There’s a gentleness about episode 19 that I found myself loving this week. As the year winds down and we count our successes, it’s easy to look back and see all the paths you didn’t tread. Yet episode 19 is a reminder that just like a penguin going for their first swim, we too can find success in just trying and believing. As I look towards being closer to thirty than not, it’s a story that resonates: I expected to be in a very different life situation than I am right now. All I can do is strive and try my best.
Episode 15 is a somewhat middling episode: not bad, but not necessarily “wow” levels of fun, though the gags are still good and feel fresh. There’s lots of hilarious moments, lots of relatable moments, and lots of intensely “it me” kind of moments where you really connect with Jahy. I suppose what makes this kind of middling is that it just feels like a funny episode with no overarching goal, which… okay, while you could say, “Well Mercedez, that’s what every episode is,” I’d argue that most episodes of The Great Jahy Will Not Be Defeated! have a plot of sorts. Episode 15 just feels like, “Let’s get Jingu into the ensemble cast a bit further”, which is funny, but… doesn’t hit like Jahy finding the Dark Lord or trying to grow a tomato plant.
Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaw snap, Jahy ’bout to fight the magical girl y’all!
Finally, episode 14, “The Magical Girl Will Not Fight” brings us the much-anticipated showdown between Jahy and her nemesis. and would you know it, the fight itself actually has some solid enough impact! Jahy is back in all her demonic glory, flinging mana crystals and wielding a spear as she and Jingu have a riverside rumble, complete with dramatic music.
Episode 18 serves as a pleasant reminder that you can find joy in a job well done, even if it’s something that you’re not necessarily passionate about. It’s a poignant message, especially in a time when many of us are haunted by job insecurity and imposter syndrome. It’s okay to not let what you do for a living define you, and others will still see you as valuable even if you’re taking up a spot in what may be someone else’s dream job.
Episode 17 exemplifies all of what makes aquatope great and left a lasting impression on me. It feels like the culmination of weeks of effort, as the strong character foundation that is built up over the past twenty episodes is starting to pay off. Furthermore, all of these beautiful female friendships are framed positively through their tenderness and comfort and femininity, as opposed to cattiness, which The aquatope on white sand has largely avoided.
Jahy remains an incredibly loveable character who has upended all my assumptions from the premiere. Whether she’s rescuing children at the beach or sitting next to her green-haired underling, Jahy really has stolen my heart this year. I truly lament the fact that our time with her will eventually end. If only I could make The Great Jahy Will Not Be Defeated! go on forever and ever…
There’s so much I want to say about this episode: so much I wish I had words to say. But I’m not a mother or a caretaker. I’m someone who’s definitively, explicitly chosen not to have children despite having a uterus, simply because I don’t want to raise a human being. And yet, I felt so deeply connected to Chiyu, a character who I thought was much younger, but actually is very much so my age. I deeply sympathized with her and feel really, really grateful that we got this character study, which puts a rare spotlight on the struggles that come with balancing parenthood and ambition.
The laughs keep coming and they don’t stop coming when it comes to The Great Jahy Will Not Be Defeated!. Just like a seven-layer dip, there’s so much to this show to enjoy. Whether you’re enjoying the simmering plot of “Jahy getting mana crystals” or, like me, are fully here for the real plot of “Jahy tries to survive being in her late twenties on Earth”, there really is something here. And while the show is quite simple, it excels in its execution, squeezing laughs out of me like the last bit of ketchup in the bottle.
On the other hand, Kai is also growing into a different role: that of being Kukuru’s potential romantic partner. It’s something that was definitely hinted at in the first half of the series, but is much more prominent here, especially towards the end of the episode. The music leans in hard on pitching them as the series’ lead partnership, and it wants you and I as viewers to do the same. Will it “pay off”? I don’t know. I don’t actually know if The aquatope on white sand will have any romance. I’m kind of hoping that it won’t, and will instead just let everyone be friends and lean on that as a catalyst for their own individual development.
One of the things I love about the slice of life genre is that it does take its time: there’s plot, but sometimes, that gets placed as foundation for moments and episodes like this, little character studies that break down certain aspects of Jahy and Jingu’s fraught relationship as villainous hero and heroic villain, at least from Jahy’s perspective. That’s certainly what I found as I was retooling this review.