The Devil Is a Part-Timer!, Vol. 10

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

It’s never a good sign when you can start to see the author and editor’s plotting and scheming as you’re reading a book. I’m not sure which took priority here – if the author decided that he’d had enough of the Enta Isla plot and wanted to end it fast with this volume, or if an editor convinced him to do the same – but there’s no doubt about it, this volume is rushed as hell. That’s not to say there aren’t good scenes or ongoing deep characterization – Emi remains a highlight, and Maou’s use of pizza delivery scooters as a weapon may be one of the funniest bits in the series. But when you take what should have been one of the more dramatic scenes of the book and turn it into a one-page summary by the involved parties after the fact, it’s hard not to be disappointed. Someone at some point said “This isn’t working, let’s solve it quickly and get back to McRonald’s where this series belongs”.

We pick up right from where we left off last time. Emi and Ashiya are being forced to fight to the death thanks to Olba’s scheming, and Suzuno and Maou are trying to stop it. Unfortunately, Maou is still without his demonic powers, so he gets left behind to babysit Alciel. The keyword here is ‘breakneck’, as events happen very fast, allowing Maou to get to where he’s needed and solve what’s happened to him. We get a lot of discussion about what the Yesod fragments really are, and it turns out that they are not really a binary ‘good/evil’ at all – no surprise there, as part of the main plot of this series is that the humans, demons and angels are all basically very similar rather than higher or lower beings. The whole shebang is resolved by a) Maou beating everyone up once he’s back to full power, and b) a deus ex machina that’s a bit ridiculous, so I won’t spoil it here. And Crestia Bell’s righteous religious fury is always fun to see.

Again, the best part of this book was Emi, even though she ends the book at her lowest ebb. She’s reunited with her father, but after being away from work for over a month she’s pretty much fired, and thus unlikely to keep her swank apartment. Rika’s suggestion of working at McRonald’s and moving to Maou’s apartment complex may sound like the author talking instead of her, but it honestly comes as a relief. Now that Emi is no longer trying to kill Maou whenever she sees him, and in fact realizing (slowly) she has feelings for him, it makes far more sense for her to be involved in the action more. So as a setup for future books, I’m very pleased. Unfortunately, as a wrapup to this arc in particular, this book is really not that great a success. I still love the series, but I’m happy to see it moving back to Japan – as is everyone involved, I suspect.

The Devil Is a Part-Timer!, Vol. 9

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

Sometimes there’s one scene or chpater of a book that has more impact than the rest of the volume. This is not uncommon, and does not mean that the rest of the book is lacking in any way. It just means that the chapter or scene in question is JUST THAT GOOD. In Vol. 9 of this series, we get that in a chapter entitled “The Hero Discovers That She Can’t Go Home Again”, which flashes back to show us Emi arriving back on Enta Isla and how she ended up in the position we saw her in at the end of Vol. 8, captured by Olba and being blackmailed. We see her being a detective, we see her learning more about her parents (indeed, possibly far more than she’d have liked), and we see that the bond she has with Alas Ramus may not be as direct as she’d though,. though to her credit she doesn’t reject Alas Ramus in any way because of this. And we see her longing for Japan, and modern times. If this light novel series ends up with the main cast back in Enta Isla, they’re going to need to modernize.

As for the rest of the cast, well, they’re back in Japan, getting ready for a rescue mission. This is not as easy as it seems – Maou has to get people to cover his shifts for a week, so that he doesn’t get fired from his McRonald’s job (the way I suspect Emi is going to be fired from her call center one). He and Suzuno need to buy supplies, which leads to them clashing over everything, as he’s a penny-pinching scrounger, and she has enough cash that “just buy the best thing” is always the first option. And they also have to deal with Rika, who after the events in Vol. 8 now knows their secrets. Do they erase her memory or let her in on the full story, which might put her in danger? The answer is not surprising, but it’s nice to see them asking the right questions. It’s also nice to see Chiho has come so far in nine books, and even though she can’t come along on the rescue mission her intelligence and calm is a great help.

Of course, Chiho is in love with Maou, and we see some jealousy flare up here, mostly as Acieth has the appearance of a clingy 14-year-old who keeps going on about being inside Maou. More seriously, though, Suzuno begins to realize that she may also be developing feelings for Maou. This is something of a surprise, as the ‘harem’ aspect of this series has really mostly been a love triangle before now, with Emi and Chiho – not that Emi will admit it, but she’s still the clear favorite. But when Suzuno hears the backstory explaining why Maou raised up a demon army to invade Enta Isla, she begins to realize that he’s not the demon she’d thought. Combine this with the ongoing revelations that the Angels may be the actual villains of this story, and she has the classic example of a maiden’s trembling heart. The sleeping bag helps take the edge off that, though.

Unsurprisingly, things end in a cliffhanger here, with every single character in Enta Isla about to get involved in something nasty. I’m not sure how long this arc will be, but I am sure that if you’ve been reading Devil Is a Part-Timer, you absolutely will not be disappointed with this book.

The Devil Is a Part-Timer!, Vol. 8

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

Well, I’d talked about how much I love the daily life scenes in this series, and that’s still true. The author even throws in a classic one right at the beginning just to soften us up. But yeah, those days are, if not gone for good, at least gone for now. Because one of Maou’s larger flaws is tending to act impulsively and worry about consequences after the fact, and so the events of the 6th book are coming back at him with a vengeance. I won’t say that he ends the book completely defeated, but what with most of the cast being captured or incapacitated in some way, things aren’t looking good. I also said in the review of Vol. 6 that I suspected we’d be headed back to Enta Isla, and while we aren’t there yet, it’s very clear that we’re setting up a book or two over there next time. Fortunately, despite all these events, the writing remains first rate.

Yes, that’s a new girl on the cover, and if you think she looks like Alas Ramus, you’re on the right track. Her personality seems to be ‘hyperactive child’, despite appearing to be about 13 or so, and Maou has a lot more trouble dealing with her, which doesn’t bode well for his fatherhood skills when Alas Ramus grows up. (Can Alas Ramus grow up?) Of course, Maou is a little bit stressed out, mostly as Emi and Alas Ramus returned to Enta Isla for a visit and have not come back, despite it being well past the time she said she would. Leaving aside the wisdom of Emi returning to Enta Isla after the events of the previous books (Emi is fairly straightforward, so I can see her doing this), the absence makes Maou realize just how much Emi is a part of his life now. Of course, he doesn’t realize this right away, but takes most of the book, and a few talking tos by Chiho and Suzuno, in order to grasp it. Oh yes, and the worst part – he’s trying to get a motor scooter license (for the job, of course), and was so stressed he failed the exam! Which means more expenses.

Emi’s absence is not just noted by the fantasy characters, of course. First of all, if this takes much longer she’s going to need to look for a new job, as she’s currently AWOL at the call center. Secondly, Rika is very upset about the whole thing, and she runs to Ashiya is case he knows anything and ends up caught up in the attack on Japan that the forces of evil have launched to destroy Maou’s “demon generals”. The book balances on an edge as to whether Ashiya is going to tell her all about them or not, but of course he’s spared the choice by the bad guys showing up. The last half of the book has a lot of cool fight scenes, which if they ever do Season 2 of this series will look quite good animated, and Chiho gets to act cool. Still, there’s no getting around that Maou is in trouble, Emi is in trouble, Ashiya is in trouble, and those who can help are either too human or too injured. Excellent stuff, but now we have to wait to see what happens next.