If one genre has dominated the seasonal anime scene over the past decade, it has been the isekai, wherein a character gets transported into a fantasyland, usually with abilities they lack in the real world. There are so many new isekai every single season that they’ve gone around the farce circle several times over — with straight isekai being replaced by parody isekai, satires, reverse isekai, smart and subversive isekai, and all the way to nostalgia isekai — in a handful of years.
Before all of this, there was The Devil Is a Part-Timer! The reverse-isekai comedy offered a fresh new spin on the tropes, but because the genre hadn’t yet exploded in popularity, it was just a smart comedy with a killer and a bonkers premise: What if the actual Devil were trapped in our world, forced to work a part-time job at a McDonald’s knockoff to pay the rent, and found himself enjoying the climb up the corporate ladder to become lord of the nuggets and protector of the fries, all while fighting off angels and other would-be assassins. The problem was also that the show came out in the same season as this tiny anime called Attack on Titan. Despite its brilliant execution and good word of mouth, The Devil Is a Part-Timer! had all but disappeared from the public consciousness, until now.
Almost a decade after the first season’s release, Maou Satan is back in a premiere that feels mostly like a very long recap — and includes an actual recap with narration explaining how Satan came to be in Tokyo. This is quite useful if you haven’t watched the first season or didn’t get a chance to rewatch it in the past nine years. “The Devil Screams in Sasazuka” does a good job of reacquainting us with the premise and the character dynamics that elevated it to something sustainable over several episodes in a way that feels organic. If you managed to rewatch the previous season in anticipation of these new episodes, the premiere is a bit of a letdown — not because the character moments aren’t great but because it feels like retreading old ground, especially after the season-one finale set up a change in the dynamic, or at least made more of an acknowledgment than we get here. Still, there’s something oddly fitting about the triumphant return of The Devil Is a Part-Timer! spending half its run time on Lucifer learning to do laundry and fighting a cockroach.
While the premise of the Devil being trapped in our world is enough to at least make me want to hear more about the show, what makes this a ride worth staying on is how The Devil Is a Part-Timer! uses its fantasy background to explore common problems of the gig economy. The first time we see Satan and his lieutenants, Lucifer and Alciel, they’re yelling and stressing out over their struggles to pay rent and complaining about the lack of AC or even a decent fan during the grueling Tokyo summer, all because Lucifer spent all their money on Amazon; it’s a perfect encapsulation of the dynamic. And since this episode aired just after a historic heat wave hit Europe, it makes Satan all the more relatable. Alciel (going by Ashiya) and Lucifer continue to be the standout characters, with the former spending every waking minute being the best househusband while trying to get the latter to move his ass and stop being a NEET and playing Animal Crossing all day. In this episode, Ashiya spends a comically absurd amount of time giving esoteric explanations about the advantages of semi-automatic washers and the right way to fold laundry.
As for Satan, he’s still the model employee, but, most important, the episode continues the first season’s sympathetic portrayal of the Devil by introducing the idea that he once had parents. From the opening narration, the episode reminds us that this character isn’t your dad’s Satan but kind of a good guy who went to war with the human kingdoms only to “build there a land of peace and prosperity for all night’s creatures.” Throughout the first season, we saw him use magic that could have taken him back home to help regular people instead and to almost convince his mortal enemy/will-they-or-won’t-they partner, Emilia, that he’s not evil anymore. It seems this season will expand on that idea by giving us a glimpse into the Devil’s tragic backstory.
This episode’s title refers to a presence that Satan and the other characters always feel in their apartment, that of an eerie being that has everyone on edge and that Lucifer believes is a demonic-sounding Periplaneta fuliginosa or a Blattella germanica, which, unless you’re an entomologist, sounds like an actual name for a netherworld creature. Of course, despite the spooky music cues and quick cuts whenever the presence is mentioned, the monster turns out to be something much worse than any demon: a cockroach, the bane of anyone living in an old house during the summer.
A hilarious fight scene ensues as Lucifer tries to battle the disgusting critter with a vacuum cleaner, and not even the mighty Satan is immune to shrieking at the sight of a roach running toward him. This is where season two of the anime shows its biggest weakness: the animation. While studio White Fox gave the first season sharp animation and crafted the fight scenes at the level of an action anime to contrast them with the slice-of-life comedy in the rest of the show, studio 3Hz dials down the dynamic camera movements and angular character designs for something less distinctive or remarkable. The result may look closer to the illustrations in the original light novels, yet it’s also closer to every other isekai that came out in the past few years. Perhaps they’re saving the good animation for another episode, but this isn’t the best welcome back for the visuals.
One thing that hasn’t changed with the animation studios is the excellent depiction of facial expressions, with Maou and Ashiya getting some fantastic and bizarre looks of shock after some shocking revelations at the end of the episode. You see, as if a cockroach attack weren’t enough, the episode ends with a literal apple of discord transforming Sailor Moon–style into a toddler. Making matters worse, the toddler identifies herself as the daughter of Satan and Emi, much to the dismay of Ashiya and Chiho, who has a crush on the Devil.
Given the inclusion of the baby in the new opening sequence, it’s clear she will be a pivotal part of the second season. While the addition of a baby normally derails most comedies, I choose to believe The Devil Is a Part-Timer! can sustain a Three Men and a Baby story line.
Snacks & Sides
• Is the child at the end meant to be the woman who enters Satan’s empty castle at the beginning? Is she lying about her parentage to torture Maou?
• The opening flashback sequence brings back the nonsensical fantasy language of Ente Isla — a small detail this show didn’t need to include, but I’m glad it did.
• Bless the animators for censoring that creature from hell the cockroach.
• Maou continues to be jealous of Emi’s higher social status, and expressing his anger about her having an AC unit in her house by calling her an “eco-destroying hero” is a fantastic touch.
• Sadly, the show also brings back the bad jokes about Emi’s breast size, jokes that already felt out of place in 2013 and are even worse now.