Episode Review: Hataraku Maou-sama 1-3

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WARNING, long post is long and will contain spoilers, it being a look through the episodes and my thoughts on them. If you haven’t seen this series yet and don’t want to be spoilt, turn back and go watch the series. Looking back it feels more like a pictorial, but whatever, enjoy!

Episode 1: Devil King, Standing in Sasazuka

What an introduction to the series. Not that it’s an entirely novel innovation, but well implemented it was indeed. Have some pictures that depict the first 5 minutes or so (apologies for the poor quality of the screenshots as I’m watching this on a Mac OS and they’re are not known for having mkv friendly codecs, i.e. no CCCP)…

Part of the opening scene, this reminds me somewhat of Maoyuu Maou Yuusha.

Part of the opening scene, this reminds me somewhat of Maoyuu Maou Yuusha.

Serious business here.

Serious business here.

For Great Justice!

For Great Justice!

Escaping with his life from the human retalliation

Saying this in a completely different language, he escapes with his life from human retalliation…

...into a place quite unknown to them.

…into a place quite unknown to them.

Right, so with the first five minutes we get a plausible background check as to why a demon lord might be on earth in the first place. However, once on Earth the mood of the anime switches from dark and heavy into something… well, resembling a little bit of slice and life. The transition is accompanied with well-timed gags and over-the-top voice acting of the language of the other world. It really felt like the voice actors were having so much fun acting out the demon lord and his subordinate, thus making it such a blast watching the two as they try to cope with living in an entirely new world and especially without their magic.

Hadouken! Bwahahahaha!

Hadouken! Bwahahahaha!

You don't know the half of it  bub...

You don’t know the half of it bub…

Such name indicates great intrinsic magical properties...

Such name indicates great intrinsic magical properties… Wahahaha! I couldn’t keep a straight face here! XD

Ahem… anyway let’s continue. By the halfway point of the episode, we skip into the near future where we see both the demon lord and his subordinate settling down nicely to life in modern day Tokyo, the lord adopting the name Maou Sadao while his subordinate has Ashiya Shiro. At this time, Maou has a part time job in a fast food joint (linking the title to the anime at last) while Ashiya goes around libraries and such places looking for clues to find a way to get back to their world.

The juxtaposition of the demon lord’s persona and the reality he’s rooted in serves as the basis for the series humour; on one hand he is this cold and ruthless leader who in his original world view humans contemptuously and brings about death and a reign of terror upon all of humankind, stuck for now in this world in a human body biding his time for when he is ultimately able to return home to deal retribution upon the human revolution. On the other hand he’s pumped up about promoting black pepper fries, 100 yen pay rises and generally making his fast food branch the best there is in the franchise. The discrepancy allows for some entertaining scenes and his rather humbling way of going about earning a living allows us to emphasize with his character even if he and his cohorts did try to wipe out the human race in the other world.

Throughout the episode we are also introduced to several new characters, notably the landlady, his colleague at work and the hero from the other world, Emilia. The episodes ends with the hero confronting the demon lord and while this scene could be seen as serious, the choice of dialogue just makes it absolutely hilarious!

With such an overblown close-up, who wouldn't guess that she'll play some sort of part later on...

With such an overblown close-up, who wouldn’t guess that she’ll play some sort of part later on…

Chivalrous isn't he? For a demon lord anyway...

Chivalrous isn’t he? For a demon lord anyway…

Such a dazzling smile befitting those working in the service industry... well done Maou-sama!

Such a dazzling smile befitting those working in the service industry… well done Maou-sama!

Meow... the demon lord's colleague at work, Chiho Sasaki.

Meow… the demon lord’s colleague at work, Chiho Sasaki.

The epic reunion of hero and demon, accompanied with an equally epic line!

The epic reunion of hero and demon, accompanied with an equally epic line!

From an animation point of view, it is up to industry standards. Great overlaps and exaggerations emphasizes the characters and their personalities, especially so during the demon lord’s initial entry into our world. Some short cuts were made here and there, but that’s all part of the process and there was nothing detrimental towards the overall quality I feel. The show has some nice stills and is also quite colourful making it quite a lovely episode to watch. Also, those ‘subtle’ references…

Woohoo, another MacD reference... bit different to the usual WacDonald though.

Woohoo, another MacD reference… bit different to the usual WacDonald though.

I guffawed, especially when I managed to catch what was written untder

I lol’ed, ’nuff said.

Music generally fits the mood nicely, from an epic sounding BGM at the start the music progresses to include music with a mystical feel to it and also the BGM played during gag scenes in slice-of-life anime. Also as a bonus, the ending theme for this episode features nano.ripe, one of my current favourite artist! Personally, a great end to a great introduction to the series.

ufhf

Such a good song too, Tsuki Hana or Moon Flower if one was to literally translate the kanji.

