What’s it about? Jahy is a formidable demon in the Dark Realm, until a pesky magical girl destroys the crystal that supplies all its evil power. Jahy then finds herself transported to a place called Earth, stripped of her magic and trapped in the body of a tiny girl. Jahy is determined to gather enough crystal shards to restore her kingdom… but sidequests like “paying rent” and “needing groceries” keep getting in the way.
Does The Great Jahy have basically the exact same premise as The Devil is a Part-Timer? Yes, but I’m trying not to hold that against it. Honestly, I think the “reverse isekai” is a relatively untapped genre, and with the constant influx of power fantasies where an Ordinary Boy gets to be a hero in a Euro-inspired fantasy world, it’s pretty fun to explore the opposite situation: a Supreme Villain having to learn to be ordinary in modern-day Japan. It’s the kind of fish-out-of-water supernatural comedy that made the good parts of Dragon Maid good, and can be quite charming if its pulled off right.
The Great Jahy didn’t quite cast a spell on me in this premiere. Perhaps it’s the style of comedy itself: there’s a lot of yelling, to the point where characters reacting to things loudly is the whole joke some of the time. Perhaps it’s the characters: I’m on board to sympathize with Jahy’s plight, but neither she nor the two human characters were that enjoyable to spend time with. Perhaps it’s my brain instinctively putting distance between itself and a show where an immortal woman is turned into a child-sized girl with no pants on.
Now don’t worry, she’s not always child-sized: Jahy has just enough mana in her last remaining crystal to transform into her adult form for shifts at a local bar. This is wonderfully convenient, and also conveniently leads to Shenanigans when the magic inevitably runs out one night and Jahy’s boss finds a wee child in the staff room. But in the same way that Jahy got the job offscreen, what little semblance of conflict there was here evaporates before it even begins. The manager is totally unfazed by this discovery, doesn’t bat an eyelid at Jahy’s ranting about restoring the Dark Realm, and, as a bonus, cuddles Jahy into her chest and offers emotional support.
I would dearly love to know what else has happened in this woman’s life for her to be so blasé about all this—it could be a really interesting character beat!—but I doubt this series will devote the energy to fleshing anything like that out. For a show supposedly hinging on the problem-comedy of Jahy not fitting into the human world, any problems she has sure do vanish quickly.
They never even address the issues she might have faced trying to rent an apartment when she looks like a child—a child with no pants on, I feel the need to state that again. Little-Jahy isn’t sexualized or leered at by the camera, but I just can’t help being wary: she is, after all, a perfectly packaged iteration of the “don’t worry, she looks about twelve but she’s really hundreds of years old” trope. With the added bonus that she can conveniently transform into her true, adult, scantily-clad self when the plot demands it, of course. In terms of fanservice, there’s nothing worse than some comically bouncing bosoms from the bar manager in this particular episode, but I live in wariness.
There’s also the fact that Jahy is the only character with darker skin in the cast, working to mark her as other and “exotic” by implication. Whether this was a conscious choice or not, it plays into racialized stereotypes that only enhance the inherent “eugh” factor to Jahy’s design. Honestly, her design’s not bad; the contrast between her purple braid and golden eyes pops, everyone loves a girl with fangs, and I like the way her hair puffs out into a shape that implies horns or cat ears. I wish I liked her more! As I said, a reverse isekai is potentially a really fun place to play with character growth and fantasy tropes. But any goodwill goes out the window when the scripting and storyboarding hones in on how childish she is, how loud and annoying, and, again the fact that she’s never wearing any pants. Give this child-shaped demon some pants!
At least she’s wearing jeans at the bar. That would have gone from icky character design to OSHA violation, and that I truly cannot condone.
Okay, in all seriousness: The Great Jahy is deeply silly, and if you like loud and silly (and infantile demon queens, I guess?) you might enjoy this first episode. For me, I’m mostly just tempted to go and rewatch other shows that I know have done this better.