The Devil is a Part-Timer!! episode 6

Rating: B

Last episode ended with the not-so-vague impression that something was out in the fog, and the more vague impression that Amane had more of a sense of something genuinely supernatural in that fog than she was letting on. This episode not only confirms both of those suspicions but also further suggests that there’s something inhuman (or at least not ordinarily human) about Mikitty and her family. In the process, however, the episode also raises a whole batch of new questions.

First, the creature seemingly out in the fog is revealed to be a demon, and not just one. Why demons are popping up in the fog, seemingly without being aware of the presence of Satan, Alciel, and Lucifer is a mystery almost as big as the fog manipulation that’s terrorizing them (with the intent of driving them off, it would seem), but at least the latter mystery gets revealed by the end of the episode. Why Satan’s adjutant and regent, the bird-themed Camio, has also appeared is also still a mystery, as one would think that he’d be too busy to be out and about personally when problems exist in the demon realm. Looks like we’ll have to wait until next episode to find out about that. At least Camio reverting to a bird is easy enough to surmise: that’s his natural form when he lacks sufficient demonic power for his more humanoid form.

Even based on anime-only content, though, some reasonable speculation can be made about Amane, the one Camio acknowledges as defeating him. She lives at the farthest eastern point on Japan’s main island, which would be a natural place to be if one were a guardian against portals and/or other supernatural phenomena that might appear out at sea. (Or the fact the that beach restaurant was in such decrepit shape might mean that she doesn’t always live out her but came out at this time because she sensed trouble in the area.) If she does, indeed, play that role, then Mikitty also in some way being a protector of Earth would logically follow, which would then mean that neither the new “Devil King’s Castle” being where it is nor the devils having been invited out to work here were coincidences.

Beyond this, the episode otherwise involves the ladies around Maou helping out when Maou and crew get overwhelmed by business, which could also be looked at as an excuse to have the ladies traipsing around in swimsuits (albeit remarkably tasteful ones). Lucifer also has an interesting talk with Emilia and some background details about how Camio fits into the picture also get elaborated on, helping to fill out the story’s background a little more. However, all of that is far less interesting than what’s going on with the main plot. Whatever the mysteries at hand turn out to be, next episode (which could well conclude the adaptation of the fourth novel at the pace that the story is progressing) should be a much more intense one.

Is It Wrong to Try to Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon? IV episode 5

Rating: A-

Over the course of the franchise, Bell Cranel has fought a number of epic battles, but in most of those he has been fighting from the underdog position. The circumstances are always desperate, the foe is always stronger, and the look of grim determination is always on his face. But not this time. This Bell is calm and collected despite facing a magic stone-boosted Enhanced Species which gave even a level-boosted Aisha a hard time. For the first time this season, everything is in sync for him, and he is, if not the master of the situation, at least not at its mercy, either. He takes the lessons he has learned since his fight with Asterios and puts them to good use in another spectacular show against the Moss Huge. After watching that fight, it’s not at all hard to understand why the middle parts of the episode seemed to be skimping on the fight animation. The animators were saving their efforts for this.

But Bell isn’t the only one who gets to show off this time. We finally get to learn what Haruhime’s new spell – Kokonoe – is, and it’s worth the wait: an enchantment which allows her to apply another spell she knows to a number of targets equal to the number of mystical fox tails she can manifest (currently five). Anything in an RPG which can turn a single-target spell into even a dual-target one is potent, usually requiring the spending of limited-use points or or higher spell slots; to put this in perspective, a Dungeons & Dragons 5th edition spell which can be multi-targeted this way would require a slot four levels higher than normal (for example, 8th level instead of 4th) to accomplish what Haruhime is doing here. Add that to how incredibly strong a Level Boost is in this setting and you have a group buff worthy of its lengthy casting time and playing defense just to allow her to use it. (And it’s perfectly understandable why Aisha didn’t want anyone knowing about it, too.) Under any other circumstances, this would be a game-changer, but the Moss Huge is clever enough to get around even that. Unfortunately for him, Bell’s arrival is imminent, and Welf still has an ice magic sword left to seal off the Moss Huge’s retreat.

