Hataraku Maou-sama – 07

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I guess it’s the magic of Hataraku Maou-sama that it can be seemingly immersed in clichés, but somehow transcend them.

After seven weeks, I’m convinced of at least one thing – Hataraku Maou-sama has the best collective voice work of the season.  It starts of course with Ohsaka Ryouta as Sadao, a performance where he’s projected decency, evil, exasperation, snark and compassion equally well at various times.  I loved the moment where he mocked Shimono Hiro as Lucifer’s speech patterns with “Hikikomori desu…”, a comic highlight that came strictly down to line delivery.  But it’s not just Ohsaka – the whole cast is great.  Ono Yuuki is giving his funniest performance in years as Ashiya, Shimono is perfect as Lucifer – his appeal is somewhat limited at this point, but finding the right role is critical – and even though I don’t care much for Emi as written, Hikasa Youko is doing yeoman work getting every scrap of comedy out of the character she can.

The new ingredient in the mix is Itou Kanae as Suzuno Kamazuki.  We still don’t know much about her apart from what we’ve seen presented on-screen.  She wears formal kimono, she’s moved in next door to Maou (certainly not coincidentally) and it seems to have been intentionally set up that way by Miki-T.  She brings him a gift of udon noodles (her apartment is full of them) and she admits to Emi that she’s making a play for Maou.  But who is she, and why is she there?  There are no signs of magical abilities yet, and Emi notes that she’s “too polite to be a demon” (not sure I call that conclusive).  There’s also the fact that Ashiya has fallen ill just as she’s arrived on-scene – could be coincidental, but it’s worth nothing in any event.  I chalk her up as solidly in the wild-card category for the moment.

I definitely enjoyed this episode a lot, but it was rather heavy on Emi for my tastes.  As I said, Youko-san is terrific here, but she can’t do anything about the fact that Emilia is simply the most trite and unlikeable character in the cast (YMMV of course, but the character polls I’ve seen seem to reflect the same opinion).  Stuff like Emi getting violent with Maou after he’s decent enough to save her from yet another fall down the stairs and her over-reaction to the idea that she’s interested in Maou herself, or her obsession with breast size – this is all stuff we’ve seen a thousand times before, and Emi doesn’t really bring anything new to them.  She’s not so unlikeable that the show can’t transcend these issues – she just doesn’t add as much enjoyment as any of the other characters.

The one really interesting element of Emi, I suppose, is her situation.  While her act is tsundere, the reality is she’s actually a stalker – a stalker deceiving herself that her actions are necessary in her role as a hero.  The “stake-outs”, following Maou everywhere, excessive interest anytime he interacts with another female – it’s classic stalker behavior, and there’s admittedly something darkly comedic in watching her do this dance of self-deception.  It’s also funny that Chiho has latched onto Emi as her supposed ally in her quest to land Maou – all the more so when Suzuno-chan has arrived on the scene – when in fact the two are probably the biggest rivals for his affections.  This isn’t really that sort of show, but it’s a fun thing to consider.

This episode as much as anything was about outside influences shaking up the balance of power in the character dynamics, often with very funny results.  We have Suzuno trying to teach Hanzou how to be useful, and making Maou a gorgeous lunch in an even more gorgeous two-layer lacquer bento box.  This understandably has a rather traumatic impact on Chiho giving the symbolism it reflects in anime – especially when the second-layer reveals the heart-shaped treat inside.  We have Emerelda (whose voice sure sounds different when she’s on a cell-phone from Ente Isla) giving Emi a supply of “Holy-Beta“, which she says is magical power restorer disguised as an energy drink (nice bit of satire there).  I suspect that MacGuffin was introduced to pay serious plot dividends later, especially when Maou comments innocently – and justifiably – that “dealing with Emi drains all my energy”.  And we have the mysterious mask wearing, scythe-wielding assailant who comes after Emi at the Family Mart, possessing enough magical energy to neutralize Emi’s newly power-restored holy sword – oddly enough it’s the paintballs from the clerk which finally drive him off, rather than The Hero’s attacks.

