Hataraku Maou-sama – 13 (End) and Series Review

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Hataraku Maou-sama ends its first season in low-key fashion, and that feels about right.

Hataraku is this season’s proof that excellence in anime comes from unexpected places sometimes (and thank goodness, given how weak this season was overall).  It hasn’t escaped my notice that the first three Series Review posts I’ve done this season have been for its three best shows, but unlike the first two Hataraku seems a lock to get another season (or more).  And this finale behaved very much as if that were a foregone conclusion.

Hataraku is a different sort of series, in many ways.  It’s a LN adaptation that legitimately escapes the trap of cliche, and one that respects the intelligence of its audience.  It’s also a show I like best when it isn’t trying too hard with plot, which is unusual for me.  I like the premise here and the show generally did well when it was pursuing the larger story, but for me it was at its best when it was hewing close to the title.  I preferred the series when it really was a slice-of-life comedy about the Overlord (and the Hero, and Chiho) at work.  And Ashiya and Urushihara at home.  And that’s pretty much what we got in the finale.

Things start out with a little trolling, which this series also happens to be pretty good at.  It comes in the form of a dream from Chiho (Emi had one too, but the jig was up at that point) seeming to preface a finale that was really a finale.  I was never fooled, but it’s illustrative of just what Chiho’s worst nightmare is – Maou leaving, and leaving her behind.  Fact is Maou says he doesn’t have the power to return to Ente Isla even if he wanted – and the fact that he had the power to open a portal to send Sariel back and chose not to follow him should answer the question of whether he really wants to return.

No, Maou leaving isn’t what Chiho should be worrying about.  I do think she should start worrying about Emi and her kuropan, though, as the end of episode 12 and the events this time make it pretty clear that she’s having a harder and harder time denying her own interest.  Hataraku has been elegantly dancing around the tsundere trope with Emi since the beginning, largely by keeping her tsun mostly on-point and not really having any dere at all.  Rather, she was a stalker if anything – but now, the facade is starting to show some cracks.  She’s reaching harder and harder for excuses to follow him around and keep an eye on him, and there are even signs that she’s admitted to herself that she’s attracted to him.  When we have a second season, I expect that relationship to be quite different – though I doubt the series will become anything close to a conventional romcom.

Speaking of Sariel, something odd happens when Maou tries to send him back – namely, he ends up in the freezer at MgRonald’s.  Was it the magic bamboo at fault?  In any event this seems to guarantee that Sentucky James will be a factor in S2 as well, though whether he’ll still be the manager at Sentucky I couldn’t say.  His crush on Maou’s boss at McG’s seems to indicate his role will largely be comic relief (well, to be honest, that’s what it was this season as well).  The main thread of plot in the finale surrounded Lucifer and yet another disastrous online fiasco – this time getting mixed up in a purchasing scam with a company purporting to buy used junk, only to sell back unreturnable crap like fire extinguishers and down quilts.

Truth be told, this wasn’t one of the funniest storylines Hataraku has come up with, but it had its moments.  My favorite came when Emi and Maou went to see a lawyer to try and figure a way out of the 128000¥ hole Urushihara had dug him into, because the office was next to Iidabashi Station – my local JR station (I did quite a spit-take with my coffee when the building popped up on-screen).  I love the attention to detail when it comes to Tokyo landmarks and the minutiae of daily life here.  Ashiya happened to be working for the scam company at the time – in order to try and pay off the debt Urushihara had already accrued with the purchase of the transmitters.  I enjoy the way Urushihara is portrayed here, very much as a troublesome teenage slacker who the “parents” have to watch 24/7 so he doesn’t get the whole family into trouble.  Definitely my favorite Shimono Hiro role in a long time.

Once again, this was a very unconventional finale in that it could easily have passed for an episode in the middle of the run. The projected sales (though after the Crime Edge fiasco I’m a little leery of relying on them) certainly almost guarantee a second season, but it seems to me as if White Fox has been planning for one all along.  This adaptation has been unhurried, even relaxed at times, savoring the small moments and not trying to hurry things along to squeeze an extra major arc or two in.  White Fox has a history of multi-cour series and their choices for adaptation have been good ones, and Hataraku Maou-sama is another example.

