Review for The Devil Is A Part-Timer: Complete Collection
Earlier this year I had the misfortune to review Aesthetica of a Rogue Hero. It was another fan service harem show that was hampered by a lifeless lead male character. What was different about it was its premise, that of magical heroes and villains, monsters and demons from other realms, transplanted into the mundane realities of this world. It’s an interesting idea, and thankfully for my entertainment needs, anime is not unlike Hollywood in creating bandwagons and then jumping aboard them. It wasn’t the only such show to come out that year to feature a collision of the fantastic and the mundane. One show that I loved, but which is yet to be announced for UK release was I Couldn’t Become a Hero, So I Reluctantly Decided to Get a Job, and it probably won’t be released until a distributor creates a spine long enough for the title. But one other such show that is less unwieldy of title, and which did get announced for the UK was this, The Devil is a Part Timer. I have been looking forward to this ever since I watched Aesthetica of a Rogue Hero, as I still need something to wash that experience out of my brain.
It was all going so well. The hordes of darkness led by Lord Satan were overwhelming the islands of Ente Isla, and he and his four generals were set to conquer the human world. Then a hero appeared and led a counterattack, pushing the forces of evil back. The final, decisive battle ensued, and it seemed that defeat was inevitable. It was all Satan and one of his loyal generals, Alciel could do to open a dimensional gate and escape. They arrived in a fantastic, strange, incomprehensible world, a world where their powers quickly faded, where they were cast in puny, mortal human forms, and where no one knew of their might and glory. They wound up in Tokyo...
Now they need to find a way back to Ente Isla and resume their conquest, but for that they need magical power from a world where magic doesn’t exist. That will take time and research, so for now Satan and Alciel have to blend in and bide their time. They adopt the aliases of Sadao Mao, and Shiro Ashiya, and find an apartment to stay in while they work towards their return, and Mao takes care of obtaining the resources they need to live in this world. He gets a part time job in a fast food restaurant.
It isn’t going to be as easy as all that. No self-respecting hero would simply let the king of the demons escape through a portal. The hero Emiya has followed Mao into this world and is waiting for him to make a mistake. He may be fitting into society, dishing out burgers, and not committing acts of mass murder, but she knows it’s just a matter of time until his true colours show. And until then, she’s working as Emi Yusa in a call centre. But neither of them knows that now that their worlds are linked, they’re not the only visitors to this world.
13 episodes of The Devil is a Part Timer are presented on two dual layer Blu-ray discs from Manga Entertainment.
1. The Devil Arrives in Sasazuka
2. The Hero Stays at the Devil’s Castle for Work Reasons
3. The Devil Goes on a Date with his Junior in Shinjuku
4. The Hero Experiences Human Warmth
5. The Devil and the Hero Save Sasazuka
6. The Devil Climbs the Stairway to School
7. The Devil’s Budget is Saved by Neighbourliness
8. The Hero Enters the Fray
9. The Hero Experiences a Fray
10. The Devil and the Hero Take a Break from the Daily Routine
11. The Hero Stays True to Her Convictions
12. The Devil Carries Out His Duties
13. The Devil and the Hero Do Some Honest Hard Work
The Devil is a Part Timer gets a 1.78:1 widescreen transfer at 1080p. It’s a by now typical such transfer for anime in HD, clear, sharp and colourful throughout, with no visible compression or aliasing, offering smooth animation, and despite the dual layer discs, still that spectre of digital banding to let the side down, especially in darker scenes. The show comes across well though, with nice, agreeable character designs, fluid, and imaginative action sequences, and the HD resolution really telling when it comes to the detail in the backgrounds and especially the cityscapes.
The images in this review are sourced from the PR, and aren’t necessarily representative of the final retail release.
You have the option of DTS-HD 5.1 MA Surround English, and PCM 2.0 Stereo Japanese, with optional translated subtitles and a signs only track. I went with the Japanese audio, and the dialogue was clear, and the music and the action came across well. The English dub is watchable enough, and the surround affords the show a little more space. The real issue here is with the subtitles. Manga authored discs can’t show more than two lines of captions simultaneously, which becomes a problem when there are two conversations occurring simultaneously, or when there’s background dialogue with the main character dialogue, or when there’s on screen text to translate at the same time as when someone is speaking.
