Based on a popular 2011 Japanese light novel series by Satoshi Wagahara (which earned two manga adaptations the following year), The Devil is a Part-Timer made its way to the world of anime in 2013 as a 13-episode series directed by Naoto Hosoda. Naturally, source material that spills out into multiple formats so quickly must have an intriguing premise, so here goes: Satan, Dark Lord of the Underworld, works at a Japanese McDonald's. Along with his loyal servant and general Alciel, ol' Beelzebub arrives in modern-day Japan through a magic portal after suffering defeat at the hands of half-angel Emilia. Unfortunately, their magic powers were all but depleted in the process...and for all they know, the only way to get them back is by returning to their home of Ente Isla.
Until then, Satan's stuck at a part-time job and a modest apartment with Alciel...and as it turns out, the Dark Lord's human form (Sadao Mao, above) is a reasonable, well-mannered guy who's great at customer service, and his dutiful servant Alciel (now known as Shiro Ashiya) holds down the fort during work hours. Their humble routine is eventually interrupted once hero Emilia ends up in Japan as well (and is now known as red-haired Emi Yusa, toiling away as a customer service phone rep). Her reaction to Satan's presence is an equal mixture of hatred and confusion, as the once-feared demon is now a respectable young man who's just trying to make ends meet.
As far as gimmicks go, The Devil is a Part-Timer serves up as uniquely interesting as any I've seen in recent memory: the potential for riffs on religion, modern-day satire, and fantasy-based action and adventure seem limitless. Sadly, the bulk of this 13-episode series---which may or may not mirror part of all of the light novels, as I haven't read them---is more of a character-driven show. That's not to say that portions of The Devil is a Part-Timer don't immediately stand out: Emi and other characters finally get some well-deserved backstory after four or five episodes, other demons also appear in Japan to complicate matters even further, and the series fully bridges its mystical and modern-day elements when Sadao works his way up the "MgRonald's" ladder and battles a rival chain's manager, who turns out to be another demon from his former life. It's a lot to juggle...and while The Devil is a Part-Timer often has trouble with balance, there are plenty of great character moments and humor that keep it moving.
The Devil is a Part-Timer was originally released by FUNimation in 2014 as a Blu-ray/DVD combo pack that, like most of their titles, was a bulky and expensive package (also available as a bulkier and more expensive Limited Edition set). Though arriving late to the party, this new slimmed-down combo pack (2 Blu-rays and 2 DVDs in a keepcase) represents the best of both worlds: it's got the same great A/V presentation and on-disc extras from the first combo pack for half the cost. Overall, an enjoyable series that's easier to recommend at this price point.
Quality Control Department
Video & Audio Quality
Presented in its original 1.78:1 aspect ratio, this 1080p transfer of The Devil is a Part-Timer looks impressive from start to finish (and obviously identical to previous editions, so no worries there). The show's distinct visual style has translated well to high definition, especially the wildly varied palettes, stylish backgrounds, and smooth line work. Black levels and contrast are consistent; the series' sporadic effects also look quite good and blend in seamlessly when they're supposed to. The included DVDs seem well above average for standard definition, and both formats show no signs of common problems like compression artifacts, edge enhancement, interlacing, or other glaring digital eyesores. In short, an extremely strong presentation of a fun series that fans will appreciate.
DISCLAIMER: The resized screen captures in this review are decorative and do not represent this title's native resolution.
Two choices are offered in DTS-HD Master Audio: a 5.1 English dub and the original 2.0 Japanese track. It's obviously nice to have both options, but each has its own strengths and drawbacks. The English dub is a fine alternative to the original and benefits from a wider presence, crisp channel separation, modest amounts of LFE, and stronger dynamic range. Yet as capable as the dubbing is on most occasions, it just feels unnatural at times in comparison to the Japanese version (whose only drawback, to be completely honest, is the lack of surround activity). Overall, both options are satisfactory for different reasons but neither are flawless. Forced English subtitles (not "dubtitles") are paired with the Japanese audio track, while the English dub also includes forced translation subs for signs, background text, and other minor objects. Oddly enough, the opening and closing credits come with forced Japanese subtitles on both tracks, which is pointless unless you're hosting the world's lamest karaoke night.
Menu Design, Presentation & Packaging
The interface, though substantially different on both formats, features smooth navigation and well-organized content. This four-disc set (2 Blu-rays, 2 DVDs) comes in a standard width dual-hubbed keepcase with a slipcover, unlike the bulky earlier release. No inserts here, but separate content lists are printed on the packaging.
Everything from the first Blu-ray collection; no more, no less. These extras include a pair of Audio Commentaries during Episode 1 (featuring ADR director Christoper Bevins, with voice actors Josh "Satan" Grelle and Anthony "Alciel" Bowling) and Episode 12 (voice actors Felicia "Emi" Angelle, Tia "Chiho" Ballard, Aaron "Urushihara" Dismuke, and Alex "Suzuno" Moore), a 13-minute Interview with script adapter Jamie Marchi, Textless Opening and Closing Songs, and a U.S. Trailer for the dubbed series. Pretty standard assortment of extras---I wasn't too enamored with the commentaries since I favor the Japanese track, but dub fans should enjoy them more.
Watchable and certainly charming in spite of its conventional narrative (at least within the boundaries of anime), The Devil is a Part-Timer features good characters and a solid dose of humor that contrast well with its darker elements. Unfortunately, there's not a great balance here: despite occasionally working in tandem, the series' wild mood swings seem more gimmicky than inspired. It feels like there's a better story itching to get out...but at the very least, these 13 episodes breeze by rather quickly. FUNimation's Blu-ray/DVD combo pack re-issue is a slimmed-down and more affordable version of first Blu-ray package, retaining the same great A/V presentation and modest extras while saving some shelf space. Recommended to interested fans who didn't grab it the first time around.
Randy Miller III is an affable office monkey by day and film reviewer by night. He also does freelance design work, teaches art classes and runs a website or two. In his limited free time, Randy also enjoys slacking off, juggling HD DVDs, and writing in third person.