The Devil Is a Part-Timer!, Vol. 14

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

As hinted in my previous review, this does not give us the next installment of the main series, but is another series of short stories that are interspersed throughout the series’ timeline. Most of them, with the exception of the last one, were published in magazines, something that happens quite frequently in Japan but is not always collected into a volume, and even when it is sometimes is not picked up in North America (hi, Index). As you can imagine, the stories here range from merely OK to quite good. None of them are too serious and none of them really advance the plot, but they’re fun and make you smile. Ashiya’s reaction to winning a pressure cooker in a contest is as hilarious as you’d expect given his frugality. Maou finds buying a new phone to be a lot more difficult than he expected, as he has memories attached to the old, broken one. And Maou also bikes a lot, so needs new pants, in possibly the slightest story here.

Three stories do get a little more depth, though. In the first, which takes place between the first and second books, Chiho meets up with Emi, Albert and Emeralda for sushi and they discuss Maou’s past, why he hasn’t erased her memories, and Chiho’s own feelings for Maou. This is well done but also feels a bit unrealistic in terms of Emi’s personality – it feels like Vol. 13 Emi is overlaid with Vol. 1 Emi so that she doesn’t explode in rage. The funniest bits are probably Albert and Emeralda experiencing conveyor belt sushi and revealing their hideously large appetites to us. Another story deals with Kisaki’s past, as when the manager of the Sentucky Fried Chicken across the street comes into McRonald’s (with Sariel in tow, of course), Kisaki literally throws her out, and has to face disciplinary action. The revelation that they have a past is not exactly surprising, but it’s fun. I really liked the revelation that she’s stalling her career a bit because she’s debating asking Maou to join her in her dream. I suspect that ain’t happening, though.

The best story is the last one, the only one written especially for the book, which shows us Emilia’s life after arriving in Japan for the first time. Naturally, she’s chased all over the place by cops, particularly when she tries to live in a park and drink from the central fountain. She ends up at a familiar apartment building, though it’s empty at the moment, and the moment she broke into it I knew exactly what would happen, but that didn’t make this less funny or endearing. I am somewhat relieved that she did not drive her realtor namesake into an institution or get her fired, as I was expecting one or the other. It also helps to emphasize how, when not driven to kill by the likes of Olba, Emi is really a sweet, kind person at heart. Even when she’s being a samurai ghost.

So this is not essential in terms of plot, but is a nice, fun read with more of the characters you know. Next volume should get back to the plot, and has a Christmas theme – will it come out by Christmas Day?

The Devil Is a Part-Timer!, Vol. 13

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

I’ve said for a while now that this series does a good job of having romantic interests in it but sort of keeping it on the back burner rather than being a full-blown romantic comedy. Well, that changes with this volume, which devotes a large chunk to our heroines and how they feel – in this case, Chiho, who has now confessed to Maou TWICE but still hasn’t gotten much of anything from him, and Rika, who is in love with Ashiya and decides to do something about it when he invites her out for dinner and cellphone buying. Things arguably don’t go well for either of them, but in Chiho’s case there’s a larger issue, which is that she worries that soon she’s going to have to do other human stuff – study for exams, go to college, etc. – and will not see her supernatural friends anymore. Especially given Laila is still trying to get them on board with her big project, which could take a month to complete… or a hundred years.

There are a lot of confrontations in this book, and it’s interesting that some of them we only hear about secondhand. We see a teary Chiho run into Suzuno, but their conversation is heard second-hand later on, and Maou being “punished” for upsetting Chiho is also off screen (well, the setup, anyway). I’m not sure if this is just because the author is trying to keep the books to a certain length, but it is somewhat odd. We do get a great conversation between Chiho and Rika, two characters who are both best friends with Emilia but rarely interact. I worried that Rika and Ashiya’s date would also be off screen, but we do see that, and also Ashiya rejecting her… in fact, he tries to do the “I am too scary, please never see me again” thing, but Rika’s too smart to fall for that, though he is pretty damn scary. I did enjoy seeing Rika tell Chiho that she could possibly be the exception to the “demons don’t have human lovers” thing.

As for the main plot, Laila provides most of the humor in this volume in her desperate attempts to explain why she needs Maou and Emilia’s help. We first hear about the issues via a term paper (no, really, that’s how it reads), and it helps us to understand why everyone is so wary of her – she’s been living on Earth, but is she just an angel in disguise, or is she actively trying to fit in and be human like the others? We eventually find out it’s the latter, and why she’s been so wary of taking anyone to her apartment, in a joke that you can see a mile away but is no less satisfying. It does, however, lead to the big reveal, which is that what Laila is asking will take forever, and some of the people involved are normal humans who will grow old and die. But Maou isn’t… and neither, it turns out, is Emilia, whose half-Angel background means she could live a lot longer than anticipated.

In the end, Maou tries to be nicer about it, but still hasn’t responded to Chiho’s resolve. He can’t keep avoiding it forever, and it’s not as if the answer is “I like Emilia instead”, as he doesnt. If anything, he’s in love with his work. Which is appropriate for this series. What happens next? Can’t wait to find out. Sure hope the next volume isn’t a collection of short stories or something.

The Devil Is a Part-Timer!, Vol. 12

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

This is a stronger volume of Devil Is a Part-Timer! than the previous one, probably because the previous one got all the exposition out of its system in one gulp. Actually, the theme of this new volume could be avoiding exposition, as both Emilia and Maou do their absolute best to not talk to Laila and avoiding knowing why it is they’re the only ones who can save the world this time. In practice, this means this is a “downtime’ volume, though there is an exciting battle in a subway tunnel in the middle of the book. For the most part, though, Emi is still shattered by the last book, to the point where she runs away to a minor character’s home for college advice. Maou is just trying to get the new delivery program at MgRonald’s in gear. And Chiho should be pleased that Emi and Maou are finally acting closer, but this is offset by her realizing that she’s in a shonen love triangle where she’s the sweet girl who doesn’t get the guy but finds new confidence so that’s OK. Which does not sit well with her.

That’s Laila on the cover, but I get the feeling it’s meant to be what Emi and Maou think she’s doing in this book, rather than her real personality. Laila is genuinely trying to save the world, but seems to be making a lot of incorrect assumptions as well, not least of which is “this is for a good cause so my daughter who I have been manipulating her entire life and the boy I helped before he was a demon king will totally be into it”. But sometimes world-saving is goddamn exhausting, and after getting kidnapped/rescued and learning some nasty truths about heaven and Enta Isla, neither Emi or Maou really wants to deal with it right now. Probably the best scene in the book (and the author knows it, as the other characters praise him for it as well) is Maou talking about assuming that the strongest person will always be there to protect and save. If you have something made of steel, does that mean it’s OK to beat the crap out of it?

There’s also the romantic dynamics here. This series has been pretty good at keeping the romance there but on a low boil. Chiho has confessed to Maou (though he’s pretty much ignored that) and everyone can see how she feels. Suzuno is starting to realize that she may have feelings for Maou, though is very reluctant to admit it. And Emi, while not quite admitting that she’s in love with Maou yet, is willing to admit that she sometimes wants to be protected, and is OK if the person doing it is him. She even hugs him! (He does not hug her back. Maou still seems to be baffled by the concept of loving and being attracted to someone.) Unfortunately, both this and the main plot collide at the end, as due to a deal made between Maou and Laila, Emi is now refusing to leave his side, much to everyone’s horror.

That said, she can’t keep running from her problems forever. I suspect the next volume will have more details on how we’re going to save the world next. But for now, enjoy Maou reminding folks that heroes and villains need downtime too.