Reviewby Rebecca Silverman,
The Devil Is a Part-Timer!
With the latest crisis involving angels averted, as well as some unsettling revelations about Emilia's angelic mother, things ought to be settling down for the residents of the Devil's Castle – so of course they aren't. MgRonalds is reopening with some surprises for Maou, and, more importantly, Chiho has decided that she's not willing to just sit around and be protected anymore. To this end, she asks Emi and Suzuno to teach her to use the holy magic that makes her such an attractive target whenever any Ente Islan comes to Japan. But if Chi can use holy magic, what does that say about the divinity of the angels? Is there more going on here than anyone ever considered?
They say that it's best not to meet your heroes. There's definitely some truth to that, because once you do, you're forced to realize that they're just people like the rest of us, prone to faults, failings, and being nothing like you imagined them. But what if your heroes are actual angels, worshipped by a religion you've grown up in? While that may be a dangerous question in real life, in fantasy novels it's a fairly legitimate one, and it's something that Suzuno and Emi have been forced to contend with seriously since the previous novel in the series. Apart from the question of Emilia's semi-divine heritage, we've seen some angels behaving in ways that are less than angelic, with Sariel's obsessive love for Maou's manager topping the list. With Saruel's and Michael's behavior in the fifth book, as well as some comments to the effect of “angels are basically people,” this questionable divinity is really being driven home for those on the Hero's side, and that brings with it a whole slew of other questions about what really happened back on Ente Isla.
Despite all of that, the main character this time around is Chiho. Her love for Maou hasn't waned since the first two story arcs of the series (the two that were adapted into the 2013 anime), and now that she has more of an idea of what was going on previous to their arrival on Earth, Chi isn't any less determined to stand by him. Unfortunately this makes her a target for any angel or demon who's passing through Japan – last time it was the angels who targeted her, and this time it's the demons. After last book's debacle, Chiho has decided that it's time to learn to defend herself, so she asks Emi and Suzuno to teach her how to use holy magic. It can just be to send a message to someone if she gets taken by someone supernatural, but she doesn't want to be dead weight or a major source of worry. Since Maou really isn't comfortable with the idea of wiping her memories (and neither is Chiho herself), this seems to be a decent solution.
Of course, Earth human Chi's ability to use holy magic at all is something of an issue – the only reason that Suzuno and Emilia can is because they're affiliated with the church back home, or at least followers of it. So why is it that Chiho has that power? This feeds into the ongoing main plot of the overall series: why Maou and his Army came to Ente Isla in the first place. As I mentioned above, with the previous volume, a lot of the oddly human behaviors of the angels came to light and this time Sariel confirms what a different angel let slip about their supposed “divinity.” This ties in with the fact that Emi's parents, more specifically her mother, whom she's never met, have been hiding their whereabouts from her; while it may have been for the “good” of Ente Isla, it certainly wasn't a very angelic or parental thing to do to their teenage daughter, something Emi remarks upon. And then there are the scenes of a very young Maou being lifted up from the squalor by a beautiful woman and set upon his path. Although it hasn't been explicitly said, that woman is in all likelihood Emilia's mother, which raises a whole different set of questions. Among them is an offhand remark that only Chiho seems to notice when the latest visitor to Japan captures her: demon Farfarello says something about taking over Ente Isla being the way to save the demon realms. Given what we know about Maou's personality (and Lucifer's and Ashiya's), it does seem much more likely that there was a specific goal beyond “take over the world” behind their attack.
If this all sounds much more serious than you were expecting, don't fear - the novel is not all plot. It still retains a lot of the humor from earlier entries in the series, with Chi's training being quite a bit of it. In order to harness her magic, Suzuno wants her to master screaming really, really loudly. Suffice it to say that not only are there very few places in Tokyo where you can do that, but also no one bothered to warn Maou what was going on. The character dynamics are also still a lot of fun, with Maou's generally laid-back attitude contrasting with just about everyone else around him. There is a bit more mention of the fact that Chiho confessed her love to Maou some books back and that he still hasn't responded to her, and it does look as if he cares for her more than anyone else, or at least in a different way. It is stated that he has no romantic feelings towards Emilia at all, so hopefully her mother's plan was not a matchmaking one. On that subject, the one disappointment of this volume is that the Ashiya/Suzuki storyline is entirely absent.
The Devil is a Part-Timer! manages to tell a self-contained story in each novel while still linking them all together in an over-arching plot, and this entry into the series is no exception. As Chiho gets a handle on her potential and Maou moves forward with his new plans (to Suzuno's and Emilia's consternation), the story is set to keep going with a combination of serious and silly plot elements. If you stopped with the series after the anime, the novels are well worth picking up, because there's still a lot of interesting story to tell about the Lord of the Fries.
Overall : B+
Story : B+
Art : C+
+ Characters remain interesting, lots of questions posed and partially answered about the war that started the whole story, still plenty of humor along with the more serious plot
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