A popular manga and a lot of fanfare don’t always translate to a successful anime. The Great Jahy Will Not Be Defeated had both and still only turned out mildly interesting. It’s a curious question as to why. This show had a lot going for it. The characters are fairly interesting, the artwork is lively, and the voice acting is […]
A popular manga and a lot of fanfare don’t always translate to a successful anime. The Great Jahy Will Not Be Defeated had both and still only turned out mildly interesting.
It’s a curious question as to why. This show had a lot going for it. The characters are fairly interesting, the artwork is lively, and the voice acting is good. It doesn’t really have much story, but isn’t supposed to really either. But for whatever reason, this show didn’t have the entertainment value to me I expected of it, especially given the veritable deluge of memes that arose from the Jahy manga.
It could be just a personal feeling of mine too. Art is subjective in the majority of ways, after all, and therefore so are reviews and critiques of art. So I can’t be too hard on this show: there aren’t any glaring objective issues with this show, and only a few things I can point to and say I wish it was better. I just personally found this show underwhelming and only a little amusing.
Jahy is the reverse-isekai’d MC of this show. She is the “second in command” in the Dark Realm, next to the Demon Lord herself. There she is harsh, haughty, and domineering, brooking no disrespect or slippage from her subordinates.
In our world she’s weak, complaining, and the size of a five-year-old.
This was the first aspect of this show that never appealed to me. I couldn’t find the humor behind it. Which is weird, because I get it, and I get that it’s supposed to be funny, but I don’t think I ever felt a hint of laughter at the thought of her situation. More often I associated it with frustration actually. Jahy, finding herself without powers and without money in our world, lives an empty life of near poverty, holing up in a tiny room as a home, staving her landlord off for rent every opportunity, and working as a lowly waitress in a local restaurant. I don’t know about you, but I can’t find anything funny in this.
I’m not even reacting negatively to the real-life aspect of it. You might think “Hawk you don’t need to be so sensitive about this just because lots of people find themselves in that position in the real world.” That’s not part of my thinking at all here. It’s just a frustrating experience to watch Jahy barely scratch out a living in the silly manner its shown here. I’m not making a big deal about it or taking anything too seriously, it’s just frustrating to watch where it’s really supposed to be funny. Nor do I mind this situation being portrayed humorously. I get it that she was nearly a god before and now she’s a struggling, lowly human, and that that’s supposed to be funny. But it ends up being frustrating.
Jahy wasn’t entirely without humor for me. I was disappointed by her dialogue—I expected it to be snappier and funnier, given the memes and bits of the manga I’d seen—but it still had funny moments. Her shifting back and forth between body types was kind of funny, though only for the first few times. Her interactions with the various people in her life, particularly Druj, her former subordinate who has also come to this world, were often pretty funny. But if I may complain one more time—I expected more.
My biggest disappointment was probably the voice acting. Jahy in particular bothered me in this regard. I couldn’t get over the fact Jahy sounded exactly like Uzaki Hana from Uzaki-chan Wants to Hang Out. The simple reason for this is, of course, that they have the same VA, Naomi Oozara. I never mind characters having the same voice, or a VA using the same kind of voice for different characters. But this was so similar it bugged me. Or, it was similar yet different: Jahy’s voice didn’t have that comic effect like Uzaki’s. I can listen to Uzaki talk and start laughing a little just hearing her. I just found Jahy’s voice annoying most of the time. It could’ve been the frustration and little hint of arrogance the Oozara mixed into the voice that made the difference. I think Oozara did a good job with this aspect, and she certainly has a very good comedy voice, but this voice, like much of Jahy herself, bothered me more often than I thought it was funny.
But if you look at the cast for this show, you’d wonder how I could possibly avoid gushing wildly about the greatness of the voice acting. Ai Kayano (Darkness, KonoSuba) plays the restaurant owner. Sumire Uesaka (Nagatoro, Don’t Toy With Me, Miss Nagatoro), another great comedic voice, plays Jahy’s nemesis, the magical girl Kyouko Jinguu. Kana Hanezawa, as in Nadeko from Monogatari and Ichika Nakano from The Quintessential Quintuplets, plays Druj. Rimaru Tempest’s (That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime) VA, Miho Okasaki, supplies all the grunting sounds for the Demon Lord. Akari Kitou (Suzune Horikita, Classroom of the Elite; Tsukasa Yuzaki, Tonikawa; Nezuko, Demon Slayer) voices the Demon Lord’s sister Suu, who’s in basically two episodes. And Youko Hikasa—as in, Rias Gremory (High School DxD) and Mio (K-On!)—of all people, plays the landlady. Silver Link must have found itself a little poorer after paying for all these girls.
