It took nearly a decade for a sequel, but what was it that made the first season of The Devil Is a Part-Timer! so unforgettable? Nicky and Steve have your reverse-isekai meets workplace comedy combo ready!
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Spoiler Warning for discussion of the series ahead.
Nicky, while I'm not normally one to extoll either the taste or nutritional value of fast food, you have GOT to try the new Boneless Burger from MgRonald's. I don't know how they did it, but mine had barely any bones!
Sorry, I'm too full after staying true to my weeb-urges and gorging myself on a delicious -checks notes-
"Katsu Don." None of that American garbage for me!
Unless, it's In-N-Out.
Maybe that's for the best. To make a burger that's this boneless, I can only imagine they had to forge some kind of unholy pact with the devil.
Or maybe they just have to pay him a minimum wage to feed his family after they got stranded from another world? Anyways, this week, we've ordered off the secret menu just to talk about The Devil Is a Part-Timer!
Season one, that is! With the new season kicking into gear, there's no better time to refresh yourself on the original—it has been nearly a decade, after all. Or if you're like me, it's a great time to finally scratch it off your backlog.
Which makes both of us first-time part-timers here!
It's funny, the show is somehow both more of and less of a shitpost than my expectations had led me to believe. Like, it's got a lot more story and character to it than I thought it would, but the gags can also be quite deliciously dumb. It's a very unique combo meal, to be sure.
It's definitely not what I expected. It's got some surprise flavors. I am very used to modern workplace comedies that are more lax and into the everyday life aspect despite having fantasy elements or a character who is a fish out of water. But The Devil Is a Part-Timer!
leans a lot more heavily in its reverse isekai premise and most of its comedy is character-based over situational jokes. And in a way, part of what makes it so funny is how the show and the characters can take this incredibly stupid premise without the least bit of irony. In this new world, Sadao Maou, our Devil and former leader of demons from the fantastical other dimension of Ente Isla, truly believes that he can conquer everything by working his way up the corporate fast-food chain the hard and honest way.
Ambition is nice, but the crux of the series is basically how insurmountable everyday life can be for just a normal guy. It's a joke the premiere plays the hardest, steeped in high fantasy during the introduction, then throwing various quotidian foibles at our now powerless protagonists. Who has time to conquer the world when you have to worry about things like food and money?
Supervillainy is a luxury.
The opening also goes pretty hard showing a bit of the ultimate final battle just before being defeated by the hero's army. The Devil and his trusted general Alciel open a portal to flee, declaring their inevitable return to rule again. It's just the exact kind of hype before the sudden tone-shift of being thrust into this totally new world where you realize you have no power. After all, the real world doesn't have cool demon magic or angel swords, but it does have one kind of power keeping everyone in-line: capitalism, baby!!
And maybe this has to do with his predilection for the evil arts, but it doesn't take long for Satan to hunker down and become a cog in that infernal machine. He even enjoys it! But, admittedly, not in an malicious way. If anything, losing his kingdom and powers humbles him to the point where he learns to get fulfillment from regular stuff like friends and a job well done. And goofy poses when nobody is looking.
After obtaining new monikers, a bank account, and a roof over their heads, our the two men really don't have any time or literal power to do anything demonic. Sadao heads to work everyday on his bike dullahan, greets his high school co-worker Chiho, and puts everything he has into delivering 100% customer satisfaction and nailing those sweet promotions.
Personally, I thinking working at McDonald's would drive me to do more evil, not less, but to each their own. And it's not only the baddies who have found themselves stuck in Earth's rut. The heroine also appears with her holy blade—I mean knife.
I think this might be one of the funniest lines out of context. The once armor-clad hero, Emilia, is now also stranded, broke, and powerless in this new world after chasing after the two baddies in accordance to her mission of justice. Except, since getting here, they haven't done anything wrong!! Randomly picking a knife fight in the streets just makes the cops think she's a psycho ex-girlfriend with a bone to pick out of her Boneless MgRonald's Hamburger™.
She's pretty cute when she's mad. Which is most of the time.
Its sakuga is mostly reserved for the occasional cool action moments, but I actually really appreciate how much character animation there is, not just for the comedy, but the little moments like pouring cream into your totally-not-Starbucks. It's not an amazing looking show, but I'd say it looks a bit more effort than some of the stuff we get now even after nine years.
