Light Novel Review – The Devil is a Part-Timer!

The Devil is a Part-Timer! Light Novel Volume 1

The Devil is a Part-Timer!
はたらく魔王さま! (Hataraku Maou-sama!)
WAGAHARA Satoshi (author), 029/Oniku (artist)
Shounen – Comedy, fantasy, romance
3 Volumes (ongoing)
Yen Press

Summary:

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?

Review:

If you’re looking for a good fantasy series spanning two worlds and stars a hardworking former-but-still-insists-he’s-a villain, then The Devil is a Part-Timer is bound to hit the spot.

If you’re collecting the manga so far or have watched the anime, you may be wondering if it’s worth reliving events like Sadao and Emi’s first meeting, Chi’s first date, the battle against Lucifer, etc. While both adaptations of the light novel has their differences, both are pretty faithful overall. The anime ends before the light novel’s third volume, and the manga (in the U.S.) is in the middle of the events of the second light novel volume.

As you might expect, the main benefit of reading the first two light novels is the added depth to the characters and their lives. Emi’s past, for instance, is still only a few pages long, but the light novel specifically states she was twelve when she was drafted and had her first battle a year later. In the manga, we just see her taken away as a young girl and then  eventually becomes the famous Hero. The light novel also covers a bit more about Sadao and Ashiya’s lives before they settled into their routine. Again, none of this is earth-shattering information, but it is interesting and somewhat changes my opinion of the characters. I feel even more sympathetic to Emi since a young girl (well, anyone really) should be forced into a war, and I understand a bit more about Sadao’s pride of working at MgRonald since he struggled through a bunch of short-term gigs. Overall, though, each of the three versions of the first two arcs each have their own good points, and there’s nothing wrong with reliving the story in another format.

But maybe you haven’t read or watched The Devil is a Part-Timer! before. For those unfamiliar, the series is a comedy, but not a belly-busting one. From the summary, it may seem hilarious to have a Devil King reduced to serving customers at a fast food joint. It’s funny, but in an ironic sort of way. Before I read the manga, I assumed Sadao would be a short-tempered villain who acts like a lord and curses his current situation. Sadao, in a twist, takes tremendous pride in his work and is very helpful to his coworkers. He does get some funny scenes (such as his fondness for UNICLO), but it’s the other characters that really add in the humor. The Hero Emilia (aka Emi), understandably, can’t fathom why someone who waged a world war would happily serve customers, and she is none too pleased about being mistaken as the Devil King’s lover. Meanwhile, Shiro is the penny-piching househusband, coworker Chiho has a not-too-subtle crush, Hanzou is hated by everyone for being a NEET, and Suzu is unfamiliar with modern life. The story is designed more to give you a smile rather than laugh. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with this approach, but I am just noting this. (Although all the real-life references were quite funny, too.)

The Devil is a Part-Timer! also features plenty of action. While both the devils and the Hero start off short on magic and abilities, they each find ways to access their powers. Several allies and enemies show up, and each volume has featured at least one major battle. By the third volume, the story is setting up for more political intrigue and power struggles, and I welcome this development. It is certainly better than new villains that just happen to show up right after the previous one. Ente Isla doesn’t suddenly become a utopia after the demons’ invasion is halted, and its state is very similar to situations in European history. I do like how the situation in Ente Isla is very important, but everyone has taken a step back from it — both literally and figuratively. Trouble keeps finding Sadao and Emi, but the two don’t spend their days waging war in Tokyo. So while there’s plenty of fights, there’s a nice balance of everyday life and politics.

The third volume also introduces a brand-new, major character. Without going into spoilers, this is the type of character that can often divide fandoms, so I am interested in how she is treated in subsequent volumes. Will she steal much of the attention, or will she just be another quirky member of the Demon King’s entourage? At least she is introduced relatively early in the story (the light novel is up to volume 15 in Japan), so it’s almost too early for “jumping the shark”. I think she is adorable, but I just hope she doesn’t hog the story.

