Hataraku Maou-sama! – Episode 7

You’d think the show to most frequently surprise me would be one of the trickier ones – Gargantia is the obvious choice, but maybe Aku no Hana, or even Crime Edge. But no, my predictions have most often been flummoxed by the goddamn comedy.

I write down “I hope it’ll stay this funny” and it switches to excellent character drama. I swerve to “I hope it can keep developing these characters” and it introduces some themes about the capitalist class structure. I sigh and type “I hope its ideas can remain this insightful” and it goes BACK to comedy, with some action/drama thrown in for good measure. I decide to be content with whatever it throws at me, and then it throws out its first actual filler episode.

So yeah. Maou’s undoubtedly a slippery beast. I wasn’t a huge fan of last episode, mainly because I felt it didn’t really do much for the characters or ideas, but I think it was basically just indicative of the sometimes-unwieldy process of adapting a series of distinct Light Novels into one coherent anime. With that in mind, I have high hopes for the show now that we’re back in the swing of things and introducing religion into the mix, and I’m optimistic that “It will probably be pretty great” will prove to be a safer prediction than any of my previous ones. Capitalism, ho!

Episode 7

1:38 – That slowmo letter reveal. I didn’t find it that funny last episode, but the more they abuse the joke, the funnier it becomes

1:57 – Hikikomori translated as “bum” – I guess that works

2:15 – Again, the soundtrack is an all-star here, with those classic strings making her costume even sillier

5:55 – “You could say I’m just stalking some veterans who are peacefully living out their days…” Got it in one! Well, two, that was your second guess. Still good!

6:22 – “It really feels like there’s another Alsiel now.” Does that mean Alsiel gets a love interest?! WAS MY LOVE NOT GOOD ENOUGH FOR HIM?!?

9:44 – I love how we get like a quarter-second shot of Alsiel looking impressed at the Shift Manager speech, but nobody else gives a shit

10:45 – “I get the feeling I’ve gone through this before…” Well at least even the show recognizes these tsundere speeches are getting pretty tired

12:25 – Wow, they played that misunderstanding so goddamn straight. Beautiful. Golf clap for a show confident in not having to overplay its jokes – normally my biggest problem with anime comedies is the massive prevalence of“that’s the joke!” overplaying of every single gag, and here they don’t acknowledge this conversation is ridiculous in any way

13:42 – It turns out heat stroke just makes Alsiel even more moe

16:09 – Ehh, this Light Novel adaptation stuff still just gets to me. The first five episodes were so self-contained, and every piece built to a coherent finale that gathered up all the existing ideas – and now there’s just a lot of stuff happening in a variety of directions, and it’s feeling more like a television show than an anime.

Okay, I know that doesn’t actually make sense. But one of my favorite things about anime is that, unlike virtually all western television, it doesn’t have to be a commercial, seasonal product – it doesn’t have to maintain status quo, it doesn’t have to indulge in episodic conflicts, it doesn’t have to manage a variety of themes but never advance them. It can tell a story, and then at the end, that story will have been told, and everything will have fit together to make a specific point or detail the journey of some specific characters or whatever. But with these Light Novel adaptations, those “commodity” strings just become much more apparent, unless the Light Novel is already concluded and the anime staff have the freedom to draw elements into one continuous narrative. So when I see a show like Maou, where in the first five episodes every single element built to a coherent point, change gears and start using the status quo to build towards another “conflict-of-the-week” (or four weeks, or w/e), it’s just kind of disappointing. The writing and characters are still good, but I feel episodic adventures are just never as satisfying as fully articulated stories.

16:21 – …that said, “Tomorrow will see the opening of a formidable foe… Sentucky Fried Chicken” is a great line

19:16 – Aha flinging the cashier aside. Great stuff

And Done

Eh, that was fine. Funny as always, though I’ve had more than enough of Emilia’s tsundereness at this point – are there really people out there not yet tired of this shtick? A new threat has been introduced, new romantic troubles, Maou and Alsiel’s new neighbor seems like a solid addition to their domestic life… all this was good stuff. Alsiel still #1. But I really do hope this show gets back to the stuff that really raised my expectations – Maou’s perspective of his own past self, Emilia’s changing perception of how people work, both of them seeing society from the ground up for once. I know, I know, this is a comedy, I shouldn’t get disappointed over things comedies don’t generally do anyway. But this show did bring up those ideas, and kept the episodes they were inside just as funny – it might be greedy of me, but I want that stuff back.

Still a solid show though, and things should continue to gain more momentum again next week. If it trades off a couple of straight setup episodes with a few awesome resolution episodes again, I’ll be more than satisfied.