On that note, I'm also a bit saddened/surprised at how quickly all our fantasy characters adjusted to modern Japanese culture and language. Though, mostly for the sake of convenience, as we can't really spend a lot of time memorizing kanji when we have more fantasy characters to introduce and also romance shenanigans.
I mean it's far from the only narrative shortcut the series takes. And speaking as someone who's been deep in the kanji learning woods for half a year now, I think it's actually very smart of them to have skipped over that entirely. I don't need to see the Prince of Darkness scrutinizing the difference between 続 and 統. I've lived it. The other shortcuts are a bit more contentious—the series wants to indulge in these explosive battles between mythic figures in modern Tokyo, but then it needs to reset all the damage with demon magic to go back to fast food hijinks. It's a little weird.
I'm of two minds on Part-Timer's
more dramatic inclinations. The more it asks you to consider the reality of everything that happened in Ente Isla, the flimsier the narrative feels. It can't support the weight of Emilia's reckoning with her quest for vengeance. On the other hand, though, these broad dramatic strokes do add enough depth to these characters to elevate them from gag fodder into likeable heroes and heroines. I think that effect in particular justifies whatever weaknesses the drama introduces.
And on the third hand, the more dire the situation gets, the funnier the comedic derailments end up being. While literal Lucifer tears up the city, a mortally wounded Ashiya quietly begs Sadao to be more thrifty with his movie watching habits. That's gold.
Especially since it was in response to insulting the corrupt church official who came to ruin everybody's good time.
Also, Lucifer is just a chūni teen boy.
It's so good. And it leads to the best redemption for any villain I've ever seen, in which Lucifer gets his wings clipped (again) and turns into a harmless shut-in NEET.
Just a little guy on the computer for the rest of the series. You love to see it.
He also basically becomes Sadao and Ashiya's resident rebellious teenage son. With Ashiya having previously become both househusband and nagging mother in order to keep everyone in their tiny apartment healthy, clothed, and fed under a budget while his lord works. Ashiya is probably my favorite character. He may be the flattest out of the entire cast but he works the hardest so I think he deserves a little respect.
And also it gave us a genuine "OMG, they were roommates line," courtesy of Chiho's classmate's over-active imagination.
Ashiya's great. While he's got the most brain cells out of the bunch, I hesitate to call him the straight man, only because he gets some wacky zingers himself, and because he's obviously in love with Sadao.
Like it's super obvious (and funny) whenever Emilia's around and he goes into protective mode.
He's such a loyal malewife—I mean, "subordinate," though to his credit he isn't completely jealous and even uses his emergency funds to get his master a fresh look for his date Chiho, probably the only person who blatantly adores Sadao just as much as Ashiya does. It also involved another pretty great creatively-altered real brand name-drop.
Chiho is a necessary component of the show—we need at least one "normal" person in the mix—but more importantly, she's an aspiring MgRonald's brand ambassador. Or at least I have to assume she is, because otherwise I don't know why she'd go with the one bikini that most resembles a pair of burgers.
I think that was the first time the show displayed actual hamburgers without the wrappers, and it's for a boob gag!
I'm a bit mixed on Chiho. First of all, I don't really think it's okay to date a younger co-worker even if she wasn't still in high school, and second of all she's subjected to the most fanservice-y bits both sincerely and for comedy which as an adult watching anime, just makes me feel creepy. Technically Emilia is also "technically a teenager" (she aged herself up on her papers) but she lives an adult life and works a pink-collar job at a call center so it never makes me feel as weird even when it sort of pits them as love-rivals and gal pals.
However, she provides a lot of emotional heart to the show. Sadao keeps a pretty chaste relationship with her even on their "date" and it's still pretty unclear whether he has a single romantic inclination in him that doesn't involve his world domination scheme. So for now, she's still just his co-worker.
The series is (perhaps appropriately, given the conceit) definitely not free of sin. Like, most of the gags are pretty good-natured, and some can be pretty darn incisive, but occasionally they'll drag everything down with mean and lazy fat jokes about their landlord. They're rare, thankfully, but they suck to see.
