Stray kittens and toddlers, swindlers and freeloaders, and one teenager looking toward her future.
Story: Satoshi Wagahara
Art: 029 (Oniku)
Translation/Adaptation: Kevin Gifford
What They Say
A door-to-door fraudster arrives in the neighborhood, swindling Urushihara! Already strapped for cash, Maou visits the office to contest the transaction, only to find himself tongue-tied at their vehement refusal! Unable to face the heat, is Maou truly out forty-five thousand yen?! Not if the Hero has anything to say about it… Other adventures await Maou and the crew in this volume of short stories–from becoming new cat owners to a family shopping trip to the story of how Chiho met Maou.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers):
Long running light novel series often take a break now and then to do a volume of short stories. Sometimes they’re broken off into their own mini-series with titles calling out their diversion from the main plot, and sometimes, like Part-timer #7, they just throw them into the mix.
This volume delves back into past events and sticks small stories between the larger happenings of previous volumes. For example, Maou once found a stray kitten and had to learn how to take care of it shortly after the whole Alas Ramus event. It causes everyone to worry that Maou will have another breakdown after becoming attached to the little furball and having to give it up.
Two other short stories focus on money and purchasing, something very near and dear to the hearts of the eternally broke crew. The weakest story of the lot involves Lucifer messing up and getting swindled out of quite a lot of money due to a door-to-door sales scam. It takes the others to bail him out while Ashiya is away earning some quick cash to pay back a debt to Emi. Another short story focuses on a shopping trip Emi and Maou take to buy Alas Ramus a futon to sleep on while at the bachelor pad.
These stories, while short, seem to revel in the utterly mundane processes of life. How to find a deal, proper care of a kitten, what to do when you’re dealing with scammers. It’s all completely benign and mostly an excuse to fill in tiny gaps and enjoy the cast just being themselves. It also reminds me of how far some of them have come since the beginning of the series. The author is careful to make sure every one of his characters was in their ‘in the moment’ headspace of when the side stories take place.
While the first three stories are perfectly fine and amusing on their own, the real story of interest is Chiho’s first days at her part-time job. How Chiho met Maou was never mentioned until this volume, and it’s not some contrived rescue or otherwise elaborate affair. The refreshing part of the whole chapter is that it’s told mostly from Chiho’s focus, although not in a first-person perspective. It also comes across as surprisingly grounded and relatively realistic. (I say relatively because I still feel their fast-food workplace is not in any way, shape or form realistic from a USA point of view. Not even Disney World is that perfect.) Chiho’s motivations and the reason she wanted the job are carefully laid out without falling into ‘oh, she did it because of the hot guy’ tropes. Maybe I’ve been reading too many crappy light novels written by dudes but it’s nice to see a girl character written like a realistic teenage girl in a light novel series. Especially a series like this one where that isn’t the focus at all.
The only part about Chiho’s story that feels a bit odd is that we’re only hearing about her high school friends now. Each volume of Part-Timer has been expanding the cast by a couple of new faces at a time so seeing new characters introduced here isn’t unusual, just tricky. It’s true that Maou and Emi have been trying to shelter the Earthlings from the supernatural stuff going on around them, but Emi’s coworker is heavily involved now even if she doesn’t know what’s going on. It’s as if the author was just now remembering that Chiho would have friends as well, outside the oddball Ente Isla crowd. Minor quibble aside, I love seeing Chi fleshed out even further as a character.
The translation remains excellent in this volume, it reads just as fluid and funny as it has been in the past. I didn’t notice any minor text errors either. The extras for this volume include the author’s afterword, the return of a cast member resumé, and step-by-step instructions for learning how to idea-link. There’s the usual fold-out color illustration at the front of the book as well.
Taking a break from the ongoing narrative of the series with its demons and angels, this volume of The Devil is a Part-Timer tells four short stories about everyday life. It feels like an intermission before the next big event kicks off. Fitting neatly into place between events it revisits points of time in the characters lives where things were momentarily calm on the two-worlds front but frantic on the trying to make the rent angle. From trying to find a home for a stray cat to getting out of a swindle and one very awkward family shopping trip there are no big lore drops here. The most interesting story told is of Chi’s first days on the job, from her perspective, and of her first impression of Maou. The storytelling maintains it’s quality and allows us to revisit some moments from the past that are amusing enough to stand on their own.
Content Grade: B
Art Grade: B
Packaging Grade: B +
Text/Translation Grade: A