In my seasonal preview I noted that the only reason I was going to give Hataraku Maou-sama a chance came from the fact that White Fox was animating it and I wasn’t willing to bet against an animation studio that placed their last three works in my yearly top 10 anime lists. I wasn’t terribly excited about it’s prospects because it was sold as a comedy and the director was the one who took one of the funniest anime franchises – Minami-ke – and presided over a season of Minami-ke that somehow just barely made the mildly amusing level.
So, with much trepidation, I queued the first episode up and hoped for the best.
Somewhere in the multi-verse a demon lord by the name of Satan (or however the Japanese render it) attempts to conquer his world and fails when a hero arises to confront him. Before he can be killed, he, along with one of his top lieutenants, uses his magic powers to open up and escape through a dimensional portal to somewhere. That somewhere turns out to be our world, contemporary Tokyo to be exact. He planned to regroup before returning to his world but quickly finds out that our world does not have magic like his world does and that fact will seriously complicate his plan. While his lieutenant works on finding a way back, Satan goes to work at a local McDonald’s clone to make ends meet. He might have settled down to a peaceful life but he, and his lieutenant, were not the only ones that used the dimensional portal – the hero followed him to Earth and is looking to finish the job of killing the demon lord off.
The Fine Print
Of the dozen or so new anime series I’ve watched, Hataraku Maou-sama is probably the second most surprisingly good series I’ve watched. (Suisei no Gargantia remains number one.)
Hataraku Maou-sama is not a straight up comedy series, which is probably a good thing with the director’s track record; instead, it’s attempts to entertain the viewer by being amusing. Take, for example, this series of scenes where the demon lord and lieutenant navigate the hoops that living in modern-day Tokyo demands. The first step is to …
It’s not side-splitting comedy, though I did chuckle a bit, but I was grinning from ear-to-ear over how profoundly amusing this sequence of scenes was. And, so far, the whole series has perfectly executed this desire to amuse the viewer. This alone would be enough for Hataraku Maou-sama to be a success but I don’t think the creators and animators are done adding value to this anime. The second episode added a couple hooks – strange emails, anomalous localized earthquakes, and an attack using magic – that suggest something more is going on as well.
There are, of course, other reasons that help this series turn out so good. One is the characters. There hasn’t been a lot of what would be termed “character development” but watching our three refugees (Demon lord, lieutenant, and Hero) work so hard at carving a spot out in our world is just too heartwarming that one can’t help but like them all. Another is the surprisingly good background music. I’m not one to normally notice the soundtrack but there were several points in both episodes that I found myself mentally complimenting the show for it’s music. There’s also the great vocal work done by the principle seiyuu. And another reason is that White Fox was obviously not given a huge budget to play with but they know how to maximize their resources by changing up the animation style, working the camera angles, and using the background to add weight to a shot.
So, Hataraku Maou-sama has turned out better than I expected and I’m glad I gave it a shot. I definitely recommend giving this series a chance to those potential viewers reading this. As for if this anime can join the other White Fox series at the top this year, only time will tell.
Rating for episode 1 – 10.5/12 Strong A
Rating for episode 2 – 10.5/12 Strong A
Animation: 3/5 – Good
Anticipation Level: 3/5 – Average to Medium