14 CommentsFirst Impressions / By Inushinde /

Hataraku Maou-sama Episode 1: Holy Potter Blood of a sorcerer and a dragon

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When writing this post, I was faced with a difficult choice: I could either go with an appropriate header image and a shitty reworking of “The Devil Went Down to Georgia” for the title, or I could show the episode’s finest example of copyright-avoidant Engrish and repeat it in the title. I’d like to think I made the correct choice.

Anyway, I didn’t go into this feeling very encouraged, seeing as fish out of water comedies tend not to be a font of original ideas, especially in anime. While they serve the useful purpose of analyzing (and often skewering) modern society from a much-needed outside perspective, anybody who writes a fish out of water comedy will almost invariably use Bill and Ted as a template, huff enough paint to coat the Empire State Building, and recycle the same jokes thinking that nobody will notice before passing out in their own literal and word vomit.

Hataraki Maou-sama deftly sidesteps this all too common trap by being basically Ika Musume, but with demons in capes and vaguely Middle Eastern music instead of an adorably inept cephalopod.

The premise is predictable fare—demon defeated in a pseudo-medieval fantasy world and transported through a portal into the modern day must adapt to the stresses of modern life, all the while learning how to return home and slowly losing the desire to, since all-night fast food and speedball specials kick feudalism’s ass any day of the week. Our demonic (anti?)hero and his loyal underling do what they can to survive in the concrete jungle of Tokyo: Rent an apartment, apply for identification, and look for employment under assumed identities, all the while planning their return home.

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The advantage that it has over its ilk is that it relies on timing and the inherent silliness present in its jokes, rather than trying to stuff itself full of lame gags and yelling for every minute of airtime like the least funny/loudest piñata in existence. They’re pithy and aren’t dwelt on for more than a few seconds before moving on to more ordinary city living. The first episode is rarely anything more than chuckle-worthy, but it doesn’t try to overwhelm the senses with cheap gags either.

The explicit gags are few and far between, but the way that it pads each joke with minutes of mundane Tokyo life serve as implicit gags that accentuate the explicit ones. It definitely finds its stride by the halfway point, though it certainly helps that there’s something undeniably charming about the very idea of fast food employee Satan getting emotionally invested in delivering the best he can for a promotional sale, to the extent that he’s willing to use his last ounce of magic to fix a broken fryer.

Unless the nature of its comedy abruptly changes toward the usual bog-standard anime fare of shitty sex jokes and yelling, rather than milking its odd gimmick for all its worth, this looks to be a keeper.

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14 Comments

  1. Shengar
    Posted April 5, 2013 at 10:02 am | Permalink

    The premises sounds silly alright, but it still somehow attract me about the adapting part. Better watch it or not?

    • Inushinde
      Posted April 5, 2013 at 7:18 pm | Permalink

      Go for it

  2. ZabiLegacy
    Posted April 5, 2013 at 10:26 am | Permalink

    I really liked it, especially the way that none of the jokes or aspects overstayed their welcome. However, my biggest misgiving was the episode preview promising fanservice.

    • Inushinde
      Posted April 5, 2013 at 7:20 pm | Permalink

      Doesn’t mean that it’ll happen, at least that’s the justification that I’m using.

  3. Posted April 5, 2013 at 12:49 pm | Permalink

    Yay, after Maoyuu Maou Yuusha last season, we now get the genderswapped version.
    I really liked this episode, it kinda had some Saint Young Men vibes and I like that. The comedy was subtle but got me to chuckle every once in a while.

    • Inushinde
      Posted April 5, 2013 at 7:21 pm | Permalink

      Hopefully it doesn’t drop the ball like Maoyuu did either. It’s got comedy chops, it’d damn well keep using them.

  4. Posted April 5, 2013 at 4:46 pm | Permalink

    I like the contrast between the hardcore opening scenes and the mundanity of the later scenes; it really pushes how much Satan wants to get back to his world since he’s willing to sink to that level of lameness to regain his power.

    Also, I want black pepper fries.

    • Inushinde
      Posted April 5, 2013 at 7:22 pm | Permalink

      You and me both. After the stringy sweet potato ones from last night, regular black pepper ones sound like an absolute delight.

  5. sandberm
    Posted April 5, 2013 at 7:26 pm | Permalink

    I found it amusing and am cautiously optimistic. I get the feeling that someone is going to learn a very special lesson about getting in touch with their humanity…

  6. Posted April 6, 2013 at 2:39 pm | Permalink

    Hmmm, dunno. As you said, the premise is extremely unoriginal and, well, I know humour is subjective, but I didn’t laugh once. Not sure even a wry smile was drawn from me this episode. It didn’t do anything particularly wrong, but I can’t say it did anything particularly right, either.

    Also, surely the point of putting Satan in the human world is the juxtaposition, but he adapts too damn fast for him to even feel like a fish out of water. He just comes across as this super competent guy… that’s about it.

    Long story short it’s gonna have to actually be funny to prove its worth. Right now it isn’t, or at least it certainly isn’t to me.

    • Pusswookie
      Posted April 6, 2013 at 5:17 pm | Permalink

      Well, It’d be strange for him not to be incredibly competent, being the Overlord of an imperialistic demon army and all.
      About the quick adaptation; maybe it’s a joke about how all the distractions of our society easily encourages such complacency.
      Honestly I kind of like his get rich or die fryin’ attitude.

  7. NormalMar
    Posted April 7, 2013 at 1:05 am | Permalink

    I was surprised at how Satan was so into his job. I really enjoyed this first episode, big grin on my face the whole way through.

  8. Posted April 8, 2013 at 5:18 am | Permalink

    Best first episode! I loved the comedic moments xD

  9. Posted April 29, 2013 at 8:32 am | Permalink

    Are you guys not covering this one episodically?

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