Television review: The Devil is a Part-Timer!

Assignment submitted 14 November 2017.

A show about young adults taking up entry-level work, fumbling through finances, procedure, and social life couldn’t have come at a better time than 2013. The Devil is a Part-Timer!, a fantasy/comedy anime follows Satan as he falls through a portal alongside his general, Alsiel, into modern-day Sasazuka, Tokyo. Stripped of their powers, Maou and Ashiya, as they respectively rename themselves, become roommates in a studio apartment and take up minimum wage employment. Ashiya is a grocery cashier, and Maou is a fry-cook at McRonald’s (the subtle shifts to avoid trademarking are incredibly endearing, such the rival fast food joint being Sentucky Fried Chicken, a search engine called Wahoo, or online retailer called Jungle). Unsuspected to the pair, their adversary, the prophetic Emilia the Hero, has additionally fallen into Sasazuka, assumed the name Emi Yusa, and obtained work as a call center rep. With the reveal of her presence brings about much more celestial forces…and hilarity.

Though Maou and Emi butt heads continuously, their close proximity and similar burdens has eased their doubts of the other by Episode 13, “The Devil and the Hero Do Some Honest Hard Work.” This is, until Emi dreams that Maou conquers the city. As her concern reignites, she visits his apartment, where a truck delivers seven mattresses, a fire extinguisher, and humidifier. Maou and Ashiya’s younger roommate, Urushihara, was swindled into the deed, as he sold GPS trackers to a questionable buyer online, but only under the condition that he buy their junk in exchange. Urushihara should have known better not only because of his incessant internet searching, but also because he is Lucifer.

After Maou unsuccessfully demands a return and refund for the packages, Emilia the Hero swoops in to save the day. She provides the Devil with a legal lesson in consumer rights that leaves the disgruntled scammers to begrudgingly accept the return. Similarly, the post-ending credits scene depicts a bewildered Maou hesitantly accepting Emi’s umbrella in the rain after her aggressive insistence. This mirrors their first on-screen encounter in Episode 1, where Maou absently offers his own umbrella to a standoffish woman, later confirmed to be Emi. As Episode 13 is the season finale, this is an especially fitting closure.

The episode is very much a lull in comparison to the ethereal battles that are commonplace throughout the series. To amplify, only an episode prior is there an occurrence of such. A corrupt archangel believes Emi to be in possession of a powerful talisman, and she and Chiho, teenaged coworker of Maou and mutual friend to Emi, are kidnapped. Thus, “Some Honest Hard Work” may seem tame, even disappointing, in contrast.

However, one aspect prevalent throughout the show that isn’t pronounced as much in this episode is Emi’s cleavage envy. Chiho’s…assets…are often subjected to ogling by a majority of the cast. Though I feel a joke about everyday insecurities, especially regarding physical appearance, can be incredibly humorous, it is misplaced here. Chiho is sixteen, so this admiration feels a little predatory. Regardless, Emi possesses otherworldly power and ties to both the mortal and heavenly spaces. Chiho, though knowing of her neighbors’ theistic connections, is naïve, complete with an unquenchable lust for her demonic colleague. Perhaps Emi’s jealousy of Chiho’s bust doesn’t necessarily serve to imply perverseness; it could instead be dramatic irony. A clairvoyant with celestial power and influence is completely comfortable in the extent of these attributes, and the only aspect of her existence that leaves her insatiable is her lack of cleavage.

This episode, of course, does not contain much Ente Islan. This is a fictitious language of Ente Isla, the afterlife realm where angels and demons collide. On occasion, minute-long conversations are featured. When I began streaming the show on Netflix, I initially thought I had mistakenly pressed a button that set the show into a dub of some Romance language. At first listen, I assumed it was Latin, and hoping closed captions may alleviate my confusion, though alas, I was simply informed that the characters were speaking this language, but not the content of their messages. Regardless, as the story progressed, this knowledge wasn’t really needed. The same goes for the kanji text seen on screen occasionally. Paychecks, online product listings, or text messages are in kanji, but characters almost always read them aloud or summarize.

Perhaps the aspect I appreciate most about this show is that it does not shy away from its Japaneseness. Characters’ names were not Westernized through localization, nor are we ever told a character brought jelly donuts to a picnic when we can clearly tell they are rice balls. No character has a pronounced regional accent, like some recurring roles in Sailor Moon, such as a Brooklynite and Valley-girl, which suggest the dubbing attempts to relocate the setting to America, but it’s quite unclear where in America they are trying to emulate. Further, the dub admits this is Sasazuka. Obviously, the borough where the action unfolds isn’t inherently necessary to the plot and could have easily been changed through dubbing, but it wasn’t. This is a smart move. It’s recognizable that this is set in the outskirts of metropolis, though had they insisted it were Dorchester, Boston, I really wouldn’t be swayed. The aesthetic of Eastern architecture is too jarring.

However, this episode does contain one instance of dialogue I would never imagine a Japanese person to say. Urushihara rummages through the fridge to find some leftover noodles, consults aloud to himself whether they are safe for consumption, and ingests them, proclaiming “YOLO.” I doubt there is a Japanese equivalent to this term, so I imagine this was a creative liberty undertaken by dub localization. Though other than this, changes aren’t as glaring.

In all, the episode serves as a satisfying conclusion. Of course, it doesn’t salivate the audience for a second season, but is enjoyable. Moderate interest may be garnered for an unverified continuation of the series, but even if this does not occur, this was fun while it lasted.

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