Once in a while we can all guarantee that most comedies in recent seasons of anime have always tried to cling on to similar type of situations or settings, the most obvious one being school comedy shows. You never get to see writers try to come up with different kinds of situations that could be brilliant but once they do it usually comes off either decent or just plain forgettable. It’s not often we get a show like Hataraku Maou-sama that is not only light-hearted and fun but also boasts some of the best comedy writing in an anime I’ve seen in yet this year.
The title Hataraku Maou-sama is exactly what the show is, in English it means The Devil is a Part-Timer. You have a character named Satan who is the dark overlord of this world that is unlike ours and he is now put into our world in hopes of finding a way to bring his life in order and his magical powers back. What happens then is nothing short of rather very unique sets of humorous set pieces that are not only funny simply by the jokes themselves but how they reflect our everyday lives in the real world.
The way they handle Satan’s situation is done very maturely by making him do work that any citizen of any 1st world nation would do in order to live in stable conditions. The writers don’t try to hammer in nonsensical exaggerated fluff into the mix in order to make it “exciting,” they make the actions the characters do feel very in tuned to how we would actually do in society’s standards. Even with the most smallest deals like trying to deal with house payments and workers pay. At first you find it funny how a demon overlord is able to do all these things without breaking a sweat but once you look beneath the background and delve in deeper, you start to notice how there’s a hint of satire mixed in how we often hate working in part-time jobs because of the monotonous way of the work. It is nice for the writers for making the message subtle so that it doesn’t feel like it’s being forced down people’s throats, otherwise the message would have a harsh tone to it.
Now you can’t just talk about the show without talking about the characters. Maou-sama casts a whole array of great comedic character that fit together extremely well with smart writing to go with it. That isn’t to say the writing does every joke justice but the writing is clearly self-aware that it’s very silly in its subject matter and they take advantage of this fact. What works so well is how each character has very great chemistry that feels so real and it doesn’t feel contrived or absolutely clichéd, it’s a nice connection whenever characters interact with one another. Satan and Emi, while rivals, both settle their disputes differently than you might think at first. It’s handled cleverly and doesn’t hamper on their archetypes at the same time.
With art and sound department, the art design is nice and clean without any sort of limited budget. One special thing to mention is the facial expressions on the characters whenever a humorous scene is present, there are some that are simply unforgettable such as the famous tsundere Emi face that she makes in the police interrogation room. The voice actors do an excellent job in delivering their lines, more notably the jokes are perfectly done without any hyperbole.
With every comedy we get in the following seasons, there always seems to be this constant need for a plot structure that has to be serious. Maou-sama is no exception to this rule. While there’s nothing wrong with comedies of any fashion delving into drama to some degree, the plot given in Maou-sama is nothing spectacular at all. The worst part is that they even try to put in some comedy into the serious moments here and there to remind us that it’s a comedy show. That is not to say that it can’t be done right but unfortunately for Maou-sama it just doesn’t feel natural and it is not written very well in that regard.
Fortunately there is only one episode that isn’t purely focused on comedy and quickly gets back to what makes it a brilliant one. There is the finale but it is at least handled a little better in that respect. There is, however, another small gripe that involves the main villain of the show and the fact that he is not at all threatening; while this is supposed to be in context with the show being a comedy, they try to make us think we’re supposed to take him seriously when it isn’t at all convincing in the slightest bit.
Regardless of the flaws mentioned above, this show is not meant to be missed by anyone who appreciates great comedy. It wouldn’t be a stretch to say that this can be funny by people who aren’t a fan of comedy anime because of the fact that it hardly draws any Otaku pandering like most comedies that have been released in the following months of the seasons. It is undeniably a nice break to see an anime comedy delve into different territory. It’s a clear sign that shows like Maou-sama can actually capture an entire audience without regurgitating tired premises one after another. Sequels and moe comedies may sell big but studios can’t rely on them for long, people will eventually want something fresh. Only time will tell.