Episode 2: The Hero Prioritizes Work and Stays at the Devil King’s Castle

The episode starts with a look of the scene of the demon lord Maou fleeing his castle from the perspective of the heros of that world. Emilia, the leader of the group, looks up at the portal and chases down Maou… which leads us to the ending scene in the previous episode. With a scowling face she confronts Maou and exclaims that she’ll take him down and takes out a knife. What comes next… comedy gold.
hfhf

Pffffffff!

No seriously, the way the line was delivered, the timing of the music cut-off, the incredulous look on Maou’s face, the contrasting  atmosphere, all perfect! This pretty much set the tone for the rest of the episode, in which Emilia the hero (known in this world as Yusa Emi) and her daily life is explored. We are shown Emi’s life revolving around her job as some sort of helpdesk receptionist, her friends and visits to through the shopping arcade for dinner, at least before discovering Maou’s whereabouts. From there a switch flipped in her turning her into a full-on stalker who won’t let up on investigating Maou-san and his life. Events culminate with Emi losing her wallet after she and Maou escapes a sniper attack which leads to her sleeping over. Have some Emi pictures which capture her many expressions through this episode:

Badass Emi before she chased Maou through the portal into our world...

Badass hero mode before she chased Maou through the portal into our world…

Current Emi, who reacts after being mistaken for Maou's girlfriend...

Current Emi, who reacts after being mistaken for Maou’s girlfriend…

Pissed off, she makes her leave...

Pissed off, she makes her leave…

Emi at work

Emi at work. That pink-ish hair certainly does stand out…

Crying Emi

Emi crying from being ignored by Maou and Ashiya, what with her being all alone in this world.

Emi's

Emi’s look after Maou reveals his plans to conquer earth through fast food franchise.

Screen shot 2013-04-23 at AM 11.54.54

Reacting to her colleague’s comments on having a boyfriend. Oooh… are we seeing her tsundere side here?

Screen shot 2013-04-23 at AM 11.55.57

Stalker mode activate!

Here

Expecting grand plans on world conquest, this is the result of days of stalking…

Screen shot 2013-04-23 at AM 11.59.27

Still she can’t let up can she? Almost yandere like in a sense…

And we get to the final bits of the episode

And we get to the final bits of the episode, with her conflicting between asking for shelter and her pride.

Ultimately,

Ultimately, she chooses this.

This episode contains a light dash of fanservice in form of uniform changing and public bath house scenes, but nothing over-the-top really. Emi’s actions are well animated, with her overreactions to anything to Maou and Ashiya being very entertaining to watch. Actually, the came can be said for Ashiya towards both Maou and Emi. In contrast, Maou feels like a typical Japanese kid, almost having no trace of the terror he wielded in the previous episode. However, there are one or two scenes that hint at his (probably inherent) malicious nature so he probably still is the demon lord to a certain degree… if he wasn’t so distracted with stuff like mixing two foods together to make it taste like something else.

There is no opening theme as of yet. The scene at the very beginning showing Emilia from the other world giving chase through the portal cuts abruptly to where the show left her and Maou last episode. Also the scene at the beginning shows her companions, and as brief as that might have been I do hope we get to see them on earth. Also the series could do with more exaggerated other world language! It’s so hilarious to hear the voice actors and actresses do so we need more! With extra ham please!

There is one more in the party...

There is one more in the party offscreen, an old priest-like fellow by the name of Orba.

Also featured is a particularly clever exchange between Emi and Maou somewhere towards the end of the episode. The scene shows Emi confronting Maou at MgRonalds (lol) and while Emi is spewing out threats and orders Maou retains an AAA-service smile and answers Emi’s questions by taking down her order… brilliance!

No matter how many times I watch this, this scene never fails to make me smile!

No matter how many times I watch this, this scene never fails to make me smile!

Episode 3: The Devil King Goes on a Date with his Junior in Shinjuku

And so we reach the 3rd episode, where we see the focus shift towards Chiho and Maou. Here we also learn a bit more on the earthquakes that was mentioned in the previous episodes, usually in an offhand manner. But I’m getting ahead of myself there. First of, this episode introduces the opening theme for the series… which was in fact the ending for episode 2, ZERO!! The opening sequence uses clips from the first two episodes so there’s not much to spoil. Following on we see Chiho looking at a text from Maou agreeing to meet her to discuss some issues she apparently can’t tell anyone. Instead of the serious nature usually attached to such events, we get a bubbly scene of Chiho imagining the meeting as a date. Oh girls in lurve,,,,

A typical anime opening theme song

Finally, opening karaoke… orz

Ex

Excited an all for her first date of sorts… with a demon lord. Just keep that in mind.

Emi is not left forgotten however as she plays a part in introducing the antagonist… or at least that’s what I’m expecting this guy to be. It is very likely he was the one behind the sniping incident last episode, very likely. Hints were thrown at the viewer about the guy’s identity, from a quick shot of his jaw to Emi’s speculations. Hopefully we won’t be kept in the dark for too long regarding his identity. Also, engrish.

I is wanting to

I is want to return call, but I press wrong batton. (Note: above was spoken in engrish as shown)

A quick glismp

A quick glimpse at the villian’s profile… I’m hoping for ham on cheese, you?