Rather than simply leave bits out as a certain, to remain nameless distributor usually does, Manga cram everything into the subtitle stream, which means at certain points in the show, subtitles flit by, are mixed up, or are downright incomprehensible. I don’t appreciate having to skip back and frame advance, hoping that my brain will catch up and decipher it all. Consequently, at those points, subtitles can be completely mistimed. It doesn’t help that the disc is random when it comes to subtitle placement on screen, with them suddenly appearing at the top without reason. I didn’t bother noting all the annoyances, but at 1:11 into episode 10, Chi’s line isn’t subtitled, and at 3:10 into episode 13 is a perfect example of incomprehensibility as a perfect storm hits, of two conversations plus screen text. It’s also worth noting that the signs track for the English dub takes its timings from the main subtitle track, and that some signs won’t stay on screen long enough to read.
Also, I get the feeling that Manga have adapted the subtitle script for the UK audience. Certainly the only time I’ve heard the word ‘chum’ (episode 3) in a US production is in association with hunting a great white shark, not as a descriptor for a ‘friend’.
In case the subtitles weren’t enough to tip you off, this is indeed a Manga Entertainment authored title, which is odd given that the US release from Funimation plays on Region B Blu-ray players. It seems to be a bit of an unnecessary duplication of effort. It’s disappointing too, given Manga’s scattershot approach to chaptering their episodes. Forget about skipping credit sequences here. And they may use 2 BD 50s as opposed to a BD 50 and a BD 25, but given that they are using the same video materials that Funimation used, you’re not going to see any difference.
It does appear however that they have retained all of the extra features.
The discs present their contents with animated menus, and on disc 1, you’ll find an audio commentary to go with episode 1, featuring ADR Director Christopher Bevins, and voice actors Josh Greele (Satan), and Anthony Bowling (Alciel). It’s the usual from Funimation, straight in one ear and out the other for me.
Also on this disc, you’ll find only one of the Textless Openings and the first two Textless Endings. In a fault, you only get 50 seconds of the first textless ending, not the whole thing.
Finally you’ll find the US Trailer on this disc.
On Disc 2, you’ll find an audio commentary on episode 12, with Tia Ballard (Chiho), Aaron Dismuke (Urushihara), Felecia Angelle (Emi Yusa), and Alex Moore (Suzuno).
The Ente Isla Language With Jamie Marchi lasts 13:36 (1080p), and the show’s lead adaptive writer explains how she created the English version of the imaginary language used in the parallel world.
The last couple of years, but especially this year, I’ve been chanting a mantra with every batch of check discs that I receive from Manga Entertainment. It begins with “Please don’t let it be a Manga authored disc, please don’t let it be a Manga authored disc,” followed by, “Please let it be light on caption translations, please let it be light on caption translations” if the first turned out to be so. If the second turns out to be so as well, then it’s “Please let me hate this show, please let me hate this show,” with the optional final verse of, “Please let the US release be Region B compatible, please let the US release be Region B compatible.” Is that unprofessional of me to admit in a review? Perhaps so, but I’m a fan as well as a reviewer, and when it comes to my own purchases I want them to live up to some basic standards. Fortunately I’ve only been pressured to import once for this exact reason (although I’ve pressed the import button on occasion for several other reasons). I’d much rather watch the US DVD release of Cat Planet Cuties, even if the Blu-ray is locked to Region A.
With all the hype and word of mouth that surrounded The Devil is a Part Timer, you can imagine that I was giving the mantra the full welly as I placed the discs into my player, and proceeded to watch them through, almost to the point of distraction. In the end, my wallet breathed a sigh of relief, as it was spared another customs hit, as it turned out that The Devil is a Part Timer just isn’t good enough for my tastes. It was a close run thing though, as for the first five episodes in this collection, The Devil is a Part Timer is seriously good, one of the better shows out there, and the premise that it spins, the idea of mythological beings slumming it in an urban conglomeration is very appealing.
