Reviewby Theron Martin,
The Devil is a Part-Timer!
After so many Enta Isla figures have popped up in Japan recently, Emi decides to take a trip back to Enta Isla for answers. Chiho and Suzuno openly get concerned when Emi and Alas Ramus don't return more than a week after Emi said they would be back, with no contact made in the meanwhile. Even Maou starts to get concerned – about Alas Ramus, of course. He still has his work-sponsored test for his moped license to deal with, but even that won't go off without a hitch when a pair of oddly familiar individuals meet him on the bus to the test site. As otherworldly visitors attack on two fronts and even Emi's friend Rika gets involved, Suzuno and the devils struggle to protect who they hold dear. How will they and Emi respond to the newest threats against them? As a former Devil King and his Great Generals should, of course!
I haven't been doing reviews on the last few volumes of The Devil is a Part-Timer! because frankly, there hasn't been much to comment on. The overall story has been creeping along as it continues to drop hints of some bigger metaphysical conflict involving alliances among angels, devils, and humans on Enta Isla, which Emi, Maou, and crew can't distance themselves from as much as they'd like; Emi's angel mother seems to be involved and this whole business with the Yesod fragments adds an extra wrinkle. However, for as much as the series has been beefing up its overall storyline, it hasn't been doing anything extraordinary in the play-by-play. This volume changes things up in two ways. It's clearly the first part of the series' first true multi-volume story arc, and it features the characters ensconced in Tokyo returning to Enta Isla for the first time – or at least planning to do so in Maou's case.
With the possible exception of the introduction of Alas Ramus, each volume beyond the first has adhered to a familiar pattern: Maou and crew deal with the minor crises of day-to-day life while Emi, Suzuno, and Chiho check up on them or participate, followed by something supernatural happening due to visitors from Enta Isla that require Maou and/or Emi to power up to combat some threat. This pattern has fallen into the doldrums lately, despite the implications of a bigger plot at stake. This volume initially looks like it will follow a similar pattern, but Emi's failure to return on schedule starts to shake things up. Now one of the major players isn't in the picture for the first time. Rika unavoidably getting caught up in the messiness that follows also offers a new dimension, as it marks the first time since Chiho found out what's going on that someone who isn't from Enta Isla has gotten involved with her memory of the incident still intact (for now).
The appearance of yet another personified Yesod fragment initially seems to fall into the familiar pattern, but who and what exactly she is will also shake things up going forward. (It's obvious enough that the girl Maou meets on the bus isn't a normal human.) Her presence could signal a stronger intent in the direction of binding Emi and Maou together, something that the story has been vaguely hinting at for a while now, though how far the story can go in that direction when they still largely regard each other as enemies is still up in the air. The attack on the school falls into a pattern similar to the hairy encounters of previous installments, although this attack is more public eye than any since the affair with Lucifer back in volume 1.
The other attack and its consequences offer much more of a twist though, forcing the story to step beyond the boundaries of a single novel for the first time. Combine that with Emi and Alas Ramus's absence, and the story has finally given Maou enough impetus to return to Enta Isla, which we will presumably get to see in the next volume. An extra chapter at the end gives readers a glimpse of Emi's circumstances, and while some explanation is given for why she's in that situation, its implications remain vague.
The storytelling merits of the series remain strong. Author Satoshi Wagahara is among the more technically capable Japanese light novel writers whose work is available in the States. At 205 pages including the Afterword, this volume is a standard length for the franchise. While it has the standard double-sided, trifold glossy page featuring series characters at the beginning of the novel and the standard black-and-white illustrations throughout, it lack the résumés seen in earlier volumes or any other extras.
One consequence of the previous volumes being self-contained is that they have never ended on cliffhangers before – or done much to hype anticipation for the next volume, for that matter. With that changing in volume 8, there's a lot to anticipate about what will happen next, making the next volume of the series a priority read for perhaps the first time.
Overall : B
Story : B
Art : B
+ Does a better job than previous volumes of making readers eager for the next volume, good dramatic plot developments
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