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The Devil is a Part-Timer Vol. #03 Novel Review

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The Devil is a Part Timer Vol. #3
The Devil is a Part-Timer Vol. #3

Three demons and a little lady.

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

What They Say
A portal opens in the courtyard of the Devil’s Castle (a tiny walk-up). From it emerges a little girl who calls the Devil King “papa” and the Hero “mama.” Ashiya and Chiho are shocked to discover that Maou and Emi had that kind of relationship, but nobody’s more surprised than the two new “parents.” Will Maou the breadwinner be able to make the grade when it comes to child rearing? And will this spell the end of the starry-eyed Emi’s romantic ambitions?

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers):
I’m pretty sure that the last sentence of the back of the book summary above was supposed to say “starry-eyed Chiho.” This isn’t the first Yen title with blatant mistakes on the back on the book, and it’s not great that it keeps happening. Luckily the insides are holding up better, especially in the case of The Devil is a Part-Timer.

We’re heading into uncharted territory. This volume marks the start of what we haven’t seen in animated form.

Brace yourselves, a little kid is entering the picture.

There was so much that could go wrong introducing a child to the series. This volume opens hot on the heels of the last world altering event to befall the cast. Into the aftermath of Crestia Bell and Sariel’s arrival on Earth comes yet another visitor, Alas Ramus. The little girl arrives in the form of an apple in the middle of an argument by the two leads. She sprouts into a fully formed two-year-old, who can already speak a limited vocabulary, two words of which happen to by ‘mommy’ and ‘daddy.’ She ascribes those terms to Emi and Maou and the gag is off and running.

From here it’s a combination mystery and sitcom plot. While the cast frantically tries to figure out how to care for a toddler Emi and Maou ponder where the girl could have come from. Maou eventually realizes who and what she is, but doesn’t reveal the fact to Emi, and thus the audience, until far later. Maou is fascinating in that he tends to keep his true thoughts to himself. Because we experience most of the story through Emi’s knowledge of events he remains an enigma which Emi slowly attempts to unravel. She needs to know his motivations, and while Maou is sincere he isn’t exactly forthcoming with his personal history. We do learn more about Maou’s conquest of Ente Isla, as well as the Ente Isla world creation mythology, all of which is starting to set up a larger conflict. The arrival of yet another goofy yet dangerous archangel further escalates the growing tensions between the protagonists and their former homeworld.

Maou and Emi being forced to deal with each other is the running joke of this series, and it’s an obvious odd couple joke. However it’s all so much darker than that. I appreciate the fact that Emi isn’t falling for Maou, at least not yet, no matter how hard their circumstances seem to paint that picture. The author doesn’t let Emi soften, and people mistaking her and Maou for a couple only makes her angry, which from the outside appears humorous but for her is anything but. It’s easy to want Emi to lighten up, but we’re reminded that she’s dealing with her universes genocidal dictator who just happens to look like a monster in his own dimension.

Besides, it’s far more fun to root for Chiho, and on a lesser scale Rika and Ashiya. Yes, that blink and you’ll miss it blush from Rika in the previous volume makes a return here as she stalks Emi on her trip to the amusement park with Maou and Alas, and ends up on the Ferris wheel with Ashiya. He’s oblivious to her discomfort as she finds herself growing attracted to the demon general. Meanwhile, Chiho struggles with the same universal joke that’s messing with Emi, worrying about what the little girl’s existence will mean for her. Chiho is content to take a wait and see approach with her crush on Maou, and takes a back seat to most of the action happening here.

This volume concludes with a way out that is entirely convenient for the cast and the readers. It ensures that this plot line can be carried forward without turning the story into a family sitcom, and without ending on a dark note. Is it contrived? Well, sure, but so was the entire set up. It’s the best sort of outcome you could hope for in this series which is delving ever deeper into the mystery of Ente Isla and it’s expats yet remains a comedy. The writing here has bouts of witty brilliance with colorful descriptions and continues with the hilariously renamed real world products and places. There’s just one sentence which threw me, where Rika is casually called a bitch by the narrator, which broke through my fourth wall with a resounding crash. It comes off far harsher than her actions warrant.

The extras in this volume take the form of yet one more job application, heavily edited to make sense for little Alas Ramus. There’s also a diagram of Lucifer’s closet space and this volume opens with a double-sided, full-color fold-out illustration of the cast.

In Summary
There were never two more unlikely parents than Maou and Emi. The sitcom hijinks of this volume hide the larger drama developing behind the scenes. The author carefully manages to take a reasonably stupid premise and make it work in the characters favor, using the strange circumstance befalling the cast to further develop the background of the world of Ente Isla. Maou’s rise to power in Ente Isla seems to have been set up by another, and the whole bloody history is not as black and white as it first appeared. With more than a few teases for where the story could be headed, it finishes with a hint that may take the edge off of Emi’s hatred for the Devil King. As long as Chiho isn’t left in the cold, I’m all for it.

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

Age Rating: 13+
Released By: Yen Press
Release Date: December 15th, 2015
MSRP: $14.00