You know what’s a real pain in the ass? Having your demon army defeated, and being forced to retreat to a low magic world, where you have to get a job at a McDonald’s knockoff just to get by. Man, I really hate when that happens.
Not that it’s ever happened to me. That’d be silly. Yeah. Silly.
This weeks Taken To Another World entry flips the script by having the protagonist be an otherworldly character who ends up in modern day Tokyo. He’s not any ordinary person, though. He’s Lord Satan.
The Devil Is A Part Timer is a 13 episode, 2013 comedy series from White Fox, giving it a Keven Baconesque connection to Konosuba, by way of Re: Zero. Though, really, none of us are surprised to learn Kazuma has some random connection to Satan.
Based on a series of light novels written by Satoshi Wagahara, the story follows the adventures of Lord Satan, the ruler of all demon-kind, after his campaign to conquer his home realm of Ente Isle is stopped by a powerful knight and a gathering of companions. Forced to retreat to a different world in order to survive, Satan and his loyal general Alciel arrive in modern day Tokyo, where they discover they have very limited magic. Even worse is that Lord Satan is now a teenager.
After using what little magic he held in reserve to acquire identities for themselves, the two rent a tiny apartment, and Satan, now known as Maou Sadao, gets a job as a part time employee at MgRonald’s. Alciel, going by the name Ashiya Shiro, turns out to be useless at anything but housework, so he just stays home a lot, and does research into how to regain their magic, and return home.
Things take a bit of a turn when Maou encounters Emi Yusa, better known as Emilia Justine, the Heaven Blessed Knight, and Wielder of the Divine Sword that defeated him back in Ente Isle.
Wait… hold up a sec…
Emilia. Where have I heard that name before?
Damn. This is starting to make even Kevin Bacon’s head swim.
Anyway, Emilia follows Satan to Tokyo, but also lost her magic abilities, and had to get a job working at a customer care call center. Having finally tracked Satan down, she’s ready to finish the fight, but he’s not overly interested. Without her powers, there’s not much she can do about it, either, forcing the two into a stalemate of mutual annoyance.
Things get more complicated when the Church of Ente Isle begins sending over agents to eliminate both Satan and Emilia, as they no longer have need of her, either. This creates multiple situations where Emilia and Satan must join forces in order to survive, as they battle fallen angels, arch-angels, Inquisition assassins, and zealot priests. All without letting the people of Tokyo know what’s going on, and protecting Satan’s co-worker, Chiho Sasaki, who has learned of their true nature, and tries to help them as much as possible.
As a comedy series, The Devil Is A Part Timer is actually quite good, choosing to focus most of the laughs on Satan and his attempts to pass for a normal human. Alciel’s basic incompetence as anything more than a maid is also a running gag that somehow never manages to feel old, no matter how many spins they put on it.
As much as Satan is the butt of the joke most of the time, Emilia gets her turn at that, as well, usually revolving around being a heroic knight who now has to spend her days listening to people bitch and moan over the phone. Which is what happens after yous save the world, kids. You have to take a crap job, and constantly put up with your former patron trying to kill you out of fear your fame will destroy their control over the masses.
Don’t save the world is the moral here.
If anything, Part Timer is actually so good at being a comedy, it almost destroys the much more serious story that underlies it. Emilia’s hatred for Satan is based on the fact that his invasion of the rest of Entre isle caused her father’s death. She is no selfless hero, but a driven avatar of vengeance, imbued with divine power, who has been betrayed by the very church that backed her campaign against Satan. Lost, and alone in a strange world, the only ally Emilia can find to help her fight both the Church, and the arch-angel they send after her, is her most hated enemy.
That’s actually pretty damn dark.
Satan is no different, either. His only real goal in invading Ente Isle was to make the world a better place for demon kind. Constantly pushed to the fringes of human civilization, he had grown sick of watching his people suffer, and wanted them to have a better world to live in. After having lived as a human in Tokyo, however, he has begun to see that there was a better way he could have gone about it, and now lives with the knowledge of all the suffering and death he created.
Much of his change of view comes at the hands of Chiho, his bubbly and cute co-worker, who has a bit of a crush on him, even after learning he’s Satan. Her ready acceptance of him, not just in theory, but in actually seeing him in his demonic form, makes him realize humans and demons could have co-existed back in Ente Isle, if he had only tried, instead of assuming it was impossible.
