The Devil Is a Part-Timer!. Vol. 21

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

I suppose, if you know that what you’re writing is going to be an anticlimax, it’s best to just admit it straight up front. The massive battle against heaven, even from the start of the volume, is very underplayed, and when it comes, while there is some combat, it ends fairly easily for the good guys. In fact, the final battle is so anticlimactic that the book jumps back and forth between the “present” and three years into the future, showing us where Maou is now and what the rest of the cast are up to, while also teasing his romantic relationship. That said, here it’s made explicit WHY Maou has been hemming and hawing and putting off giving a clear yes or no to anyone’s confession: his demon side is literally allergic to love and causes him to feel extremely ill. Not exactly an original idea, but hey. All in all, it’s an OK ending to a series that should have ended a dozen books ago.

Fortunately for the reader who has been feeling a bit Chiho’ed out by the last couple of books, she’s not present for the War Against Heaven, though we do get Maou and company explaining everything to her parents. A lot of the book features scenes of the cast waiting for heaven to respond to their obvious aggression, and being somewhat disturbed that they are not doing so. And then there is the newest Sepirah child, there to signify the direction that all of heaven will take going forward… so it’s a bit of a shame that he looks like an exact copy of Urushihara, to the point where Maou dubs him Copyhara. There is also quite a lot of backstory and explanations are given for most of the supernatural end of things, but I’m going to be honest, I’ve never really paid attention to that part.

If that summary sounds vague, so does the whole book. The epilogue bits are a bit more interesting. There is a romantic pairing that caused me great pain to read about (no, not Maou’s), but I suppose as long as they’re happy. Speaking of Maou, and spoiling a bit here, yes, he’s together with Chiho, but she’s also trying to consider their future as a group. The problem is that a) thanks to Alas Ramus, he’s never going to be able to be far from Emi for the rest of his life (which, by the way, is a normal human lifespan now, because plot), and b) Emi clearly has some feelings for Maou, and is clearly never going to end up with another guy. Chiho proposing a poly relationship is… I’m gonna be honest, it feels like a fanfic solution. Even Maou is baffled by it, though given how Chiho and Emi run roughshod over his life in general, I guess he’ll accept it. Still, I can’t see the fanbase enjoying this.

Again, aside perhaps for that last part, this book isn’t too bad. But it’s a classic example of an author dragging out a story that should have ended around Book 7 or 8. In the end, it risked drowning under all of its own lore, and didn’t really give the fans the romance their wanted either.

The Devil Is a Part-Timer!, Vol. 20

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

Sometimes I worry that an author might be paying too much attention to their fans. This is not a bad volume of Devil Is a Part-Timer! per se, though it’s light on the series’ usual wacky comedy. As we get closer to the end of the series, Chiho and Suzuno are too busy to crack many jokes, and Maou and Emi are too stressed out. But we do get to the point where we’re ready for the final battle next time, which is good. Maou is still waffling, which is less good, but at least in the cliffhanger ending he admits that it’s because he has no idea what it means to love someone. That said, there’s a sense that the author saw a few Maou/Emi fanfics and got annoyed, because this volume definitely has the feeling of the author trying too hard. The plot is “Maou and Emi have to live in her apartment for the sake of Alas Ramus”, and they try to bond as a family, but there’s no sexual tension at all. Meanwhile, Chiho is… well, overpowered.

Maou and Emi are able to do this “live in her apartment” thing because they’re mostly being kept out of the loop, as Chiho organizes a gigantic peace summit for the express purpose of not getting left behind in Japan when this is all resolved. This involves trying to please every faction, many of whom have reason to hate the Devil King… including a few surprises. That said, Maou and Emi have a good reason to not be part of the preparations: Alas Ramus is starting to suffer what Acieth did last book, only it’s not eating but attention she wants, and it’s causing her to grow between infancy and middle school age… and also teleport. And there’s also the matter of Sariel, who is just a bit stressed out that Chiho revealed everything to the McRonald’s staff without bothering to check with him first. A lot going on.

