One of the most popular subgenres of anime is known as isekai, where somebody escapes their humdrum, human existence to live in a fantasy world. I can understand the popularity, because it’s pure escapism, but I’m not sure there’s a good reason for the reverse existing. There are plenty of anime shows where a fantasy character pops up in the human world, and they are often a huge amount of fun, but they are almost always told from the perspective of a human character, into whose life the fantasy character crashes. This is different, because the perspective character is Jahy, the second in command of a Dark Realm, who has to survive in the human world. It’s reverse isekai in its purest form, and that’s not a strong foundation for a series. Not all genres need to be flipped.
The idea has legs initially, and that’s because it’s quite funny to see a super-powered girl navigating the hardships of human life, from a standing start with no money and no power, and the important message that the series keeps hammering home is that she can’t do that alone. A group of friends gradually form around her, some of whom start as enemies, particularly the landlord who just wants her money and struggles to get it. She’s a fun character, as is her sister, who owns the pub where Jahy finds employment. Rivals from her former life also show up, along with her former subordinate, who is amusingly far more successful than Jahy. There’s an important point to be made there: Druj was treated terribly by Jahy in the Dark Realm, but in the human world she is far more resourceful and has made herself rich and successful while Jahy is still finding her feet. It shows that the most talented or deserving people don’t always get what they deserve in life, but can thrive and outshine their “betters” given the right opportunities. It’s all about an accident of birth, the life you are born into. Much of the comedy springs from how Druj still likes to be treated badly by Jahy, which is slightly uncomfortable to watch at times. It sometimes feels like the writer is trying to reinforce Jahy’s right to power over others, even though it’s clear via the frequent flashbacks that she was a monster towards her subordinates in her former life. We never quite get the condemnation of Jahy’s former self that I was looking for here. Yes, she learns to embrace the human life and also learns the importance of friendship, and that’s a huge step in a very positive direction for the character and the show, but the writer never quite joins the dots necessary for Jahy to come to the understanding of what a nasty piece of work she used to be. She retains too much of her arrogance. That’s one of the reasons I found Jahy a difficult character to warm to. She starts the show as a brat, and remains a brat for virtually the whole series.
I realise I’m out on a limb to a certain extent with my disappointment with Jahy as the main character. I approached this show knowing that it had been very popular indeed. This one seemed to be making more of a splash on social media than anything around it at the time, and anime groups were flooded with images of Jahy. I’m not sure that has much to do with her personality, though. I think it’s about how she’s two characters rolled into one. Have a look at the images that accompany this article, and that will tell you everything you need to know. Jahy flips back and forth between those two forms: her true self from the Demon Realm, and the powerless little girl she turns into when she crashes into the human world. It’s not hard to see how they’ve placed two huge ticks in boxes that make a lot of anime fans happy, labelled “cute” and “hot”.
No amount of switching back and forth between cute little girl and scantily clad adult can make up for Jahy’s personality, though, which spoils the show. I think your appreciation or otherwise will come down to whether the comedy lands or not, and that’s very subjective obviously. Some fans will also be happy to overlook the character flaws when the visuals are so appealing to them (although the animation beyond the character designs is nothing special). But there is something to be celebrated here. Firstly, apart from the obvious sex appeal of some of the female characters, this is a wholesome series, showing restraint by never really resorting to cheap fanservice. Secondly, darker skinned characters in anime are extremely rare, and a darker skinned main character is almost unheard of, so this series perhaps represents an attempt to broaden things a little from the status quo of the narrow representation of female perfection that has endured in anime for so long. For those reasons, Jahy deserved the social media buzz, even if her 20 episodes are several more than she needed or deserved. Jahy learns about friendship, but never quite learns enough about herself. RP
Man, every time I see a new review of Jahy-sama I think I was the only one around who liked it all that much, aside from the positive points you bring up that I agree with. I think I was already set to like the series because it reminded me a lot of the Disgaea game series in some ways — some of the demon characters especially feel like they were pulled straight out of a Disgaea game, complete with the “haughty demon learns something about not being a jerk all the time” theme.
I know the series has some flaws, though. It’s a little too repetitive with some of its jokes. and Jahy does remain more or less a brat, but just a bit less of one by the end. Part of the problem may be that fans probably like Jahy for her “bratty spoiled demon lady” thing, so if she changes a lot that appeal is lost. I kind of liked Jahy myself, but I can see how she would get grating, and especially her strange relationship with Druz.
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Social media seemed to be full of pictures of Jahy for quite a while, so you were far from being the only one who liked it! It was the cuteness people liked more than anything, I think.
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If that’s the case then I totally missed it. I don’t get on Twitter that often anymore, though. Too tiring.
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Very wise! I don’t join the twits on Twitter either 😉 But I belong to a lovely little anime group on Facebook run by Daz, who also has some reviews on this blog, and that’s a useful place to gauge fan opinions, with the proviso that it’s a relatively small sample of people and also not necessarily typical of the larger anime community (they are all nice to each other, for a start!)
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