Likewise, Emilia has her perspective changed by Chiho, and begins to see Satan as more than just a monster, but an individual who is capable of great good. Many of the attacks on the two cause massive damage, and could have caused mass casualties, had Satan not expended his reserve of magic to protect the innocent. Drawing on the fear of the bystanders, he is able to retake his true form on occasion, and use his powers to repair the damage caused by the attacks.
Much of this is a subtle way of nudging the viewer to understand that conflict is not really necessary. No matter how far apart our views may be, that gulf can be bridged, if we are willing to try. Of the main cast, it is the helpless human teenage girl who creates the biggest impact, by making that effort, and inspiring the two protagonists to do the same.
As I said above, however, the comedy of the show is almost so good, this gets a bit lost at times. As does the true depth of the betrayal of the Church when it comes to Emilia, and their blatantly evil attempts to control the people of Ente Isle. While Satan may be the evil king of demons, the Church of Ente Isle is the real villain of the story, and how far they will go to get what they want is actually pretty frightening.
All that said, the show has a lot more action in it than the typical comedy, and each fight scene is pretty damn good. While the fights don’t usually last very long, they bring a fair bit of tension, as our two protagonists are seriously under powered from what they would normally be, leaving them at a severe disadvantage, and creating a believable reason why they would join forces, despite hating each other so much.
Which brings me to the animation quality. If you are at all familiar with White Fox, then you already know, this show is stunning to look at. The same level of quality that was in Steins;Gate, and Re: Zero is definitely present here. Everything moves extremely well, and looks beautiful. The character designs are very well made, with each being distinct from not just each other, but any other anime character, making the cast easy to recognize anywhere.
Especially Chiho, who really is just about the cutest damn character in all of anime. No, not just because she’s busty, either. Shame on you. Because her personality is reflected well in her character design, movements, and animation.
Get your mind out of the gutter, pervert.
Part Timer was directed by Naoto Hosoda, probably best known for being the director on Future Diary, and Shuffle, giving the cat a fair bit of an ability to claim range as one of his chief talents. He’s also ton key animation on a crap ton of other shows, like Azumanga Daioh, Elfen Lied, Ghost In The Shell: Stand Alone Complex, Gurren Lagann, and Skull Man, just to name a few. He’s been in the anime business for a long time, and worked on a lot of high profile shows and movies over the years, so he really does know what works, and what doesn’t.
Here, he really does get to show his talent as a director, moving seamlessly between the comedy and the supernatural battles, weaving the two elements together with extreme skill. Again, probably the only real weak point in the show is that the comedy eclipses the rather dark material that underlies it. That it doesn’t entirely, while still being a good comedy, shows just how much effort Nosoda put in to getting the mix right in order to keep Part Timer from becoming a black comedy.
Which it could have, really easy.
The script work was handled by Masahiro Yokotani, who I talked about last week, since he was also heavily involved in working on Re; Zero. As there, so to here. The adaptation of the light novels keeps the focus right where it needs to be, on the interaction of the characters, and how they affect the plot. Yokotani really knows his stuff, and keeps the dialogue moving swift and easy, allowing much of the characterization to shine in what they both say, and don’t say. Much of what makes the show work as a comedy comes from his hand.
The music was arranged by Ryosuke Nakanashi, who I admit, I’m not overly familiar with. His previous, and only really well known, work was on High School DxD, though he also did the music for Sakura Trick, and Love Stage, if you’ve seen those. I haven’t, so I can’t really say if his work here is typical of him, though I sincerely hope it is. The music for Part Timer is really excellent, with a couple of themes that get stuck in your head and float around, popping up now and then, leaving you to wonder just where it came from. While it isn’t great that it might be hard to recall where you heard it, that it sticks is pretty awesome. So, I’m gonna go with the music in this one being really good.
Overall, I give The Devil Is A Part Timer a rating of should see, but not must see. It’s an incredibly well put together, and very funny series, with a lot of deep backstory that hints towards a much darker story, excellent characters, great music, and high quality animation.
Also, it further validates the existence of Kevin Bacon. That’s never a bad thing.