As fun as the fight is to watch, the exact finishing move Bell comes up with is even more satisfying. Hestia Knife is a unique weapon that is a symbol of Bell’s bond with his goddess, and Hestia is the goddess of the sacred flame of the hearth. (In fact, her Roman equivalent Vesta was even sometimes regarded as the physical manifestation of the hearth flame.) Combining his Argonaut skill and Firebolt spell with Hestia Knife to create a super-charged flaming blade is a sweet combo move, and the name for it – Argo Vesta – symbolizes the unity of its origins from both himself and Hestia. Like many previous major fights, this one is very much the summation of what Bell has experienced to date. Certainly doesn’t hurt that Keiji Inai’s musical score is in its finest form during both Bell’s fight and the earlier one by his companions, either. Almost lost in all of this is that Lily gets another fine character moment in the midst of all of this and Marie gets to make one more cameo appearance as well.

This mostly – but not entirely! – completes the adaptation of novel 12. All that’s left is a relatively short epilogue (certainly not warranting more than a few minutes of episode time), but it’s a big one which sets up the rest of the arc. Since the end of that would make a perfect episode-ending cliffhanger, I’m curious to see what the adaptation will do with the next episode.

The Devil is a Part-Timer! episode 5

Rating: B

That there would be major consequences for one wall of the “Devil’s Castle” getting blown out last episode stood to reason, as this series just doesn’t hand-wave details like that. Hence, that the devils and Suzuno would be temporarily evicted while landlord Mikitty had repairs done was to be expected. What wasn’t expect was that Maou missed another important detail while in his funk over thinking that he had lost Alas Ramus: that MgRonalds was also going to be temporarily closing for renovations, in a very Douglas Adams-esque twist of irony.* Suzuno can temporarily move in with Emi, but what are the devils supposed to do?

As it turns out, Mikitty isn’t as thoughtless as all that. The first season briefly showed that Mikitty was aware of way more than she should be about the Enta Islans, so there’s every possibility that her recommending them to help out her niece Amane Ohguro, who needs live-in seasonal workers for her beachfront shack, was as much part of a bigger scheme as just doing a solid for a relative. Indeed, Amane’s words at the end of the episode, her earlier tale about ghost fishermen, and the giant outline in the fog all suggest that something supernatural may be afoot out on the beach as well. Perhaps this will eventually lead to some clues about the first series’ biggest unresolved mystery: who and/or what Mikitty really is? More immediately important, though, is Emi manufacturing an excuse for her and Suzuno to travel to the same location to check up on Maou (and perhaps keep Alas Ramus from flipping out over not getting to see “daddy” for a long while) and Chiho finding her own reason to come as well.

This franchise being what it is, there is, of course, a ton of other minutiae to sort out first. In a welcome move, Chiho’s mother (who will appear periodically throughout the rest of the franchise) gets introduced here. Parents are something which all-too-often get pushed into the background or hand-waved in anime titles, but showing that there is a good and trusting relationship going both ways there (which puts her in stark contrast to everyone else in the series) adds an extra dimension to the characterizations. That and the way that she can serve as a bridge between Emi and Maou – as she is adored and trusted by both sides – is elevating her above just Wannabe-Girlfriend status and into Sensible Girl status as well. She’s becoming the glue that binds the two sides together as much as Alas Ramus is. By comparison, Sariel’s presence is little more than a cameo, but also perfectly in line with the series’ normal shtick.

On technical fronts, this novel begins the adaption of novel 4, but in very condensed fashion; anime-only viewers may be surprised to know that this episode covers a whopping 140+ pages, or about 60% of the novel. Knowing that, where the condensing is going on should be more obvious, as the novel goes into much more meticulous detail about everything which transpires in the episode, especially the montage scenes. Frankly, I think I actually prefer this version, as the storytelling here gets all of the crucial points across, including the travelogue-type spirit of the journey out to the beach, and the details being left out largely are not important. Amane’s character design is also a plus, as it makes for a perfect replication of her picture in the novel, and the huskier voice of Yuko Kaida (Flare in the recent The Executioner and Her Way of Life) fits the part well. On the downside, the visual quality seems off in this episode, as can be seen in the screenshot above. Thankfully, this is the most mundane part of this novel, so hopefully things will look better when the swimsuits roll out next episode.

