I’d be the first to admit, I’m not the biggest fan of comedy and I over-the-top and absurd scenarios usually don’t sit well with me. However, the story of Satan (or Sadao Mao) learning about the modern world and beginning his new conquest from a one room apartment while serving fries absolutely hit the spot for me and is a comedy I’ll absolutely admit I like because I find it funny and not in-spite of the jokes.
The comedy in this show is fantastic (at least for my tastes) as it balances absurd humour and satire fairly well throughout most of the series while still managing the odd moment of touching friendship and drama. While the occasional boob joke may intrude, for the most part the show relies on situational comedy and it plays the fish out of water card with precision and for merciless laughs.
Highlights include Satan’s dilemma over whether to use his power to cook chips when the fryer breaks. This is a moment stretched out for dramatic tension. He stands poised but frozen in indecision. He doesn’t have much power. But they won’t be first in sales if they can’t sell the chips. What should he do? And then the moment is broken and we see him hanging his head in utter defeat.
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Mao’s character is perhaps where this series succeeds. Mao is an incredibly powerful character who is defeated in episode one. His power is stripped away for most of the series allowing us to believe that this all powerful devil is in fact willing to play nice in the corporate structure of the McRonalds and actually does have to agonise over choices. However, because it is a comedy, through the power of plot convenience (and some quick explanations about possible ways to recharge his power) Mao returns to being an absolutely unstoppable bad-ass just often enough to deliver some pretty impressive fight sequences and even makes his usual arrogance and gloating tone feel less obnoxious and more just a statement of fact.
For an anime full of demonic characters, to be honest the demons really do demonstrate a lot of great character traits and while they try and maintain a cold exterior, these goofballs and just hilarious to watch and spend time with. Their grand plans and ambitions that travel practically nowhere are always entertaining and kind of inspiring even if they don’t actually succeed. Of course, the demonic characters end up being a lot more humane than the angelic ones in this story which has some interesting implications about the nature of good and evil should you choose to actually not just switch your brain off and laugh at the mesmerised crocodiles during one particularly ridiculous scenario.
Also, Emilia’s dissatisfaction with her own mundane life and her inability to accept her changing relationship with Satan is regularly played for laughs even while it addresses real issues about not judging books by their covers and learning to move on. That and to stop projecting onto other people. The anime doesn’t really dwell on morals and messages but there’s enough going on here that it doesn’t feel empty and each character provides a lesson of sorts.
Lucifer’s portrayal as an introvert and lay about also brings on some good laughs later in the series. As does his plaintive complaints about his treatment (given he did try to kill most of the other cast members).
In addition to comedy the show offers some good satirical commentary about the nature of the modern world and whether or not our current work/corporate culture is evil. This point is further emphasised in the final episode that moves entirely away from the clash between angels and demons and focuses entirely on sales scams.
While some of the characters remain one dimensional and the basic premise never really evolves beyond Lord Satan is working part time and somehow believes he will one day rule the world, this series is more than entertaining enough. The few complaints about the odd missed joke and the sleazy portrayal of Sariel seem petty when looking at the overall.
The music is neither good nor bad (it fulfils its purpose but is readily forgotten after the fact) and the animation is neither particularly good or bad, though the character designs do their job and some of Satan’s poses during the final fight with Sariel are pretty hilarious.
That said, I have to nominate Ashiya/Alciel for being the single most useless minion of all time. Like I get he’s incredibly loyal to Satan but he really managed to miss or be completely incapacity for every significant plot point in this anime (which is in fact the joke).
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