Posted on 29 June 2013 with categories: Anime Reviews, Hataraku Maou-Sama



Comedies in anime. Most of them are… juvenile, to say the least. Lots of show center around dumb fanservice humour, and the majority of the ones that are actually funny are so because of their characterization. Hataraku Maou-Sama set out to do something special: it tried to add a bit of intelligence to its jokes. It’s something that it couldn’t keep up for its entire run, but it’s a very interesting attempt nonetheless.

Let alone that for once we aren’t following a bunch of high schoolers, but people who are actually working. Here we have a series in which a demon lord suddenly has to adapt to the human world while being stranded there, and by far the best thing about this series is the way in which he does this. This series likes to build up its humour: with a lot of jokes, you’ll be “ah, so that’s why they did that”. The jokes in this series are really well written, and quite often they really are hilarious.

This series is a mixed bag in the character-department. It has some really fun characters on one hand (Maou and Ashiya make for a very fun and atypical comedy duo), while on the other hand other characters are bland and only annoying (Chiho), and others are sometimes great to watch, and sometimes the creators don’t really seem to know what to do with them. A lot of these problems stem from the fact that as well versed this show is on comedy, it doesn’t really know how to do proper character-development. Change in the characters is either completely predictable, or characters just make giant heel-turns as soon as they’re defeated, and a lot of characters here find it very hard to move away from their one-dimensional caricatures.

So yeah, this series’ biggest strength is its comedy. The problem is, that this isn’t really consistent. Personally, when I watch a comedy, I really want to laugh a lot. Hataraku Maou-Sama has strings of episodes that just aren’t funny enough; for me, at least. It also has one really dumb pool episode that kills a lot of fun as well. this series also may be focused on a demon king, but really: remove that and nothing much would really change in the overall storyline. This series never really uses its own symbolism well, making the overall storyline even flimsier.

As for the production-values: this show looks crisp. Very crisp, and there hardly ever is a badly drawn shot. You can really see that White fox was behind it, because their consistency is always top-notch. This show doesn’t excel in over the top eye-candy, but it still is very pretty to look at, and the soundtrack has one very good track to it that also is used at the moments that suit it best.

The question is: does the best stuff weight up to the boring parts? Well, I’d say that if you easily get annoyed by cliches, then it’s probably better to pass this one up. If you’re looking for very well done comedy, then by all means give this one a chance. Don’t expect much from the storyline, and you’ll be set.
One-Sentence Review: Clever comedy with good build-up, weighing against a bit of a dull storyline.
Suggestions:
Ben-To
Seikimatsu Occult Gakuin
Ooedo Rocket

Posted on 28 June 2013 with categories: Hataraku Maou-Sama

Climaxes are difficult to write. They take a lot of preparation usually to do well, sometimes resulting in just strings of boring episodes. At this point, I stopped giving those episodes the benefit of the doubt, simply because it’s impossble to say whether or not they will pay off at the end. If the ending rocks, I’ll simply forgive the series for it, and if the ending remains merely mediocre, it just was a mediocre series to begin with. I endorse building up, the pay-off when done right is great, but it also needs to stay interesting in that process to prevent me from just dropping it.

The real climax of Hataraku Maou-Sama was actually really really good. What it did: it took all characters that were left on earth, and used them very well. Even Orba made a reappearance. Everything really flowed into each other and every character got to show off their quirks at their best. The fanservice jokes were actually good (interesting subversion of the final battle by putting the protagonist/demon king in his underpants). With this, I understand the time that was spent on establishing all these different characters, even though they seemed boring at the start (Suzuno being a big example here). In terms of comedy, and storytelling, this could not have been better. Episode 13 too was quite funny and creative, I like that.

But yeah, like expected the story wrapped up absolutely nothing. Nothing got resolved other than that that Kentucky Fried Chicken guy seems to have lost his marbles now. Yes, the sequel hook! In this case, I don’t think that that’s very wise for this series. Dragging it out even mmore would just be pointless and I already predict that there just won’t be enough material for a second season. The only way in which a sequel would work, is character-development. At the moment, Hataraku Maou-Sama’s idea of character-development is having characters pull heel-turns on their entire character once they get defeated. That definitely needs to improve if it wants to have any shot at remaining interesting.

And if there’s not going to be a sequel: then this series seriously failed to bring its themes together. In terms of its themes, episode 13 just basically repeated what this show has been yelling over and over again: Maou may be evil, but he is an employee and is bound by his duties… I failed to see any sort of conclusion. I’m going to think a bit now whether the show was clever and funny enough to warrand a recommendation…
Rating: 5/8 (Great)

Posted on 8 June 2013 with categories: Hataraku Maou-Sama

Episodes 8 and 9: yes! I really liked those. The interplay between the characters was at its best, especially in episode eight when Emi and Suzuno got together. That was what I had been hoping for: clever comedy that spans multiple episodes in its build-up. Even the rivalry with the Kentucky Fried Chicken was quite enjoyable.

