The Devil Is a Part-Timer!, Vol. 16

By Satoshi Wagahara and 029. Released in Japan by Dengeki Bunko. Released in North America by Yen Press. Translated by Kevin Gifford.

This series is finally ending in Japan this august, so we know that after this book there’s only five more to go. As such, it does appear that this “defeat God so that Alas Ramus can have an awesome birthday” plotline is going to be the final one, assuming that it’s not “oh hey, guess I am in love with Emi/Maou after all”. As for this particular book, we’re faced with another “power through a weak first half, because the second half is spectacular” volume. Maou was barely in the last book, so he gets a lot of time at the start of this one. Sadly, everyone ELSE isn’t around, so most of the first chapter is him admitting that he now has bonds with other people and feels very lonely when they aren’t constantly around. (Acieth is around, but sadly he takes no comfort from her very annoying antics.) It doesn’t help that Valentine’s day is coming up, and Chiho is, well, avoiding him as he’s still waffling about her, to EVERYONE’S irritation.

As I said, the first half of this book is not that hot, mostly as the reader is well aware of what character development Maou and Emi need to have happen to them, but the writer wants to drag it out until the main non-romance plot is done. As such, Maou is again too nice for his own good – this time accepting some seeming “obligation” chocolate that is too expensive to really quality as that. Chiho has decided that, having made her feelings clear – again – she’s not going to add to the pressure by getting him chocolates, and was thinking maybe something like miso for his stressed-out stomach. And Emi, of course, is freaking out at the very thought of possibly giving chocolate to the guy she supposedly can’t forgive, and ends up justifying things by figuring out that Alas Ramus can give her daddy candy. None of this is all that interesting.

Where the book takes off is when we go to Enta Isla, where, owing to various plot explanations that I’m not going to get into (don’t worry, the other cast will), Chiho has to participate in an archery competition as part of a contest to be the next chief of the Northern tribes. She’s not aiming to be a chief, but winning the archery part will allow the team to steal a powerful weapon that is also an iconic monument. The reason that it’s so good is that it features Chiho wanting to come out from the shadow of the more powerful characters… both because of her accuracy with the bow (which isn’t super duper – she’s helped by the fact that archery in this world is not nearly as advanced) and because she’s sick of being “the girl defined by her liking Maou”, which honestly is how a lot of fans tend to see her. We know she isn’t winning the Maou sweepstakes, so this is an important step to allow her to become her own person. Also, she’s badass.

There’s other things to enjoy in the second half too, such as a badass granny and Bell getting an unfortunate nickname. That said, it does remind me that I tend to like this series better when Maou is not par-timing. Or angsting.

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