Ente Isla is an island chain controlled by the Devil. His army led an assault across the islands, killing thousands and putting even more under his oppressive rule. A hero rises up from the holy church and leads a revolution against him. Cornered, he retreats out a magical gate to earth, and the hero follows him. Thrown into modern Japan, the hero and the Devil must integrate into society and try to find a way back home.
Maou Sadao is the Devil that rules over Ente Isla. Forced into retreat by the hero of the church, he opens a gate to another world and dives in, with his top commander. Now a human in our world, it is time for him to turn a new leaf; a lettuce leaf. He takes a part time job at MgRonalds (an oddly familiar fast food burger joint) and plots to take over the world by working his way up the corporate hierarchy. Maou is an odd character. I am not quite sure why a character so smart is working at a fast food chain, but would the show be nearly as funny if he didn’t live in self imposed poverty? Probably not. Maou feels no regret from his life in the other world. In fact, he barely acknowledges the other world at all, which annoys Emi and Ashiya to no end. It always feels like he does, in fact, have something plotting behind the scenes, but it fails to materialize
Yusa Emi found a much better job than flipping burgers. Ente Isla’s savior hero found a job at a call center that put her up in a nice single bedroom apartment and afforded her the ability to go out to dinner with friends when she wanted. Not that she ever did. Why you might ask? Because Emi, despite having a wildly better life on earth than Maou, spends all her time stalking the demon lord and his general. Anyone can see after a couple episodes that her shy behavior is going to lead to some romance. She insists that she can kill Maou at any time, but why won’t she? Well she might not be able to get home. There might have been too much that happened that day. The weather might be wrong for the moment. The excuses run pretty dry. But we can see why. Unlike Maou, who had Ashiya go through the portal with him, Emi’s second in command did not make it through the portal to earth. Emi finds herself stuck between her hatred for the idea of Maou and the reality that he really isn’t that evil. Will she ever admit her feelings and stop being coy? It certainly wouldn’t be an anime if she did.
Ashiya Shirou is the fearless demon general that became a housewife, and there is nothing wrong with that! There are family situations or preferences that ask the caretaker figure to take care of the house. They are essential to feeding hungry boys and girls and providing much needed childcare. On occasion they are needed to further the education of the house for important steps, such as the case of Ashiya. Ashiya is researching how he and Maou can go home. The ever diligent underling, he also takes care of the laundry, cooking, housework, and shopping. He prepares Maou for dates, takes him shopping, and all the other things a good mother would do, if he was a mother. Ashiya is a funny mix of traits. Out of anyone, he seems to retain the most evil out of the demons, but he applies it towards taking someone’s key or using an egg coupon twice instead of once. He is hopelessly ineffective at helping Maou in any way other than housework and is endlessly apologetic about it. As funny as he was, he received the least amount of development and functioned a lot better as a funny parent figure than he did as a competent demon general.
Sasaki Chiho deserves the entire world. This clumsy but hard working crew member works tirelessly by Maou’s side at MgRonalds. Chiho is a sixteen year old human girl from earth. I never thought I would have to specify that but I do. She is completely in love with Maou and everyone knows it. But that is half of her charm! She is possessive, competitive, and funny. Her heart is pure and all she wants is to be noticed by Maou, regardless of the warnings that people give her. I can’t say that she plays a huge role in the plot… not much of a role at all… but she is precious and I love her.
The show has an odd way of expressing itself. Lots of shows try to get you to relate to the main character and how they think and feel. But Maou doesn’t really work well for that kind of character. So what you are left with is the people around him who have to react to his bizarre change in personality from Demon Overlord to part time burger flipper. Emi and Ashiya played an essential role for the emotional pulse of the show. While you might be sitting there, watching the show and thinking about why Maou doesn’t act like a demon, they actually express that. Ashiya is dismayed that his lord acts like an underling and tries, however he can, to get him back to ruler status. Emi gets mad that her rival no longer has any interest in fighting her, nullifying most of her life’s work. I mean how would you feel if you dedicated your life to someone who peaked in the last world? Talk about sad. But there was so much humor in this! While sad for Emi and Ashiya, how could we not laugh at Maou and his dealings at MgRonalds after seeing his power in the first episode? In addition to Emi and Ashiya, not only did characters like Chiho add to the show with their expressions and reactions, but they just do funny things. How could you not love a girl stuttering like crazy when she finds out her crush might be in a relationship. She looked like she was about to faint! So while the show does fall into the trap of being single toned most of the time, humor isn’t a bad tone to be stuck in.
Something that has been drilled into American society is that you can be whatever you want to be. We have the power to choose who we are. The Devil is a Part Timer hints at, “Is that something uniquely human?” Do demons have the option to be good? Do angels have the option to be bad? Or are we, as humans, positioned in this unique way that we have the option to choose? Maybe we look at things too black and white given that we have the option of choosing any shade of grey, whenever we want. Perhaps we are alone in our position to choose good or evil. This was not something heavily developed in the show, more of me just reaching deeper into something I happened to find.
I used to be a pretty angry kid. I know that when I was younger I was mean to people who didn’t deserve it and I made it a point to change and become better. The question that has always gone unasked to the people that I hurt is, “Am I forgiven?” Emi hated Maou for the terror and bloodshed that he brought to Ente Isla. So when he changes, is he worthy of forgiveness? Should her hate go away because he changed? How should he be held accountable for what he did? We never really get an answer to these questions but they loom over the show in a big way.