There’s something poetic indeed about Satan, the devil himself toiling away in a fast food restaurant, and seeing his minions, Alciel, and later Lucifer slotting into perfect domesticity also has its appeal. The same is true for their foes, with the Hero Emiya working in a call centre as a customer support agent, and later the Angel Sariel working at a rival restaurant. With the show setting up the world of Ente Isla, and also establishing the different language, it increases the contrast between the two worlds, and makes the inevitable culture clash when they eventually get trapped here all the more delightful. One of the funniest moments in the first episode is where Alciel, about to call down wrath and hellfire, strikes an awesome pose... and manages only to hail a cab. The show has gift with subverting expectations, and has its comic timing down to a fine art.
The first five episodes are all about these characters finding their place in the world, learning the rules, and eventually if awkwardly fitting in. Satan now resumes his plans for conquest from behind the counter of a burger restaurant, aiming for the first step on the ladder that is promotion to shift manager. He also gets his first minion in this world, an underling called Chiho who dotes on him; although in her case it’s more a teenage crush than it is a case of signing her soul away. Things get more complicated when he encounters the hero again. Emi is there to finish the job and do away with Satan, only to find him working hard in MgRonalds, and fitting into human society, not being very evil at all. So she winds up biding her time and waiting for him to slip, which he surprisingly doesn’t do, finding life on Earth as a human to be more preferable than life as a conquest seeking demon on Ente Isla.
The real challenge comes when factions in Ente Isla get tired of waiting for Emi to finish her mission, and decide to do away with the threat themselves, getting rid of Satan, Alciel and Emiya all in one go, no matter what havoc rains down on Earth as a result. So it is that the Devil and the Hero wind up reluctantly teaming up to defend this world. This comprises the first five episodes, and offers a great mix of character comedy, culture clash, and a decent story. Were the rest of the show this good, my wallet would be weeping right now at another anime import.
Thankfully for my wallet, but unfortunately for the show, it thereafter coasts for the remaining episodes. The problem is that the main characters slot too easily into this world, the culture clash from their perspective is drained. And the joke about Satan, the goal oriented part-timer, and Alciel’s housewife tendencies wears thin. It’s also here that the show picks up its pattern of introducing a villainous character, then redeeming them and using them as an example of the culture clash where you can no longer do so with the main cast. In the first five episodes, one of the villains is Lucifer, and thereafter he can be found at the Devil’s apartment, surfing the web, shopping online, and pursuing his new vocation as a NEET. Then there is Suzuno, who shows up having learned everything about Japan from the history books and TV dramas, wearing formal attire and speaking like someone from the eighteenth century.
The humour also takes a knock in these episodes as the show falls back on the usual anime tropes. Girls will compare boobs, the Devil will gather a harem of admiring girls, of whom he remains blissfully unaware, Alciel has an episode long toilet emergency (actually one disappointment is that Alciel, a strong character in the first five episodes, is sidelined thereafter with a series of illnesses, whether it’s heat exhaustion or food poisoning), the burger joint and the fried chicken joint have a rivalry, there’s a swimsuit episode at a theme park. It’s all so dispiritingly lame and predictable. After such a promising start, The Devil is a Part Timer becomes just like every other comedy anime. It rests on its laurels for the majority of the run, picking up only slightly in terms of narrative for the final two episodes, which raise the stakes for an ending that once again put the world and the characters in some sort of peril, but in many respects is just a rehash of the conclusion of the opening five episode arc.
I enjoyed The Devil is a Part Timer. It’s funny, and the characters are likeable, but it wastes a great premise, and really does feel a very average anime comedy. It’s great to pass the time with, but it lacks consistency, and really gives up on what might have been an exceptional comedy after five episodes. Of the three fantasy-mundanity shows that I have seen, I actually prefer the one with the long unwieldy title. I Couldn’t Become a Hero, So I Reluctantly Decided to Get a Job never reaches the heights that this show does with its opening arc, but it does have greater consistency over its run. But the Devil is a Part Timer is watchable, even if Manga’s authoring is a pain.