Rating: 3 (of 5)
I was slightly in error last week. While this mini arc isn’t in the novels, it actually is not anime-original, either; it did appear in the manga adaptation (which I have not read beyond the first volume). That does not make this any less of a two-episode filler arc, but it does mean that it could have some minor impact or reference back to it going forward.
Unlike the beach arc, the threat here turns out to be a much more mundane one: wholly human thieves out stealing from farms in the vicinity of the Sasakis and a thoroughly normal bear who gets startled into charging Maou, Emi, and crew by said thieves. That leads to the first of two mildly amusing scenes, where Emi winds up pulling wrestling moves on the bear. The second comes later, after Maou and crew reason out what’s going on and come up with a plan to stop it, and that leads to the scene shown in the screenshot above, where Crestia stops the thieves’ SUV in its tracks while Emi rips the roof on them and goes nearly as demonic in her intimidation as Maou does; this may easily be Crestia’s best screen shot between both seasons. I also have to give the episode a little credit for linking Maou momentarily getting his powers and demonic form back to the Kappa museum introduced last episode and the way the Sasaki family just rolls with the clearly-abnormal capabilities of Maou and crew under the grandmother’s “being with power used to be born from time to time, but there’s no need to make a fuss about it” logic.
However, the thoroughly ordinary nature of what’s going on here is also thoroughly underwhelming. If this was a more ordinary series than this two episode sequence might have been passable, but the series has shown that it is capable on way more than this on all fronts. It does allow Maou to ruminate a bit more on matters in the Demon Realm which led to the invasion of Enta Isla, and this may be a replacement for some minor scenes skipped here and there to this point, but it does not allow the episode to escape feeling like it is just killing time in between story arcs. (Leaving Chiho completely on the sidelines in this whole affair also didn’t help.)
At least the epilogue seems to be ordering things back towards the main storyline, though I am a little curious what the production team is aiming to do with the last arc based on that epilogue scene. In the original novels, the revelation to Emi that an angel named Laila was her mother came at the end of the first novel, during the scene that happened at the end of episode 6 of the first season. But that was skipped over in the anime version, only to be delayed until now. The delay has not really had any impact on the story prior to this point, so this may be intended to combine with the scene at the end of episode 7 to be a lead-in to a major plot point in novel 5. If so, I am quite curious to see what else about novel 5 they are going to have to jury-rig to make this work, especially with only three episodes left. Guess we’ll find out next week.