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?

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.