Overall, this is a run-of-the-mill episode for the franchise, one which features the gang dealing with real-life problems while vaguely setting up for bigger events to come.

* – For those who don’t get this reference, it refers to a defining situation early in the The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, where co-protagonist Arthur Dent doesn’t find out until too late that his house is scheduled for demolition to make way for a new bypass (because the plans were in a place he didn’t know about), only to have that circumstance replicated onto the entire Earth when aliens come to demolish Earth to make way for a hyperspace bypass.

Is It Wrong to Try to Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon? IV episodes 3-4

Rating: B+

Among the other series that I am still following this season is Harem in the Labyrinth of Another World, which I’m sticking with mostly to see if an isekai series where sex is a core element can actually amount to anything. Even though DanMachi is not an isekai series, both are still RPG-driven fantasy series featuring a male protagonist who gradually gets surrounded by a bevy of love interests, and the dungeon-crawling both have focused on in their last couple of episodes provide plenty of room for comparison and contrast. Unsurprisingly, the two are nowhere near on the same level in both qualitative factors and compelling entertainment value, and you shouldn’t have to guess which one comes out on top.

DanMachi has a well-earned reputation for its effectiveness in capturing the spirit of high fantasy, and that is solidly in play so far this season. Foes feel intimidating, fights are awash in dramatic staging and impactful use of musical score, and something interesting is always going on. The Moss Huge’s combination of personal power, devastating parasitic attack, and horrifying cunning presents a wonderfully new, deadly challenge for Bell and his companions, whether it’s the way it separates Bell for the rest of the party or the way it provokes a monster parade to attack the main group. The main party is struggling but persisting thanks to a combination of teamwork, preparation, and their own cleverness, enough so that even Aisha is acknowledging that they are worthy of respect, and they’re doing so despite one of their own having been laid low and a passel of incapacitated elves and dwarves to protect. Despite a brief lapse in episode 3, Lily is shining in the role of commander, showing that she doesn’t have to be just Bell’s loyal follower, Cassandra is proving her worth with her group healing, and episode 4 ends with Haruhime preparing to unleash her spectacular new trick, one so big that Aisha is swearing the unaffiliated onlookers to secrecy over it. (As a novel reader, I can assure that it will not disappoint.) In all, the group is clicking even without Bell, and the music and animation provides ample support.

Bell gets his own adventure, too. After being swept away by the currents and weathering a fantastic action scene against the super-fast bird monsters, he encounters a new Xenos: the mermaid Marie. She’s a delightful new addition even if you set aside her (considerable) fan service value. She knows the other Xenos but cannot be with them on a regular basis because she is water-bound, which leaves her lonely and somewhat isolated, and the writing handles well how that shapes her behavior towards Bell. Couple that with the power of her mermaid song and Bell couldn’t ask for a better ally on a floor where water is almost everywhere.

By comparison, Harem has also offered two straight episodes dominated by dungeon-crawling, but that experience is as bland as it can possibly get, with the only minor interest factor being Roxanne showing off some smooth moves and how much of a battle junkie she actually is. The dungeon design is workmanlike at best, the monster designs are dull, and the adventuring is more interested in game play-based mechanics than doing anything exciting or genuinely threatening. Michio (Harem’s protagonist) is just a game player doing live-action play, whereas Bell is a living, breathing character who is actually on an adventure. If you only have time to watch one, which one is worth watching is abundantly clear.

The Devil is a Part-Timer!! episode 4

Rating: B+

Last episode ended with a crisis centered around Alas Ramus: despite Chiho’s delaying action, Gabriel was coming back for Alas Ramus in the morning, and neither the Devil King nor the Hero had the power to stop him. In the past, Maou confronted these challenges with a healthy dose of cockiness, even if he wasn’t always on top of the situation. But that was before he actually had something to lose beyond his own life (and job, perhaps) if things didn’t work out. Despite only being present for a few days, Alas Ramus has changed him, more than he’d probably care to admit, and that makes for a far more interesting emotional dynamic here.

