Continuing my marathon of anime is Hataraku Maou-Sama, or The Devil is a Part-Timer. The 13 episode series has hilarious moments with good buildup and delivery alongside some fancy, though somewhat out of place, battle scenes. On the other hand, the cast of characters leaves something to be desired, and the story glosses over glaring plot holes. Just as these plot holes demand to be answered, however, the series ends abruptly in a lackluster finish. A superbly interesting seed unfortunately fails to bloom into the beautiful flower it could have been.
The Demon Lord of an alternate world called Enta Isla, Satan wages war against all of humanity and loses. In retreat, Satan transports through a magical gate with his servant Alciel and ends up in modern-day Japan. The once mighty demons lose their magic powers and is forced to live as ordinary humans. To make ends meet, Satan, now named Maou Sadou, begins work at McRonalds, a fast food hamburger chain. These two are soon followed by other crazy characters from Enta Isla, such as the hero Emilia and demon general Lucifer.
It’s an extremely interesting setup that, unfortunately, leaves many questions unanswered. The first big question is why is a demon lord who has murdered millions suddenly so docile that he’s willing to work at a McRonalds? Sadao’s change of heart is questioned many times by the characters, but it’s never fully explained. Sadao as a character is so unbelievable that it’s hard to trust his actions. The anime could have done much better if it gave Sadao some epiphany to justify his sudden humanity.
On the other hand, Alciel is probably my favorite character from Hataraku Maou-Sama. While he’s strictly loyal to his master, Alciel, now Shiro Ashiya, becomes a stay-home husband, taking care of the chores and food while researching the magics of Japan in hopes of returning to Enta Isla. Ashiya acts as a mother/brother to Sadao, supporting him in all his endeavors while still scolding and guiding him when Sadao misbehaves. I personally found Ashiya to be much funnier and more likable than Sadao.
The final demon is Lucifer, who serves as the first antagonist. Lucifer at first aims to kill Sadao and the hero, Emilia, in order to return to heaven as an angel. However, he is defeated and proceeds to live with Sadao and Ashiya as Hanzo Urushihara. From then on, he becomes a NEET and provides Sadao and Ashiya with intel from the internet, as well as wasting money on various internet goods, to Ashiya’s rage.
On the other side of the demonic male cast of Hataraku Maou-Sama is the more varied female fast. First, Emila is the half-human, half-angel hero who defeats Satan and forces his retreat. She chases after Satan through the Gate to finish the job and also ends up in modern-day Japan. Like Satan, Emilia loses most of her powers is forced to live an ordinary life as Yusa Emi.
Emi’s character suffers similar problems as Sadao’s in that neither seems to take into their past at all, except for slight quarrels of little importance. These once mortal rivals repeatedly fight together against demons and angles alike. It’s never quite sure whether Emi despises Sadao or has fallen in love with his changed personality. Like with Sadao, it’s hard to determine whether or not I like or dislike a character I don’t know much about.
Unsurprisingly, the most down-to-earth character is the human from modern Japan. Sasaki Chiho is a fellow worker of Sadao at McRonalds. Having never met Sadao’s demon self, she inevitably develops feelings for him and even confesses to him. Sorry girl, but if a guy still treats you as a coworker after such a blunt confession, you’re out of luck. Chiho over-exaggerates frequently, fantasizing about how other girls, such as Emi, might love Sadao. Yet her actions and motives are genuine, making her a character that you can actually get a full picture of.
She and Emi also make an adorable sister-like duo. This also leads to frequent breast jokes that Emi gets the short end of the stick on every time.
The final female is Kamazuki Suzuno. To avoid spoilers, I’ll just say that she gets some character development and is interesting, but does not have enough screen time to fully flesh her character.
Hataraku Maou-sama follows a path very similar to Gekkan Shoujo Nozaki-kun. The beginning hook is interesting. The characters are all varied. However, the comedy and slice-of-life antics push aside any meaningful plot. This normally would not be a problem if the series do not try to fit all of the plot into the last couple episodes. Hataraku Maou-sama has even more potential for an interesting story because of its fantasy nature, but the majority of the episodes brush it aside and focuses on high school crushes, slapstick jokes, and shallow personalities. It’s a series that is enjoyable while watching, but leaves nothing to be desired after it’s done. It’s a shame because the characters and backstory is extremely interesting.
There’s so much potential wasted with this mediocre anime that I’m tempted to read the source material and see if that is any good. I want to like these characters, but the anime just doesn’t really let me do that. With no news of season 2 anywhere, I doubt Hataraku Maou-sama will become anything more than mediocre. Funny, definitely. But mediocre.
I’ll give the light novels a try.