The king of the demons faces his greatest challenge yet: a job in the fast food industry!
What They Say:
When the lord of demons and his horde waged war against the humans in their realm, a hero vanquished their army. Cornered, the Devil fled through an interdimensional portal to Earth. He vows to one day reign again, but until then… he needs a job!
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Two weeks ago I finished reviewing a FUNimation simulcast that I had high hopes for but was disappointed with, Robotics;Notes. My hopes came from the fact that its source material had the same creators as that of Steins;Gate, one of the best anime, certainly in recent years. The only thing it didn’t have in common was on the anime side. Now I return to FUNimation’s less-than-ideal video player to review another one-day-late “simulcast” on Fridays. This one is the exact opposite: it has nothing in common with Steins;Gate in any way except the anime side, both being adapted by the studio White Fox. It would be silly to think that this minor similarity could indicate any level of greatness when Robotics;Notes had far more similarities in the source material, which is much more important, and it still didn’t turn out very good. Still, this is what drew me to this title more than most, and from the first episode, it looks like the consistently high-quality White Fox has picked out a good source to adapt their new anime from, because, while there’s no similarity in the subject matter to that of Robotics;Notes, I already like it more.
The Devil is a Part-Timer!, the official English title that FUNimation has recently assigned the anime of Hataraku Maou-sama!, is the series in question. While it may take those who were looking at it before this point some time to get used to the new title, it does succeed in informing the English-speaking audience of the same thing that the Japanese title did for its domestic audience: this series involves some magic and, much more importantly, is not very serious. The “Devil” (Maou-sama would generally be translated as “demon king” or “demon lord”, but in this case his name is Satan, so I guess it works) has indeed ended up working a part-time job partway through this opening episode, and it looks like that will be a regular setting for the shenanigans in store to take place at. This opening episode has the job of getting us from the fantasy world in which the demons battle the heroes, knights, and mages to the point where Satan, who has decided that he’ll just go by “Maou” for his human name as well, has settled into his daily life in modern-day Japan when he’s attacked by a female hero who seemed to have somehow followed him into this foreign new world. And yet, a good chunk of the middle part of the episode is spent following this king of demons as he works the classic “bottom of the totem pole” job of a fast food lackey at another of the countless anime versions of McDonald’s, this one called MgRonald’s. As ridiculous as that sounds (and most definitely is), the episode still manages to accomplish its objectives just fine. And as for all that stuff in between, it’s pulled out about as well as I could imagine. Its silliness is really fun and, as with many other instances throughout the episode, the comedic timing is spot-on. A full series of this would be amusing but would get stale quick, so it was good to introduce what will likely be the main focus for at least the next few episodes, with the hero showing up to confront Maou and no doubt initiate some comical antics and most likely romantic tension.
While “FROM THE STUDIO THAT BROUGHT YOU STEINS;GATE” by no means guarantees something to be anywhere near as good or even remotely similar to Steins;Gate, White Fox definitely has a high standard of quality, and that helps this become a more enjoyable viewing experience than it may have been otherwise. I love noticing the styles distinctive to particular studios, and while White Fox is a relatively young studio and has a very limited output at this point, and while it certainly doesn’t have such an obvious signature style as studios like KyoAni, Gainax, or Shaft, White Fox still has some of its own subtle touches that I really enjoy seeing, and that always recall the studio’s previous works. The way the color fades throughout a character’s iris, looking almost clouded but bringing an air of mystery to them, the overall structure of the face that complements this, the way the light pours onto a setting, melding together bright colors that bring a real, subdued aesthetic while still maintaining strong, crisp line detail… good stuff.
The new White Fox show starts off as silly as expected, and spends a remarkable amount of time on the mundane only moments after showing us a spectacular fantasy world engulfed in a magical war. However, the show does a surprisingly good job at delivering its comedic style, and it’s hard not to be grinning throughout much of the episode. It’s not something that can work consistently for very long, but it’s all still fresh enough at this point and it looks like things will go back to being shaken up within the confines of this boring little world we live in. A high-quality production all-around makes this unassuming piece of entertainment show quite a bit of promise.
Streamed By: FUNimation
Custom-Built PC, 27” 1080p HDTV.