Though the source novels had their faults, one of the things I always appreciated most about their story is that it didn’t cut corners. Very little in the story happens without reason, and there are always deeper motives with long trails behind them, trails that may be long-obscured but which eventually become clear. Despite condensing some content, this episode does a solid job of covering all of the crucial bases in the last quarter of novel 3. Maou may steadfastly insist that the story which Maou tells Alas Ramus and Emi is not autobiographical, but it also lays clear why he is taking his status as Alas Ramus’s father so seriously: she is the incarnation of the symbol of his rebirth and movement towards becoming the Devil King. Alciel’s comments to Crestia and Maou’s post-story comments to Emi together further clarify that his quest for power and domination wasn’t actually based on evil motives; he sought better circumstances for his people, and just didn’t bother to consider that it was coming at the expense of “others.” That he may have lost himself to greed in the process is an all-too-human reaction. Clearly this is also making an impression on Emi, though that doesn’t at all mean that she’s forgiving him.

The metaphysics going on here also continues to be interesting, as this episode clarifies that Better Half is also a Yesod shard, just like Alas Ramus is. Though the episode does not explicitly say so, that strongly suggests that the reason Alas Ramus calls Emi “mama” might be because Emi has another Yesod shard fragment in her and Alas Ramus can sense that. Connected to that is the episode’s first big surprise: that for all of her utterly-adorable toddler cutesiness, Alas Ramus is also an utter powerhouse when provoked, one strong enough the even Gabriel has a tough time with her. (That the outer wall of the Devil King’s Castle gets blown out in the process is not a trivial detail, either; this will have a big story impact in upcoming episodes.) A combination of these factors easily explains why Alas Ramus is able to bond with Better Half and make it strong enough that Emi can now stand off Gabriel, though that should certainly make for some interesting complications going forward, especially when Alas Ramus wants to see Papa.

But that’s not the only interesting development. Gabriel reacted very negatively to Maou bringing up the legend of the “ancient King Satan” and further warned Emi about a repeat of “Demon King Satan’s calamity,” both of which clearly refer to one of Maou’s predecessors. Both that and Gabriel’s comments to Emi about how she should have a clue to why the angels are finally getting around to retrieving the Yesod shards because of what she is (i.e., a half-angel) suggest that the status quo in Heaven has changed, and the mysterious angelic-looking woman who’s been working behind the scenes may have everything to do with this. The epilogue scene between Gabriel and Sariel provides an even bigger twist by ending the episode on the reveal of who she actually is: Lailah, Emilia’s angelic mother.

That raises a whole boatload of questions about what Lailah is doing and why (and about why she didn’t reveal her true identity to Emilia), but there’s also an interesting bit of Jewish mythology at work here. Lailah is the angel of night, but she is also in charge of both conception and pregnancy. By some accounts, her role is to bring the seed of Man before God to determine the potential life’s fate. If original novel writer Satoshi Wagahara intended the name choice to be meaningful (and, based on how thoroughly-researched the novels are, I have to think he did) then that makes her the most appropriate choice to be the mother of a half-angel and puts an added depth on what she’s doing with Alas Ramus. The particulars of these naming conventions is something that I did not pay full attention to when reading the novels, but I fully intend to pay more attention to that this time around.

The technical merits of this episode are more solid, too, with effective use of scene framing to keep the episode lively despite it actually only having a minimal amount of action. Still not entirely used to the more exaggerated expressions, but that is starting to grow on me, too. Overall, a strong episode held back only a little by some inconsistent pacing and the dramatics of the battle against Gabriel not quite 100% landing.

Special Preview: FUUTO PI

Side Note: Due to my attendance at the Gen Con game convention on August 4-7, this week’s episode reviews for DanMachi IV and The Devil is a Part-Timer!! will either be delayed much more than normal or skipped entirely. If skipped, they will be covered with the episodes airing on 8/11.

Streams: Crunchyroll on Sundays (at 9:30 a.m. EDT)

Rating: 3.5 (of 5)

Technically speaking, this is not a standalone series. It adapts a manga which was itself a sequel to the 2009-2010 tokosatsu series Kamen Rider W. It opening scene alludes to that and will probably leave any newcomer scratching their heads. A couple of other references later on also may be a little befuddling if one goes into the series totally blind. However, enough of the nature of the setting and what transpires here follows closely enough to normal anime storytelling tropes and conventions that any veteran anime fan should be able to catch on quickly.

