The Nihon Review - Anime Reviews & Editorials

The Devil Is a Part-Timer!

Title: The Devil Is a Part-Timer! aka Hataraku Mao-sama!
Genre: Comedy
Company: White Fox
Format: 13 episodes
Dates: 4 April 2013 – 27 June 2013

Synopsis: The evil demon lord Satan has his eyes set on conquering the world of Ente Isla, but a party of heroes led by Emilia Justina forces him to retreat.  His hasty escape causes Satan to make a mistake, and he accidentally teleports himself and his servant, Alciel, to modern day Tokyo without their demonic powers, their loyal legions or even $20 for a cab ride.  Now, in order to not starve to death, Satan must take a part-time job at MgRonald.

The Highlights
Comedy: Genuinely funny.
Characters: A good mix of personalities with good chemistry that works with the comedy.
Second arc: Lacks the punch of the first.

How do you tell your friends about a comedy that is amazing in the first half, but falls flat immediately afterwards?  Giving out a simple timestamp labeled “this is when you should stop” would work well and fine for a standup routine, but for a series with an overarching story and tangled character relationships, would it be kinder to not introduce the series at all than have them invest in something that will never bear fruit?  This is my dilemma with Hataraku Maou-sama! It is a show that starts off brilliant and tapers off to reasonably entertaining after its first arc.

The basic premise of the show is a Devil King bent on ruling the world is magically transported to our world where he becomes an employee at anime McDonalds.  Before you get Adam Sandler on the line for a movie pitch, this series already wrings every ounce of potential from the premise, and the result is quite hilarious.  You see, unlike most anime, the show is a good situational comedy isn’t just random gags with exaggerated effects; they context driven jokes that are hilarious because they put people of such high stature (i.e. demon lord who almost conquered the world) in such demeaning positions that are both funny and quite relatable (menial labor minimum wage job).  The show sells the hard fall from grace convincingly and with quite a bit of tact.

Much of the charm of the show is derived from the rather strong characterization on what would normally be a one dimensional cast.  The characters are easy reads with obvious quirks, but they have strong personalities that play off each other well.  Even when the show breaks from the jokes and delves into darker matters, the characters come across as convincing while remaining true to both their comedic side and serious one.  The show deserves praise for not making its core storyline so disjointed from the comedy that the cast is forced into drastic decisions that come across as more farcical than dramatic.

The first half of the series is quite excellent as it dishes out its main jokes while they’re still fresh.  Sadly, the second half recycles old tricks while introducing few new ones.  I suppose this is a fundamental flaw of any comedy.  Once its winning formula is played out once, it’s nothing but rehashes and anemic attempts at refreshes from there. The second part of the series is in no ways unpleasant. The solid animation, music and voice acting are all still there, but it lacks the magic the first go created for itself.

If the idea of a demon lord becoming a fast food employee seems any way interesting to you, definitely give the series a try.  It’s one of the only genuinely funny anime in a good long while.

The Rating: 7

Reviewed by: Shadowmage

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