Yet despite it all, no one’s performance jumped out at me here. In fact, I barely knew any of these people were cast in the show, so unremarkable I found the voice acting. Ai Kayano I knew—her performances are easy to remark even if you don’t know it’s her, just because of how emphatic she is. But I didn’t know the rest until I began researching for this review. I doubt this unremarkability is the actors’ faults, because every one of these people is capable of astounding voice performances. No way all of them here somehow “dropped the ball.” No, I’m guessing this is poor directing or just poor dialogue causing this. Which is frustrating. Great casts like this usually stir a great deal of excitement in me; think of Re:Creators and that magnificent cast—I get chills listening to that show. I was unhappily surprised that the same thing didn’t happen here. I didn’t find that the voice acting added anything to this show while I watched it, and I was actually disappointed hereafter when I learned who all was cast.
Each character has their individual traits, but none of them are very entertaining. These characteristics became stale quickly. I’ll get to this more below, but I will note here that these individual traits all felt very one dimensional. Whenever we saw a particular character, we got a particular schtick. This can be used to good effect (Aharen is Indecipherable is a good recent example; more on that later), but here it became boring. Quickly. I’m not sure why, but it definitely did. I mentioned Jahy’s thing with being small and not having any money. This became old after three episodes. Druj is kind of funny, but her wealth and worldly success juxtaposed with Jahy’s poverty, along with her servility in the face of Jahy and Jahy’s discomfort with those displays—yeah I recognize all that, because I saw it ten times. The landlady wants her rent and gets grumpy easily. Saurva, a rival to Jahy from the Dark Realm, wants to defeat Jahy and become the new second in command, but always trips up on silly things in this world. All of these things could be funny, but for whatever reason stopped being funny pretty soon after we were introduced to them.
Part of my negativity here comes from expectations. Going in, I was prepared to be entertained. I’d seen the memes. When I got into it, I wasn’t entertained, and that definitely, and rightly, affects my overall opinion of the work. That being said, the characters themselves, nor their voice performances, are bad. They simply don’t meet expectations and are basically just slightly below average as far as characters go. Expectations are important: anime studios pick mangas like this to adapt because those mangas are popular, and so people expect a lot from the resulting production. When that isn’t the case, people will usually think worse of a show; as in, it might have been better if its source material wasn’t well known in the first place. This is a heavily character driven tale, and the studio dropped the ball a little bit on the characters. I was but lightly entertained and my resulting feeling is mostly disappointment.
If you look at nothing but still shots of this anime, you’d think it was wildly entertaining. Which is interesting, considering that the manga (all still frames) was wildly popular. But just as the characters lack in this series, so does the artwork. And I’m not 100% sure why.
Add motion and it becomes lesser than it could have been? That’s an odd commentary. It’s a strange phenomenon, one I have not observed very often. The only thing I can say about this is that, for whatever reason, the Jahy manga was not easily adaptable into anime, and so the anime, the artwork not the least, suffered for it. I can add no detail to that. The dynamic between a manga and its resulting anime is a curious one, but not one I can comment on fluently. I know certain shows do this very well: Komi Can’t Communicate is a great modern example. Others seem to suffer, like this one and Gokushufudou. Artwork seems to contribute heavily to this, but I’m not always sure why or how.
I kind of like the artwork. It’s colorful even if it is a bit on the dull-colorful side. The lighting is often nice. The eyes get a lot of attention, but aren’t super great. Jahy has the reptilian eyes, which are kind of fun. The restaurant owner has those soft onee-san eyes, which I know some people like. Druj’s eyes look really crazy. The landlady’s eyes look on the edge of rage at all times. So the eyes do a decent job reflecting the characters’ inherent traits. I don’t find any of them remarkable really, but I did notice how much attention was put into those designs.