The setting is Fuuto City, a windy city in both literal and figurative senses; much of its power comes from windmills, and indeed, even its name can be translated as “with the wind.” In that city, Shotaro Hidari is a hard-boiled detective – or at least, that’s how he fancies himself, while Akiko (the owner/assistant in his detective agency, who is the daughter of the previous owner) is constantly on his case about his narcissism. He does have a book-smart partner named Philip, but Shotaro mostly handles cases on his own. The current one is about a sexy, bewitching woman who is definitely a thief and may even be a literal witch, since she seems to have superhuman powers and possible involvement in a murder. Neither is unheard-of in Fuuto City, and Shotaro and Philip, who can combine to form a suited hero, are the city’s self-appointed protectors from such threats.

The visuals and animation look surprisingly good for what feels like it should be a low-budget series, and the production team makes some occasionally interesting choices, such as an extended first-person-perspective sequence at one point. The episode finds just the right combination of campiness, sex appeal, and darker elements to warrant its self-proclaimed label as a “hard-boiled detective wannabe” series, and it looks like it could be fun. With my view card being overstuffed already and the school year starting this week locally, I can’t see finding room for this one on my weekly viewing card, but I can’t rule out revisiting it later on.

The Devil is a Part-Timer!! episode 3

Rating: B

When is the idle babble of a little kid not so idle? When that child turns out to have been grown from a shard of one part of the Sephiroth.

The introduction of Alas Ramus started the greater plotline of the franchise, and this is the point where that plot really starts to take hold. Alas Ramus was obviously something special, but the revelation that she is a “shard of Yesod” made incarnate puts her in a hefty metaphysical realm. Both these names and the others that Alas Ramus rattles off as balloon or sentai hero/villain colors are references to the Tree of Life in the Jewish Kabbalah, with Yesod, Gevurah, and the others except Malkhut being Sephiroth (or sephirah), which are nodes on the tree; Malkhut represents the base, or Earth. Further, the archangel Gabriel is associated with Yesod in the Kabbalah. This would hardly be the first anime series to use the Tree of Life (see Neon Genesis Evangelion for one prominent example), but this suggests a more devoted application of its lore than most previous attempts. That also explains the tree which appeared at the end of last episode.

So yeah, it’s only natural that Gabriel would want a shard of Yesod back, and of course he’d want to recover Better Half, too, since Sariel failed at the task. (In retrospect, there was a clue of as connection here: the purple shock of Alas Ramus’s hair is very similar in color to the eye beams of Sariel, as seen in the first season.) That makes Alas Ramus’s words to Gabriel – about taking “Malkuth and Kether and Binah and Chokmah” – all the more curious. Just as curious is the strong suggestion that the pale-haired woman who’s shown up the last two episodes – and shows up again here to help Alas Ramus – is not only an angel but also the one who both saved a young Satan and (whether intentionally or not) set him on the path to becoming the Demon King. All of this speaks to a massively bigger picture to what is happening in the world of Enta Isla than we have had much hint of before. The flashback also explains why Maou accepts himself as Alas Ramus’s figurative father (since it was his actions in planting the shard which led to Alas Ramus), and why Alas Ramus would regard himself as such. Still yet to be explained, however, is why Emi is “mama.”

All of these revelations threaten to reduce to irrelevance a few other significant details in the episode:

  • The amusement park “family visit” was every bit on edge as would be expected, though Emi seemed to be stressing over it much more than Maou.
  • Rika was hinted at being interested in Alciel a bit in the first season, but now that attraction is looking much clearer and stronger. (Alciel is, of course, oblivious.)
  • Gabriel is every bit as eccentric – though in an entirely different way – as Sariel.
  • After being the victim of Enta Islan conflicts in the last two arcs, Chiho really steps up here to stall for time by willfully inserting herself into a third one. Go, Chiho! (This scene is also critical for establishing a precedent which pays big dividends both later this season and far beyond it.)

