By Kamotsu Kamonabe. Released in Japan by Earth Star Entertainment, serialization ongoing in the magazine Comic Earth Star. Released in North America by Seven Seas. Translated by Jennifer O’Donnell. Adapted by Jamal Joseph, Jr.
Western publishers have had quite a few titles lately that fall into the broad category of “one-gag concept” manga. In other words, the premise of the series revolves around a gag. This can be dangerous if it quickly grows wearisome, but if it’s a good gag, then it can frequently do very well playing variations on the basic theme. Satan’s Secretary has just such a gag. To be fair, we’ve seen this sort of thing very recently – As Miss Beelzebub Likes has essentially the same concept. But there the series was less about “the demon king has a secretary” as much as the everyday life of the demon king and her secretary. This one, though, is entirely dedicated only to the one gag: The Lord of Darkness has kidnapped a secretary, and she’s very good at her job. In fact, one might argue she’s TOO good at her job.
Not that her talents aren’t really needed here. The Lord of Darkness is pretty half-assed, to be honest, and in his slumber the demons have gotten really pathetic. When he finally awakens (13 years late… he was sleeping in, give him a break!), he orders a minion to kidnap one of the human’s wisest scholars to torture for information so that he can go about his conquest and defeat the chosen hero. He winds up with the local kingdom’s secretary, who is deadpan and somewhat reserved, but seems to be all in for destroying the humans. The subtitle of the series seen on the cover is something of a running gag (particularly the “except me”), and it’s not till the end of the book that we get any motivation for her actions beyond “is a really good secretary prepared to help the company”. What does this mean? It means job interviews. It means salaries and benefits. It means plans to wipe out humanity that are not merely “go out in a group and get killed by adventurers”. Satan is… a bit taken aback, to say the least.
As I noted before, Satan is in fact pretty annoying throughout the book, being the very picture of a lazy boss coasting on past victory and not wanting to put in much time at his actual job. As such, the secretary carries the bulk of the plot, characterization and gags – there are a lot of other demons, but for the most part we don’t really get to know too many of them beyond genericness. There are some very funny gags here, such as getting the demons going out to kill humans to sign a liability waiver, or the secretary’s reaction to being fed an aphrodisiac they’re testing – she’s certainly all in for the demon lord breeding, but not her, and it’s all related to her job. I appreciate that this is not really a fanservicey manga, beyond a shot of the secretary in her slip at one point. There’s even a bit of depth at the end, when she reveals that she’s never even had a name, and tells Satan (and the reader) why she’s perfectly happy to let humanity burn.
The cliffhanger seems to suggest we’ll be seeing the supposed hero soon, and that may shift the focus a bit… but I doubt it. Satan’s Secretary works best when it’s fulfilling its genre of “demonic office comedy”, with the secretary running the ship with an iron hand. Better than it sounds, I definitely recommend giving this title a shot. Death to humanity (except her)!