Action-comedy series are a dime dozen in most cases. Fortunately, Hataraku Maou is one of the more attractive ones that I have seen for the Spring 2013 anime season and would have been so if it could manage to make the two elements work in synchronicity. Regardless, it provides a nice and entertaining distraction when and if you want it.
Series Name: Hataraku Maou-sama (Translated as –The Devil is a Part-Timer!)
Studio: White Fox
Genre: Comedy, Action, Fantasy
Much like most of the lineup for the Spring 2013 season, Hataraku Maou-sama was one the titles that I gravitated toward and stuck with for reasons unknown. Expecting something along the lines of Ben-to from two years ago, Maou-sama was not exactly what I would call a perfect fit – if anything it was far from it, but it was not horrible either. With all the many disappointments and mediocrities that were present, Maou-sama was nothing more than a harmless distractions with problems of its own, but still an enjoyable mix of the action-comedy genre. It could have been so much better, though.
One of the minor problems that plague Maou-sama is its tone. Unlike series like Ben-to or Haiyore! Nyaruko-san that has a clear and precise vision of what it wishes to do, Maou-sama flops around aimlessly most of the time with both elements of action and comedy. A vast majority of the jokes are repetitive or humorous, most of the action scenes are short-lived and shallow, and most the background history for other characters introduced seem useless at best. That is not too say that the entire show is aimless, but really does not have a clue; especially at the beginning of what it wants to do. Beyond that, for the most part, the rest of Maou-sama is quite entertaining has it details Satan and Alciel encounters with others from Ente Isla such as the Hero, Emi Yusa (who is also stuck on Earth), and people on Earth such as Satan’s MgRonalds co-worker, Chiho that play their parts in both the realm of pure tomfoolery and action-driven points. Maou-sama is more comedy than it is action, so its comical effect certainly does rely on its characters a great deal; which I feel that it does not utilize as effectively and efficiently as possible, but still manages to get the job done. As much as it tries to flex the action muscles it has, the gags and giggles is more where the show had promise and should have strengthened itself accordingly, only if was for this particular season. However, over the course of 13 episodes, Maou-sama successfully engaged my attention with what it presented and part of the tale it wished to tell, so that in itself is an accomplishment. Hard to say if it is getting another season, but if does, I hope it accurately find the voice it is looking for.
Best known for its work on Steins;Gate and Jormungand, White Fox acts the animation studio for the series and by far, I would say that the work on it is average. While character designs are quite detailed and vivid, the action components; especially earlier in (expect for the 1st episode) are quite shoddy and unwieldy. This might be due to the nature of the show itself, but if you expecting something that is akin to a standard action show, this is not the case. The artwork and animation do go great together at times, but for others, quality control does seem to be a large issue with over-exaggerated facial expressions and other oddities. Where the animation falls short, I must admit that the soundtrack is one of the most note-worthy aspects of Maou-sama and one that perfectly adds to its ambiance. I really enjoyed listening to a bunch of pieces such as one that has a very distinctive Middle Eastern vibe to it; with a droning Oud (stringed instrument) and another with moments when Satan transforms which is accompanied by a very modern and rocking guitar solo of triumphant proportions. Just like for anime series like Highschool DXD, Ryosuke Nakaishi is the series musical composer and does a very excellent job with composing pieces ripe for whatever comes the viewers way.
At the end of the day, Hataraku Maou-sama is not perfect, deep, or exceptional enough become a new paradigm within its genre. It doesn’t have to be. However, it is sometimes witty, sometimes cool, and other times compelling enough to be refreshing. It tends to trip over its own feet when it comes to slapstick, gags, and fantasy-fueled brawls; but can be easy to forgive sometimes. If you can look past most of those shortcomings, it is a fairly decent title. Action-comedy series are a dime dozen in most cases. Fortunately, Hataraku Maou is one of the more attractive ones that I have seen for the Spring 2013 anime season and would have been so if it could manage to make the two elements work in synchronicity. Regardless, it provides a nice and entertaining distraction when and if you want it.
Pros: Very interesting cast of characters, nice world-building elements, amazing soundtrack, very witty and entertaining
Cons: action and comedy elements are awkwardly implemented or poorly executed, most background information is useless, action sequences are lackluster,