It seems that some viewers have been disappointed by the last few episodes, perhaps expecting grander things.  I fully expect a second season to be more to their tastes, as it seems as if Hataraku deferred a lot of the larger questions for now.  I’m of mixed mind on this – as I said I really do prefer this series a a Working! style comedy rather than a romance or an action series, though if those elements are used in moderation they successfully spice up the recipe.  The thing is that it’s execution that really makes this an unusually good show – the premise is an interesting one, but it’s the way the series puts its own offbeat twist on the plot and character tropes it plays with that makes it special.  In terms of cast it’s probably the best series of the season, but it’s also the best-looking show White Fox has ever produced.

Really, though, it’s the writing that makes the difference – the dialogue in Hataraku is some of the most rhythmic and snappy since another White Fox entry, Steins;Gate.  Seeing characters you like interact on screen is one of the simple pleasures in anime, and this series delivers that pleasure in droves.  It’s relatively rare for a LN adaptation to transcend genre cliche like this one does, to always feel fresh and never stale.  Maou was one of the best male leads in recent seasons, and Ashiya one of the funniest sidekicks (though he wasn’t as prominent in the second half of the season as I’d have liked).  The female leads weren’t quite as exceptional but still likeable and with enough remove from the tropes they represent to be especially interesting (most so Chiho, least so Suzuno).  Throw in a very funny supporting cast and the series’ success at mining humor from the little details and you have a very simple and straightforward show that accomplishes the very difficult task of making it look easy – and nothing is harder to make look easy than comedy.  I’m looking forward to spending more time with Maou and the rest of the cast, and I don’t think we’ll have to wait very long to do so.

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ED Sequence:

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39 comments

  1. A

    Kind of a dull episode, but I did laugh quite a bit when Maou tossed Sariel into the portal like he was taking out the trash.

    Great start, winded down a little towards the end, but had a great climax. Glad WHITE FOX's still got it.

  2. G

    I really liked this series but it kinda limped its way out at the end (Crime Edge did the same thing). Both series had "OK" episodes but for finales I was expecting more.

  3. m

    is this the end season of Hataraku Maou-sama!..i hope they continue..i really want mauo san to return to ente isla.. to see if he is willing to pledge war again as he said in episode 1 .. or is he willing to make peace on the people on ente isla.. i wonder what the other 2 demon generals whereabouts and doing..

  4. D

    i honestly 100% agreed with you! I been wanting to know what happen to the other generals. Fingers cross to them having a season 2

  5. S

    I want to see Maou, Emilia, Ashiya, Suzuno, Chiho, and Lucifer all returning to ente isla and bringing with them moderate real world ideals, reforming both the demons and the corrupt church.

  6. M

    My favorite mment of the episode came from something unexpected. It's when Emi said "cooling off" complete with a random, completely out of left field echo as if it were the holy grail. Did not expect that and it pretty much had me on the floor. When it came to production values, Maou was one of the best.

  7. l

    I get the whole 'winding-down' thing, but honestly, expected more from this last ep. Not enough laughs. Still decent, though.

    If you told me at the beginning of the season that this would end up my favourite series of the bunch, I'd have laughed at you in a very condescending, hard. Yes, it shined so bright partly because almost everything else this season has been insipidly bad, but credit where it's due; this series gave me the most smiles and fewest facepalm moments.

    Thanks for blogging this, Enzo

  8. R

    I am with you, Enzo. Hataraku is definitely a nice surprise — a hidden gem in a lackluster Spring season. I also like it the most when the show simply focuses on the daily lives of the characters — it is when the show brings out its best comedy, dialogue and character interactions. The first couple of episodes were brilliant — it had me in stitches. Ashiya, oh God…I think I may crown him the best supporting male lead delivering the most laughs to me. The two episodes leading up to the penultimate were my least favourite, but overall Hataraku is one of the shows in this season that I most looked forward to every week.