Episode 10 though… holy crap what was that? A pool episode? Really? And I know, cliches on their own aren’t instantly bad and all, but that’s the thing: the episode was just completely pointless fanservice. It just had two points: showing to Suzuno that Maou likes to save humans, and deliver some kind of random box from Amazon.com (screw those trademarks, we all know what they’re talking about). I mean heck, even for a pool episode this was bad. All of the build-up for a haunted house was completely ignored when they actually got there (and really: why were the girls still wearing swimsuits there?). Also, the big threat was a bunch of crocodiles escaping. Seriously? Really, there is comedy, and just plain laziness.

What’s most important right now, is the big picture, or more specifically how this show is going to wrap itself up. After this the climax for this series should start. My guess will be that this series will have 13 episodes (not confirmed yet, though) and so in four episodes, this series needs to wrap itself up, while not forgetting that it’s supposed to be a comedy series. That blue haired kid who just screams “villain” still needs to prove himself, but by far the biggest danger is for the romance to take over the ending.

My guess though will be that the central theme will be Maou willing to help the humans of the world he ended up in. Now, how do you make a good ending based on that?
Rating: 4/8 (Enjoyable)

Posted on 24 May 2013 with categories: Hataraku Maou-Sama

Last episode I was asked to not focus on cliches anymore, and I agree with that. Cliches on their own usually aren’t bad. If a show is goring, then it’s just boring, whether it has many cliches or not. So with that in mind, I set out to view this episode with an open mind. And then this episode played the pseudo-harem card. Well thank you for making things so easy here, Maou-sama…

But yeah, the pseudo-harem card. Rather than just having a male and a bunch of females in a cast, a show just has to have romantic hints between the male lead and every other hot female in the series. It might not outright state feelings… but the hints lack any sort of subtlety. This is a cliche, but I hate it not because it’s a cliche, but because it’s just a completely stupid and shallow plot twist on its own. The fact that so many different series use it doesn’t really help. It makes the series so much more shallow than what it needs to be. Have the females fall for some side character. Heck, show some actual romantic hints that can be taken seriously for a chance! This is Maou-sama. It’s not a shallow shounen-show that is meant to appeal to young pubescent boys. It has proven to be intelligent in the past! Why is it not that now!?

Thankfully there were points at which this episode was smart again. Small points okay, but they’re there. In particular: for once a disease is treated as annoying, rather than dramatic. Finally a character is just out cold for a few days, rather than randomly fainting followed by heavy breathing with everyone melodramatically worrying over things. Oh, and disguising the holy water as vitamin bottles. That was pretty clever too.

Problem is, that these were mere details that could easily have been omitted without having much of an effect. My beef in particular lies with the holy water, which turned out to be just something to make a sword more powerful and completely pointless unless it goes over 9000. Beyond that… I miss the wit of the earlier episodes, and this show did not offer something else in return.
Rating: 3/8 (Disappointing)

Posted on 14 May 2013 with categories: Hataraku Maou-Sama

This was a very typical episode for Hataraku Maou-Sama: really good jokes, but lots of cliches. I’m not sure whether I’m the only one in this, but there are a number of cliches that just… annoy me when they’re being used in the first place, especially when they’re being played straight like what Hataraku Maou-Sama does. I don’t have this with all cliches, but things like the haunted school-building, or the cute girl that just falls on top of the male lead. They were especially annoying because in the context the creators could have chosen from a ton of other alternatives. This is a show about working life. Why do you have to stuff a school in there?

Nevertheless, I love the sense of humour of this series. This episode had quite a few points that just made me laugh out loud. This both goes for the characters goofing around while living their lives, to the jokes that are well built up at the end; yay for Checkof’s anatomy model.

As for the actual character build-up… I feel like the character-development is a bit stiff. Especially with Lucifer: he like, completely changed character there. But the rest of the cast as well could be a bit more dynamic, to be honest. I hope that this will come soon, because this would really spice up this how. Especially if the change is interesting, rather than just go with the expected. This show has the talent for that.
Rating: 5/8 (Great)

Posted on 10 May 2013 with categories: Hataraku Maou-Sama

In terms of execution, this show is brilliant. Random action at this point doesn’t really interest me at this point (you can blame Jojo for setting that bar so damn high), so I feared that this series would put the focus too much on them. But this pleasantly surprised me with really good comedy. This show plays with all of the tropes associated with these fight scenes. Amidst fighting for the death the characters are just running back and forth from home to get a special cape, or the main character being annoyed that he’s just playing a minor character. And the delivery just rocks. The creators here really understand comedic timing.