As well-handled as the content up to that point was, I do have a couple of issues with that final scene. Gabriel just does not come off as sufficiently intimidating in this handling of the scene, and that’s a mix of weak musical choices, questionable scene framing, and the vocal performance. Takehito Koyasu – who has done wonderfully well in many, many other roles – does not sound quite right as Gabriel based on the character’s portrayal in the book; while the portrayal of his eccentricities is mostly accurate, the description of him at this point in the novels makes him sound more condescending and threatening. That bothered me enough for me to rate the episode down a notch, but anime-only viewers may not be as troubled by it.

Otherwise, this episode is a solid adaptation of the third chapter of novel 3. The novel’s fourth and final chapter is a bit longer, so I am curious to see if they will try to stuff it all into episode 4. Based on current pacing, I expect that, but we’ll see.

Is It Wrong to Try to Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon? IV episode 2

Rating: B+

The first episode was well-spent preparing for Hestia Familia’s first on-the-books Guild-assigned expedition, so with episode 2 the whole gang actually gets down to business. The result is a well-balanced episode which showcases much of what has made DanMachi so entertaining so far.

Although the quintet of Bell, Lily, Welf, Mikoto, and Haruhime are entertaining enough on their own, the additional cast members add some welcome extra dynamic to the group interactions. They already show in early, more minor encounters that they can work together well in a fight, but the additional personalities also offer neat extra little quirks, like how timidly Cassandra hugs the walls while going down a cliffside trail or how Aisha can poke Lily just right to prompt her greed to override her caution while Daphne provides Lily the reassurance that she’s doing her commander job well or gives Cassandra a playful head-butt. It also makes the camp scene more lively and provides room for observations on various characters, especially Bell.

The episode strains a little more to keep everyone involved in the action scenes, with Daphne, Cassandra, Chigusa, and Haruhime all having little to show off at this point. Still, the Great Falls offers a diverse variety of threats from every angle, giving most of the other characters at least some opportunity to show off. My favorite move prior to the feature encounter was probably Mikoto’s somersaulting kick, but even that pales in comparison to the far more substantial threat presented by the moss monster. Though Enhanced Species have popped up on a few occasions in Sword Oratoria, this is Bell and crew’s first encounter with one that wasn’t a Xenos, and it presents a suitably terrifying foe. It’s clearly intelligent, has some nifty moves, and an area-spray attack with projectiles that can grow plants out of wounds on successful hits. Kudos to the adaptation team for making the monster every bit as much of a threat in visuals as it was in writing.

The quality work on the background art also cannot be overlooked. The different venues of the Dungeon can provide a wide variety of looks, but the team has outdone itself here. The only minor complaint is that the character animation sometimes stands out a little too much against the CG used for the water, but the visuals are impressive enough otherwise to allow that to be overlooked.

On the whole, this episode is a perfect encapsulation of what it means to be on an adventure in a fantasy RPG. I have little concern that the adaptation of the rest of novel 12 won’t also be at least as strong.

Bonus Preview: The Maid I Hired Recently is Mysterious

Streams: Crunchyroll on Saturdays

Rating: 2 (of 5)

(NOTE: Given how late this series is debuting, I have decided to post this as a separate post rather than temporarily kick the main Preview Guide post back to sticky status.)

This new light comedy series features protagonist Yuuri, a boy who has lost his parents to an accident and, due to financial constraints, has decided to dismiss his servants and try to live alone in the family’s small mansion. A mysterious, sexy, purple-eyed maid (whose name he later learns is Lilith) suddenly shows up on his doorstep as he’s struggling to get by and offers to work as a servant just for room and board. But she seems a little too good to be true, and Yuuri finds himself so overwhelmed by her presence that he starts to suspect that she’s up to something. (And he clearly can’t tell when she’s just trying to mess with him.) While she does seem to have an ulterior motive, it’s nothing so nefarious as Yuuri imagines.

