The Devil is a Part-Timer
In another dimension the Devil King Sadao is only one step away from conquering the world when he is beaten by Hero Emilia and forced to drift to the other world: modern-day Tokyo. As "conquering the world" are the only skills the Devil King possesses - and are obviously unnecessary in his new situation - he must work as a freeter to pay for his living expenses.
The ‘popcorn’ show is a much derided but wholly necessary part of the entertainment world and the anime season. Of course, being the self-described ‘high-brow’ reviewer that I am, I go into every season hoping for shows of great artistic worth like another Tatami Galaxy or, heaven forbid, another Haibane Renmei but it does not mean I cannot appreciate a plain, well made, mass appeal show when I’m confronted with one. As a piece of entertainment Maou-sama ticks all the right boxes; it is funny, the characters are enjoyable and the plot is interesting. To be honest, if it weren’t for some problems with the second half of the show this would be an instant recommendation.
The first thing that makes Maou-sama enjoyable is that it really made me laugh. There is a certain charm to seeing the lord of demons scrape together a living as a fast food worker and the scenario works because of the chemistry between the characters as they argue over banal things like what they can afford to eat over the next week. Quite a lot of the laughs stem from Sadao’s bizarre priorities such as taking off his work uniform when faced with an assassin because he can’t afford to replace it if it was damaged or his devastation when his precious bicycle is damaged by another would-be assailant. There are also plenty of the customary culture-shock jokes that populate shows about characters who travel between worlds such as one of the later characters only knowing about Japan through watching samurai dramas and acting accordingly (it’s a joke I wish the show had played with more). The only problem with the humour is that it lacks variety and becomes a bit stale when the novelty of the characters and the situations wears a little thin.
The characters, however, are really fun to watch. Sadao and his right hand man, Ashiya, make a great bickering couple as the protagonists who maintain an almost matrimonial relationship despite the constant deference Ahiya pays to his lord and the show is at its weakest during the periods where Ashiya is the least active. Emi quickly overcomes the obvious tsundere cliché thanks to having an extraordinarily good reason to deny her obvious romantic attraction to Sadao and becomes one of the more genuinely interesting characters in the show for it. Chiho is cute and has big boobs, providing a rival love interest and I don’t think you can hope for much more than that - she provides the show’s obligatory moé and fanservice without it dominating the show and even fits a strong plot purpose when it comes to humanising Sadao. Overall the characters interact well, even the thinner characters like Chiho, and the charisma they show through their actions and dialogue make then really enjoyable, if certainly not deep, characters.
Maou-sama is also an action series though and it does fairly well in this regard too, especially when it comes to moving between its more serious and more comic elements. A lot of shows feature a sharp division between what it wants to be funny and what it wants to be serious leading to what is commonly called ‘mood-whiplash’ in reference to how jarring the experience can be. Maou-sama does not make such a distinction – each character has place in both the serious and the silly contexts of the story and humour and plot are blended well throughout the episodes rather than having obvious ‘humour’ episodes and obvious ‘serious’ episodes. This leads to quite a broad and enjoyable experience. The action itself is not overly impressive, mostly the big energy blast kind of combat with the customary bloated monologues though nowhere near an obnoxious level, but it does the job of offering a satisfying climax to each arc of the story’s build-up.
This does lead to a problem though. The second arc is noticeably weaker than the first and the fact the jokes are starting to get tired becomes very noticeable in the build-up to the show’s final climax and the plot doesn’t escalate to make up for it leaving some of the later episodes less enjoyable. Another potential problem is a complete lack of resolution thanks to there being so much of the source material left to adapt. Whether or not this gets a second season is crucial to how satisfying you will find it.
Still I really like it. It does a lot of things and it does them well for the most part even if it is not exceptional in any area in particular. If a second season comes I will definitely give it a shot and with this kind of show that about says it all.
This is not a strong four stars but to call this show average would be a disservice to it. For all its problems, this is definitely better one of the better series of the year. — Aiden Foote
Recommended Audience: It’s got some fantasy violence, people die and get beat up throughout the show as you would expect from an action series. There is some fairly mild fanservice in the form of swimsuit and underwear shots as well as the existence of Chiho’s breasts throughout the show too.
Version(s) Viewed: Digital Source.
Review Status: Full (13/13)
The Devil is a Part-Timer © 2013 WAGAHARA SATOSHI/ASCII MEDIA WORKS/HM Project
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