But I still wonder: would this series really have been any different if the main character was the Easter Bunny who for some reason angered a bunch of angels? I mean, on one hand it’s refreshing and all to see an evil overlord just living everyday life and all, but I just don’t get how the same person would have created an army to conquer and slaughter thousands. I miss background on who he was before he came to earth. And for example, what does he need the power to create this barrier for if he’s aiming to destroy stuff?

What I now hope is that the series doesn’t lose this as it goes on. Like, the characters suddenly get more and more serious as the series escalates. Keep the comedy and the chemistry between the characters. That’s what makes this show so good. Being epic is perfectly fine to make things exciting, but put the comedy first, and the epicness third.
Rating: 5.5/8 (Excellent)

Posted on 2 May 2013 with categories: Hataraku Maou-Sama

So, I had heard that this episode showed the explanation of why Maou suddenly became nice, but to be honest… I find it kindof a weak reason. I get that he didn’t really think about things before, but really: he just became nice at some point. How? Why? This episode simplified this way too much. I like series that blur the lines between good and bad, and with the set-up of this series that would have been a really interesting opportunity. It’s just that the characters in this series are either just good or bad. Maou too: he just now is one of the good guys apparently.

I have seen that more often: the type of series that glorify the devil. The good ones make the devil sympathetic, while still keeping him who he is: the embodiment of evil. The bad ones just turn them good, or find some sort of even bigger enemy in order to make him part of the good guys, which pretty much defeats the entire purpose of using such a symbolic character. They lose their entire meaning with that.

This unfortunately was by far the weakest episode of Hataraku Maou-Sama. This series rocks because it’s so clever, but I didn’t really see much wit in this episode, apart perhaps from that speech that the landlady gave, but even there she basically just repeated what we already knew. The annoying thing is that because of this, the cliches stood out even more. I mean really: the girl arrives in a room, sees a guy and a girl together and runs away? Daimou, you’re better than that.
Rating: 4/8 (Enjoyable)

Posted on 24 April 2013 with categories: Hataraku Maou-Sama

Hataraku Maou-sama’s third episode was clever: on one hand it was cliched, but on the other hand most of it was saved because you knew that something was going on, and hinted at previously. That turned a simple date into something intriguing. And at the end of the episode we still don’t know whatever the hell that was.

Having said that though, this episode was a bit of a step back in the comedy. It’s not that it was bad, it just wasn’t as good (the first two episode had some very witty writing). Still, I laughed. Emilia’s stalking and not being subtle about it whatsoever was probably the funniest.

The most notable part of this episode was the ending, though. On one hand it’s good, on the other hand questionable. I really like how there is change: Maou doesn’t just have none of his powers for the biggest part of the series: this changes. That’s very good. What I don’t understand is that he suddenly really got out of characters. Emilia also found it strange and all, but I still want some explanation on how some evil demon overlord has suddenly gotten so passionate about saving people. And don’t give me that harem crap.
Rating: 5/8 (Great)

Posted on 13 April 2013 with categories: Hataraku Maou-Sama

A really difficult question: whether to blog Dansai Bunri no Crime Edge, or Hataraku Maou-sama. On one hand I really like Crime Edge’s weirdness, compared to Maou-Sama that does have some cliches. Crime Edge also can be quite heart-warming, while Hataraku Maou-sama doesn’t attempt to be that. Crime Edge has an atmosphere, while Hataraku Maou-sama doesn’t really seem to care about that.

Still, what happens when you really start thinking about them? In that case, Crime Edge ends up being a celebration of weird fetishes, without really much depth. Hataraku Maou-sama on the other hand is one of the most clever comedies to appear over the past few years. Seriously, this series bites.

Instead of doing random joke after random joke, everything fits in this series, plus the jokes are all built up before you even know it. The earthquakes at first seemed random, and only after a minute I realized that that might mean something more. Especially when that random text arrived. This series is full of stuff like that, where you only realize a joke has been made, half a minute later. Or jokes that only work because of some clever build-up early on.

What also helps is some fantastic voice acting. I especially loved the part where that Hero was locked out of the demon king’s apartment and she started ranting outside of the screen. This series also really tries to be believable and realistic at times, which is what makes the jokes work even more: the suspense of disbelief is great here! How often do you see characters just doing random groceries, or just living their daily lives in the middle of trying to take over the world?

Just try to keep the cliches out of here. You’re better than that, show. *Har har you are fighting so you must be in love, har har*
Rating: 5.5/8 (Excellent)

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