The Human Crazy University – Episode 1

By: Vrai Kaiser October 6, 20220 Comments
A prisoner and a scientist sitting in desk chairs

Crunchyroll, which has long underpaid its employees, has currently declared its intent to recast the English dub of Mob Psycho 100 rather than even consider meeting with SAG-AFTRA representatives to discuss unionizing their dubs—this would help actors gain access to things like health insurance, and help make up for lack of residuals. People continue to pressure Crunchyroll to change their stance on social media; we encourage readers who are able to take part.

Content warning: Carceral violence/execution, intimate partner violence, hanging and noose imagery, body horror from disease

What’s it about? Satake Hirofumi is on death row for killing his girlfriend and her lover. But thanks to a series of freak coincidences, he wakes back up after being hanged and declared dead. Since the state is unsure what this means for his sentence, Satake is remanded to the care of the eccentric Professor at the Human Defect Research Center, which studies all manner of improbable occurrences.

I got up bright and early yesterday to watch this series. Turned it on at 8 AM. Then at 8:24 AM I closed my laptop and took the rest of the day to think about the burning questions it had left me with. For example:

What exactly is this show hoping I’ll take away about capital punishment in Japan? It surely must be something, because half of this dear-God-why 24-minute episode is dedicated to going over the minutiae of being a death row inmate in the way other anime might tell you about choosing bait for your fishing hook. It told me a lot about the execution chamber, and how there are three buttons to ease mental stress on the executing guards, but during the scenes of Satake relaxing with a shounen manga or bonding with his guard it weirdly didn’t mention the enforced solitary confinement or the degrading effect thereof, or the lawsuits against the practice of same-day execution notification. Thankfully I was able to spend as many as two minutes on Google, or I might have been lost.

images of Sataku during daily life. "Before I came here, I had no time for books."
Salaryman Life: so crushing that even the prospect of being subjected to something often regarded as a war crime is preferable!

Why is the English title “Human Crazy University”? The Japanese title pretty plainly uses the phrase “Human Bug” via loanwords, which are plastered all over the end credits. As near as I can tell, it’s a pun—both “bugs” as in glitches and “bug” as in human being skittering around overwhelmed by life. How do you end up at “crazy,” a word slowly working its way out of common daily parlance, while trying to encapsulate that? If you have to change it for oomph in English, why wouldn’t you at least go the whole way and go “Crazy Human University”?

Why is this one of the most unintuitive, unpleasant titles on a pure aesthetic level? Was it trying to warn me?

What kind of dirt do they have on the voice cast? If you printed out the combined resumes of the three top-billed cast in this series—Sugita Tomokazu, Ogura Yui, and Ugaki Hidenari–it would be longer than I am tall. Why and how am I watching Joseph Joestar have a long, expository conversation with Majima Goro?

A man with a knife and fork facing a bunch of rodents
Will these small rodents enact the delicious justice of a James Herbert novel?

Did someone become confused when looking at budget sheets, and assign resources commensurate to the series’ voiced manga panel YouTube channel? Flashy animation isn’t a make-or-break necessity for comedy, as beloved cult hits Thermae Romae and Skull-Faced Bookseller Honda-san prove. But one does have to be passingly familiar with the concept of “jokes.”

Is this a comedy, though? Ugaki is certainly doing a big Eccentric Mad Scientist voice. And Satake is doing the closest the stiff character models can manage to comic horror as the professor details the many, many improbable diseases he’s survived. But it’s stapled to the end of an extremely dour, grim episode about life and death in the carceral system. And, oh yeah, horse-and-buggied to a guy who apparently killed his girlfriend, the only woman in the show. It is a relentlessly unpleasant watch, and I still can’t tell if it’s meant to be some kind of edutainment.

How long is this show going to wait before somehow springing the reveal that Satake is somehow not responsible for her death thanks to his comically bad luck, she’s actually alive, or she Had It Coming? They sure are featuring Murder Victim Lady quite heavily in the opening and ending while portraying Satake as a bumbling aw shucks sort of guy.

Is this proof that there is no loving God overseeing the universe?

Was that the timer going off on my Hot Pocket?

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