Look, I like Chiho. I’ve even shipped Maou/Chiho since the book began, mostly as Japanese titles with a tsundere lead and a cute plucky second girl always end the same way. But… damn, this feels forced. There’s a hysterically bad section of the book where Chiho discusses talking with the student council and studying how parliament works as last-second prep for chairing a summit of supernaturally-powered factions. Yeah, even I’m not buying this. As for Maou and Emi, Chiho makes a good point when she says if anything was going to happen between them, it would have by now, but still… it’s a bit of a damp squib here, showing off all their awkwardness but none of their friendship. On the bright side, there was actual depth given to Emeralda, who is pretty good at hiding behind her speech affectations and “don’t care” attitude, but it turns out has real reasons to hate the Devil King. That said, just before the end of the series is not a good time to remind us he was supposed to be fantasy Hitler.

And so everything is prepared for the final volume, though honestly I feel that dealing with love confessions may be more difficult than an actual war with heaven. In the meantime, if you’re going to break the cliche, you might want to try a bit harder than this does.

The Devil Is a Part-Timer!, Vol. 19

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

(I discuss the climax of the book more than usual here, so spoiler warning.)

A lot of the last volume in this series focused on Chiho and her concerns for the future, and that doesn’t change here. Chiho is in many ways the glue that holds everyone’s relationships together, which is sort of nice, but not when it leads to her being everyone’s social secretary. She’s starting to get the feeling that all teens get at that age – that everyone around her is more grown up than she is. Maou is still calling her “Chi” like a kid, and of course is still ignoring her confession(s). Suzuno and Emi are adults with real world concerns, and they’re all out to save the world. And worst of all, she’s the only one in the group not tied to Enta Isla. When all this is over and that world is saved, will everyone just return there and leave her behind? It’s got her in a quandary… until a conversation with Suzuno (who, like Maou, has decided to run away from her problems) convinces her that it’s time to simply blow everything to tiny little bits.

There are, of course, other issues. Suzuno is stunned to find that she’s been promoted to Archbishop, which is actually pretty terrible news for their little conspiracy. It doesn’t help that the rituals that she has to do in preparation for her investiture all seem rather shallow and self-serving. Can you really have a crisis of faith when you’re becoming one of the leaders of that same faith? That and she’s also decided to confess her love to Maou… who reacts the same way he’s done with Chiho – avoid, avoid, avoid. Emi and Alas Ramus spent most of the novel away in Enta Isla helping with demon castle prep, meaning this is yet another Emi-lite book. Her fans, already grumpy from last volume’s ship sinking from Rika, might be even grumpier. Oh yes, and in Alas Ramus’ absence Acieth suddenly starts needing to eat a LOT more than usual… or else she starts firing lasers from her mouth.

This leads to the climax, as Chiho gathers everyone at McRonald’s. Maou, who’s been completely out of the loop on this, guesses it’s to feed Acieth… but how will they keep her nature secret from the McRonald’s crew? Or Kisaki, who’s also been invited? Or Chiho’s mom, who’s *also* there? I was wondering this myself, and the author does a great job of keeping everyone on tenterhooks. Then we find that Chiho’s plan is simply to rip the bandage off – Acieth’s growing hunger causes her to fire a laser AT Kisaki, which Emi and Maou must stop using their powers. Now the cat’s very, very out of the bag. On the bright side, they can feed her properly now. But there’s also the reaction from all the other normal humans to the Enta Isla story (which involves a visit TO Enta Isla as well) and also the reaction of everyone to Maou being such a wuss. Given that the demon castle/invasion timeline has been sped up vastly thanks to Suzuno’s promotion, this is probably not the ideal time, but it’s as if Chiho looked at the author and yelled “OK, endgame now!!”.

And indeed we only have two volumes to go. Thankfully for Emilia fans, the next volume’s blurb promises she’ll get more focus. That said, Chiho’s clearly in charge here, as not only Japan but also Enta Isla sees her as the only trustworthy person. Can she save the day? And even harder, can she get Maou to man up?