Hataraku Maou-sama! – Episode 12

Pretty close now – only two episodes left. Is Maou-sama gonna pull it off?

Probably – Maou pretty much nailed the dismount of the first arc, and I have no reason to suspect it won’t repeat that accomplishment this time. The dramatic stuff has never been the problem with this show – the characters are decently developed, the writing is sharp, and the direction is always pretty damn good. No, the problem Maouactually suffers from is a fairly common affliction, a little disease I like to call “Why Most Anime Comedies Suck-itis.”

Early on, the unique concept and good character chemistry offered ample fodder for humor – and this show mined it. It mined the fuck out of it.

And at a certain point, it struck solid rock.

So we got boob comparison jokes. We got “Lucifer sucks, laugh at him” jokes every episode. We got “Alsiel makes funny faces when he’s sick” for five episodes straight.

I don’t get it, you guys. [1] I’ve seen these jokes a thousand times. They were barely worth a chuckle the firsttime.

So yeah, that was kinda disappointing. Early on, the character relationships moved much more quickly, and thus new opportunities for humor constantly presented themselves – but when a show reaches a point of narrative and character stability, unless the jokes are really sharp or creative, the humor has a tendency to suffer diminishing returns. And that certainly happened here, at least for me.

But why am I being so down now, of all times? We’re actually in the middle of what this show does best – being a winking, fantastical semi-drama that undercuts itself with perfectly timed humor. Episodes 1 and 5 nailed the shit out of this formula, and I’m eager to see how this all resolves. Despite my complaints, I actually really like this cast – I like Emi’s personal struggle, I like the contrast between Maou’s helpful optimism and utter obliviousness to the horrors he’s created, I like Chiho’s unusually mature take on the usual upbeat girl archetype, and I like what they’re currently doing with Suzuno. I’m ready to see Maou save the fucking day. Let’s get to it.

Episode 12

0:10 – And of course Alsiel ends up in the hospital. This show always does have a way of naturally bringing the characters together when it really counts

0:40 – Oh Alsiel, so loyal. I know he’s my husbando and everything, but it’d be damn tough for them to make any of his conflicts work beyond comic relief at this point – they’ve burned those bridges pretty thoroughly

2:15 – Mm, this OP. I’d say “I really am gonna miss this show,” but it’s doing great in sales and there’s plenty more LN material, so I guess I’ll just kinda miss this OP

3:40 – “This is Heaven’s consensus.” So it seems likely the angels are just another self-interested bureaucracy

6:11 – Why do no other shows understand the power of a good reaction face? [2]

7:02 – And off with his shirt! I find this recent cross-studio realization that girls watch anime and like fanservice too pretty amusing

7:25 – “In what universe would a lovely lady suddenly move in next to a bunch of guys and take care of them?” There’s gotta be an otome adaptation for that – the reverse-Clannad setup

7:38 – “It stinks of sacred powers, but food is food.” Fantastic. This is what I was talking about – snappy jokes that come up naturally but don’t break the flow of whatever else is going on

8:13 – Maou chastising Suzuno. I hope they actually address the hypocrisy of him acting morally superior here

11:17 – “I’ll examine your body later.” Well this episode turned super-rapey super fast!

13:06 – “Heavenly Sliver of Progress,” eh? Hm…

14:17 – Are they gonna blow up the moon? Please tell me they’re gonna blow up the moon

20:10 – That rescue is pretty adorable. “Eh, I don’t have the energy to be tsun right now. Just put me down.”

21:40 – Okay, Alsiel repeating his “sorry I’m late” speech but actually missing the whole fucking thing this time got a serious laugh out of me

And Done

When are these villains going to realize that big, public displays of magical power are perhaps not the best way to defeat someone whose powers are based on frightening pedestrians? Jeez, guys.

Anyway, that conclusion was kinda tidier than I’d hoped it would be, but it was a snappy episode overall, and I think the jokes in general work much better when they don’t draw as much attention to themselves – I found Maou starting his victory speech, being yelled at by Emi, dropping her off, and starting the speech over without missing a beat pretty funny, for example. And his startled but kinda resigned expression when Sentucky started blowing up buildings he was gonna have to clean up was great, too. I wish the girls had a bit more to do here, but it was fine – I probably wouldn’t be complaining if the episode didn’t have another pile of boob jokes. Overall, I don’t think this arc’s conclusion was as satisfying as the first one, but I was definitely entertained.

It’ll be interesting to see how they handle the last episode – at this point, they’ve resolved basically none of the show’s actual underlying conflicts (Emi, Maou, and Chiho’s personal conflicts, the political shitstorm in Ente Isla), and I don’t think anyone’s expecting them to. This show’s in a pretty comfortable position regarding sequel potential, so it’s most likely going to be a few minutes dedicated to sending off our Team Rocket villains, a few minutes not-resolving the Chiho-Maou relationship, a few minutes of showing off the normal SoL dynamic, maybe one minute of Maou-Emi tension, and then maybe a last-second introduction of a new conflict to set up the next season (that or a joke where a seemingly personal moment ends up resolving with Maou being focused on his job).

Okay. Maybe I’m a little cynical.