In this volume, a new character joins the cast! What will this mean for the story going forward?
Title: The Devil is a Part-Timer! (Hataraku Maou-sama!)
Publisher: ASCII Media Works (JP), Yen Press (US)
Creators: Akio Hiiragi (art), Sataoshi Wagahara (original story), 029 (character design)
Serialized in: Comic Dengeki Daioh
Translation: Kevin Gifford
Original Release Date: July 26, 2016
Review copy provided by Yen Press.
In the last volume of the manga, Suzuno had officially joined the main cast. (Well, as officially as you can get when you’re living next to and openly poisoning the protagonist.) But wait! We need another main character! A mascot, maybe?
Nope, a baby.
Sadao and his former generals have settled into a routine. But just like in real life (or sitcom real life), a baby shatters his sense of normalcy. Alas Ramus appears out of an apple and announces to everyone that Satan is her papa. Everyone is shocked, and Sadao insists he hasn’t fathered any child. So, like any man in such a situation, he asks the obvious question: who’s the mother?
If you guessed Emi, congratulations! The Hero and the Devil King become de-facto parents. Lots of romantic comedies star two people who can’t stand each other now forced to raise a baby, but not many of those couples have literally tried to kill each other.
In essence, this volume is all about Alas Ramus’ arrival. No one knows who or what Alas Ramus is, but Sadao cheerfully agrees to raise her. His generals and Suzuno adjust to life with an often-crying baby, Emi deals with the fact a baby clings to both her and her sworn enemy, and Chiho is torn between making Alas Ramus happy and her feelings of jealousy. Really, that’s the whole volume. Sure, there’s a few hints of Alas Ramus’ origin and the start of an awkward family, but this outing of The Devil is a Part-Timer! is fairly easy to summarize: OMG a baby, a mystery woman, and a date. That’s it. Like the previous story arcs, the plot seems to be following the pattern of normal life –> mystery –> battle. As far as critical volumes go, this is not one of them.
However, this does not mean this is a terrible volume. The series is a comedy, and Alas Ramus’ debut makes for quite a few laugh-out-loud moments. I especially love all the exaggerated faces: Chiho spacing out in happiness when Sadao “embraces” her, Ashiya fainting upon Alas Ramus’ mother being revealed, and Sadao freaking out when Alas Ramus shows up at work. The second half is less comedy and more about laying groundwork for the next volume. Again, there’s not a lot of revelations, and any reader could easily catch up later.
However, it’s just plain more fun to actually see everyone react to Alas Ramus. It’s a bit like watching when a new Guardian would join the team Sailor Moon: it’s not absolutely essential, but some of the best times are when new members of the main cast unite. Why would you want to miss the debut of a main character, especially when she forces changes in the two lead? Sadao, a man who once led a war, now worries about finding a child’s seat for his bicycle. Emi, meanwhile, wants to keep a distance between herself and Maou for her own sake as well as Chiho’s, but Emi also can’t resist Alas Ramus’ smile and wish to be a family.
Author Wagahara says Alas Ramus’ arrival is a turning point for The Devil is a Part-Timer!. Many people think turning points are climaxes, but it’s just a shift, a preparation for a new path. In some ways, this is almost like a first volume than a fifth. The opening with the strange woman lamenting, “I wonder where you went wrong” just reinforces this feeling.
The art continues to be faithful to the original designs. As a manga, the characters feel a bit more exaggerated than the light novel’s illustrations. Sariel has gained quite a bit of weight, making him even more of a comedic character than before. Alas Ramus looks more like a cute puppy dog with her chubby cheeks and excitedly happy expressions. It sometimes is a bit jarring to see a little girl with quite a personality (she can answer questions and identify what she likes) is actually still a baby who needs diapers. Since no battles occur, we really don’t get to see Hiiragi flex their artistic muscles. This volume is mostly everyone talking or reacting. Seeing Chiho in demon armor is pretty funny though.
As for the translation, the manga uses honorifics, unlike the light novel. The same translator works on both, so besides the differences between “Chi-Sis” and “Chi-ne-cha” and such, the two adaptations are consistent.
All in all, this is not the most important volume in the series, but it’s a fun one. If you plan on sticking with The Devil is a Part-Timer!, then I don’t know why you’d want to miss the introduction of a key character, especially since she kicks off a whole new direction for the series.