Hey, thanks for visiting Anime Rants! In the spirit of absolute randomness, here’s a quick series review of Hataraku no Maou-sama (or The Devil is a Part-Timer). But this won’t be like my usual reviews. I’m too scatterbrained, slow, and attention-deficit lately to follow a neat format. So I’ll just kind of rant about some things that stuck out at me about this anime, and whether I think it’s worth watching, or what it has to offer compared to similar series — stuff like that. Well, here goes.
The humor in the show has a mix of styles (situational, absurd, sexual, reactive), but the premise is one of irony. The lord of all demons in a fantasy world has been transported to Earth’s world and is now working at the equivalent of McDonald’s. To add to the ironic nature of Hataraku, it turns out that “The Devil” is much more human than expected, and continues to show positive human traits he learns about the world.
The critical flaw in Hataraku is that the story doesn’t really go anywhere and doesn’t have a strong conclusion. The characters do make some progress with adjusting to and succeeding in this new world. Emi and Sadao reach their conclusions about living there. Sadao overcomes various attempts to thwart him. The execution of all this was scattered, vague, and poorly structured. Beyond those happenings, which are only to be expected, nothing truly funny, epic, or original occurs. And the ending was unsatisfactory. The climax tried a bit too hard to be grim and serious, only to have a “silly” resolution that left me feeling cheated.
It’s not that Hataraku tells a bad story; it’s just that the story is average in both concept and presentation. There are some better aspects to it. The main story theme is change and adjustment. It isn’t particularly deep or profound in the way it’s explored, but it’s a timeless and worthy motif. It’s interesting to see the evolution of Satan the ignorant demon prince to Sadao the versatile, helpful human being. Likewise, it was great seeing Emi’s journey from hatred to (begrudging) tolerance of the former Devil. Personally, I wish these two elements had been given more attention.
Hataraku has a couple fun and unusual facets to show. For one example, it’s like a “reverse isekai.” Many anime series in the last few years are in the “isekai” sub-genre of fantasy, with a main character from our world who is transported or reincarnated into a fantasy world. But here, we have The Devil and The Hero transported from the realm of gods and magic to our modern, ordinary human world. It’s a rare and fun feature.
Besides that, Hataraku provides an opportunity to learn some about Judaism’s mythology and lore. (Some of it Biblical, some of it not.) There’s the demonic king Satan (Sadao), the fallen angel Lucifer (Urushihara), and the Arch-Angel Sariel (Sarue). Original elements are also there, like the Hero Legend: Emilia the half-angel human who saves the world from Satan. But technically speaking, Emilia the Hero is just another example of the Savior/God-Child character seen in mythology from around the world.
The audio is something wort noting in Hataraku. The Japanese voice-acting was all more than satisfactory. I might argue that it would be better if there was a more widely known seiyuu with a more distinctive voice for Sadao. However, since he is supposed to come across as a relatively normal guy, this casting works out just fine. The voices I knew were those of Emi (Yoko Hikasa), Urushihara (Hiro Shimono), and Chiho (Nao Touyama).
Hataraku no Maou-sama also has an English Dub (done by Funimation). In general, I dislike English dubs, but respect them as a way to potentially broaden the anime audience. There are only a handful of dubs I’ve actually enjoyed, and Hataraku is one of them. I don’t know enough to cite the names of the English voice-actors, but they all played their roles well. I still preferred the Japanese audio, of course, but the English one was good as well.
As for the instrumental soundtracks, they are alright, but not my style. Most tracks are made up of repetitive, simple (but pleasant) rhythms and beats, with a variety of instruments and percussion. One piece that I remembered and liked a lot was “Give Up on Ente Isla.” It has a nice melody and some very pretty violin. The opening and ending songs were not bad, but they didn’t leave much of an impression in my mind.
Ok, so about the visuals. As usual, let me note I know nothing about how art and animation really work or what makes them “quality” in the eyes of the majority. So take it with a grain of salt when I saw that the visuals in Hataraku are exceptional. Many bright colors are used. The character designs are a bit simple but look polished and, most importantly, memorable. I also like the particular art-style, such as the cute appearance of the characters’ eyes. The face expressions are over-the-top in just the right ways for a comedic anime. They’re great for reaction images. I love them!
It’s not just the designs and animations for the characters that make them memorable. They’re decent enough characters in concept and presentation. That’s keeping in mind that any story in any form features characters that can be put into categories or types. So of course, you can place the characters in Hataraku into “types.” It’s not really a problem as far as I’m concerned.
On the other hand, what was a problem was the lack of growth or meaningful development for any of the characters besides the main two, Emi and Sadao. And even with these two being fairly interesting, their characterization was not particularly done well. It definitely left something to be desired. Each character contributed excellently to the humor of the show overall, so there’s another plus for characters.
What do I think about Hataraku no Maou-sama overall? It’s nothing in any way spectacular and it doesn’t have to be. It’s just entertaining. It hits all the right buttons, checks the marks, for a fun, light-hearted, and colorful fantasy comedy. I think it’s worth watching as long as the ironic premise sounds funny to you. The major downfall of Hataraku was not taking the story in the right direction or doing a good job concluding it.
Looking at this series in terms of my usual review style, this is how I’d rank the different aspects. Visuals: 8/10. Audio: 8/10. Story: 5/10. Characters: 6/10. Enjoyment: 7/10.
Mono’s Overall series Rating = 6.8 / 10.0
(This review was written in Feb 2020. At this time I’ve seen the anime twice, the most recent time about 18 months ago. My opinions and perspectives change over time, so there may later be editing to this post with updates or further thoughts.)
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Image credit: Hataraku Maou-sama! White Fox. Dir. N Hosoda. 2013.