Isekai is a pretty overdone genre. I personally don’t have the same level of hatred as some people do when it comes to them, but I can understand it. Many Isekais go beyond beating a dead horse. They start to smack the ones still alive.
And as I said, this doesn’t particularly bother me. But I will admit that I do get sick of seeing the same generic protagonists go to some other world, become a near godlike being with no effort, then rule the land or something. It gets old.
This is why series like Konosuba are great. It takes what an Isekai is and flips it on its head. Gone are the overpowered characters, hello, group of about the worst people imagable, all of which are useless to the new world and society at large!
It’s a bit of an anti-Isekai in a lot of ways. Then you have series that reverse the concept. What if instead of a human going to a world of magic, what if we brought someone from a magic world to the human world!
That’s exactly what the Devil is a Part-Timer did! But that just wasn’t enough. How do you spice things up even more? Well, you make the protagonist Satan himself, with a side of black pepper fries and a shake.
Demons in Destitution
You know that thing people used to do where they would write a bad synopsis for a series and have someone less knowledgeable guess if it’s real or not? This anime is basically that.
If I told you that an anime exists about reformed Satan who decided to give up conquering and enslaving the world to work part-time at a McDonald’s alongside a high school girl in Tokyo where he’s barely able to pay his bills, what would you think? Is it real or not?
What I said was a lie. He works at MgRonald’s. We need to keep things copyright-free. Oh, everything else is the truth. I remember hearing about this anime years before I ever watched it, and I just tried to wrap my brain around how anyone could ever think it was a good idea. It’s absurd. Even by anime’s already insane standards.
I’ll be frank with you right off the bat. The Devil is a Part-Timer is one of my favorite anime series of all time. I just love it. Half of that is for the premise, I admit. It’s so stupid you can’t help but love it. Satan’s also a moron, and I love him dearly. Still, it’s not perfect.
This is technically an Isekai, but I’ll warn you, don’t think of it as one. It’s very much a Comedy with almost enough Romance that I would call it a Rom-Com, but not quite. It’s far too uneventful for your average Isekai, so perhaps calling it a Reverse Isekai fits in more ways than one.
In normal Isekais, you’d be used to overpowered characters fighting wars and being general badasses. For a lot of the series, Satan (who is Sadao Maou, but Satan’s better) is just working his way up the food chain and getting pissed that Sentucky Friend Chicken is stealing his business.
The majority of the show is just the simple everyday life of our poor demon lord and his acquaintances, and also the hero Emilia, who chased Satan to the human world to kill him once and for all! Oh, yeah, she pretty much gives up on that too and works at a call center. Are you seeing a trend?
It isn’t weak characters coming to a world where they can be strong. It’s strong, borderline demi-gods coming to the human world, getting slightly weaker, going “Whatever,” and living in the human world, generally in poverty. Your enjoyment of the series will depend on how that makes you feel.
Some people, I’m sure, will feel like the anime doesn’t do enough with its premise. It has the whole world of Ente Isla setup, everything with Satan’s past atrocities there, all of these crazy magic powers, and then they just chill in the human world. Things do get wild every now and then. Satan might get shot at once in a while, or a city-wide battle may take place, but it’s few and far between. Typically just to resolve arcs.
The majority of the series is almost Slice of Life level stuff but mixed with Satan for added flair. The fun of it comes from how these fish-out-of-water characters interact with the world around them. How Satan suddenly learns the importance of money and a balanced diet. How his demon general Ashiya learns to support his master by taking care of the chores in this new world. How Emilia learns that Satan might not be a demon after all…figuratively, at least. And how Satan’s aforementioned high school coworker, Chiho, learns to deal with her budding feelings for the king of death and destruction.
What annoys me a little about all of this is a decision right in the first episode. There’s a time skip. It skips a few months, and our friendly neighborhood Satan has a job and is suddenly used to the human world. I think this was fine overall, it lets us see the meat of the series sooner, but I wish we got to see more of Satan actually learning about the human world. That way, it doesn’t seem out of character when he protects people from a collapsing roof in an earthquake.
I like Satan and all ( I mean, who doesn’t?), but his motivations really aren’t clear. I don’t blame Emilia for doubting him. We see him come to Earth and have no idea what he’s doing for a bit as he hates humans. Next, he’s chilling at MgRonalds, working his horns off to sell french fries. There’s no transition. We don’t get to see how or why he likes Earth.
It seems very hard to believe that this horrible slaughterer of continents, this monster who has murdered thousands in cold blood, is now satisfied with making slightly above minimum wage. I think the most likely conclusion is that Satan was just bored, and now he has something to sink his energy to, but I would have liked to see the change. Not just have it happen.
This can make the entire series really seem farfetched since it’s built around the concept of Satan being cool with Earth. If we just would have had one or two episodes more prior to friendly Satan, I think it would have set the mood for the series much better, and really I think they could have afforded to lose two episodes do that.
All of this stems from one main problem that we are basically in the same loop as Chiho. We know nothing of Satan prior to coming to Earth, and everything we do hear is secondhand information from people who obviously hate him. I would have loved to see flashbacks of some of Satan’s expeditions before Earth. It would have fleshed him out a lot more, which is something he’s sorely lacking.
