I am feeling a bit of a halt in my anime talk lately, which is a shame because out of all the directions I’ve been going with on this blog, making it a multi-directional thing where I type aggressively at my keyboard for a long while, it’s with the other anibloggers out there that I’ve received the most response and the most other blogs that I’ve found to check on occasion. And I want to keep doing that. But I’m finding it rather hard to find a good series to pick up and get obsessed with such that I can write about it, aside from Attack On Titan, which remains amazing and I will continue writing about as it comes out. I might be experiencing a blip with anime.
I tend not to start many series for ages, umming and ahhing over whether it will be worth my time investment, only going all in confidently lately on series I’m sure I’ll love, because I’ve put a few, longer, things on hold lately, or even unintentionally dropped them, and I don’t want to sit bored through a lot of unexciting events with characters I don’t care about. And I’m resisting doing rewatches (although I snuck in a quick rewatch of Charlotte as one of the first anime I was watching at the time I first got obsessed) because I want to discover new things to love. I know there are anime out there that I will love, there’s just so much choice and I’m not sure which direction to go next in – although something with shock value may be the way to go, one of the ones I’m watching at the moment is K-On and just thinking about the term ‘moeblob’ ruins the show for me (it’s kind of cute but the MC is unbelievably pathetic), there’s nothing to do in that show except watch characters being cute and I am clearly not enough of a man of culture to truly appreciate Cute Girls Doing Cute Things all day long. Maybe just taking a step back from anime will help, I’m not falling out of love with it yet, I still have had many great times with it and I still find there’s a lot to analyse about the best series, and those series I already watched are mostly, the best series, but this may be the first step towards me taking a step out of the otaku circle. Not that I want it to be.
So this is all going to segue into my review/watching experiences of the latest anime I’ve finished and raced through. And that is, if you hadn’t figured out from the picture and my pun, The Devil Is A Part-Timer, which I was motivated to watch by seeing that Crunchyroll had finally put it all on their catalogue, ready to watch in a very easy fashion. I instantly began running through it, see, that is the kind of push I need, some sort of outside event that tells me ‘now is the right time to watch this anime that you’ve been putting off for ages’. Now this was a high-paced comedy anime with a few moments of unexpected peril that I had never expected, I had seen it described as a ‘workplace comedy’ and to have actual fantasy elements coming into the picture made me really sit up and take notice.
An obvious comparison that I have to make is to Gabriel Dropout, which actually seems to have been, in hindsight, the ‘moeblob’ version of this anime. Or in other words, this anime and K-On combined. You have the same theme of characters coming to Earth and living on Earth, they have names taking inspiration from Judeo-Christian heaven and hell traditional factions of angels and demons, the setting is a lot more comedic than any Western work using those names would be, because a Western work treating those names irreverently would upset religious folk. What with characters named Satan and Lucifer being positive characters or at least treated sympathetically, the fundamentalist nutjobs would have a field day if they ever learned of its existence. And that’s another thing these two shows have in common, the ‘demons’ are portrayed more positively than you would expect, and those that are more ‘angelic’ are antagonists or at least not that positively portrayed. There’s also a main character from each show who delights in being a total shut-in, Gabriel in GabDrop, Lucifer in Devil Is A Part Timer, again, as Lucifer is a fallen angel, the most angelic member of the team.
Speaking of Lucifer/Urushihara, I really identified with him… in a WAY. While I ended up disliking Gab for her laziness, and I do tend to do that with NEET characters who don’t try and do anything, and Lucifer did have that side to him, but he also had that fun snarky bit to him, was so often right (I love characters that are right all the time), was useful to the team on at least a couple of occasions and he was such a butt monkey to every other character I couldn’t help but feel sorry for him. Also, most importantly, he has a rather beautiful character design. Purple theme, all bishonened up, you can see his once angelic credentials in the design, definitely the character my eyes kept getting drawn to. In reality I probably identify a lot more with Alciel/Ashiya because (and these are two traits of mine I’m very sure on and I don’t often get an anime character who has them as his two key traits) I am a naturally VERY thrifty spender and I find household chores relaxing to do. Plus he also looks good in a character design way and his unwavering loyalty was rather hilarious.
The other characters were less standout for me, Maou was a main character who was good and all but never convinced me he was the Devil or anything other than a fairly decent and slightly bland MC. Maybe that’s the point, to turn it on his head but I felt more like, after the pilot, that he was the hero and there was no question that he’d do the right thing, even though he’s supposed to be the main arbiter of evil in the universe. It’s a comedy, and I could buy his right-hand men being a bit ineffective or perhaps he’s misunderstood but it felt like a little too much incompetence/not enough character motivation. Emilia was a fairly okay tsundere who, well, I like tsunderes but they are predictable by nature and nothing Emi did really stood out to me above and beyond the others. Chiho and Sasaki were also pretty much caricatures, your excitable high-school girl and your quiet, dark-haired girl. Now I’m not exactly saying it was bad because I can say that four of the six main characters were characters I’d seen before in many other anime and I know that if I’d watched those anime after this one I’d be criticising them and not this, I liked the way the characters interacted (particularly since half of the team was always supposed to be against the other half of the team and every episode the girls were finding excuses for why they were hanging out with demon boys) and it was a rather fun ride, I just preferred the episodes that focused on Alciel and Lucifer and quite surprisingly for an anime, each episode did seem to have a character who was getting the focus for the day. That should move us on to the plot…
On the plot, I was never expecting that much of it so for it to be as developed and intricate as it was, well that was really quite a lovely surprise. I felt the peril with Lucifer’s first appearance and Alciel appearing to die, I felt the possibility that Lucifer would turn to the bad side in the climactic ending to the season, any uncertainty that a comedy can make me feel on that sort of level is worth a lot to me. And while the plot didn’t necessitate a season 2, it very strongly said that there is more to come here (even though I’m well aware the likelihood of there being a followup to this is rather low, only slightly more likely than a Haruhi season 3, that’s said so I can see WHY there’s call for more of this), lots of elements have been underused, the tone from the Ente Isla scenes and the Earth scenes fluctuates wildly and seeing those worlds collide more is interesting. It also, and I would say this is one of its biggest strengths, made it feel inspiring to be working in a team, no matter what you’re doing, whether that’s Maou with his MgRonald’s shift team or everyone gathering at the Devil’s Castle to eat udon, it had a friendly feel to it. Friendly without being overly cute or having characters that couldn’t do anything on their own, so that made it better than some moeblob shows I’ve referenced in here, the characters felt like real… humans, ironically.