understanding of both her fairy denizens and how to conduct herself as a leader. Watashi is unable to prioritize realistic needs and ends up pushing more funding into making a cultural impact and leaving behind a legacy on the island. Instead of establishing a legacy through her city’s exploits and achievements, she attempts to leave physical monuments as a reminder of her people and ultimately fails, destroying what was left of her rural kingdom.

While this may be flying off of a tangent (actually, now that I think about it I’ve been flying around all over the place), Jinrui has a fairly interesting and entertainingly cynical look at God, which it often expresses through Watashi. Jinrui makes the rather bold statement that religion is but another one of these false authority figures. While Watashi’s relationship and assumed identity as a religious figure-head is completely obvious in episode ten, the concept is also featured prominently in episode two. When trapped inside of a cage by the chickens, Watashi prays to God to help her out. However, instead of receiving a miraculous divine intervention from above, it is her now-sentient hair, grown back from a FairyCo. potion, which saves her from the cage. Furthermore,the starving children inside the church have cooked chicken flown through the glass stained window of their church, again playing on mankind’s history of dubbing seemingly inexplicable events as supernatural. This runs a direct parallel to the events in episode ten: the fairies choose to herald Watashi as a god because her presence is foreign, exotic, and at first inspection, completely miraculous. She’s far from a viable leader and she’s definitely far, far from a god.  Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.

I have no idea about what I’m even talking about anymore. As a side note, man, axolotls are fuckin’ cute.

Although authority inside the Jinrui universe is clearly portrayed in a rather negative light, inside the script there remains a hidden touch, a slight, sensitive question to the audience, about those who choose follow these inept, bumbling leaders. While each character in the chain of authority is vastly inept when it comes to guiding others, the majority of the characters in Jinrui follow along and conform to their higher-ups, without deviance. The citizens of Jinrui’s world are completely submissive to their respective captains and hardly ever, with the sole exception of Watashi, the voice of reason and representation of us, do they question the ethics, reasons, or logic behind the orders that they are given. Jinrui wholeheartedly discourages such senseless deference to authority with each episode. If episodes nine and ten have affirmed anything, it’s that the writer’s vision of humanity’s decline will not be the explosive, glorious nuclear bang which everyone imagines in the back of their mind, oh no, it’ll be a slow, bitter stagnation, a drawn out fizzle and a tiny pop, from the mindless hankering and heedless conformity of human beings. With the loss of autonomy comes the decline of humanity. A ring of mindless drones monotonously leading around other mindless drones, we won’t be human anymore; we’ll be robots.

Stray Snippets

  • I’ve yet to see episode eleven, so if there were references to the article that I didn’t list it’s beyond my ability to list em. Whoops.
  • You ever write something, and 1000 words later, have absolutely no fucking clue how you even got there or what you’re even rambling on about?
  • Post needs more cute animals.

2 thoughts on “Authority Has Declined: Leadership in Jinrui wa Suitai Shimashita

  1. The scary part about authority in Jinrui is that even as things blow up in the face of that singular authoritative figure as seen with Watashi’s island society and the other examples, Jinrui could technically, if it wanted to, still push for the argument that it’s humanity’s better alternative for leadership because at the very least, things still get done. In the few instances where we’ve seen more democratic or at least collective attempts at accomplishing things, particularly the UNCC meeting in the first episode, absolutely nothing gets done and most of the time a leadership figure ends up having to hold the shepherd’s staff anyways. Is it better to have one leader who’s at least decisive, albeit inept and misguided, or is it better to have a bunch of leaders who undermine and argue with each other to a standstill? At the end of the day, it’s probably just an argument about political perspectives, but Jinrui’s played both sides of the coin here. And humanity can’t win either way.

    1. The meeting between the UNCC officials might be the most horrifying of the series’ arguments with organized government. While the Grandfather, the leadership figure you pointed out, is notable for taking his position as a false, pretentious shepherd for the dimwitted sheeple, it’s also important to point out that a member of the meeting pointed out the exact same solution earlier.

      Not only is it another hint that the characters just conform with whatever figurehead present, it’s also saying that the average civilian, the everyman, just doesn’t matter in politics. His opinions don’t matter in a system where everyone should have an equal say.

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