As for the other characters, I hope Hanzou adds more to the story other than being the lazy bum and everyone’s object of scorn. Emi is one tsundere I can actually understand being hostile to the main character, and Chiho thankfully doesn’t spend every moment jealous or hostile toward Emi. The story doesn’t stay locked to Sadao’s point-of-view, so we get to understand the feelings of most of the main cast. So it’s good that everyone is likable (well, except maybe the NEET Hanzou). Anyone can understand Shiro’s frustration at trying to maintain a budget or why Suzu is torn between her feelings and role. I even feel like I’m understanding Sadao a more, but that’s probably mainly because the story is further along. Of course, Sadao is the titular character, but Emi easily gets as much pagetime and has lots of sections from her viewpoint.

Like most light novels, illustrations are included. Yen Press also includes the color pages at the beginning of the books. For me, coming from the manga, the worst looking character was Emi; she looks like a tsundere that could be found in about 1,000 different series. She just lacks a lot of individuality in her images. Chiho’s chest is certainly more noticeable here though. I do want to add that Emi’s hair is described as “jet-black”, the same color as blood. I’m not sure if this was a translation mistake or if 029 suggested Emi’s dark red hair color, and the text was never updated to reflect the change.

Translation:

In contrast to the manga, no honorifics are used. The places and names are the same as the manga version so far. Emilia’s father is called “Nordo” while her mother is written as “Laila”. Some Japanese terms (mostly food names) are kept but not provided any notes. Emeralda’s speech, which used the “~” mark in the manga is replaced with repeated letters in the light novel (“couldn’t saaaaay”, “reeeeeeally”, etc.). Alas Ramus’ name drops the “=”, which isn’t a surprise. Kisaki’s nickname for Sadao is changed from “Ma-kun” to “Marko”. Alas Ramus’ “Mama” and “Papa” is “Mommy” and “Daddy” while Suzu & Chiho are “Chi-Sis” and “Suzu-Sis”. Without honorifics, it’s slightly more difficult to determine who is speaking. It’s also because while English text usually determines the speaker and adds detail on the same line as the dialogue, Japanese puts this type of information on the next line.

I was really surprised to find out the same person does the translation for both the manga and the light novel, since it really doesn’t seem like it at times. I guess Yen Press’ manga and light novel departments have different standards/in-house rules. I just would have guessed the company had a cheat sheet with the Japanese-approved romanizations, but it’s because the same person is doing both.

Final Comments:

Since the light novels is not only the original form of the story but also covers the most plot, this would be the best version of The Devil is a Part-Timer! to get.

Yen Press is publishing the manga adaptation as well as The Devil is a Part-Timer! High School spinoff, and Funimation has released the anime.

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5 Comments

  1. Takuto's Anime Cafe

    And here I was about to spend my only pennies on the manga, thinking it would be more supportive to my understanding of the series’ universe. Clearly, I am mistaken. Thanks for the review, and for the articulate details like the honorifics and the introduction of that third character warning . . . I saw the cover of the third, and I’m not sure how I feel about that. Great review, I ought to pick them up to expand my knowledge and love for this great universe!

    Reply
    1. krystallina

      Money-wise, you cover more in one light novel than in one manga, but the light novels are also up to 15 in Japan versus 8. So you spend more to collect the series but get more story.

      Both the light novels and the manga have shown up on Barnes & Noble and Amazon at 50% off, so keep an eye out if you want to collect either one. Love to read your review if you buy them!

      Reply
      1. Takuto's Anime Cafe

        I will keep this in mind, as I love the story! If I do end up getting it, a review will definitely be in order xD

        Reply
  2. The Otaku Judge

    I might check out these books someday, as I am keen to see what happens after the events of the hilarious anime.

    Reply
  3. Pingback: Light Novel Notes (March 2016) | English Light Novels

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