By Charles Solomon | Animation Scoop August 1, 2014 at 1:00PM
The Devil Is a Part-Timer: Complete Series
Funimation: $69.98; DVD/Blu-ray 4 discs
The supernatural comedy-adventure The Devil Is a Part-Timer has a no-holds-barred absurdity that makes many American cartoons feel tame. The premise is so off the wall, it may strain the credulity of some Western viewers, especially religious conservatives.
In the alternate world of Enta Isla, Satan (voice by Josh Grelle), the Lord of Demons, is defeated in a grand battle and hurled through an inter-dimensional portal with his general Alciel (Anthony Bowling) and his arch-enemy, the Heroine Emilia (Felecia Angelle). They land in modern Tokyo and find themselves without their accustomed supernatural powers--or any means of support. Satan and Alciel adopt the names of Mao Sadao and Shiro Ashiya, and rent a miniscule (six-mat) apartment in a ratty old building near Shinjuku. To keep them form starving, Mao gets a job at the fast-food outlet MgRonalds; Emilia finds work at a telephone service company, fielding complaints and problems. She also keeps a close watch on Mao, convinced he’s up to no good—a reasonable suspicion to have about the Devil.
But Mao turns out to be a “perfect MgRonalds employee.” He’s soon promoted to assistant manager and takes pride in work. High school student and part-time co-worker Chiho (Tia Ballard) falls for him, which complicates the already fractious relationship between Emilia and Mao.
Inevitably, other characters cross the barrier to Earth. Satan’s lieutenant Lucifer (Aaron Dismuke) joins his former superior under the name Usushihara. While Shiro frets over the household finances, Usushihara spends his days playing computer games and searching the web for possible sources of magical power to restore their previous might. The mysterious Suzuno (Alex Moore) moves into the apartment next door to Mao, further tangling his relationships with the opposite sex.
Trouble comes with the arrival of renegade priest Olba (Mark Stoddard) and the cruel angel Sariel (Scott Freeman), who poses as the manager of a rival fast-food outlet, Sentucky Friend Chicken. The Church, the Inquisition and various governments back in Enta Isla are spinning elaborate intrigues to bring back—or eliminate—Emilia and Mao.
In the resulting clashes, Mao mystifies Emilia and Suzuno by being so nice. He protects Chiho (and them), helps innocent bystanders and undoes the damage the battles inflict on the surrounding city. These improbable plots twists work because Grelle succeeds in making Mao such a likable character. His grudging friendship with Emilia, his kindness to Chiho, and his enthusiasm for the MgRonalds work ethic somehow feel perfectly natural.
Director Naoto Hosoda keeps the story moving at an appropriately brisk pace. The violence in the climactic battle feels a bit excessive, but the artists make the most of the comic insanity, which juxtaposes the fantastic and the mundane with often hilarious results. His formidable powers restored, a muscular, horned Mao/Satan prepares to do battle with the Sariel by taking off his MgRonalds uniform: Any damage to his uniform would be deducted from his salary! Clad in his boxers, he beats the hell (literally) out of Sariel; ensures Chiho and Emilia are safe; and repairs all the damage that’s been done to nearby buildings. Then he puts his uniform back on: He’s ready for his shift.
The Devil Is a Part-Timer is based on series of light novels by Satoshi Wagahara, and the first season of the series ends with the quarrelsome but friendly characters ready for a new adventure. Viewers on both sides for the Pacific are hoping a second season will follow.