The Devil is a Part Timer is one of those rare comedy anime I fell in love with. It was even my very first series review on this blog. So now I’ve tried the light novel. What did I think?
I’m wondering how I would have taken to this book if I’d never seen the anime. Mostly because, I really didn’t enjoy reading it very much. The few moments of genuine enjoyment I found came when I was remembering how a scene was portrayed in the anime, rather than the words on the page. And given the length of time it took me to finish this as I regularly would stop reading to do literally anything else, kind of indicated I wasn’t getting into it.
Part of that definitely comes from my personal distaste of comedy. While the anime managed to pull off the absurdity of the situation the characters were in the book feels like it is playing it more straight and the whole thing doesn’t quite connect. The other issue being, that when I think of this series in book form, I was expecting something more along the lines of Douglas Adam or at least Pratchett in terms of sardonic tone to the narration and that was utterly missing. As was any tone really.
That isn’t actually an exaggeration. There is literally no personality in the writing here. The dialogue that the characters are given, has personality. The narration does not. Or rather it does but it hasn’t quite committed to the absurdity of the situation and the end result is something quite flat.
For what it is worth, the plot works really well. If you’ve seen the anime, you know it, though you will get a few more details about Emi and some of the politics behind things, but essentially the Demon King lost to the Hero and fled through a gate ending up on earth where there is no magic. As a result, he resorts to working at a fast food restaurant while he waits to reclaim his power, but in the meantime he’s determined to work his way up the management chain to take over the world in the most ordinary of manners. All that would be fine except the hero followed him as well and she wants to make sure he never returns back to their world but she also can’t bring herself to kill him when he’s defenceless.
This plot works well and when both the Hero and Devil King are attacked, the threat plays out really well as does the reluctant teaming up of the two enemies who now have learned to see each other in a different context.
Basically, the plot and the ideas behind it are solid enough if a little undeveloped.
The support cast aren’t used overly well and Chiho tragically gets thrown into the role of love-sick teen followed by damsel in distress with few traits in her favour. While it is all well and good to have her character there, the fact that both Maou and Emi end up protecting her and liking her in their own ways kind of feels like her character should have a bit more going for her than being sweet. And yet, nothing. She doesn’t do or say one interesting thing in the story and exists purely as a plot point. And Alciel is even more ridiculously useless in the novel than he was in the anime and I wouldn’t have thought that was possible.
This is one of those rare cases where for me the adaptation was much better. The comedy worked for me in a visual form with music and the character voices driving the dialogue. As a text, I just didn’t feel it and the story, while it works, isn’t interesting enough without the comedic edge to push it into the realm of memorable.
Lots of people seem to like this one as a light novel, but for me its another pass and I won’t be going on any further with this series.
If you’re interested in reading The Devil is a Part-Timer Volume 1 it is available on the Book Depository.