The mysterious world of humans and fairies in Jintai wa Suitai Shimashita
August 11, 2012 Leave a comment
Arguably the fairies are central to the story of Jintai wa Suitai Shimashita, or more accurately it is the impression of the fairies that we get through the eyes of Watashi that becomes the central driving force of this series. These fairies are mysterious and complex, we know that they exist in a very real way, and yet there are so many aspects about them that remain strange and perplexing. The impact that these beings have on this curiously comic dystopian realm where magic is in the air and food appears out of nowhere is profound, even more so when we barely see them and know even less. In some respects it could almost be argued that they are simply a creation of humanity, looking for an explanation as to why specific events take place.
We know they exist because of Watashi and the UNCC acknowledge their existence, along with their continuous interactions with humanity. And yet they are also this mysterious presence, influencing and creating new things for humanity that go unseen. It is clear early on in the series that the strange magical phenomenon such as the sudden appearance of food and the factory, along with the apparently alive, but nevertheless headless and featherless chickens are the work of these fairies. We can therefore make the assumption that they do posses some sort of amazing magical power, and yet so far there has been a distinct lack of information with regards to these characters that are so central to the story. Considering their centrality to the plot we only ever see UNCC personnel such as the Secretary and director of the factory interacting with them. The rest of village do not see these fairies and it is likely that they do now even know of their existence, putting the sudden appearance of food down to a strange coincidence. We can surmise therefore that part of the job of Watashi is to cover up for the fairies, presenting different reasons for the strange phenomenon that they cause.
Her job as a mediator is in part to prevent panic and work as a go-between, someone who can interact with both the fairies and human society. Her cynicism about human society is perhaps born from this position as mediator, being someone who is supposed to go between societies and groups but is a part of neither. She understands elements of the fairies, and through her narration (or perhaps monologues) we begin to understand that these fairies and fun-loving and mischievous, but above all, they are not evil or nasty. They do not understand humans and yet wish to help them with the miscellaneous food that is designed to be exactly like food without being real. In a curious way Watashi understands humanity far less than the fairies, continuously wondering why specific events happen, and wondering whether or not humanity was destined to fall into decline.
During episode three we see the re-emergence of human culture, and while it is partly a sartorial nod towards the world of the otaku, doujinshi and comiket, it is also a comment on the power and organic nature of culture itself. Culture is an organic thing, constantly changing and twisting to the new conditions that it finds itself a part of. It is something that is never fixed, and while we may take specific elements of our cultures for granted, they are part of an ongoing process, one that creates and recreates new ways of viewing culture, along with new attitudes and ideas. The character of Y is someone who discovers the long-dead culture of manga drawing, something that she has heard of but does not understand. In her haste to learn about it she then spawns a new wave of doujinshi.
Arguably Y does not know about the presence of the fairies, or if she does, it never enters her mind. Their fascination with humanity has lead them to create the headless, featherless chickens, along with the miscellaneous food; their incessant interest and fascination with humanity cause can cause problems that Watashi needs to clear up. The presence of this new wave of doujinshi culture therefore provides the perfect platform for the fairies to demonstrate their magic. No one except perhaps Watashi recognises the potential threat that this new form of media and culture poses when the fairies get involved. However, while Y seems oblivious of everything else other than her newfound passion, we see Watashi lacking the knowledge or understanding of humanity itself.
She views these manga as a fad, something silly, but also something that will inevitably fail. While she is part of the group who are attempting to help humanity, she does not understand the people she is trying to help. The idea of this element of culture growing and evolving through use and change is something that she knows about but never truly understands. It is as if by being in the middle of two societies and cultures Watashi knows about both, but understands neither. This is shown in her complete lack of interest or understanding in this new wave of manga and doujinshi, furthermore, her thoughts immediately turn to the idea of the fairies learning about it and secretly hoping that such a thing will never happen. There is a naivety in her thinking here, as if she has all the knowledge but cannot make any links between them.
What is so fascinating about this is how the fairies are still present within the narrative of Jintai wa Suitai Shimashita even when they are not physically in any of the scenes. Their presence is felt through the magic in the anime, with the creation of weird and wonderful things. This is in part due to their fascination with the human race, and although they are clearly intelligent and diligent towards their work, they lack of the necessary tools or knowledge to truly comprehend humanity as a group that inhabits the earth. This lack of comprehension has led to numerous strange circumstances and occurrences, ones that are not malicious, but nevertheless cause problems that Watashi as the negotiator has to fix. Their presence is felt throughout episode three for example, with the majority of the episode leading up to the eventual fairy comic and magical space.
What is curious about Jintai wa Suitai Shimashita is in part how the fairies remain a mystery and invisible from the majority of humanity. While there are those who can see and interact with them it is fair to suggest that very few other people even know of their existence. We therefore have this dual layered story, with one element showing humanity attempting to discover and recreate things from the past, while simultaneously surviving in the present. But we also have the narration of Watashi, the cynical bystander whose job is to negotiate with the fairies and work as the mediator between them and humanity, and yet she as a person seems to understand the fairies better than humanity at times. Her cynical narration and internal monologues gives us the impression of a girl who cannot bring these two sides together, and through her knowledge of the fairies sees how destructive and self-serving humanity can be.
When we see the re-emergence of the manga industry it comes as a shock to Watashi who seems to view it as inconsequential, and suggesting that instead of playing around Y should really be getting on with her job. She doesn’t understand their appeal, but also sees the problems that Y and every other publisher encounter throughout the episode as inevitable. There are similarities therefore between human society and fairy society – they are both equally chaotic and fractured but in different ways. Humans like the fairies are easily distracted, with the presence of the new manga industry taking president over looking for a new way to preserve human culture throughout the ages. The fairies fascination with humanity causes all manner of chaos, and although unintentional it is problematic when strange magical occurrence happen without warning or reason. But, while humanity is causing its own version of chaos this is very visible, whereas the fairies are this invisible and mysterious presence, one that cannot be seen or controlled.
Watashi can therefore be viewed as the baby-sitter of the fairies and in some respects humanity. Through her constant efforts to appease and please the fairies through sweets, along with investigating and perhaps hiding strange phenomenon from humanity she helps to cause friction and conflict. The fairies remain mysterious, and through the magical powers could potentially either cause humanity to fall into greater decline or perhaps save it. Watashi seems to be the character that could be instrumental in both situations, along with acting as a narrator for the problems of humanity as a whole. Through her we see the strange nature of humanity as a group who can get excited over simple things such as manga, or become worried because food has appeared out of nowhere. In a way she could be viewed as the voice of the fairies, or at least one voice, showing us the strange nature of humans and how they can take the simplest things for granted regardless of their situation.