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?

The Devil Is a Part-Timer!, Vol. 18

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

This book is definitely front-loaded with stuff that I am here for. Much as I appreciate the machinations and plans for avoiding destruction going on on Enta isla, I will admit I’ve always been more drawn to the Japan side of this series. And just as everyone is working to ensure that they have a future for humans, angels and demons over there, others need to work to ensure that they have a future going forward in Japan. Even if that future may not involve Maou. As you might guess by the cover art showing her with her hat off, Chiho finally gives her notice to McRonald’s, as she needs to prepare for college, and then move on to her dream of… well, that’s the problem, isn’t it. Which college does she want to try for? Does she want to keep doing archery? Does she have a career in mind at all? And most importantly, can she find a way to stand at Maou’s side rather than just admiring him from afar?

It’s not just Chiho either – McRonald’s is suddenly down FIVE people after a bunch of resignations, and Maou and Emi – their two most important part-timers – have to take all of July off to, well, save the world. They also have a new manager, and while she’s a perfectly good normal manager sort, she is not the exceptional, once-in-a-lifetime manager that Kisaki was. This causes her no small amount of anxiety. Now Maou has to find some part-time help for the business. More importantly, he has to simply be patient and not worry too much as his allies are busy putting everything in place. It’s something he’s not used to, and he apologizes to Chiho at one point, as she is very used to it. And there’s also a disturbing new revelation that implies that not only might Alas Ramus and Acieth not be able to help in the final battle, they may be turned to the other side.

Not gonna lie, my mind keeps drifting back to the frank conversation Rika has with Chiho about her future, and about her love for Maou. If only as the author seems to take the time to sink what is probably the series’ most popular pairing – Rika says that Chiho’s only real competition for Maou is probably Suzuno, and that Maou and Emi aren’t happening. It’s worth actually quoting:

“What, am I wrong? I mean, some people say a lot of good relationships start from less than nothing, but I think Stockholm syndrome would work only so much with those two. It’s a miracle they’re acting like friends right now, even. I can’t see much more than that happening.”

Other than that, the book is quite good, with some very funny bits – the new part-timer at McRonald’s being the best – but it does suffer a bit from Maou and Emi being necessarily sidelined at the moment. The stage is set for the final battle… but we have three volumes to go, not two, so I suspect we’ll have wacky unrelated shenanigans next time. Till then, Chiho fans should really enjoy this book.

The Devil Is a Part-Timer!, Vol. 17

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

Even more than the last volume, this one gives off the feeling of an author who has been told precisely when his series will be ending. We have five more to go, including this one. As such, it’s far more concerned with the future of the main cast than previous books, as well as pointing blinking arrows at one of the main unanswered questions of the series: why is Maou so dedicated to working his way up the McRonald’s ladder? Shouldn’t he be more worried about Enta Isla? The ongoing battle against God gets shunted to the last fifth of the book (which is quite good, don’t get me wrong), leaving the bulk of it focusing heavily on Maou having the 23-year-old equivalent of a mid-life crisis. He still hasn’t answered Chiho, Emi continues to give him the most mixed signals imaginable, and he’s also reached a crisis point at his job: he failed the managerial exam. Like most huge corporations, they won’t tell him why. Does Maou have what it takes to lead?

It’s a bigger problem than you’d think. He can’t retake the exam for a year. And he has to be recommended again, which is a problem, as Kisaki, who graces the front cover, is being promoted. She’s not leaving the store per se, but she won’t be managing anymore, meaning she won’t be able to help guide Maou’s career. Indeed, she seems far more concerned about her own dream of opening an upscale coffee bar. That said… that dream might include Maou. As well as Sariel, surprisingly, who Kisaki points out is very good at managing money, hopelessly devoted to her, and won’t actually lay a hand on her – the perfect lackey. (This seems cruel, but Sariel is really too pathetic to sympathize with.) That said, Maou simply can’t accept right now – not with everything else in his life up in the air, including monstrous lizards invading Japan, injured chickens, and White Day chocolates needing to be purchased.

One theme of the entire series has been that Maou is excellent at leadership skills when they involve concrete things that need doing, but he’s very bad at reading the emotions and hearts of anyone he deals with. This is especially proven in the scene where he gives out the White Day chocolates – he thinks of everything, including getting chocolate for people who only gave it to him indirectly (coughEmiliacough), then proceeds to ask Emilia to help him go to the demon territories, which sounds to everyone (including her) like he’s taking her on a date and going back to his place. He is dull when it comes to love and romance. Which is why he hasn’t answered Chiho either. Fortunately for him, the crisis at the end of the book will likely make it OK to forget about that again for a bit. They really DO need to clear up Enta Isla first.

There’s even a bonus short story here, which was not in the Japanese volume, showing off Maou’s terrible fashion sense. Assuming Devil Is a Part-Timer fans have not spoiled themselves on what happens next, this should be a great pickup for them.