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Hataraku Maousama / The Devil Is A Part-Timer! - Wanderings and Maunderings [entries|archive|friends|userinfo]

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Hataraku Maousama / The Devil Is A Part-Timer! [Jun. 14th, 2015|09:52 pm]
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It's been years since I watched a new anime that I felt was worth reviewing. There are several reasons for that, including but not limited to: 1) me not having a job, and thus losing the big block of alone time on the ferry where I was accustomed to watching TV shows from Netflix on my laptop; 2) teh_boy being old enough to want to watch anime with me at home, which limits my choices to things I know are age-appropriate for him, which basically means re-watching things I've already seen; 3) no, those first two are the big ones. The Devil Is A Part-Timer! is a single short season, at least the part of it that's available on Hulu.

This is a weird one, tough to classify. It starts out in the end days of a world-spanning war between demons and humans in the medieval fantasy world of Ente Isla, a war that the demons have all but won when there arises a HERO from among the humans. Born of a human father and an angel mother, the hero Emilia is the only person who can wield the heavenly sword that can defeat the demonic horde. She carves a mighty swath through the demonic army, destroying three of the four generals and setting her sights on the fourth, Alciel, and his master Satan. In the final battle, she fights the two demon lords to a standstill, but before she can strike the finishing blow, Satan opens a magical portal, and with the standard "I'll be back to destroy you all/tremble in fear for my return" blather, vanishes with Alciel to...modern-day Tokyo, where the pair of them discover that Earth's low-magic environment forces them out of their demon shapes and into puny human shells.

Forced to conserve their magic, Satan and Alciel rent a small, run-down apartment in a poorer part of town, and while Alciel sets up housekeeping, Satan goes to work part-time at "MgRonalds".

From this point on, what we have is a light-hearted slice-of-life story where Satan works hard at his job, determined to improve his status from part-timer to full-time employee of MgRonalds, and someday--dare he hope?--maybe even shift manager, all the while bringing various characters into his orbit, starting with his teenage coworker, Chi, who is impressed with how earnest and nice a person he is.

Oh, and interspersed with that, he has to fend off attacks from forces who have followed him to Tokyo from Ente Isla to take him out. These attacks come both from demonic former underlings and also representatives of the human forces, including Emilia the hero. Who finds herself similarly magic-poor and working telephone customer support for a local company.

The major tension of the story comes from Emilia, naturally, as she finds it nearly impossible to reconcile the hard-working, slightly naive "Maou Sadao" with the monster who laid waste to her world and presided over the demonic army that murdered her father. Especially when she sees that, whenever "Sadao" *does* gain any kind of magical power (which, they learn, can be harvested from the fear and despair of Earth humans), he spends it helping people and repairing the damage caused by the repeated attacks on his person and those around him.

It's this tension that made me want to review the anime. Because they never bother to explain why there's this huge difference, and while they dance around the idea that maybe Satan wasn't all evil (one of the angels who comes to attack him routinely uses torture to get his way, even on people who are nominally on the "good" side, and the Church of Ente Isla is modeled on the worst aspects of the Inquisition), they never actually close that loop, and we are left with no substantive reason to think that the Satan of Ente Isla is anything other than a monster.

Like a harem-anime, the show collects characters around "Sadao", each with their own special relationship with him, but in a neat subversion of the trope, all those characters (so far) are either reduced-magic demon generals who live with "Sadao", or humans from Ente Isla who've come to Tokyo to kill him, but have found reasons to put off the denouement--for now.

I liked this show, and I wish there were more of it. As I mentioned above, you can watch it on Hulu. (I have a Hulu Plus subscription; I'm not sure whether it's available to non-subscribers.)

Happily, I see that the light novels on which the manga and anime are based have been licensed in the States and the first two volumes are available from Amazon.

This entry was originally posted at http://georgmi.dreamwidth.org/235681.html; please feel free to comment below or at Dreamwidth.