The character designs themselves are lively. Although I’d never call them pretty. Adult Jahy is kind of pretty, that tan skin and showy clothing naturally exuding sexiness, but even she isn’t very attractive somehow. Sidetracking on tanned characters, compare Jahy to a Ghislaine from Jobless Reincarnation. Ghislaine will make your heart skip a beat. Adult Jahy made my heart feel like it wanted to skip a beat, but couldn’t be troubled to actually do it, which was really weird. I think she’s supposed to be pretty, I think she’s supposed to be sexy, but she isn’t really. Same thing with the restaurant owner. We have this weirdly out of place oversized breasts thing going on with her, but it does’t make a single hair twitch on my body. It was a curious effect.
Bottling it up, the artwork doesn’t translate well from the manga to the anime. I’m not sure why, but this show particularly seemed to suffer from this. Like many things in this show, it was underwhelming even if it otherwise might have been fine but for expectations.
This anime is a great example of how character traits and storylines, when too narrow and repeated too often, tend to make a show boring.
Let me rephrase some of that. “Character traits and storylines” can be summed up in the phrase “comic devices” here in this case. It’s these comic devices that are sorely overused in this show. The best example happened immediately at the outset of this show.
I came in full of expectations, if I hadn’t made that clear enough already. I was ready to laugh at the one-liners and the quips of wit and the crazy situations. So immediately I’m introduced to Jahy and her situation. I gave a humorous “pfft!” when I saw Jahy, elementary schooler sized and clad in an oversized t-shirt, living in a one room apartment. She had menial work, and didn’t have enough money, and didn’t manage her money well when she had it (though I learned that later). And she was out to restore the Dark Realm. She had to gather the fragments of the obviously very large mana crystal that the magical girl destroyed, which are now, for whatever reason, scattered all about her geographical area of the island of Japan. So she searched for the magical crystals. Usually she’d find one or two tiny shards. Then she’d immediately misplace them or lose them. All the while she’s working as a waitress and doesn’t have money to pay her rent.
After four episodes of this I’d stopped laughing. I don’t know if it was exactly four, but this same pattern went on for several of the first few episodes of the show. If she lost another of those mana crystals I think I was going to cry with boredom. It wasn’t even frustrating any more. It was frustrating the first several times, and in a way that made me irritated with the show. But even that gave way to boredom. It was tiresome.
The show did eventually shift tracks away from this same storyline, involving the magical girl and the occasional appearances from Saurva, but even so a lot of their comic devices repeated a lot. Saurva was going to overcome Jahy and become the second in command, but always failed to do so due to some incident or other that prevented it. Jahy would meet with Druj and feel inferior, but Druj would always come away thinking Jahy still had everything under control, despite how obvious it was that Jahy didn’t have much of a clue about anything in her life. The magical girl eventually converted to Jahy’s cause, but then became a rival to Druj, each competing for who could be more servile to Jahy. Even the Demon Lord’s arrival and the odd storyline with her sister that concluded the series was full of repetitious devices. The Demon Lord didn’t talk and only consumed snacks. Nani?
Repetitious story or character devices can be useful. Not long ago I finished a review of Aharen is Indecipherable in which I applauded the exceptional usage of this method. I’d see a character and eventually I’d know exactly what was going to happen, and then when it did happen I’d laugh as hard or harder than when it happened the first few times. I did not have the same experience in Jahy. I’m not sure why. You might say it’s a matter of preference: perhaps I had some preference for the kind of comic devices employed in Aharen, while disliking those in Jahy. But how then does it align perfectly by show? I never got bored of the character-based comic devices in Aharen, no matter how predictable, no matter the character. I didn’t enjoy any of the repetitious comic devices in Jahy. You can’t even say it’s about expectations, because Aharen was a popular manga going in too and I’d seen a lot of it around the internet before the anime came out. My anticipation was similar for both resulting anime. So it’s something about the two shows themselves that creates this difference.
It’d be easy for me to just say “the writers overused these comic devices,” but that doesn’t explain why I dislike it so here compared to other shows that use it effectively. Overuse would eventually dilute the humor of anything I suppose. Maybe the Aharen gags would get old after a while, even if they haven’t yet. But these Jahy gags and schticks got old within a few episodes. I’d see a Saurva and know what was coming, and barely laughed at the resulting mess at all. Maybe some detail here and there would get a smile out of me, but I’d never laugh just because I recognized the situation.