An episode like this one shows just how broad the appeal of Hatarku Maou-sama is, at least for me.  It’s not as though it’s breaking any new ground, but it was still vastly entertaining despite having lots of Emi and precious little Ashiya.  Hataraku is superb at taking familiar scenarios (non-tsundere ones anyway) and tweaking them just enough to make them funny – the humor in this series is quirky rather than slapstick – and paired with the tremendous cast, sound design and direction even things like the simple panty-shot with Emi are good for a big laugh.  I also loved the slo-mo reveal of the letter from Miki-T and the reveal of the next great challenge for the Demon Overlord – the opening of a “Sentucky Fried Chicken” franchise just down the street from MagRonald’s.  Coincidences are so rare in this show that I wonder if there’s a darker purpose behind that – but even if it’s simply fast food wars, in the capable hands of this series it promises to be vastly entertaining to watch unfold.

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Hataraku Maou-sama - 07 -14 Hataraku Maou-sama - 07 -15 Hataraku Maou-sama - 07 -16
Hataraku Maou-sama - 07 -17 Hataraku Maou-sama - 07 -19 Hataraku Maou-sama - 07 -20
Hataraku Maou-sama - 07 -21 Hataraku Maou-sama - 07 -22 Hataraku Maou-sama - 07 -23
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Hataraku Maou-sama - 07 -28 Hataraku Maou-sama - 07 -29 Hataraku Maou-sama - 07 -30
Hataraku Maou-sama - 07 -31 Hataraku Maou-sama - 07 -32 Hataraku Maou-sama - 07 -33
Hataraku Maou-sama - 07 -34 Hataraku Maou-sama - 07 -35 Hataraku Maou-sama - 07 -36
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20 comments

  1. a

    Itou is clearly the hooded figure, or otherwise after Matou. The statements of her 'going after' Maou is likely to kill him/capture him/w/e and not in fact actually being in love with him(though it might be possible later.) She's fought in many battles. Literally. Etc.

  2. E

    I don't know. The assailant totally looks like a guy to me.

  3. H

    Two different assailants, Albert was referring to the person making a report to the church last episode (which I totally agree with, especially since Itou knew who Emi was), not the person who attacked Emi in the convience store.

  4. R

    You're right, Enzo, Hataraku is full of cliches, but its execution is brilliant making every moment enjoyable. I very much like the interaction between characters and the comedy is just top-notch — every laughing moment is perfectly timed and brilliantly delivered by the seiyuus.

    Like albert, I was wondering if the masked attacker was Suzuno, but he smirked with a male's voice after he nullified Emi's sword… I am unsure, and it looks like that there will be another new character popping up as shown in the preview. The other thing about this episode…I wonder if anyone finds the ending slightly abrupt…the ED was brought on in the middle of Chi-chan's convo with Emi… Oh well…till next week's.

  5. H

    Yeah, I'm thinking that Suzuno is the Inquisitor they've sent to 'clean up' Maou and Sadao, and she's poisoning them by making their food, even lunch. But of course, Emi misunderstands what she's doing, even though Suzuno thinks she totally understands.

    I thought that the masked attacker was Suzuno also, but the eyes are a somewhat different color. Not incontrovertible, but seems different enough.

  6. S

    You can really measure what great job the Voice Actors are doing, when you notice how great the voice acting is, even if you can't speak japanese at all.

    two great scenes from the first episodes come into my mind:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kl_cnmxweJo&list=FLrsxleiqAVsjceYqkgFNcjg

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ytrWZaTAj2k

  7. f

    I'm with you Enzo….Emi is really starting to grate on my nerves here. I can absolutely see where writers are trying to pencil her in as a classic tsundere trope, but I'm just not seeing her appeal (at least not yet!)

    For someone who has legitimate reasons to harbor contempt towards Maou and his generals, Emi seems to turn around and contradict herself by constantly horning her way into Maou's company as if she's entitled to involving herself in his life. (observe if you must, but why are you casually eating with your so-called sworn enemies?)

  8. k

    I think the catch is supposed be that Emi is not really tsundere, she really hates Maou (or at least she thinks she does), and it's supposed to be hilarious that people think they behave like a couple when actually they don't care for each other. And then she ends up developing feelings for him and turns into a real tsundere, and so on and so forth.

    Except she's being writen as tsundere, her interactions with Maou lack any real animosity so it just ends up like something we've seen a million times before, and it's all boring and annoying. (To me, anyway. Apparently many people find it funny, good for them.)

