Good comedies don’t really lend themselves to storytelling and character-writing analysis (well, unless they’re Community, but sadly only Community is Community), but this one is still smart and distinctive enough to possibly warrant real posts. I’ll see how it goes.
Hataraku Maou-sama! – Episode 2
1:55 – It’s weird to see a comedy work so well off direction and pacing alone. Here, the entire “joke” is basically just the overwrought tribal/operatic soundtrack, but it works perfectly.
3:27 – The war against the Demon King enters a new phase. Its first casualty: Umbrella-kun.
5:45 – How does this work? One of my primary worries regarding this series was that there wasn’t enough material in the premise to support a full series – but them just playing their lower-class domestic squabbles entirely straight isfantastic. I think I’m just a huge sucker for dry, understated humor.
7:20 – Ashiel’s look of delight at being praised for putting sauce on tofu cubes is adorable.
9:09 – “All I need to do is keep excelling at this job, and soon I’ll take over the world!” The joke is capitalism allowing for advancement in economic class. 🙁
Also, music once again the MVP of this show, and everything Ashiel does is fantastic.
15:16 – So her house is somehow related to the presence of magic in this world. I see the stirrings of a plot here. Just need a couple more details now.
16:48 – DULLAHAN, NO! When will this senseless violence END?!?!
18:33 – This show really knows how to ride that Girls und Panzer line of “matter-of-fact in the context of pure absurdity.” I really like how their argument seamlessly jumps from a magical sniper assassin to the two of them bickering about part-time scheduling conflicts.
19:50 – And now, Ashiel as overprotective father figure. “A hero? At this hour?” He gets all the best bits
21:10 – It’s nice that they respect her characterization enough to show her actually torn up over a situation this demeaning.
That was great! I was worried going into this episode that they’d pretty much played their own gag out, but the show has risen well above on the unlikely strength of its characters. Hero is still playing pretty much within the standards of her character type at this point, but both Maou and Ashiel have proven to be endearing comedy goldmines. This show has that genuine affection for its characters that all my favorite comedies possess; everything is funnier if it’s happening to someone you care about, and whole realms of jokes are only available if you already know characters well enough to anticipate and appreciate their reactions to new situations. Plus, it plays with its conceit incredibly well, because it takes their current living arrangement even more seriously than their epic fantasy one – if their current lifestyle didn’t seem achingly believable, nothing else would land as well. It doesn’t lean on any one thing (another hallmark of great comedies) – it’s just a set of likeable people who happen to each be two separate people living in two separate worlds/genres, which the dialogue, music, and direction all support.
I don’t think I found this episode quite as funny as the first one, and Hero still has yet to really impress me, but I find myself actually more satisfied by this one than the last, because I think it proves this staff can actually make this series work.