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.

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.