No, I’m not talking about this because Gigguk brought it up. Why would you think that? You should know by now that I’m totally original and came up with this topic all on my own!
(In all seriousness, Gigguk’s video on the topic was great and you should absolutely check it out. I’ll leave a link to it at the bottom of the article.)
It’s amazing how much the anime scene has transformed over the last six years. Back then, the word ‘Isekai’ was only something that the most hardcore of weebs knew. Nowadays, it seems impossible to finish an anime-related sentence without mentioning the genre! Every season, at least one to three new shows pop up, all following the same formula! It may not be well-loved, but the genre is at the top of the anime world!
Naturally, at this point, there are a lot of shows that ‘satirize’ the formula. Some do it super well, such as the excellent ‘Konosuba: God’s Blessing on This Wonderful World’. Then there are shows like ‘Didn’t I Say to Make My Abilities Average in the Next Life?’, which are just the same show but they poke fun at themselves. They range from decently clever to not clever at all.
But there’s one show that was well ahead of its time! One that is more fun to watch today than it was when it came out! One show that perfectly satirizes the Isekai genre while still being a great show all on its own! And that show is ‘The Devil is a Part-Timer’!
This show is excellent! It perfectly balances character-driven comedy with excellent action, genuine plot progression, and most importantly: it flips the Isekai formula on its head perfectly! Which is incredible, considering that this came out well before the Isekai boom! It’s a small show, one that will likely never continue (as sad as that makes me). But it’s definitely a show that should be remembered!
Allow me to explain exactly why.
Plot: Finally, I Can Relate to Satan!
To all you smartasses who thought you were clever when you said: “Hey, what if there was an Isekai where someone from another world came to our world?”, I have one request: shut up and watch this show. Because it beat you to the punch years ago!
In a fantasy world, the Demon King Satan waged a war against humanity. For a long time, all seemed lost. Then a powerful hero named Emilia rose up and fought back, leading humanity to victory. To escape, Satan and his right-hand general Alciel fled to an unfamiliar world: Earth. Now, Satan, naming himself Sadao, works in a McDon- I mean MagRonalds, trying to climb the corporate ladder and conquer the world while Alciel works as a house-wife at their tiny apartment.
But it isn’t all hellfire and murder; not only did Emilia follow behind the Demon King, but multiple inhabitants of the fantasy world come to Earth hunting Sadao! Can he defend his new home while keeping himself at the top of his workplace? Or will all the other-worldly shenanigans cost him the ultimate price: his promotion?
If handled poorly, this premise could easily fall apart. Luckily, this show doesn’t base itself entirely on cheap punchlines. Rather, this series finds its comedy in the strongest, most reliable place: the characters!
Every single joke in this series is based entirely on the characters and their reactions to the world around them! Watching Satan and his lackeys figuring out how to order a taxi or work the internet is hysterical! Seeing Emilia trying to defeat various evils while hiding her identity and remaining within the law is hilarious! And most importantly: the interactions between these characters is amazing! Whether it be Alciel locking Emilia out of the apartment when she arrives to kill them or Chiho’s attempts to flirt with the black-hole dense Sadao, practically every exchange in this series puts a smile on my face!
It helps that each character is amazing! They’re all completely distinct from one another, both in terms of their personality and design! Sadao manages to perfectly balance being an unstoppable force of destruction and a likable, hard-working but poor kid working at a fast food joint! Emilia fits the archetype of your typical fantasy hero, which makes watching her struggle to put trust and respect into Sadao both compelling and hilarious! Chiho is an extremely likable character, being simultaneously adorable and bombastic! She may not be a superpowerful demon from another world, but she is an absolute scene-stealer, starring in some of the funniest bits of the entire show!
It’s not all based on comedy, either! Every now and then, the show will take a break for some action! Not only that, but it’s fantastic! The animation will take a huge step up as characters fly through the sky, bounce off of their surroundings, or clash swords! They’re not the best fights in anime, but they’re a refreshing change of pace while still being super exhilarating!
Best of all: the plot has a genuine sense of progression! Each event has ramifications on the one that comes next. Characters are introduced and develop in response to major events. The pacing is super slow, and the show ends right as the story starts to pick up momentum. But it doesn’t waste your time meandering; it’s telling a story, and that story is making progress.
Or at least it was. Before the show died forever.
Presentation: Color and Expression!
This show is everything I look for in a pretty anime. It’s bright and colorful. The animation is smooth and highly energetic! The characters are extremely expressive! This show is an absolute visual treat!
One of the many charms of anime is the extreme facial reactions of the characters. No other art form has facial expressions this bombastic! It can go a long way in assisting in visual comedy!
And good god. These facial expressions are extreme!
Comedy isn’t just spoken. It needs some good visions to accompany it! And this show balances the two perfectly!
It is worth noting that this show doesn’t have a super memorable soundtrack. It isn’t bad by any means. It never hurts the show. But there isn’t a single track that you’ll be humming to yourself after having watched it.
Also, the characters’ faces do look pretty generic when they aren’t being super-expressive. You could put a screenshot of Sadao next to another character from a show of that time, say Kirito from SAO, you’d notice a lot of similarities, such as with the hair, nose, and jawline. Seriously, look at this!
Still, an animated show shouldn’t be judged on how it looks sitting still. It’s all about how it moves. And in that regard, this show is phenomenal!
Watching this show when it first aired was an absolute blast. It did fall by the wayside, as it was released alongside some massive releases that took the spotlight. But it’s a show that has definitely found its place in the modern landscape.
This is the anime equivalent of the Sega Dreamcast. It didn’t have massive success when it first came out, as it was well ahead of its time. But it has developed the most dedicated of cult followings.
All of whom want to know who they need to attack to get their second season.
I’d highly recommend watching ‘The Devil is a Part-Timer’! It’s a fantastic bit of fun that still holds up to this day! In fact, it holds up better now than it did when it first came out! It may not be a classic, nor is it the greatest comedy-action series to ever come out. But it is a perfect satire of the Isekai genre, one that is more relevant now than it has ever been!
Few shows get better with age. Thankfully, this show is one of them.