The context I always received when I heard of Devil is a Part Timer was “OMG HE’S WORKING AT MCDONALDS!” My response to this was, “Meh?” Yeah I was never interested in this show in the slightest because I’m not really into portal fantasy shows or movies much like the Narnia series. Portal series are where the protagonist enters either from the fantasy or real world into the other. Usually these type of series are a mixed bag, and for me comedy series are also a mixed bag. With such a mixed bag, this would leave anyone questioning whether or not it can stand out and execute competently without feeling too much like the rest. Would this be a stand-out among the genre and its compatriots like Outbreak Company? Or will it be just another alright version like this year’s own Gate Jietai something something, because whoever can remember its full name.
The Devil is a Part Timer focuses on Sadao Maou who is the Satan of another world! He is in countless wars leading up to a final confrontation with the hero Emilia and he manages to escape with his life along with his most trusted general, Alsiel. They go through a wormhole into another dimension which is, of course, our world. Many others also decide to follow Maou and Alsiel and many fish out of water stories commence for comedic hijinks. Now this premise actually lends itself well to a comedy and it shows with its multiple well-executed comedic moments. It allows the characters to interact with our world through the lens of their own world making for some actually hilarious moments, but there is always a catch.
No portal story is complete without many action sequences. The Devil is a Part Timer believes that it is creating both a convincing narrative and a smart comedy simultaneously, and while it is a valiant effort this is where the show dwindles. The action sequences are extremely run of the mill and lack good choreography except for the occasional joke here and there to keep with the show’s comedic tone. These action sequences are pivotal parts of the series as a whole and try to justify their reason for existing as “fantasy world politics”, yet none of that really is fleshed out. It just feels like these plot points are trying to create more fish out of water stories by interjecting more characters from the fantasy world. Therefore running around in circles by the end of it and it does get tiresome since they are really subpar compared to the most basic battle shounen. That being said, the action sequences are done with some flair and attention to the spectacle so while disappointing and trivial, are still serviceable in moments.
Where the action really slows down the series as well the politics conjoined with it being very basic, the comedy is really consistent. These fish out of the water stories create such great focuses for our characters to intermingle with modern society in an inventive and fun way. Maou is of course working at MgRonalds and often brings his strategic prowess as the devil to the many mundane tasks. Alsiel is turned into Ashiya and becomes the penny-pinching maid of the house, who is the greatest character of the show. His ability to use the same joke in multiple different facets and it still work is great. The hero Emilia turned Emi becomes a hotline operator for a company, and no it is not a sex hotline. She is a token tsundere character, but because of her interactions with not just Maou but all the others make for some unexpected moments of hilarity. Then there is the biggest fish out of water story of all, the regular real world human Chiho. Her interactions will often either be an attempt a physical humour or trying to fit in with such awkward personalities, and while some times this character is grating she really makes the best of every comedic scenario thrown at her. These performances are easily carried by their respective casts, both sub and dub. While there are some issues with several characters with their delivery in moments for both sub and dub, the anime was well cast with actors able to pull off these over the top personalities and sell almost each joke flawlessly.
The one problem with the comedic element, and it does happen quite a few times, is when to stop the joke. Jokes at times are overused or overplayed one too many times, ultimately ruining the atmosphere and the joke with it. This only goes to show the amount of effort put into these aspects, that they are throwing everything but the kitchen sink at the viewer. The editing and comedic timing of moments are superb and primarily why this show excels. It takes classic jokes in anime with a more unique spin making them fresh and unique if they are not overplayed which is a major plus. The slow motions and montage sequences were also very effective and I don’t say that too often, since the editing and timing of these moments were extremely well placed.
One cannot praise this show enough for doing its comedy right, but at the same time the praise is taken away by the problems of its action/political focus. Episode 13 was a bit out of place as well and should not have ended the series on an almost throwaway filler episode if not for some interesting scenes here and there to wrap up some questions. There is a strong love/hate relationship with this anime which stops it from achieving the greatness it deserves. If more time and effort was put into making the politics less stale and more enticing and the action scenes more enjoyable to watch, then it would be a great series. The Devil is a Part Timer is great in its comedic moments and fish out of water mentality, but is constantly held down by its stilted narrative and subpar action sequences.