What do you think the leader of a demon army would do if stuck in our world with no magic. World conquest or chaos? How about casual employment? The Devil is a Part Timer (also known as Hataraku Maou Sama) shows the lifestyle of the demon leader trying to scrape out a living in modern Japan when he ends up stranded there.
This show is a great blend of three of my favourite genres; fantasy, comedy, and slice-of-life. It turns out that Satan (or Maou Sadao as he decides to call himself in Japan), has a very driven, responsible streak and on realising that there’s currently no way to return to his home world of Ente Isla where he was conducting a campaign of world domination, settles down to aiming to be the best possible employee of
definitely not McDonalds MgRonalds. Unfortunately, what with a hero trying to chase him down and other visitors from Ente Isla, a peaceful life isn’t on the cards.
We don’t see a lot of the world of Ente Isla, it’s mainly featured just in the first episode, but it seems to be a fairly standard fantasy world with a theocracy. One quibble I have with this anime, and anime in general is that organised religion (it’s not specified what sort of religion it is, we’re really only shown the bureaucratic elements) is portrayed as corrupt and a source of suffering for people. While I’m not blind to the fact that many terrible things have been done in the name of religion owing to the fact that we as humans are fallible, and just as much in a group as out of it, there are many excellent things which have been done for faith too, and it seems disappointing to consistently be shown only one side. There is enough in the sequences that we’re shown to get a bit of a taste of life in Ente Isla and its contrast to life in Japan. Both visually, and in terms of the events, it feels that Japan is a much lighter and more open world.
The comedy is mostly based around treating everyday situations with excessive gravitas. While we would take running a household or part time work for granted, for Demons and Heroes from another world, all of this is new and different, and at times difficult. It’s funny to see how earnest the characters are as they attempt to go about their daily lives.
There’s also a good dose of action, and the fights while not spectacular are quite fun to watch. The comedy and action elements are separate, but they blend well in the story and it doesn’t feel jarring to jump from one to the other.
I’m normally someone who is quite content for series to end where they are, even if there are some loose ends or there’s still source material to be adapted, but I must say that I’d love to see another season of this show. The ending felt satisfying (although the final episode was an anime original and a bit different in tone to the rest of the series), but it felt like we could have seen more! The interaction of the characters was very enjoyable and I think that it would be great to see them in some new situations.
The show, while I don’t think it has any strong themes or message and is primarily light-hearted fun, does showcase some of the beauty and light-heartedness of the everyday. Watching the demon leader Alciel carefully plan a household budget, or Satan worry about damage to his bicycle shows that even the drudgery of every day life can be fun and funny.
The Devil is a Part Timer was very much an enjoyable viewing experience, and a show I feel that I could happily watch again. I’d recommend it to people who enjoy comedy series.