Story Pile: The Great Jahy Will Not Be Defeated

There’s this genre, called isekai, about a person winding up in a magical world after some major event. Then there’s this other genre based on that, called reverse isekai, where a character from a magical world winds up in a normal world after some major event. And while we can absolutely argue about whether or not Ranma 1/2 is a reverse Isekai (it is), I’d like to talk about a really fun example, with a minimal expansive plot that’s basically just a fun, half-size sitcom about a character who is so much like one of my friends I kinda am concerned she’s not getting royalties.

You can argue amongst yourselves about whom I mean.

The Great Jahy Will Not Be Defeated is a 2021 reverse-isekai anime about Jahy, the former second-in-command of The Great Demon King (or whatever), who upon the defeat of that great big boss, wound up stuck in our mortal realm. Instead of a leggy tits-out catgirl vampire lookin’ lady, because of the reduced availability of magic in our world, she is stuck in a miniature form – shrunk down to child size from her normal adult size. What’s more, as well as not having the magic she needs to be the cool boss monster style character she was, she also has to find ways to afford rent and food, but she doesn’t have all day to do it or any educational qualifications, and she needs to keep trying to find magical gems that will let her recover her power, which means she also needs a job. Something low-qualification and convenient.

Okay, that means the story is about a character with a part-time job making ends meet in a modern world while pursuing a nonsense secondary interest. It’s a pretty good formula. And you know what makes anime great? When conventional characters are escalated into being completely garbage screwballs.

Then along with that, add a rule: Jahy will not be defeated. It doesn’t matter how obviously bad or how awfully her determination has gotten her hosed, she will not give up. Core to the arc of the story, and how things improve from watching this awful little gremlin get dunked on to seeing her genuinely improve her life, is that she won’t give up and just what she’s focused on changes.

The Great Jahy Will Not Be Defeated! - Opening | Fightin★Pose

There is a special kind of anxiety used for a bunch of the comedy in Jahy’s story, and that is the anxiety of poverty coupled with a character who isn’t cynical or aware enough of the world to pre-emptively resist the exploitative mechanics of capitalism. There’s a whole episode I watched on double speed because I was quietly anxious about how it was basically watching my own addled brain’s reaction to my earliest paychques – watching as money I needed to live got turned into a pile of stupid gegaws because I wasn’t practiced at thinking about how much use I’d get out of those useful things versus just having more money on hand for other more practical and boring things.

Bear in mind I was thinking about my life as a child, and the special anxiety of wasting money when you’re already poor.

There’s also a lot of B-plots around silly and funny characters and the ongoing story of how this world works, and that’s fun! And it sometimes features a character screwing up a magical potion and being stuck as a friendly dog for a day? Sometimes? It’s all very light, and the main appeal is seeing just how many of these characters bounce off each other in a small escalation of the ridiculoussness… that culminate in somehow finding ways to get along.

It is kinda funny-and-also-sad the way that anime, with the existing community space of ‘how much anime bullshit am I going to have to handle’ running down a checklist of potential oh-no reactions, measured by their severity and dealbreakiness, can need a very specific set of signifiers for what people might expect. To that end, I’ll let you know, if you’re afraid that Jahy uses the kid mode to do creepy stuff, I didn’t see any and I was duly relieved. Like I kept watching with a pre-emptive cringe and it was a relief that… nope. Jahy’s kid mode is used for two basic ideas:

The first is to just underscore how she’s powerless. She’s small so she doesn’t have raw magical or physical power enough to bully people or attack people. It’s the easiest way to remove that avenue from her, so the world she’s in has to be the world where you comply with what you’re told, which is pretty relatable. It also serves to make a lot of what she does kinda more forgiveable and less pathetic; bursting into tears or throwing a tantrum is a little more tolerable as a character when it’s a little kid having a rotten day.

I dunno, it just feels a bit, to me, like part of what’s going on with what happens when the show diverts to Jahy dealing with being a kid is that there’s a lot of fun stuff associated with being a kid. While sometimes Jahy’s goblin mode is used as a way to exploit her, there’s this recurrent theme I kept seeing where Jahy will wind up being treated as a kid and induced to experience something kids experience, and her reaction is to recognise that, oh no, wait, this thing that kids do is just fun? And it’d be cool to do them? Having friends and going to the park and partaking in the festival is fun, and it’s okay to enjoy that, and have fun?

I’m trying to frame this in a very personal, individual experience here, because I like this show. There’s some stuff I could unpack further, like how this works as a kind of landlord propoganda where one of the main characters being a landlord is shown as being you know, pretty reasonable and the fact she wasn’t doing anything for Jahy and occasionally picks her up like a large doll is a funny foible. On the other hand the same character does go through an arc later on where she seems to realise that she’s not doing enough and just wants Jahy to be her friend, and also, gets powerbombed?

It’s funny how this show does have this recurrent theme that the ways we treat poor people, retail workers, and children sucks, and it’s not like those people inherently have to have unpleasant lives, but it comes so close to being able and willing to say ‘maybe there’s some greater problem with the whole system of landlords, since the room wasn’t doing anything.’

Can’t quite say it though.

Can’t quite point that out.

The actual show is pretty toothless. It’s fun – and there’s a lot of charming sweetness and the music is enjoyable, but it really does hinge for me on how much I like Jahy, how I feel about her as a person, and how much I watched the show just hoping for those moments when Jahy had a good day.

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