By Satoshi Wagahara and 029. Released in Japan by Dengeki Bunko. Released in North America by Yen Press. Translated by Kevin Gifford.
Sometimes I worry that an author might be paying too much attention to their fans. This is not a bad volume of Devil Is a Part-Timer! per se, though it’s light on the series’ usual wacky comedy. As we get closer to the end of the series, Chiho and Suzuno are too busy to crack many jokes, and Maou and Emi are too stressed out. But we do get to the point where we’re ready for the final battle next time, which is good. Maou is still waffling, which is less good, but at least in the cliffhanger ending he admits that it’s because he has no idea what it means to love someone. That said, there’s a sense that the author saw a few Maou/Emi fanfics and got annoyed, because this volume definitely has the feeling of the author trying too hard. The plot is “Maou and Emi have to live in her apartment for the sake of Alas Ramus”, and they try to bond as a family, but there’s no sexual tension at all. Meanwhile, Chiho is… well, overpowered.
Maou and Emi are able to do this “live in her apartment” thing because they’re mostly being kept out of the loop, as Chiho organizes a gigantic peace summit for the express purpose of not getting left behind in Japan when this is all resolved. This involves trying to please every faction, many of whom have reason to hate the Devil King… including a few surprises. That said, Maou and Emi have a good reason to not be part of the preparations: Alas Ramus is starting to suffer what Acieth did last book, only it’s not eating but attention she wants, and it’s causing her to grow between infancy and middle school age… and also teleport. And there’s also the matter of Sariel, who is just a bit stressed out that Chiho revealed everything to the McRonald’s staff without bothering to check with him first. A lot going on.
Look, I like Chiho. I’ve even shipped Maou/Chiho since the book began, mostly as Japanese titles with a tsundere lead and a cute plucky second girl always end the same way. But… damn, this feels forced. There’s a hysterically bad section of the book where Chiho discusses talking with the student council and studying how parliament works as last-second prep for chairing a summit of supernaturally-powered factions. Yeah, even I’m not buying this. As for Maou and Emi, Chiho makes a good point when she says if anything was going to happen between them, it would have by now, but still… it’s a bit of a damp squib here, showing off all their awkwardness but none of their friendship. On the bright side, there was actual depth given to Emeralda, who is pretty good at hiding behind her speech affectations and “don’t care” attitude, but it turns out has real reasons to hate the Devil King. That said, just before the end of the series is not a good time to remind us he was supposed to be fantasy Hitler.
And so everything is prepared for the final volume, though honestly I feel that dealing with love confessions may be more difficult than an actual war with heaven. In the meantime, if you’re going to break the cliche, you might want to try a bit harder than this does.