  9. c

    I'm a big fan of Emi. Yes, she is still caught up in a reactive-tsun mode, but in fact, this is what makes her really interesting. She is a complex character who shows very different behavior towards different people, and who strongly grapples with her hatred towards Maou. Which isn't only hilarious to watch for me, it also gives her a potential for development which sets her apart from the rest.

    Compare her with Chiho, for example – a character who is universally liked (I love her, too). Her development is almost complete the way I see it. She will not fundamentally change her opinion of Maou, she's pretty much hardwired. What sets her apart from most annoying anime moeblobs is that she's actually trying and to some degree succeeding in _expressing_ her love – even though it mostly just goes above Maou's head. She is honest, caring and stacked – what's not to like? However, I don't see much lasting potential in her.

    Emi on the other hand is fighting hard to reconcile her deeply ingrained hatred with the fact that Maou has now repeatedly shown kindness towards humans. And she is not so one-dimensial to just ignore this fact (it's merely a still-active bite reflex), she has enough perception and self-reflection to recognize the mismatch. This is long-range development gold. Add to the fact that I love _intense_ girls as long as their intensity is tempered by self-awareness, and there's no wonder that I really dig her.

    So, Emi is central to this show's success, and I'd argue that she is the pinnacle character. I'm watching and loving this show mostly for her

  10. S

    Very well put Mr cfe….etc (why did you pick that name!!!!).

    Emi is a fascinating character and she is DEFINITELY NOT a Tsundere. Her hatred is real and there is absolutely no deredere from her at all. However the show is playing on the standard Tsundere trope, putting her in conventional Tsundere situations but her being 100% tsun tsun. For example the falling down the stairs scene (which seems to be a running joke) in this episode, when Maou catches her she does a lot more than a standard Tsundere would and really layed into him. Those kicks and punches would have broken something on a normal person!

  11. .

    Culturally asking, what sort of food was in Maou's bento?
    What counts as 'New Year Delicacies' in Japan, and what was the food arranged in the heart shape? Is it rice or egg?

  12. On top I see ebi (shrimp), fish cakes, fried bean curd, karaage (fried chicken), mushrooms, edamame, and a couple things I don't recognize.

    As for the bottom it looks like an egg making a heart on top of a bed of fried rice, but I wouldn't swear to that…

  13. .

    Darn, now I've gotten all hungry. I guess that's the beauty of some anime, you learn something culturally new everyday!

    I'm still confused on Suzuno's speech patterns. Is it supposed to be some kind of formal, outdated Japanese?

  14. k

    Oosaka is great. Where WAS this guy before Tsuritama? He IS Maou, he's also doing a great job in Valvrave (especially in the first two eps, and the latest ep 6…), and then there was Gagiel in Azazel-san XD;; (with the most appalling panting ever). I hope he'll get even more varied roles in the future so he can showcase his full acting range. I wonder if he can sing…

    Anyway, as for the clichés, I wouldn't necessarily have a problem with them, but these romcom clichés (coupled with Emi's breast size obsession, the "clumsy girl falling down the stairs preferrably into the lead guy's arms" etc.) are so incredibly grating, especially since it's so obvious how Emi & Maou's relationship is going to play out. :/ They're pulling down the episode for me, which is a pity because otherwise it was pretty funny.

  15. i

    I love when Ashiya said, "Even I get sick."

    Sounded like a typical waifu/mother of a household. Great episode.

  16. S

    I'm very excited by the prospect of some fast food wars! Next episode is going to be great

    And it's funny that you praise all voice actors except Chiho's! I fucking love her and her voice work, more so than the rest of them. I don't usually like Tsunderes like her character, but she's great. And hey, at least she's not violent, right?

  17. Yeah, Touyama is really good – she pops up in a very funny role in GKMP this week, too. I just didn't want to get into a thing of listing everyone in the cast individually.

  18. E

    The voice actor for the magician loli (Emeralda) is great too. I love how she is speaking slower than all other characters. It has some kind of appeal in it. Everyone have really done a good job in voicing this anime.

  19. Asakura-san is actually getting a lot of criticism from fans for her performance this week, which surprised me as I found it rather interesting and quite funny.

  20. A

    I thank thee for thy pantyshot. I love pantyshots :)

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