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Devil is a Part-Timer Vol. #01 Novel Review

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The Devil is a Part-Timer Vol. #1 Light Novel
The Devil is a Part-Timer Vol. #1 Light Novel

Working in fast food is hell on earth.

Creative Staff
Story: Satoshi Wagahara
Art: 029 (Oniku)
Translation/Adaptation: Kevin Gifford

What They Say
After being soundly thrashed by the hero Emilia, the Devil King and his general beat a hasty retreat to a parallel universe…only to land plop 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?!

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers):

The Devil is a Part-Timer was an unknown light novel by English readers when the anime adaptation of it hit the scene in 2013. In fact, it was such a great adaptation that we’ve been left waiting for more. Well, while we’re still waiting for something which may not come to pass Yen Press decided to answer my wishes and release the original light novels in English. Since the anime only covered the first two volumes we should be well past the stopping point of the anime by the end of the year.

The premise of the story is simple. In a world where the mythology of angels in demons is the everyday reality, the hero Emilia corners the Devil King Satan and is about to free her land from evil. The Devil King escapes to another dimension to regroup and relaunch an attack to take back his hard won prize. Except both parties land in present day Japan, in our world where magic is legend and where demons are powerless. The dimensional jump leaves Satan a typical young Japanese man, and his pursuing heroine likewise devoid of holy power. What’s a bunch of displaced inter-dimensional travelers to do?

The first novel of this series delves in to the trials and tribulations of Sadao Maou (as Satan is calling himself now) and his general Ashiya (Alciel) learning how to live as broke twenty-somethings in Tokyo. Arriving with little power and no local language skills we get to watch them quickly get up to speed on life in modern Japan. Rather than turn this in to a fish out of water tale it instead becomes a story of adapting to new surroundings perhaps too well. Maou is exceptional at his job flipping burgers at the hilariously psuedonamed MgRonalds. He even manages to catch the eye of his teenage coworker Chiho! Ashiya is reduced to a ‘house husband’ role doing the cooking and cleaning. Meanwhile they are pursued by Emilia, going under the name Emi, who has taken up a job at a cell phone company answering complaint calls!

Even though the story is a comedy there is still drama to be found here. The author does such a good job introducing Maou that when Emi makes the scene it’s hard for us to like her. Her single minded determination to kill Satan is overpowering, at first. Then when we finally learn her past I had to wonder why she wasn’t more angry! It’s easy to understand Emi’s conundrum. She finds the demon she’s vowed to kill seemingly turning over a new leaf and even doing good, but she can’t forgive him for everything he’s done. His current actions paint Maou in an entirely new light which makes Emi and the reader question why he did the things he did. Is it just a simple case of not understanding or sympathizing with humans because of being a different species? Maou doesn’t lack empathy once he becomes human but he’s certainly not wracked with guilt either. From Emi’s perspective he destroyed her world, for him it was business.

The story is heavy on dialog, which is fast paced and brimming with banter. Each character has their own voice without becoming too gimmicky. (Except maybe Emeralda’s long drawn-out words.) Sometimes it becomes difficult to follow whose speaking because of a tendency to drop attribution, even with the distinct voices of the characters. This becomes an issue mostly during the final battle against the pursuing forces at the climax. It is a chaos filled scene with characters swiftly moving from one location to the next, often without properly explaining to the readers where they are.  Action scenes are difficult to write and describe, and it’s the weakest part of this otherwise solid volume. While it’s funny that the characters are so flippant during the battle it does lesson the potentially life threatening drama. It’s all very comic book movie in that way, giving off the vibe of a superhero movie filled with quick cuts.

There’s a surprising level of back story about the world these characters came from, Ente Isle. While the novel doesn’t go to the lengths it’s anime adaptation did to invent a language for the place, we’re given a good break down about politics there. Especially towards the end of the volume where that stuff comes in to play. The extremely spot on anime adaptation glossed over the aftermath of Emi meeting back up with her close friends and comrades, but here we are given a better summary of the situation back home. In fact Emi is fleshed out more in general in the novel than the anime, we get to know her better in general.

Yen Press gives the series the same treatment that it’s other Yen On light novels are receiving. The paperback in front loaded with color illustrations of the main characters and there are a smattering of black and white illustrations highlighting scenes throughout. The character designs don’t exactly follow the text descriptions of the characters, Emi is described as having black hair in her earth form for example, not red. That’s not exactly unusual for light novels with an eye for potential adaptations. The volume closes out with some very amusing résumés for our cast.

In Summary
The Devil is a Part-Timer is a nice change of pace from the typical magic in present day settings popping up in young adult fiction right now. A bridge between saving the world and just getting by in it, we’re drawn in to the everyday lives of two very extraordinary protagonists. It becomes a will-they-or-won’t-they between Maou and Emi, not of romance but of life and death! The humor hits more often than it doesn’t but there’s also a good amount of pathos in it’s drama as well. Satan may have turned over a new leaf but he’s still a demon at the end of the day, and that’s a past that’s going to have to be addressed in the future. While the bad guy is of no consequence, and the ending confrontation is a bit flustered in it’s execution, the rest of this first volume is a fun first outing into the new lives of the devil and the hero bent on destroying him.

Content Grade: B
Art Grade: B +
Packaging Grade: B +
Text/Translation Grade: B +

Age Rating: 13+
Released By: Yen Press
Release Date: April 21st, 2015
MSRP: $14.00