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The Devil is a Part-Timer Vol. #05 Light Novel Review

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The Devil is a Part-Timer Vol. #5
The Devil is a Part-Timer Vol. #5

We gotta move these refrigerators. We gotta move these HD TVs.

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

What They Say
With the repairs to his dingy one-bedroom apartment completed, Maou needs a new TV, so…the Devil’s going digital! The trouble is, Maou and Ashiya don’t know the first thing about flat-screens, so they bring Emi’s friend Rika along with them to the local big-box electronics outlet. For some reason, Suzuno ends up coming along, and it turns into a shopping tour with the whole gang!

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

You wouldn’t expect high drama to arise from the need to find a television… but this is The Devil is a Part-Timer. Life and death in this story are often a matter of the creature comforts and what living at minimum wage can afford you in life’s struggles.

Impromptu renovations on the Devil’s Castle at Sasazuka have completed. The whole gang, minus Emi, moves back in. This results in the usual bickering and forced camaraderie, and eventually a fun debate on the value of a television in the modern era where the internet provides most of the same information. For some reason, Maou takes to the idea of getting a TV now that they have the cash to purchase one and the antenna to pick up a broadcast. I find it interesting that the digital switchover occurred earlier in the US than Japan. What I find strange is the idea of cell phones being equipped to pick up television signals! This strange bit of lost technology does end up playing into the main plot, by way of the new enemies which arrive in this volume. Once again, the heavenly forces of Ente Isla have their eyes set to cause havoc for the devil king and hero, except neither are the intended target of the attack.

Anyone following this series knows to expect a good amount of sitcom hijinks along with the war of good versus evil. That line between good and evil continues to blur as both sides in exile have become almost a team by the end of this volume. The real standout players this time around are Suzuno and Urushihara, aka Crestia and Lucifer. Suzuno comes in swinging, showing what she’s capable of in a real fight. Urushihara finally begins to show the qualities that made him a general of Satan. He’s a surprisingly cunning planner when he wants to be, and through discussions with Gabriel we learn that Lucifer’s life with Maou is one big game Urushihara seems to be playing.

For more low-key drama, Rika admits to Emi that she’s thinking about trying to hook up with Ashiya. We saw the first sparks of her interest in the demon general in the previous volumes, and that currently one-sided interest is now just another concern for Emi.

This volume addresses the pacing issues that have plagued the last few volumes. There’s no sudden rush to action in the last twenty pages, just a gradual building toward yet another standoff with the forces of heaven. The difference this time is who ends up stepping up to the plate to battle back against those forces, and what it means for the series moving forward. The overall flow of the plot doesn’t stray far from what we’ve come to expect with this series.

There’s a reveal in this volume which I was expecting to come, sooner or later. Gabriel tosses a certain nugget of information to Emi which both shocks her and causes her to question what exactly is going on between heaven and Ente Isla. It doesn’t absolve Maou of his armies crimes, thankfully, but it directly impacts Emi’s single-minded desire for revenge. It also leaves many more questions about Emi’s parents, especially her mother. A mother who has no problem weaponizing Chiho. Not against the girl’s will, but certainly not entirely consensually either.

Yes, Chiho does end up in an unusual position in this volume, and in a role I didn’t expect to see her in. She’s been the one normal person from our world in on the secret of the Ente Islans. She became involved almost immediately, against everyone else’s wishes. Now she may have the means to stand equal to them, even if the abilities she borrows are only temporary.

As for the writing itself in this volume, after reading so many translated light novels, I have to say I think the writing in Part-Timer is stronger than most. One of the strongest I’ve read. There is still the occasional typo (I noticed at least one misattribution), but the actual prose flows in a way that feels far more natural to an English reader than I’ve come to expect from these books. Beyond that, there’s a surprising amount of grounding in reality that makes the characters actions relatable, copious off-brand naming conventions aside. Kudos to the translator and original author for keeping it real.

Speaking of Wagahara, his author’s afterword in this volume gets as real as possible. He talks about how in previous volumes he tried to keep the dates of the story nebulous. However, his real world locations pinpoint a specific moment in time during this volume, and that would place the story in August 2010. He then explains that despite the real world setting he would not be writing the Japan earthquake of 2011 into the story when the story progresses to that month and his reasons why.

We get Rika’s resume as an extra this time around, and a couple of bonus illustrations from the manga artists. The fold out illustration features Maou, Emi, and Chiho on one side and a full image of Chiho on the other.

In Summary
Maou is back home and looking to upgrade his apartment with a tv. Only this series can make such silly and mundane events almost as entertaining as battles between angels and devils. It’s becoming clearer as the series moves forward that the earth-stuck Ente Islans are slowly, and against their better judgment, becoming a team. Emi now has had to reassess all that she’s known for the majority of her short adulthood, and her reasons for fighting. Chiho found the strength to stand by her friends and now might have the strength to stand beside them. The machinations of heaven remain obtuse, with the angels in exile hinting that heaven may not be all it appears, and their actions are anything but heavenly. The overarching plot remains a compelling mystery, and the everyday antics are still surprisingly engaging and funny. This reverse stuck-in-another-world series remains a step above many of the other light novels on the market.

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

Age Rating: 13+
Released By: Yen Press
Release Date: August 23rd, 2016
MSRP: $14.00