By Satoshi Wagahara and 029. Released in Japan by ASCII Mediaworks. Released in North America by Yen Press. Translated by Kevin Gifford.
I’ve said for a while now that this series does a good job of having romantic interests in it but sort of keeping it on the back burner rather than being a full-blown romantic comedy. Well, that changes with this volume, which devotes a large chunk to our heroines and how they feel – in this case, Chiho, who has now confessed to Maou TWICE but still hasn’t gotten much of anything from him, and Rika, who is in love with Ashiya and decides to do something about it when he invites her out for dinner and cellphone buying. Things arguably don’t go well for either of them, but in Chiho’s case there’s a larger issue, which is that she worries that soon she’s going to have to do other human stuff – study for exams, go to college, etc. – and will not see her supernatural friends anymore. Especially given Laila is still trying to get them on board with her big project, which could take a month to complete… or a hundred years.
There are a lot of confrontations in this book, and it’s interesting that some of them we only hear about secondhand. We see a teary Chiho run into Suzuno, but their conversation is heard second-hand later on, and Maou being “punished” for upsetting Chiho is also off screen (well, the setup, anyway). I’m not sure if this is just because the author is trying to keep the books to a certain length, but it is somewhat odd. We do get a great conversation between Chiho and Rika, two characters who are both best friends with Emilia but rarely interact. I worried that Rika and Ashiya’s date would also be off screen, but we do see that, and also Ashiya rejecting her… in fact, he tries to do the “I am too scary, please never see me again” thing, but Rika’s too smart to fall for that, though he is pretty damn scary. I did enjoy seeing Rika tell Chiho that she could possibly be the exception to the “demons don’t have human lovers” thing.
As for the main plot, Laila provides most of the humor in this volume in her desperate attempts to explain why she needs Maou and Emilia’s help. We first hear about the issues via a term paper (no, really, that’s how it reads), and it helps us to understand why everyone is so wary of her – she’s been living on Earth, but is she just an angel in disguise, or is she actively trying to fit in and be human like the others? We eventually find out it’s the latter, and why she’s been so wary of taking anyone to her apartment, in a joke that you can see a mile away but is no less satisfying. It does, however, lead to the big reveal, which is that what Laila is asking will take forever, and some of the people involved are normal humans who will grow old and die. But Maou isn’t… and neither, it turns out, is Emilia, whose half-Angel background means she could live a lot longer than anticipated.
In the end, Maou tries to be nicer about it, but still hasn’t responded to Chiho’s resolve. He can’t keep avoiding it forever, and it’s not as if the answer is “I like Emilia instead”, as he doesnt. If anything, he’s in love with his work. Which is appropriate for this series. What happens next? Can’t wait to find out. Sure hope the next volume isn’t a collection of short stories or something.