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I'll keep my review brief as I'm quite biased when it comes to this series so I'm probably the most unsuitable person to be an unbiased reviewer.
For those who aren't (or are) familiar with this series—whether you prefer to call it Hataraku Maou-sama!, The Devil is a Part-timer!, or Demon Lord at Work!—there are four different versions of it: the anime, light novel, manga, and manga spin-off (Hataraku Maou-sama! High School!). This is the LIGHT NOVEL.
Out of the three book versions of this series the novel and the manga always seem to get confused with one another but it's rather simple:
- Wagahara + 029 (Oniku) = novel
- Wagahara + Akio Hiiragi = manga
Oniku generally handles character design and novel illustrations but she does not illustrate the manga.
Akio only illustrates the manga.
Now with that bit of explanation out of the way, I can attempt to express how much I adore this series.
Genre-wise I always tend to favor horrors and thrillers of the like, followed by light hearted series and dumb comedies. A series about Satan coming to Japan and having to work minimum wage at Mg Ronalds to support his demonic househusband while the daughter of an angel is trying to murder him? Sounds iffy but we'll try it. I never thought that simple thought would turn into my favorite series of all time. I can't express how ecstatic I was back when Yen Press first announced they were going to be translating and publishing all versions.
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In the fantasy land of Ente Isla, he was the most fearsome demon warlord ever. Scourge of mankind, defiler of the Holy Church, and commander of the forces of hell. But when a holy Hero rose up, shining blade in hand, he fled through a portal.... to our world. In the heart of the Tokyo metropolitan area, the Demon King once against plots his conquest. Only this time, he does it from the most unlikely place of all....
Behind the counter of McDonalds.
Hataraku Maou-sama is a fun, witty series of light novels centering around Demon King Maou. Once considered the epitome of evil, now he's an earnest shift manager who wants to conquer Japan by climbing the corporate ladder. Where did this contradiction come from? Is he a chunibyo of epic proportions? Has a genuine change of heart tempered his lust for blood? Or is he playing everyone for fools? This Prince of Darkness is a gentleman whose silver tongue and easygoing nature forges a truce with his bitterest foe, the Hero Emilia Justina who made him flee Ente Isla. Together, they and their allies get embroiled in a war that stretches to the heavens and shakes the pillars of the Earth.
In this series, the humor lies in juxtaposing the fantastic with the mundane. Maou starts volume 2 cackling about burning his enemies alive, then reveals he's grilling patties. His right-hand man Ashiya is a conniving master strategist who nonetheless makes a great househusband and spends most of the series arguing with his liege their household budget. It's unafraid to mix religious bureaucracy and fantasy heroics with a detailed conversation about getting a discount on electronics by pretending to be married.
Wisely, though, the series avoids dumping everything in our laps. A lot of care and thought was put into parceling out the plot and tidbits of Maou's past, and the way it builds upon plot threads from earlier volumes in a satisfying manner.
If it has a weakness, though, it's the actual writing. More precisely, the translation. For every great line like, "Her stores of holy force were like a can of baked beans compared to Emiís fully stocked zombie apocalypse survival bunker," there's five clunky, awkward sentences that probably sounded better in Japanese. And all dialogue attribution comes in a paragraph after the dialogue. If a conversation involves three or more people, or if their voices sound similar, the reader must scratch their head as to who's speaking. Again, the missing Japanese honorifics probably helped clarify this. It feels like a translation, which isn't a good thing.
But if you can overlook that, there's a lot to love. This breezy spin on Isekai fantasy has a great cast of characters who play off each other magnificently and a surprisingly intricate plot about a war between heaven and hell that occasionally interrupts heated debates about how to squeeze the most out of your Socket City points card.
I was excited for this at first, it seemed like a cool, funny show idea. But...
If you think this series is going to involve some deep moral struggle for the eponymous Devil character, Maou, as he slowly comes to enjoy his mortal life through experience and hardship, you're sadly mistaken. While Maou himself is a genuinely likable character, his entire transition from Prince of Darkness to model Mg Ronalds employee with a love for humanity is completed off-screen by episode 2. There is no struggle, no learning, no experience, he pulls his new "nice guy" identity completely out of nowhere and we're all supposed to just buy it. Maou may be a fun character, but he is clearly not a good person - this quick transition does not give the impression that he's learned anything about morality, au contraire, it actually gives the impression that his sociopathy is so severe and penetrating that he's able to seamlessly chameleon his way into any role he's dropped into without the slightest bit of self-reflection or awareness. And no, a bunch of ass-pulled "saving the day" scenarios and a half-hearted apology to Emi does not make up for that.
Emi is a complete Faux Action Girl who spends more time obnoxiously screaming and nagging about how she's "the Hero" than she does being the Hero. You also may as well change her name to "Cookie-cutter Tsundere #958700" with how hard they smack you over the head with the cliche, "He's not my boyfrined omg we're mortal enemies!" schtick.
Chiho is your typical fanservice do-nothing girl who projects an unintentionally twisted morality by knowing that Maou has committed unspeakable atrocities, but thinks that him being a good Mg Ronalds employee and her having a crush on him is supposed to make up for that. At one point she argues about Suzuno about this, who brings up said countless innocent victims, only for Chiho to respond by saying she's sorry about what happened to them but, "what about [her] feelings? don't those matter too?" No Chiho, no they don't. High school crushes do not supersede freaking genocide.
Suzuno is the only character that seems to have a lick of common sense, but of course she's frequently made to be a bad guy for daring to suggest that people not treat the murderous tyrant like a friend for no real reason.
And much more wrong I couldn't fit.
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