    As for the finale, I think it was handled well. I like the use of umbrella to end the story between Maou and Emi, but what I like the most is when both Maou and Ashiya ordered their Khatsu-dum — I think I may order one as well the next time when we visit a Japanese restaurant.

    By the way, is it true that there will be a season 2? If so, definitely looking forward to…

  9. I would be absolutely stunned if there isn't, but I haven't seen anything official.

  10. C

    I'm still laughing at the thought of Greenland being conquered.

  11. K

    This episode wasn't as strong as some of the previous eps, and it certainly did not feel like a season finale. But all is forgiven since the entire seasons has been consistent;y awesome. Not to mention White Fox is basically telling us that season 2 is coming.

    Cute moment when Emi spins her umbrella as she smiles at the very end.

    Hataraku was definitely not on my radar before this season, and I remember feeling somewhat disappointed that White Fox would be focusing their efforts on a seemingly mundane LN. Now I'm glad White Fox picked this up, since Hataraku is absolutely brilliant.

    Oh, and Emi wins the award for the most varied and entertaining facial expressions

  12. i

    Great review but I feel you are not giving Satoshi Wagahara, the LN writer, his due in the same way you would an Urobuchi series or HxH. I for one intend to read the novels because I feel that they will be just as good as the anime and that all White Fox did was not f*** things up. I'm sure many of these little details and snippets of life in Japan are sourced from stand alone chapters in the LNs.

    But that aside, Hataraku really has been the one light in the darkest spring for me since 2009 (which was still better because of FMA brotherhood alone); which is weird considering its about a dark lord. The only other show that I'll remember from the last three months by the end of summer is Railgun's season 2. I didn't gel well with slow RDG or over the top Crime Edge and thus will only have Hataraku to take to my harddrive this season. Hopefully we'll get our season 2.

    One more thing is that why did so many people put Hataraku under the radar? I watched both the trailer and the manga before it started, knowing it'll be great, but did no one else find those hilarious?

  13. S

    Not even Suisei?

  14. i

    Pinion ruined much of Suisei for me, not to mention the beyond pointlessness I found ALL the female characters had, even Amy. They were just objects for Otaku's salivating. Ledo and a few other male characters were well done but besides that and the interesting question Gen poses (but will not answer) nothing was great and certainly not worth a place in my increasingly cramped harddrive.

  15. Who did you think I was talking about when I said "Really, though, it's the writing that makes the difference"?

  16. i

    You could have meant the writers at White Fox, just saying.

  17. S

    My most favorite part in this episode was the after credits umbrella scene. Another proof that she's getting closer to moau slowly. If you noticed, when he thanked her she blushed. And, she was twirling her umbrella. Hinting us that either she was happy or embarrassed(That's not tsundere behavior,btw).

    Nice post as always Enzo :) Thanks

    P.S: Fingers crossed for a second season.

  18. m

    i love how the series ends off by reminding us of our adorable ashiya x urushihara duo :) this episode may have been ordinary, but it's far better than the past few episodes when ashiya is off screen

  19. M

    ke ne hyst oassing vy

  20. V

    i had a feeling from the start of the series that this one will be the best of this season, haha.. overall, i give 9.0 out of ten..
    the scene where emi's spinning her umbrella is just too sweet, hoping for the next season..btw, season 2 info pleaseee…idc if it's a lie just tell me that the next season is coming X'P

  21. H

    I'd much rather a series have time for a story like this at the end than have whatever big event happen right before the end credits roll. And after the roiling that all the characters' relationships took through that arc with Sariel, I think the show needed the time to basically equilibrate them to where it can move on.

  22. J

    Man the Khatsu-dun at the end just really made the episode for me. I know what you mean about how some fans have been unhappy with the last few episodes. Most of them take stabs at the story, about how they didn't extrapolate more on the world of Ente-Isla. However, it goes without saying that the main draw for Maou-sama is the comedy, something that many viewers don't realize, I believe.

    I just hope that they S2 stays close to S1 in terms of presentation. Although I sure wouldn't mind seeing more MaouXEmi. But Maou definitely is at its best when it sticks to comedy. Here's hoping that we get more of the same in S2.

