Monday, July 1, 2013

Anime Review: The Devil is a Part-Timer!

Normally I don't really follow what such-and-such seiyuu is doing but when I heard last fall that one of the side characters from My Little Monster (also one of the characters from tsuritama) whose voice I liked had got the leading role in a new show I was interested and resolved to check it out. A few chapters of the manga popped up online and after reading those that was enough for me to comment on quite a few spring anticipation blog posts and say that people should keep an eye out for this series. I only learned once the show aired that it's actually based on a light novel series (meaning that the anime was actually being adapted from something I had no experience with, oops) but this seems to be the odd light novel adaption that has neither a ridiculously long title nor a creepy romance plot which already makes the show better than a number of other things out there these days.

The Devil is a Part-timer! (Hataraku Maou-sama!)

Summary: In Enta Isla Satan is well on his way to conquering the world when he's defeated by a hero and their friends and forced to flee. He seems to make a mistake while fleeing however since he and his one remaining general end up on Earth, as humans, with little magic, and completely confused by Tokyo. But not to be daunted for long Satan, or Maou and he now goes by, is determined to figure out how to get back to regain his magic and get back to Enta Isla but in the mean time he's working his way up the McRonalds employee ladder which is sort of like conquest, right? 

The Good: This show manages to mix together some workplace comedy, ordinary life humor, fish out of water moments, and real otherworldly magic together fantastically and the result is better than I can make it sound. I've seen a lot of people talk about the "fish out of water" aspect a lot but I thought that it was used sparingly throughout the show with good reason, seeing characters react to every day events gets tiring fast so the show mixes it with a healthy amount of unexpected snark (even Chio, the cute only non-magical person in the cast does it!) to keep it entertaining, Ashiya and Maou seem to have stolen the hearts of the internet as an unexpectedly perfect comedy duo. It also manages to squeeze in some more situational humor (which is my favorite kind so of course I enjoyed that) and all the while built up to two climaxes from the shows two arcs with no trouble at all. The pacing was a bit leisurely but fit the tone well and overall this was just a fun show to watch. It manages to not only work the fantasy conflict back into the show but also brings more comedy to it than you'd expect without being an outright parody or overly satirical, the characters are just a bit more genre savy than you expect.

The Bad: I am a little confused by the last episode, not by the plot but parts of it seemed almost too laid back for a "cool off" episode and I wonder if it came from another part in the stories (the anime adapted the first two light novels and I know there was a little bit of rearranging and I believe the beach episode was anime original, if that's the case then the show's writers should give themselves a pat on the back for nailing the tone of the story so perfectly). I do wish that Suzuno, who only appeared halfway through, had gotten a little more development (or perhaps had a less cliched backstory) and wish that Emi was changing a little faster but it does seem like she's becoming a bit less "tsundere" (which isn't even the right term considering how downright rude she is to a small part of the cast and perfectly pleasant to the rest, not without reason however but it does get a bit grating regardless). Other than that, and considering this is part of a longer series it would have been weird to have all the character development up front, it was a really strong show. I've seen some people say that all the humor fell off after the first episode and I don't think that's true, some episodes had better humor than others but it certainly never became terrible.

The Production Values: I didn't notice until someone pointed it out but I don't think there are any bad looking scenes in this show. The fight scenes all look great and sure it seems like the animators were trying to find just how crazy they could draw the character's expressions and get away with it (the answer, outright caricature apparently) but everything remains on model otherwise. There was no design or colorwork in the show that really stood out to me but it was still a good looking show all around. Voice-wise I liked the show a little better, all of the actors pulled off the comedic range that just about every character needed (damn Ryoto Ohsaka has range, there were points where I was even wondering if they had someone else doing some of Maou's super deep lines). Chio's actor, Nao Toyama, also seems to be fairly new and I though also did a great job, actually it seems like a lot of the cast is on the younger (and therefore newer) side and everything sounded great. I do prefer the second op and ed to the first ones though, I'm wondering if White Fox simply ran out of time to finish them before the show started or what however since they switched at an odd place.

With all of that in mind I give this show a 4 out of 5 for being consistently entertaining and I really want to not only buy it (Funimation is streaming it and I imagine they'll pick up the rest of the rights soon) but get a second season. I've seen some people point out that this is White Fox's first one cour show which is a bit odd (not counting Katanagatari because that was 12, one hour episodes, one a month for a year which is just weird) which a lot of people take to mean that the show is somehow more likely to get a second season. That I'm not so sure about and I haven't seen any information on light novel sales since the show started (since if there's a spike there that's an excellent sign) and I don't think the first DVD/BR has been released (or if it has it's selling so poorly I can't find it, ack!) but that's what we need to be hoping for, good numbers across the board so they can adapt the next few volumes (I'm told 3-5 form one arc, one very full arc which would be hard to do in just 13 episodes) so everyone cross your fingers or buy it!

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