The Devil is a Part-Timer!
はたらく魔王さま! (Hataraku Maou-sama!)
WAGAHARA Satoshi (author), HIRAGI Akio (artist), 029/Oniku (character design)
Shounen – Comedy, fantasy, romance
3 Volumes (ongoing)
On the brink of defeat, the Devil King Satan and one of his generals escape Ente Isla and find themselves in modern Tokyo. The pair quickly learn money — not magic — rules here, so Satan works part-time at MgRonald. Satan vows to return to Ente Isla, but will he ever get his powers back to be able to?
I have to admit, this series is a bit different from what I was expecting, but it’s still an enjoyable series.
When I first started hearing about The Devil is a Part-Timer!, I sort of imagined it like Sgt. Frog. If you’ve never read that series, the titular character and his companions have the ability to take over Earth, but their own flaws (such as being Gundam-obsessed) prevent them from actually completing their mission. In fact, Keroro and the others often forget why they are on Earth in the first place. So I thought Satan basically had the power, but he’s also caught up in being promoted at MgRonald. Plus there would be a bit of flat-broke villain humor a la Black Gema Gema gang from Di Gi Charat or the demons in Ashita no Kyoko-san.
Firstly, manga adaptations are always hard to review, so I purposely started with the manga. So far, I haven’t felt like the story has been overly rushed. A good amount of time has passed in-universe, but I don’t feel like the manga is covering too much or too little ground per volume. As I mentioned, I thought there would be more comedy. There’s less comedy, but more fantasy and action than I thought there would be. The action and “daily life” aspects appear to be rotated, but it’s a traditional literary device for stories with supernatural elements in the real world: characters go about their business, then strange things start to happen, and then there’s a big battle. The original light novel may focus a little on the slower daily life, but I’ll have to wait and see. Again, much of the humor comes from the irony the Devil King is more proactive about being promoted at MgRonald than searching for magical powers. But his actual work-life is a bit on the boring side. MgRonald’s rival Sentucky Fried Chicken is getting ready to open, so perhaps we’ll see a bit more comedy as Sadao tries to promote his employer.
I was even more surprised to see how Satan (known in the human world as Sadao Maou) is actually dedicated to being promoted to full-time employee. While most bosses would send their minions out to work, Sadao works while his general Ashiya plays the role of househusband. Sadao — who surely had a lot of amenities being the king of his race — is also quite happy with his bike. All in all, Sadao is far from a easily-forgetful, whiny protagonist one would think a Devil King would be. Although he would like some more disposable income for better food and just having fun, Sadao is quite a nice guy.
Of course, his attitude helps form the crux of the story. The Hero who almost defeated him has also been brought to Tokyo, and Emi/Emilia is rightfully baffled by what to do. She’s the defender of justice, but does a hero strike down a hamburger joint employee who has little powers? So much of the story is actually focused on Emi watching over Sadao, but he just wants Emi to stop annoying him (being tsuntsun). Meanwhile, the pair both deal with a variety of problems both from their new lives and old ones. Much to Emi’s shock, a coworker of Sadao’s named Chiho develops a crush on him, and both Emi and Sadao face attacks from unknown assailants.
While the plot centers on Sadao, the story is often told from Emi’s perspective. She’s a tsundere, but she’s an understandable tsundere. I’d be a little more than bewildered that the leader of the force that invaded my homeland is happy and not rampaging. Yet he hasn’t turned over a new leaf completely: Sadao frankly tells Emi he still wants to conquer Ente Isla. Even though her backstory is pretty brief, it’s easy to understand why she doesn’t want to get close to Sadao. At the same time, she can’t leave him alone since a) he still needs to be watched, and b) she initially knows no one else from their world. It’s also interesting because, as the hero, she cannot fully forgive him nor exact her own personal revenge. Again, it’s Sadao’s story, but Emi is really the one watching it while dealing with her own life.
I do hope this manga doesn’t turn into a harem. Emi is the required tsundere, but Chiho is the one who really likes Sadao. Another female arrives in volume three, but she is hinted to be more than just a neighbor. I don’t want girls to keep arriving and being drawn to this new and improved Devil King. There’s at least two other main guys so far, so I’d rather see them get some attention rather than everyone focused on Sadao. But it’s early, so I don’t know how many more characters will come (and stay) to Tokyo.
While I often discuss the difficulties in trying to adapt a light novel’s story into manga form, a manga artist often has to try to draw someone else’s character designs in their own style. This can be hard to do, but even more so since so manga light novel manga adaptations have relatively new or inexperienced artists to handle the job. Fortunately, while this is Hiiragi’s professional debut, it’s quite a good one. It’s a fairly typical shounen comedy/romcom style. Emi, for instance, bears a striking similarity to Kirino from Oreimo. The artists here likes to do a lot of shading; the manga looks more like gray and white rather than black and white. Although Emi is conscious of her chest size, proportions are not drawn unrealistically large like in many shounen series (ecchi or not). The devils’ pupils are drawn differently to represent their race. Battles are mostly about shooting beams of light, but the second fight starts showing some more physical attacks. I’m looking forward to seeing Hiiragi develop further.
Honorifics are used. “Maou-sama” is translated as “your demonic highness” or “my liege”; which one depends on whether Ashiya is talking directly to Sadao or just referring to him. “Maou” alone (like when Emi calls Sadao that) is “Devil King”. When needed, Yen Press uses brackets to tell the two different “Maou” names. I might have gone with “Maou” and “Maoh” or “Maou” and “Ma-ou”, but brackets work fine. Of course, since “Maou” (as in “Devil King”) isn’t kept otherwise, the scene is a bit random in English. Translator’s notes appear at the end of each volume. Like any manga, there’s some lines I would have adapted differently (for instance, I didn’t care for the “a friend I can b.s. with” line), but otherwise, it’s pretty straightforward.
It may not be a laugh-out-loud, gut-busting comedy, but The Devil is a Part-Timer! is a fun fantasy starring a strangely dedicated demon and an understandably tsundere Hero(ine). It’s a manga adaptation that doesn’t feel constrained or rushed, and I am enjoying this version of Wagahara’s story.
Yen Press is also releasing the original light novels, and Funimation has released the anime.