  23. L

    the final is the suckest

  24. G

    Man, guyz…haven't it crossed your mind that demons have been portrayed good rather the angels? it really pisses me off everytime it does this. Even if the church is bad, the demons is still the same. And by the way, will Maou be like that until the end of this anime? It is just IMPOSSIBLE FOR A DEMON LORD to change for good and help others, I can accept that fact if he explains if he forget about what he has done in the past. Damn, a mere human(scammer) is a much better demon lord than him.

  25. f

    thatsthepoint.jpg

  26. Z

    It's called having nuanced characters. I hate villains that are bad just because that's the height to which they aspire. Did you pay attention to the beginning of the series? As demon lord he united the demon races and was essentially fighting against humanity's unfair treatment of demon-kind. He was removed from the atrocities committed by his forces, who were essentially acting out as most oppressed groups tend to do when they finally have the edge over their oppressors. Maou says himself that he never really gave it much thought when Emilia presses him about the matter.

    I think you completely miss the point in that in its own way the story is asking people to challenge their preconceived notions of "good" and "evil".

  27. Z

    Furthermore, the story is using Emilia as the vehicle for delivering that message. She grew up believing what the Church taught, fiercely fighting on its behalf, being the good hero and never questioning her mission, only to have her worldview turned upside down.

  28. Z

    Chiho could then be taken to be the point of view of an outsider with no pre-existing biases in either direction. She knows nothing of Ente Isla. She knows Maou, her senior coworker, who goes out of his way to be a model employee. She knows Olba, Suzuno, and Sariel as the supposed good guys that attack, kidnap, and torture her and Emilia – anything to fulfill their own personal agendas.

  29. Z

    Lastly, there's Maou. When Lucifer asks him why he doesn't terrorize people to regain his power, he replies by saying that he doesn't want to cause trouble for a world that's treated him so well. Could it be that Ente Isla humans (in general), under the stewardship of the Church and the angels, have been less than kind to him and demon-kind? His biggest character failure was being so focused on the ends that he ignored the means his army was using to attain them. Note that when he regains his power in that fight with Lucifer he chooses to give him a mega-punch over killing him. He doesn't even kill Sariel after summoning his "sacred sword" to deal him the final blow.

  30. O

    I liked the series and laughed at times, the constant rivalry between the good and evil is old fashioned but has a new twisted to it. I liked how Mao used his magic for others and we learn about the Churches betrayal on Emi. The last episode was a little dull and slow passed, however I liked how Emi gives Mao an umbrella and smiled-giving him the same greeting that he gave her when they meet as "humans"

  31. R

    I like hataraku but i don't like the romance stuff suggsted in later episodes. The best of hataraku was in the beginning only with maou and ashiya trying to addapt to a different world.

  32. s

    i have to say. i didnt even know this season ended…the last episode was sorta soso. but the rest of it is so good and funny! cant wait for the next season!

  33. Z

    The ending worked well as a finale. Too many series will lead up to a climactic battle at the very end and no further resolution. This episode allowed a decompression period where you get to see that life goes on, they still have bills that need to be paid, and that sometimes the mundane can be much worse than the supernatural. It also left the door open for successive seasons while closing the book on this chapter. The complaints about the unresolved issues on Ente Isla will be eased if/when the story continues.

  34. M

    Loved this whole series. Glad I came across it, thanks to Kokatu website. Patiently waiting for Season 2. There SHOULD be a Season 2 :)

  35. Wow, lots of comments on old posts today!

    There will be a S2, don't worry. Probably fairly soon, too.

  36. I

    It's been a long time and no season 2 yet, it's awfully frustrating, any news about it?

  37. No, but it'll happen – be patient. I think the light-novels just need to build up a bigger lead.

  38. b

    Just finished binge watching this show. I think Guardian Enzo pretty much nailed it right on the head in all facets of the show.

    It's a shame so much time has passed without there being much news about a sequel though, particularly with so much material, I presume, left to explore.

  39. Gonna happen. It's a lock.

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