Hataraku Maou-sama! – Episode 4

Maou-sama! Last episode had a whole lot of exposition and worked hard to develop starting relationship dynamics between everybody except Maou. I thought that stuff honestly dragged the episode down a little, at least comedy-wise, but I accept that stuff like that kind of has to be established. So, now that all the story homework has been done, hopefully the show can cut loose and be fun and endearing and hilarious all the fucking time. Let’s get to it.

Episode 4

1:42 – This is the first time I notice the brutal irony of those classic derpy OP lines like “Put a smile on!” and “Your future’s waiting for you!” in the context of main characters working minimum wage to hold down a shitty one-room apartment. Ouch

Am I just projecting all this cynical class commentary here? I mean, the jokes wouldn’t work otherwise, right?

2:15 – Flashbacks?! Character development?! Be still my heart

3:15 – “The priest’s prayers will protect us.” Oh yeah, that was cynical class commentary alright. What was I thinking, doubting this show? It has about as much faith in modern society as I do

5:28 – She’s the daughter of an angel?

Okay, am I allowed to start thinking this show is actually smart, and does stuff for real reasons, at this point?

Because that concept gives me all sorts of ideas.

Like… her expecting to live within a just society where they are guarded by larger, benevolent forces, has now been replaced by her understanding that any peace (advancement) she gains will only be gained by her own hands, which itself is only possible because she was born into a position of importance. Meanwhile, her father, who was born into a position of no importance, is swallowed by the system and forgotten by its caretakers

Is the thematic relevance of that to the class-structure stuff on the human side too much of a stretch? It seems pretty solid to me

6:15 – Omigod, what is Maou’s backstory gonna be? Are we really gonna hit we are all products of our environment, trapped within arbitrary and uncaring structures, and only through human connection can we hope to rise above?” Oh man I’m getting thematic poignancy shivers

6:52 – “Is that the Sasaki you’re referring to?” Yesss coherently weaving exposition into the natural requirements of their conversation yesss. It’s so easy to forget in a comedy (well, this episode hasn’t actually been funny yet, but regardless), but no show can get away with poor dialogue fundamentals. FUNDAMENTALS!

8:25 – I said in the pre-text that I was hoping the show could get back to straight comedy now, but this drama is all just… kinda… good. Hm.

9:30 – “My lord, please punish me!” Alsiel when will you stop being Best General

10:04 – Way too much dramatic tension here. Emilia’s coworker is gonna go crazy on her any second now

11:40 – Nevermind, it was an Emilia’s-character-arc moment. False alarm!

13:28 – I really love how Emilia’s default evil stare comes off with that silly-ass bandage on her head

14:35 – It’s weird, this episode isn’t really all that funny, but I’m still really enjoying it. I just like these characters, and think the dialogue is really natural and good, I guess. It’s also nice to watch a show where, even if there’s fantasy stuff thrown in, most of the runtime is dedicated to adults dealing with adult problems

15:21 – “May I unleash the Dullahan?” There’s a point

16:20 – This is awesome. They’re basically outlining the “humor” conceit of the show – that it’s ridiculous a dark lord would be living as a model working-class citizen – but because of the context this episode has provided Emilia, it doesn’t come off as funny at all – it’s devastating to her to have the force she’s built her identity around living in opposition to betray her expectations this way. And it’s actually working. What is this show doing to my heaaad

17:35 – Oh man, and now they’re taking it from the other side – sure, this show’s cynical streak casts it in terms like burning fields and murdering fathers, but the obvious parallel here is the callous obliviousness of the upper class to the realities of the system that supports them. When did this show get so driven and smart?!

19:30 – Oh, awesome. I was hoping they’d use Miki-T for something like this

And Done

Hm. That was really interesting. It wasn’t really funny, or… well it did have some good jokes, but it didn’t come off like an episode of a comedy at all. It was a slice-of-life/supernatural drama/character story/biting social commentary.

And a pretty damn good one.

I don’t even know how to feel about this. It doesn’t feel like the show we started with, but it’s certainly also a show I really like. Maybe this will be a brief arc before establishing a new status quo? Maybe the creators are wary of running their same base jokes into the ground with repetition, and are curving towards drama, theme, and character to give the show more staying power? I can’t even guess yet… but I’m still eager to see what happens next. They certainly have my attention.