Hataraku Maou-sama! Episode 1 — Ashiya is a FOB

ImageThe plot of Hataraku Maou-sama isn’t particularly unique: Some great, almighty being (in this case Satan) finds themselves in a refugee-like situation in the modern world, and must work their way back up to the top.  It allows the series to give a quick background, give the protagonist a MacGuffin to work towards, and move into the meat of the story within 10 or so minutes.  The real strength of Hataraku Maou-sama lies in the interaction between the characters, and the way in which the characters interact with the world they find themselves in.  Specifically, the portrayal of Maou’s initial experiences seems to draw heavily from the traditional immigrant experience.  Maou is supposed to be the king of the underworld, and in his immediate interaction with Japan he uses derogatory terms towards humans and dubs his apartment a “stronghold”.  Similarly, most immigrants within coming to a new country tend to only congregate with others of the same ethnicity, alienating themselves (and finding themselves alienated) from the new society they have entered.  Within days of getting a job at McDonald’s, he seems to be fully integrated into Japanese society, speaking fluent Japanese and even showing that characteristic disdain for fobs that all “whitewashed” immigrants have. Image Maou shows utmost dedication to his work and quickly loses sight of his original goal, a fact that his partner laments.  Again, the stock immigrant story features a young lad setting off for America, promising to come home as soon as he strikes it rich; however, the vast majority end up the way Maou does, although few find themselves as overjoyed with their minimum-wage positions.  This attention to detail in the portrayal of the immigrant experience makes Maou-sama shine.  It acts as a realistic portrayal of the way even demons come to terms with strange and unfamiliar worlds, and sets the piece forward in a particularly fruitful direction.  Unfortunately, the blatant cliff-hanger at the end of this episode points towards Maou being yanked back into the world he had all but forgotten.  Maou-sama thus far has been witty in its slice-of-life elements, and I’m looking forward to savoring the rest of this series as it unfolds—black pepper fries and all.

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Filed under Hataraku Maou-Sama!, Spring 2013

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