I do not often talk about Japanese culture because I truly do not know much about it. But what I do know is that they are more community oriented than we are in the United States. Keeping that in mind, I was curious to find that one of the characters struggled to decide if she could make an impact on her own. Where Emi was the lone hero basket that so many people put their eggs into, this new girl lived by working in the system. She believed that you needed to be part of something bigger to make real change in the world. This caught me a little off guard. I have always been someone who goes against the system and tries to bend it to what I want. I firmly believe that a single person can make a difference in anything they want to. I swear I am not just saying that because I can’t find a girlfriend. Yet, the show brings up a valid point. The reason we are where we are is because so many people who are nameless in history have done small work to further the greater good, more than any one person. I can’t really say if Emi was right or wrong, but we at least got an episode or two to think about it.
We get two distinct arcs in the show. I have to say, when we started the first arc, I expected this to be the entire premise of The Devil is a Part Timer. Yet, I was surprised by a shift from a decent amount of action with some emotional tension to a lot of emotional tension with a solid amount of action. Yes, I know that is basically the same but the emphasis changes, just trust me on this. I am not sure that the show needed to be as long as it was and the shift arc surprised me. Looking back, I liked how it paced. We had the first half of the show to establish the relationships between the characters and we had the second half of the show to establish their intentions and develop them further. Well paced for a short show.
There comes a time in my reviews where I do not really know what to say, not because I am at a loss for words but because none of the words would be of particular interest to you. It’s a little bit like my work life. Nothing interesting happens outside what you would expect from a normal tech job. So what can you expect from The Devil is a Part Timer? You can expect funny reactions, pretty standard fight animation, and some decent backgrounds. Nothing spectacular happens. There are two or three scenes that are pretty impressive but most of the time we are watching the classic comedy style of animation: fast transitions, exaggerated faces, and funny zooms. Who can really complain about that?
The first five minutes of the show introduces us to an incredible fantasy world. Monster armies clash with knights as our devil soars over the battlefield, doing battle with the hero of the church. The fight moves to the dark castle, magic flying everywhere as swords clash and people die. Then just like a spark from a sword, the world flashes and is gone. We go through the portal and we are in Japan. I’ll spoil just a bit, we never really go back to Ente Isla in a way that explores the world meaningfully, until the second half of the show. This was such a bummer! There was so much I wanted to learn about the island chain! When we do go back, we learn about our two of our characters and their relationship with the church. It makes me a sad Catholic boy that the church is always evil. So despite largely ignoring the islands, we get a small glimpse into the church and some politics of the world after Moau and Emi are gone.
On the other side of the gate, we have urban Japan. I have to say that I was less impressed with this world and got a lot more of it. What The Devil is a Part Timer did well though was taking an intentionally bland world and using it for humor. The greatest villains Ente Isla have ever seen are on the move, our hero is stalking them outside and hears them rush out the door saying that they need to act fast. She follows them to…. dun dun dun… the corner store. Because eggs are on sale. After the sale, she follows them back to their stronghold. A one bedroom apartment with paper thin walls. The sheer impressiveness creates humor. So when Emi is trying to get them to let her in as they have a conversation, you can hear her crying and pounding on the door as they calmly have a conversation, knowing full well both sides can hear each other, you really can’t help but laugh. There are more examples, but no one likes all the humor spoiled.
Overall, the world is uninteresting, but the characters find a way to make it relevant. I could never give it full marks, but the way that it was used intentionally for humor was very well done.
The music in The Devil is a Part Timer has to be some of the oddest selection of sounds I have ever heard. I can’t tell if the music team was arguing the whole time or if they split into four different camps and took turns adding music. The first camp had someone who said, “Hey, I just got back from Morocco and you won’t believe it but the drums there are awesome.” Boom, insert weird funky percussion songs that sound half Japanese and half Moroccan. The next camp said, “You know what screams ‘Devil working part time at a burger joint’? 1800’s Italian street music.” Unsurprisingly I was not alive back then but it reminds me of the feeling of walking down a brick road with adobe-esqe houses and tile roofs. Team three decided that a lot of their audience might be young. What kind of music do young people listen to? Well if you know anyone in your life under the age of five you might have watched these bizarre shows that play music and explain shapes and numbers in a giant white environment that always makes me think of that afterlife. These storyless concoctions of learning always have these songs that are largely based on what sound like chimes and string orchestras.
|Category||Points Given||Points Possible|
|I am interested in the characters in the story||2||6|
|I liked the emotion the story made me feel||3||6|
|The story brings up interesting ideas||2||6|
|I felt the pacing of the show was appropriate||2||4|
|The animation in the show is beautiful||3||4|
|I am interested in the world that the story takes place in||3||3|
|I felt that the music added to the story in a meaningful way||2||3|
The Devil is a Part Timer is the perfect show to watch with a friend or suggest to someone you want to indoctrinate into the anime kingdom. It does humor in all the right ways, has characters that grab your attention, and plays well into tropes. A second season comes out sometime after this review and I can only hope that it keeps the charm that season one had success with.