Although the pieces are falling into place in this week’s The Devil Is a Part-Timer!, it’s becoming increasingly frustrating to try and see past the big downgrade in the show’s animation quality, especially as the season is becoming more and more just a fantasy show with a big fight scene every two episodes. What made season one a cult hit was its bizarro premise, and that premise — reversing the popular isekai genre and satirizing it — has only become more poignant over the years. And yet, that element is less prominent this season. When the satire starts to disappear and you just become like any of the dozen new isekai that air any season, what else is there?
So far, The Devil Is a Part-Timer! has no clear answer, relying instead on its established characters and the audience’s affection for them to drive forward the story. In that sense, there is still plenty to like, as “The Devil Learns That Choshi (and the World) Are Bigger Than He Knew” continues to explore the evolution of the hero Emi and her realization that the world isn’t just black and white.
The central conflict of this show was always Emi and Maou, two mortal enemies that find themselves stranded in a different world. At its best, the first season made fun of tropes of the genre by exploring Emi’s inner conflict at seeing how much Maou was changing in the mortal realm, how well he treated his co-workers and customers, and how unlike the brutal demonic conqueror he was.
This season has doubled down on that idea by having Emi learn about Maou as a person, finding out about his upbringing and the world of demons he comes from, and realizing she had many misconceptions about the world. This all comes to a boil this week when Emi finds herself sparing the life of an army of demons rather than ensuring they are dead and can’t hurt anyone. She even tells Suzune later that she is no longer killing out of hate, a huge development for someone who spent most of last season threatening to decapitate Maou in the middle of his work shift at MgRonald’s.
The episode deals with the aftermath of Camio’s appearance last week and the reveal that the owner of the beach shack they all find themselves in has magical powers. After a very successful workday that earns the whole team their bonus, Camio tells the story of how, in Maou’s absence, that old bastard Olba managed to find a way to travel back to Ente Isla and stir chaos. He started telling the demons that whoever gained Emi’s sacred sword would gain supremacy over both heaven, the demon and the human realms. This caused the demon forces to split in two, with a warmongering faction dedicated to finding the sword. Add in a shard of Yesod that Olba gave the demons and, well, a big army is coming to Choshi.
After some horrible animation and editing, the fight is over. If Emi going super saiyan and beating them wasn’t enough, Maou and his buddies all transform back into their demonic forms and convince the demons to return to their world. Before sending them on their way, though, Maou tasks the demon army to spread the word that he is alive and well, and that he is gaining enough strength to return home and conquer the human world.
With the fight out of the way, Team Satan goes back to work, only to find they’ve been fired by Amane. Turns out, their magic and the fight disturbed the ghosts she talked about two episodes ago, which are apparently very real. She reveals herself to also have magical powers and to be a sacred guardian of this place, a sort of bathhouse for spirits to clean their souls during Obon. She promptly disappears with the entire shack, but not before delivering big fat envelopes full of cash to the team, and delivering some advice: the team needs to find the Daath of their world and restore it to its true form. She calls herself the daughter of Earth’s Binah (another sephira) and says the landlady is waiting for them.
The problem with this reveal is that the pacing is simultaneously too fast and too slow. We only spent one measly episode with Maou and the others working the shack and now it’s back to the main quest? At the same time, it feels like this is just the first chapter of a much larger story, as there are nine McGuffins to find, plus the return to Ente Isla and Maou’s final duel with Emi to deal with.
As we near the last act of season two, one has to ponder if this season has been worth it. Has the nine-year wait been worth this big a downgrade just to see more of the story? While it’d be easy to say yes because we are getting a complete story, the problem is that there is a lot left to adapt.
Either the show stops here and this ends up as a giant tease with bad animation that led nowhere, or we have to endure this production for seven or eight seasons until we reach the end — so far, the first season adapted two out of the 21 light novels, and season two is maybe adapting three at most, leaving us plenty of material left.
Snacks & Sides
• We get another Maou-fication of a popular brand to avoid copyright! This week: Maou calls Camio a “Pokéture.”
• Goodbye Camio. Turns out you are not the pet that is brought into a sitcom to change the dynamic, but a cameo appearance that leaves after just two episodes. You shall be missed, big bird.
• The sword from last week? Oh, it was just Maou’s broken horn turned into a weapon, because of course it was.
• Again, thank the Choshi tourism board for this episode! After Amane disappears, a flier for tourist spots around Choshi magically appears, and we get a whole scene where Maou praises the city’s beauty.
• In yet another development for the will-they-won’t-they of Emi and Maou, the hero says she has faith in the demon king. She doesn’t fully trust him yet, but it is progress.