Manga Review – The Devil is a Part-Timer! High School! [Redux]

The Devil is a Part-Timer! High School! Volume 1

The Devil is a Part-Timer! High School!
はたらく魔王さま!ハイスクール! (Hataraku Maou-sama! High School!)
MISHIMA Kurone (art), WAGAHARA Satoshi (original story), 029/Oniku (character design)
Seinen – Comedy, fantasy, romance
5 Volumes (complete)
Yen Press

Summary:

On the brink of defeat, the Devil King and one of his generals escape their world and find themselves in modern Japan. With no magic and no other options, the Devil King (known as Sadao) enrolls in high school to restart his conquest..as student council president. But Sadao’s plans may be in jeopardy when a new student arrives and threatens him!

Review:

The Devil is a Part-Timer! High School! should not be your first entry into the metaseries, and fans of The Devil is a Part-Timer! really have no reasons to buy it.

Let’s start with the first issue with The Devil is a Part-Timer! High School!: it’s overpriced. Yes, it’s technically the same MSRP as Yen Press’ other manga offerings (and $1 cheaper than their Yen On light novels), plus the physical version is slightly wider than the original light novel (which is already larger than the main manga adaptation). However, if you actually pick up a copy, you’ll immediately be taken aback: High School! is incredibly thin. When the light novels are at least 240 pages and the manga averages around 176 pages, High School!‘s 112-3 pages just don’t stack up. This series includes a color page (two in the first volume), but that doesn’t help take the sting off the price tag when the other books also include inserts.

The Devil is a Part-Timer! book sizesFrom left to right: the High School! manga, the light novel, and the main manga adaptation.

Right off the bat, High School! is starting in a hole. Very few people would prefer a larger format over less content, and that’s what you get here.

But maybe the content is really good! Maybe the series overcomes its lack of bulk!

Spoiler alert: it doesn’t.

I can’t say the manga is bad. It isn’t. But that’s because the original story is good. Alternate universe stories are supposed to implement elements of the original and yet present them in a different way. In The Devil is a Part-Timer!, Devil King Satan (now Sadao) and his loyal underling (human name: Shirou) escape the Hero Emilia’s deathblow and wind up in modern Japan. The pair have to survive without magic and money even as Emilia (now known as Emi) appears. Then there’s Chiho, a girl who has a crush on Sadao, and several mysterious characters like the old-fashioned Suzuno. All the while, people misunderstand Emi’s obsession with Sadao. Now, in High School!, the characters attend high school. (Shocker, I know.) Same characters, new setting, what’s the problem?

That’s the main problem with The Devil is a Part-Timer! High School!: it feels more like an abridged and remixed version of The Devil is a Part-Timer! Even the original manga adaptation cuts out stuff to compact a light novel down to an average of three manga volumes, all of which are substantially thicker than High School! The only real change is that Sadao and Emi now attend high school instead of being out in the workforce. Instead of Sadao striving to reach the upper echelons of MgRonald’s management, he wants to be president of the student council. Emi wants to prevent the Devil King from taking control of any organization, so she also enters the race. Meanwhile, the student council president (a very familiar face to The Devil is a Part-Timer! fans) isn’t keen on giving up his position. Plus a mysterious baby descends on to Earth and Sadao tries to sell stuff and be a model (school store) employee. Haven’t I read this before? Oh yeah, in The Devil is a Part-Timer!

Of course, as in most alternate universe stories, the main characters are reworked to fit in this different setting. The landlord is now the principal, Sadao’s MgRonald boss is the group’s homeroom teacher, and Emi’s coworker Rika is also a student. Personality-wise, Chiho still has a crush on Sadao, Shirou is still dedicated to his king, Emi is still jealous of Chiho’s chest, etc. As original author Wagahara pointed out, we also get to see some new character interactions that you don’t see in the light novel, like bossy Emi facing her own challenge in demanding Kisaki.

However, seeing some new interactions isn’t enough to justify diving into High School! The story starts off pretty shaky, with chapters in the initial volumes jumping all over thanks to several school trips and breaks. We never get to see some of the everyday school life interactions between enemies and their friends. Where are all the stupid answers using Ente Isla (which I don’t think is named here) logic? How about having Emi brag about scoring better than Sadao on an exam? Showing Chiho’s agony over drawing new seating arrangements?

The fantasy elements are also downplayed when compared to the other versions of the story. As action and the supernatural are key elements in the main series, this is a disappointment. Alas Ramus’ arrival is the first real example of magic on Earth, but her arrival focuses more on romantic misunderstandings rather than a prelude to a multi-world struggle. Five volumes is just way too short to dive into so many plot points; her true nature is never even revealed. Instead, she just attends school as a “student” and to force the Hero and the Devil King act like parents even at school. (In the original, they usually get a break at work at least… mostly.)

