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Friday, August 9, 2019

Book Review: The Devil Is a Part-Timer, Vol. 1 - light novel Paperback by Satoshi Wagahara

The Devil Is a Part-Timer, Vol. 1 - light novel Paperback
Hataraku Maō-sama!
by Satoshi Wagahara
Illustrations by Oniku. 
April 21, 2015
240 pages
Book 1 of 12
Genres: Comedy, Fantasy
Do you want fries with your hellfire? Being soundly thrashed by the hero Emilia, the Devil King and his general beat a hasty retreat to a parallel universe...only to land smack in the middle of bustling, modern-day Tokyo! Lacking the magic necessary to return home, the two are forced to assume human identities and live average human lives until they can find a better solution. And to make ends meet, Satan finds gainful employment at a nearby fast food joint! With his devilish mind set on working his way up the management food chain, what will become of his thirst for conquest?!

I love a good bonkers manga series. I'm talking off-the-wall, might as well have started as a word association exercise type of bonkers. So what happens when Satan has to become a teen boy and work at a fast food place in modern Japan? Magic. Magic happens. Literally, but also in the this is awesome sense. Ahem.

Let's look at The Devil is a Part-Timer!

In this context, Satan is the name of a demon king from a fantasy island (the name is explained as an old traditional one at one point. The title translates more to The Demon King at Work! if that helps). He and his army were beaten back by humans at one point and regrouped by jumping into a portal.

Satan and his general Alciel find themselves in modern Tokyo in the guise of young men, and powerless. They hope to use Japan's vast folklore history to regain their powers, but first they've gotta eat. After securing a place to live, Satan (taking the name Mao) finds employment at MgRonalds (not a typo, welcome to manga's way around potential copyrights). However, the human hero, Emilia, also comes through the gate, becomes an office worker, and is determined to kill the demons. Add in hijinks like Isla Ente religious politics, Lucifer as a neet, a human love interest, angels coming in to screw things up, and a holy child who is also a jewel and Emilia's sword and it's mind-bending fun. I can't even go into everything because there's so much.

The good: It's a blast. I like that it doesn't take itself too seriously but it doesn't go completely off the rails. It takes the time to develop the characters and plot, so it doesn't have the pacing problems of something like Kiss of the Rose Princess. I like that the demons can be kind, but also still want to take over the world. It's awesome that Emilia discovers that the holy forces she represents aren't always good, either. As a human, Mao is genuinely a good guy and good at his job, but there are always flashbacks to remind you that he's no saint, either. The side characters are used nicely and really contribute to it being an ensemble cast.

The series is also forward-looking and doesn't shy away from the fact that eventually the demonic and holy characters will have to get on with their ear or go home, and the things that may come from that. It also takes typical manga schtick like going to the beach or holidays and subverts them well.

Plus it balances the ridiculous with the plot and heart really well.

The bad: Not bad, but there is a large cast and there is always a curveball, so this would be hard to start in the middle or skip volumes on. There were a few places that felt a little slow to me, but I always got over that feeling and fell back into being vastly entertained.

The ick: not really. There's fighting but no real gore, and outside some boob jokes nothing that might make anyone do a double-take. Really this comes down to how you feel about demons as protagonists. Like a lot of manga, this portrays demons as more monsters or human hybrids, and again the use of Satan seems to be a translation thing. The fantasy world has a holy order and angels are portrayed, but there's no real direct Christianity if that makes sense. No possession or things that a western audience might expect when we hear the word demon. Still, if seeing 'evil' creatures slowly become more of the protagonists is going to bug you, skip, because this is a longer series.

I'm about 12 volumes in and curious how things will end up. Plus, every time I think I've got a handle on things, this series manages to make me bust out laughing.

4.5 demonic, part-time sheep

About the Author:
Selah Janel is a writer who is trying to start doing that again instead of reading manga all the time.

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