As premises for a potential romantic comedy go, this isn’t a bad one. However, the execution is decidedly lacking. A review of the first volume of the source manga criticized the content harshly for being obnoxiously repetitive with a single joke (i.e., that Lilith is up to something devious when she’s really not), and that problem definitely carries over to anime form. The gimmick with Yuuri misinterpreting in the most paranoid way what Lilith is or isn’t doing, and Lilith playing along with it only for that to backfire when it makes the situation even worse, is mildly funny the first time but gets increasingly tedious as it repeats in variations as the episode progresses. Doesn’t also help that there some inexplicable details here, or that Yuuri is an idiot; if there’s a profile of your mysterious maid in a book in the mansion’s library and you’re curious about her, why just look at her name instead of the whole profile? The end implies that Lilith does already know Yuuri and came to the mansion to help him upon learning of his parents’ death, so there may be a sweet story here, but the attempts to set it up don’t gel. Another problem is that neither character proves all that interesting; Lilith just isn’t playful enough for her character to be effective, for instance.

Technical merits and character designs also fail to impress here, leaving the series with little to fall back on. Maybe this one will get better as additional characters shown in the opener get added in, but will anyone still be watching by that point?

The Devil is a Part-Timer!! episode 2

Rating: B

The first episode ended with the bombshell revelation that Alas Ramus, the toddler who appeared from a golden apple and was capable of stopping Better Half with her bare hands, regards Satan and Emilia as her parents. This episode starts by showing that she’s absolutely adamant about that belief, no matter how little sense it actually makes, so now the whole gang must deal with the consequences.

The most immediate – though hardly most problematic – of those consequences is who’s going to look after the tyke. That Maou would eventually decide to take responsibility is not surprising, though Suzuno admitting that she has experience with kids is a bit of a surprise given her demeanor. Explaining Alas Ramus’s presence, and who she claims her parents are, to anyone outside of the Enta Islans (and their immediate confidante Chiho) proves at least as harrowing as having to deal with a toddler unhappy that one of her parents isn’t present, though. The episode offers two different types of problem cases on that: one is Emi’s meddlesome, drama-loving friend Rika, while the other is Maou’s manager, Ms. Kisaki. The former is just having fun with the situation, while the latter has some valuable advice about appearances that neither Chiho nor Maou is fully considering even once Maou does come up with some kind of cover story. She’s right, too, even though the situation is a lot more complicated than she realizes.

Essentially, most of the episode involves the cast adjusting to the presence of Alas Ramus and setting up for her “Mama and Papa” to take her to the amusement park together, despite the misgivings that both (especially Emi) have about the endeavor; Kisaki’s words about appearances also echo here, and I have to wonder if Emi’s decision to visit a salon in preparation for the outing isn’t going to backfire because of that. Going that far to prepare for a “family outing” certainly suggests something more than just a display of pride, but the way intent and appearances conflict has been a running theme of the franchise so far. Meanwhile, the mysterious woman from the first episode’s prologue is not only in Japan but also keeping an eye on Alas Ramus, while another angel looks to be Gating to Japan. Urushihara also has his own problems, as the comment about how even a seeming 2-year-old is more responsible about cleaning up after herself than him apparently got to him.

The big picture here still has only been vaguely hinted at by the end of the episode, but there are clues present if one knows what to look for. The mysterious woman has hair color of a similar hue to both the angelic-looking figure at the end of the episode and to Emilia’s Hero form (and, for that matter, Alas Ramus, too). Since that form represents Emilia manifesting her half-angel side, it’s safe to say that the woman is either an angel or closely linked to them. The meaning of Alas Ramus’s name is also significant here, as the “wing” part could be an angelic reference and the “branch” part seems more suspicious after seeing the tree prominently-featured at the end of the episode. Not enough information has yet been provided to piece together where this is headed, but the bread crumbs are starting to accumulate.

In an adaptation sense, the anime version is definitely condensing some things as it takes the first novel past the halfway point (i.e., to page 139 of 251), but it is not leaving out anything important. Even so, the pacing here – which is much faster than for the first season – strongly suggests an intent to spend only four episodes adapting novel 3. Also, the scene shown at the end involving the tree and the presumed angel isn’t just anime-original; it’s providing visual details that don’t come up until vastly later in the novels. That makes its inclusion an interesting one, to the point that I have to wonder what the production team’s intent is here. Clearly, the people producing the series had read the source material through to the final novel.

Overall, this is another solid episode which manages the established cast well while both using its trademark style of humor and setting up for what seems like a potential conflict next episode.