Oh yeah, I was not a fan of the weird fatphobia towards the landlady even if she is creepy and rich and maybe knows way more than she's ready to reveal. But I couldn't help but laugh at even the bad joke about a picture of her in her swimsuit because the anime team went out of their way to put in DISTORTED UKELELE NOISES OF HORROR which itself was funny, so even the jokes I don't really like still have enough execution effort that I can appreciate them or are snappy enough that I can move on quickly.
The few fanservice bits I mentioned usually move on pretty quick. Though the ED did deign to give me a slow-crawl of Chi's bare foot for like half the series, which probably made me feel more dirty than any joke in the show.
Lol yeah, of all the placeholders they could have gone with. But enough of rolling around in the muck. Let's spotlight a few more great moments. Like the time a rival fried chicken chain opened across the street and the show momentarily metamorphosed into Good Burger
Turns out managing a MgRonald's is tougher than commanding an army of monsters, but I think that would be obvious to anybody who has worked on the fast food frontlines.
I was a personal fan of the haunted school episode that was all about trying to get Lucifer's PASTA (PS Vita) back.
Featuring Emilia showing an anatomy dummy what's what. That's our half-angel heroine.
But the competing hot dog stands episode was good mostly because it showed how competent our little manager Maou-sama can be when he puts his mind to it. Though, not without unintentionally casting some demon magic. He's no Kong Ming but he's still a strategist and a leader of demons at heart.
I may have said I felt like a pervert, but this guy is actual creepy! I also appreciated this episode as it featured a gossip session about Sadao with Emi's co-worker friend in the midst of enemy territory.
I was really expecting that line to end with "who turn out to be serial killers." Which would have been pretty accurate, considering he kidnaps and tortures Emilia, among other general unpleasantness.
On the more pleasant side, it also had Ashiya adequately explaining Emi and the boys' whole beef while using an insane backstory about two rival businesses.
Oh man, you could tell he'd been waiting forever for the right moment to whip that alibi out. What a champ.
And not all serial killers are bad. I'd be really remiss if I didn't say that I didn't love the last remaining member of the main cast, the antiquated assassin, Suzuno.
Oh I can pinpoint the instant I fell in love with her. After all the buildup, including her old-fashioned style and a tragic backstory about being a lapdog for the fantasy Inquisition, we finally see her in action. And her weapon of choice is an oversized novelty hammer. Perfect.
Her arc is a bit similar to Emi's, but it only furthers how fucked up the reigning power structure of the church actually was and continues to be, where before it was just a suspicion. Maybe it's not okay for someone like the literal devil to get off scot-free, but the church putting a hit on their own hero just proves that they're all just pawns. Emi's assassin also happens to be the creepy little pervert SFC manager from across the street. Making him EXTRA dislikable!!
At least he opens the door for a lot of great dialogue throughout this confrontation. Overall, this feels a lot more in line with the rest of Part-Timer
than the Lucifer fight did, so it's neat to see and reap the benefits of the writing becoming more comfortable with these characters.
Hell, Lucifer himself delivers my favorite joke in the whole season here. Paraphrasing the famous Paradise Lost
line "the mind is its own place, and in itself can make a Heaven of Hell," he says essentially the same thing but about staying inside and playing Dark Souls
I'm tied with that and buff Sadao saying his undies are extra strong and won't rip mid-battle. Also they actually draw his (elusive) male-presenting nipples!
Well, other than Maou-sama's tasty muscles, I guess you can say that the first season really fleshes out the cast with a bit of intrigue more in line with a serious fantasy show while also being a decent comedy. Much like the balance between good and evil, it's a hard struggle to find the right ways to execute the two halves of the premise, but it finds ways to pull them off. I get why people didn't just forgot about this show even after a smorgasbord worth of slice-of-life, comedies, and isekai over the past nine goddamn years of anime simulcasting.
I'm just glad I now have another show to look forward to watching this season, because the pickings are mighty slim. Even if it's being handled by a different studio, The Devil Is a Part-Timer!
is all about the characters, and I will gladly spend more time with these goofballs. And yes, that begrudgingly includes the angel pervert.
I would more quickly hang-out with the Flat-fuck Friday brigade than him, but I'll still show up for the rest of the cast.
And for all you devils out there: Don't forget to punch-out your cards! Til next time!!