As far as the story itself goes: it’s a comedy story. It’s predictably unbelievable and often zany, and certainly lacking in great detail. None of that is bad of course: it’s what I’d expect of comedy like this. But to continue the theme: I never thought it was very funny. Jahy has a kid’s body here on Earth and can’t do magic without the mana crystal, so she toughs it out and works to gather the mana crystals to restore the Dark Realm. She meets new people and makes friends along the way despite it all, learning to be more friendly and human along the way. I get it, but it never was really funny. These kinds of shows must be character-driven in great part, and the story’s role is to create scenarios for those characters to show off their funniness in. This show failed to do that. The situations were tied up with each character, which makes sense of course, but weren’t that funny. And especially when the situations never evolved or became more entertaining. They weren’t entertaining at the outset and never became so.
The music was just okay, though I did like the opening for the second half of season one. It made me smile. That’s Sumire Uesaka for you though.
This show was a disappointment. Whether my expectations got in the way or not, it didn’t measure up. It was repetitious in the wrong ways, unimaginative even in some ways, and not well executed in any facet. The banter between the characters wasn’t memorable, and the voice acting left no impression on me where it should have been astounding give this cast. It was a subpar experience.
At this point in my time spent in the anime world, I can separate my reaction to a show from technical aspects of a review. Like, a show could have crappy artwork or insanely bad storylines, but I might still enjoy it, and I could draw the distinction between those two in my review. But in this case I have mostly bad objective and subjective opinions about this anime. No part of this show lived up to expectations, but even outside those expectations nothing about this show succeeding in accomplishing what it should have accomplished. It should have had great dialogue moments for these great VAs. It didn’t. It should have had artwork that makes you laugh the moment you see it. It didn’t. It should have had memorable characters. It didn’t. It should have been funny. It wasn’t.
Sometimes shows fail to be what they should be. Dramas sometimes aren’t dramatic. Comedies sometimes aren’t funny. Usually this has something to do with the production process. Either the vision at the outset was bad or the way a story was translated from a written medium to animation was poorly executed, or maybe just the directing wasn’t up to par—any number of things could go wrong to make a show fail in this manner. But it boils down to this: those involved in creating the show lost sight of what they were trying to do. It sounds silly to say, but comedy should be funny. That’s what the crew behind The Great Jahy Will Not Be Defeated lost sight of. Somewhere along the way they ended up producing a final product that failed at exactly what it should have aimed to do: make audiences laugh. I blame that mostly on the creators behind this anime.
Hawk you’re so insensitive. Couldn’t it just be that Jahy is one of those series that doesn’t translate well from manga to anime? Why blame the production itself? You could be right: a lot of the problems with this show might be, and in fact probably are, a result of this series simply not being a good fit for the anime medium. I don’t know why that might be the case, but it certainly seems like that happens sometimes. The reason I place most of the blame on those behind the production of the anime is because it’s incumbent upon them to see that this translation works effectively. It’s unlikely that any manga is just impossible to translate effectively into anime. Surely there are degrees to this impossibility, and I am sure we see a great deal of that here, but it’s never 100% impossible.
Or consider the opposite. Think of how many good adaptations of manga there are in anime, or adaptations that don’t turn out poorly just because of how they were adapted through the production process. That would be most anime ever adapted from print media. Anime studios make their money by ensuring these adaptations work, and they’re really good at it. You might say that makes an evidentiary case that this particular show was difficult to adapt into anime, and I would agree with that on the surface. But on the other hand, if I may speak of expectations once again, I simply expect better. I can’t put my finger on why the Jahy manga would be hard to translate into anime; maybe there isn’t a reason. Maybe this is simply a bad adaptation. And that falls at the feet of the studio and those working on this production.
Season two? We’ll see. I’m not sure how well this did ratings-wise. My personal preferences usually aren’t a weathervane for the opinion of the anime community at large, and I like it that way. So perhaps this show did well with audiences, and thus a second season will be in order. What I’m more interested in is seeing how a seemingly unrelated show from Summer 2022 does: The Maid I Hired Recently is Mysterious. This is from the same manga author and shares a few visual characteristics at least. It will be very interesting, in light of what I’ve written here, to see how that show strikes me. But I stray. I don’t look forward to a second season from Jahy. I presume it would be filled with the same kinds of things as this first season, and therefore not be very interesting. But I’d watch it just in case. I’ll give anything a second chance. I hope that a second chance will save this show, because as it is it needs a lot of saving.