This is followed up with another scene showing the discrepancy between the dark lord’s persona and how he is now that he’s stuck in this world. During the sniper attack, Maou abandoned his bike he takes to work and somehow the police traced it back to him within a day. Talk about efficiency! Having no one to vouch for him (guessing Ashiya doesn’t count as he’s living with Maou… I think?) he calls up Emi who then turns up at the police station…

...absolutely pissed.

…absolutely pissed.

I love how this line was delivered in a matter-of-fact-ly manner.

I love how this line was delivered in a matter-of-fact-ly manner.

Back to Chiho, she’s all pumped up for her date with Maou. So it’s up to Ashiya to coordinate Maou’s dressing for him, since he’ll just wear UNISLO outfits if left to his own devices… I have to pause here for a bit and ask whether its real-life counter-part can be used for dating situations or not. I’m not the most fashionable person I realise, but I always viewed UNIQLO as a rather trendy brand… or am I really not getting with it in terms of fashion today. Harrumph! Regardless, Maou gets a swanky outfit and meets up with Chiho, who I have to say contributes some of the cuter faces seen this season. Emi on the other hand wins the ‘Pissed-Off’ trophy this season hands down just 3 episodes in.

Still don't see why not... bu

Still don’t see why not… is there something I’m missing perhaps?

Screen shot 2013-04-24 at PM 05.11.10

I hear ya, but lighten up already!

During Chiho and Maou’s ‘date’ we get some explanation on the earthquakes and what could be causing them… and that Chiho’s got some hidden power in her making her more important than she looks on the surface (i.e. an ordinary teenage girl). Before things get too steamy between the two, Emi instigates the obligatory cock block (replace with female version here) and proceeds to get into a verbal cat fight with Chiho. Admist the lovely misunderstandings and all that, a massive earthquake hits the area they’re in and everything goes dark (they seem to be in an underground shopping alley, probably connected to a nearby underground rail station). Oh and Maou gets his demon form back… but retains his human side he developed while staying on earth all this time? To echo Emi’s question: “Why is the dark lord saving people?” No doubt this will be explained in episode 4, and as for what I’m expecting… well, it may be on the lines of ‘She’s part of my plan to take over the world.’ or even ‘Isn’t it natural?’ Actually now that I think about it further, maybe Maou suspects that Chiho can help in bringing him back to his world as she seems capable of receiving communications from there. Ah, but all this and anything further are mere speculations. Instead, have the last batch of pictures for this episode’s look through:

ssda

Jealousy is not befitting of you, Ashiya…

I'm really hoping they don't completely get rid of the other language...

Chiho demonstrating her talent as a wireless receiver.

lag

Apparently all these long distance calls aren’t so great for the environment…

vvv

Confession time!…

...not!

…not! Fight! Fight! FIght!

Aaaaaaand he's back, in demon form that is.

Aaaaaaand he’s back, in demon form that is.

Episode 4 will have a gag for this, mark my words... (I hope)

Episode 4 will have a gag for this, mark my words… (I hope)

Oh, and before I end this segment, the ending theme features a scrolling picture of Chiho in a summer outfit (sorta) and the music from the first episode by nano.Ripe. Yay!
Sultry

Lil’ vixen, isn’t she?

In short…

Looking back, I see that perhaps I went overboard with the pictures. Perhaps it’s me trying to catch up 3 episodes in one post but this feels slightly obsessive. I had to rein myself in as I had taken way more screenshots than I should have. Anyway:

Episode 1: Episode starts with a sharp contrast by bringing Maou and his subordinate from their world into ours where they learn to adapt and subsequently go about their daily lives in modern day Tokyo. Much of the humour is derived from the juxtaposition of their demon personas in our world. Add in over-exaggerated voice acting and you get a great episode.

Episode 2: Here we see more of the hero who fought against Maou. Emi’s life is shown briefly before she goes on a stalker hunt aiming to find out what Maou is planning (which is nothing mostly). Humour here comes from the contrasting personalities between Maou and Emi, excellently portrayed when Emi confronts Maou at his workplace.

Episode 3: Chiho’s ‘date’ with Maou is the main story here, with Chiho using the (valid) excuse that she can hear weird stuff, which she equates to earthquake predictions, to meet up with Maou. An antagonist is revealed here warning Emi and indirectly Maou to watch out. During the date itself, an earthquake happens and Maou becomes the demon lord with a kind heart…

Three episodes in and I’m eagerly awaiting the next one. Hopefully it will reveal more on who that mysterious villain is… or perhaps introduce more wacky characters from the other world complete with hammy voice acting! That’ll certainly be great to watch. Also, I can’t really make any call on whether the story is any good as of yet. It is however quite accurate to say that I went into this series expecting little from the story and loads from the comedy, which it does deliver nicely. Time will tell if the plot itself will be good or otherwise, but as long as they keep the amount laughs going I don’t really mind either way.

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Comments

  1. Mentar

    April 27, 2013

    Great summary ;) … keep it up!

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