I think the series even tries to explain this away by making the church in Ente Isla corrupt (shocker!), but it doesn’t really work. Making one side also evil doesn’t suddenly erase what the other side did. It just doesn’t.
But you could also say this is the brilliance of the story. By keeping you in the dark, you don’t know whether Satan is bad or not. It’s in question for the entire series. It means you don’t really know what to think about him. It’s interesting, even if it’s confusing at times. Yet, I still think it would have been far better to really hammer into the viewer how awful Satan was. It would have been impactful for the story.
But at the end of the day, the anime doesn’t take itself very seriously at all. Even when it does, it doubles back pretty quickly. Because of that, you can let these things slide a little bit. We’re not here for a complex plot. We’re here to see Satan serve up some…Big Mgs? Is that the equivalent of a Big Mac?
A Brand New Satan
The series is, first and foremost, a comedy, so your enjoyment will come from how many times it makes you laugh. If you think the plot sounds wonderful, you’ll likely find the series hilarious. It does very much what it says on paper. And it does that without having an overexplanatory title 15 words long. I’m impressed, but I hope dearly other light novel authors never learn from it. They would probably name it something like “I’m the Demon Lord Satan Who Was Chased to the Human World and Now I Have to Work at a Fast Food Restaurant to Pay my Bills!?” I love light novel titles.
Many of the jokes in the series are built around the concept not so much of Satan misunderstanding the human world, but more his general poorness and frankly outstanding work ethic. How losing an umbrella is an awful tragedy. How he refuses to get any item on loan because he won’t pay for something he can’t touch. How he needs to strip out of his MgRonald’s uniform before a fight because he’ll need to pay for any damages. Normal Satan stuff.
I find it to be one of the funniest series I’ve ever seen. Explaining jokes is the proven best way to make them stop being funny, so I won’t do that, but it has very down-to-earth comedy. It turns everyday things into absurd moments for these characters. For instance, Satan isn’t just a shift manager at MgRonald’s. He’s a commander of an army preparing a counter-attack against the enemy, Sentucky Fried Chicken, in this case.
The comedy makes really good use of the ridiculous characters and the…we’ll say…unique situations they’re in. It also helps that the VAs (I watched sub) did an outstanding job. There aren’t many times I watch a series and can tell that the VAs had genuine talent.
They’re just as good during slower comedic moments as they are for the couple screaming matches the characters get into. They know how to bring out both personality and passion really well. They brought the characters to life in ways I very rarely see, and their talent definitely makes this show stand out from other Comedies just from that.
But what I find kind of remarkable about the series is how sweet it actually is. For all its fast-food joints, and satanism, and incredibly unhealthy food, there’s also a very heartwarming story of acceptance and forgiveness.
Satan seemed to have really turned over a new leaf. He’s a hard worker, a good person, responsible, looks out for his friends. He went from horrible, murderous demon king to about the nicest guy you’d ever find. But like everyone, his past follows him. Many of the conflicts in the story center around someone coming from Ente Isla with the sole purpose of killing him, as Emilia did, but like her, they start to have conflicting views.
They want him dead for all of the crimes he’s committed, and to be frank, he deserves it. However, Satan has matured, or something in him has changed enough to the point where he can actually apologize for what he did. He likes his new, quiet life. How can you take that from him? He seemed to have grown. They just can’t kill someone like that and feel right about it. It also doesn’t help their moral compasses that the precious Chiho absolutely adores him and would probably cry herself to death if they ever took her demon king away.
It’s a far more complex story than what you would expect. It makes you think. I honestly don’t know how I would feel in the characters’ shoes. I get Chiho. Satan’s went good now and wouldn’t hurt a fly. I agree that he deserves his new life. Yet, I understand the anger of all the people he hurt in the past. He shouldn’t be allowed to get away with what he’s done. It would devalue all of their pain.
You think about it from one side, and he deserves happiness. The other, he doesn’t. If I think about it from one perspective, he’s a new man who makes his friends (and his customers) lives better and saves those very same lives on multiple occasions. From another, he’s a manipulative mastermind waiting for his chance to take over the world. It’s very thought-provoking. It ultimately forces you to put your own beliefs into view. How much do you value revenge, and at what point are you willing to bury the past?
It’s so much more than I would ever expect from what is essentially McDonald’s: The Animation. And it does all of this without ever really dialing the comedy back. I always find it impressive when any Comedy can manage serious moments, but especially one so absurd. This anime has no right to do anything but make me laugh, let alone make me question my morals.
So when you hear this anime pop up from time to time, as you likely will for years and years, it’s about 90% because its premise is stupid beyond belief. The other 10%? It’s actually really, really good. It’s pure, it’s wholesome as hell, it’s hilarious, it’s will make you have a moral crisis about a McDonald’s employee, and it really, really needed a season 2! It took 8 years, but we finally got there. I’ll be back then, and I’ll try my best to say “Satan” even more times that next post. If I counted right, I have to say it at least 33 times.
Thank you very much for reading
I’m going to ask a different kind of question here. What’s the most absurd plot to any anime you’ve ever seen? I’m genuinely curious about that.