*SPOILERS: Don’t read this if you don’t like being spoiled.*
One night, I was in the mood to watch some anime. I started browsing through Netflix and came across The Devil is a Part-Timer, which said it was a comedy about Satan working part-time at a fast food restaurant. I was intrigued and up for some light-hearted comedy, and it was only 13 episodes, so I gave it a shot.
Man, do I wish it had been longer than 13 episodes!
After being defeated by the Hero in Ente Isla, Satan retreats to Earth, where he winds up in modern-day Tokyo with his most trusted general, Alciel. After realizing that magic doesn’t work, they decide to find a place to live, change their names (to Maou and Ashiya), and bide their time until they can return to Ente Isla and conquer it. Little do they know that the Hero, Emilia (Earth name Emi) has cahsed them down to slay them once and for all and save Ente Isla. It’s a really good premise; simple, to-the-point, and best of all, has amazing potential. But does it deliver?
Oh yes. Yes it does!
So, this show is a comedy. And it’s a comedy about Satan, an almost omnipotent being, working at a MgRonald’s (yes that is a blatant reference to McDonald’s!). Just thinking about it is pretty chuckle-worthy, and really, the comedy is pulled off great, but what I really want to touch on in this review is where this anime goes in (sadly) only 13 episodes.
There’s a lot of development in character and story in this show, and it does that really nicely, even though almost every single episode feels like a filler episode. What this show is really about, to me, is what if the roles of the Devil and the Hero were (somewhat) reversed? Sure, there’s a lot of stories where the enemy is misunderstood and trying to do something for the greater good, but there’s always something that leaves you wanting them defeated. In this show, Satan is the protagonist, and he’s the protagonist not because this show is about being evil – no, it’s about role reversal.
Emi, the Hero, is actually an anti-hero, as you find out. She has that perfect tragic Hero backstory – she was taken away from her family to be trained as the Hero, she finds out her father dies from a general of Maou’s army, and then swears vengeance on him. This is flipped into being an anti-hero when it’s revealed that there is no “destiny” to slay the Devil King. The church in Ente Isla fooled her as part of an elaborate plot to take over. Unfortunately, this whole backstabbing isn’t explored nearly as much as I would have liked, but that’s because there’s only 13 episodes. If there’s a second season I really hope they go into more detail about this, because it’s something I’d love to see more of.
So the show basically puts you in this weird spot where Emi continues to try and stick to “being the Hero”, even though there was no grand destiny, in order to justify her wanting to kill Maou because his army killed her father, while Maou continues to bewilder her and others who come into the show trying to stop him (because he’s the Devil King) when he does nothing but good, even when he momentarily regains his demonic power due to the negative emotions elicited by people.
Frankly, this is one of the best role reversal plots I’ve experienced. It’s all pretty subtle save for a few episodes, and it’s garnished with a hefty helping of comedic frosting. While I’m sure others can, I can’t find anything I disliked about where the show went or its plot as a whole, and that’s in part due to how well these characters develop.
This is, hands-down, the best part of this show. In particular, Emi stands out as the pinnacle of a developing character.
Maou develops, but it’s more that he opens up to you like a friend becoming closer to you than him really changing. You find out that he only attacked humans in Ente Isla due to misunderstanding them, and that he actually prefers living on Earth because the people there have been kind to him. It’s this living in modern-day Tokyo that Maou comes to understand, appreciate, and respect humans. It’s weird to see someone who’s supposed to be evil be so kind, especially when it involves Emi.
This isn’t in the anime explicitly, but while looking the show up I came across the light novel (which it started out as), and there’s a scene where Maou tells Emi that she has to keep an eye on him and stop him because he’s going to take over Ente Isla someday, even though both of them know that’s not going to happen. It’s an incredible scene for both of them, with Maou selflessly lying just to appease the distraught Emi. Again, it’s somewhere waaaay down the line in the light novel, but I think it’s worth mentioning because that kind of perfect role-reversal is very subtle throughout the anime, whereas it’s a little more clean-cut in that scene.
Speaking of Emi, she’s probably the most developed character. She goes from the Hero, hell-bent on taking out Maou, to a girl who doesn’t exactly know what she should be doing concerning Maou because her only desire is to exact revenge on him for her father. She bluffs that she needs to take him out because she’s “the Hero”, but she values him as an unlikely friend. She even goes out of her way to talk someone of the church of Ente Isla into holding off on slaying Maou despite all the horrible things he did in Ente Isla, claiming that it was her duty as the Hero.
The rest of the characters all undergo some sort of development, and really, I’d like to write about all of them, but in this review I really wanted to touch on the dramatic role-reversal that’s subtly masked under an anime labeled as a comedy, and how brilliantly it’s executed. Trust me when I say that pretty much every character is enjoyable and undergoes some form of character development. It’s fantastic.
The Devil is a Part-Timer was a show I randomly decided to watch on Netflix, and it rocketed into the top 5 for me. This show has it all for me – action, great comedy, character, and plot, and to top it all off, the animation is really good. The only really glaring flaw is that it’s only 13 episodes. Still, If you’re looking for something to marathon through and get way more than you expected out of it, check this anime out!
Plot Direction: 10/10
Final Score: 9/10