A solid and enjoyable animation is solid because it either delivers past its flaws or delivers these flaws in a fun, entertaining way. You watch Gurren Lagann because it pokes fun at and teases Japanese animation, as well as the robot genre itself. You watch animes like Gundam or Getter Robo to see those flaws twisted on their head or presented in their baffling, colorful glory. This doesn’t mean we can excuse the use of lazy filler or content because it’s just enjoyable and as time goes on, anime’s can become tired and dull from an over-saturation of these trends and tropes that mark it. So why did I enjoy what sounds like another fresh off the conveyor belt anime that seemed to be another exercise in typical cliches?
I’m talking about The Devil is a Part-Timer, an anime about fantasy Satan working at McDonald’s and fantasy Lucatiel of Mirrah working at a call center. This anime was enjoyable, its tropes on its sleeve and its animation solid if nothing to really write home about. I still enjoyed it. Immensely actually. Why was perhaps the series is one set heavily in its extremes. An anime can remain in a state of relative mundanity even if it’s set within a fantasy world if it chooses not to do anything interesting with it. I, for example, have no real investment of Sword Art Online, nor do I care much for watching the Irregular at Magic High School, nor even the Index/Railgun series of animes and these could all change with time. I still enjoyed the story of Sword Art Online for the most part and with time, I might enjoy the other two as well, but it doesn’t appeal in the same way the extremes of the human exterior’s of the people in Ghost in the Shell, contrasted with those moments you can see the inhuman technology that works them, becomes apparent.
Now, I’m not going to say The Devil is a Part-Timer tops Ghost in the Shell because it doesn’t appeal to me in the same way. But what it does do is contrast a landscape of fantasy peril, of grand concepts like angels and demons and simplistic ideas of nobility and justice and suplexes them straight through a table labeled ‘9 to 5’. Satan working at a McDoanld’s only works so well, because he seems to really enjoy it and has an aptitude for it. Seeing the protagonists struggle in these roles is all well in good but it’s strangely more entertaining to me to see the hero Emi actually performs extremely well in her task. It’s the adjustment period being so quick and the occasional reminders on the characters parts, their own surprise at nearly forgetting the place they come from which adds a layer of jokes that just appeals to me. There’s no spending an entire episode wondering at a single concept that puzzles them outside of perhaps the first few episodes which get a large amount of that humor out the way. It’s not bad humor at all and it’s done in just the right amount.
There’s something to be said for a story that touches the sweet spots of your enjoyability. It has just enough fantasy elements without dwelling too much in a generic fantasy thriller territory, it uses the mundane world to effectively spend time on character interactions while sprinkling some of the fantastic and combative bits in to keep you relatively interested in what’s going on. Keeping yourself interested I find is easy because it plays with enough of its overall parts to hit a relaxing, amusing rhythm. And it’s ultimately a symbol of what a lot of my higher rated shows that aren’t critically acclaimed do for me; they hit those personal sweet spots after a moment or two. If you taking anything from my review, enjoy the things you enjoy and relate more on why they personally give you the enjoyment you need. For me, Part-Timer was about taking the mundane and adding something fantastic, just hidden out of sight to it, even if its premise is much the reverse for our main characters. It creates a world fit with the tropes of an anime existence but with something a little more fun and a little more magical sat in its place. The characters are aware they don’t belong here and even there fantasy language is joyful to hear because it adds to the layer of not belonging. So it’s with that in mind I recommend you watch The Devil is a Part-Timer, especially if you love seeing that idea of a mundane world with something special in its corners. That said, I wouldn’t if you’re tired of the more general tropes anime presents often as they’re here and in spades. Because hey, jokes about boob sizes are tired and will always be tired.