Most surprisingly, High School!‘s big confrontation between Emi and Sadao never reaches a climax. The actual election? Skipped completely. The election speeches are interrupted, and then we suddenly see characters talking about the results. Why would you not build up to the ultimate showdown? Instead, the final volume is mostly about Emi trying to deal with her emotions (she’s the definition of tsundere in that volume by the way), but much about the story is left open or unresolved. A few more characters drop by, and so even other major characters like janitor/underling Shirou and mysterious transfer student Suzuno are barely around. To reiterate what I’ve said before, High School! almost feels like one of those one-cour anime adaptations of still-running manga. There’s more story to tell, but you will almost certainly never see it.

As you would expect, the art is a bit different than the manga or light novel. Out of all the characters, Shirou looks the most different. The poor guy looks even more like a housewife here than in the other versions. It’s also a little harder to tell the girls apart here versus the main manga. Emi, Chiho, and Rika are all wearing the same uniform now, so their biggest difference in their appearance lies in their hair. Chiho in particular constantly changes her hairstyle. Since I am most familiar with her hair in her two twintails, I kept having to do double-takes whenever she appears in pigtails. The other characters’ designs are faithful to 029’s originals, but I felt Sadao’s true form just wasn’t menacing. Both Mashima’s and Hiiragi’s manga versions share the penchant for big panels and an almost greyscale presentation. However, while High School! is classified as seinen (as opposed to shounen for the source material), fan service is limited. When Emi’s skirt flips up due to a gust of wind, she is positioned so the reader sees nothing. The girls are seen in swimsuits and Chi’s chest size is occasionally referred to, but this series is good with a T rating. Anyway, the manga’s art is pretty straightforward. Because the fantasy elements are mostly limited to one volume, we don’t get to really see Mishima take on battles and superpowers.

The other big difference is that the characters of High Schoo! — most notably Emi — are much more expressive than in the direct adaptation manga. I did enjoy some of the humorous images of Emi’s discovery of the deliciousness of curry pudding or her carsickness, but a lot of the blushing makes her come across as a too-typical tsundere.

The Devil is a Part-Timer! High School! Sample

Translation:

The same person who translated the original light novel and manga adaptation also adopts The Devil is a Part-Timer! High School! As I mentioned in those reviews, the two adaptations are quite different in certain points. High School! is closer to the manga, using honorifics instead of changing things to “Marko” and “Chi-Sis”. So unless you dove right into High School!, the adaptation’s style will be very familiar to you.

Final Comments:

Skip The Devil is a Part-Timer! High School! and invest your time (and, more importantly, your money) in the The Devil is a Part-Timer! manga and/or light novel. The few unique parts don’t justify rehashing the story in this spinoff.

Yen Press publishes the The Devil is a Part-Timer! light novel and manga. FUNimation released the anime.

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7 Comments

  1. Pingback: Manga Review - The Devil is a Part-Timer! High School! | Daiyamanga

  2. dreager1

    Yeah, this definitely sounds like one to pass. How I see it, if you’re going to make an AU kind of title like this, then it should be completely different. Throw in a few homages sure, but it shouldn’t be following the beats of the original at all. In my head, I picture a spinoff like this one being fun because it’s completely different so being similar kind of defeats the point.

    Reply
    1. Krystallina (Post author)

      I agree. Maybe if it had been longer, it could have forged its own identity, but here it’s just a very lite version of the original.

      Reply
  3. The Otaku Judge

    The highschool setting has been done to death. I enjoyed the anime a lot so I would rather read what happens next in the real series rather than check out a spin-off, which doesn’t sound great based on your post.

    Reply
    1. Krystallina (Post author)

      A lot of stuff happens, and I think a second season would have been nice. Although I guess a lot of people think introducing a baby is a quick way to jump the shark and wouldn’t check out a sequel anime.

      Reply
  4. Mr. Panda

    Great review! I really don’t see the purpose of these high-school spin-offs. I thought Attack on Titan’s was humorous because it gave a lighthearted take on one of the most depressing stories. But The Devil is a Part Timer was already funny, not to mention they kind of looked like high schoolers already.

    Reply
    1. Krystallina (Post author)

      I’ve read some of The Seven Deadly Sin’s AU high school manga. From the bit I’ve seen, I think that would be my favorite high school AU story. Otherwise, like you said, they’re mostly pointless.

      Reply

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