Hataraku Maou-sama! Episode 4 — The Arrival of Lucifer

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After managing to end the previous episode on such a perfect melding of the romantic comedy and shounen plotlines, director Naoto Hosoda goes batshit insane in this episode, basically saying “fuck it, we’re going into full-blown shounen mode”. 

We begin our tale exactly where we left it, with Maou, Yusa, and a sleeping Chiho surrounded by a pile of rubble.  Yusa opens the episode with an existential crisis, attempting to resolve the apparent paradox between the values of humanity that she was raised with and her identity as a hero necessitating that she kill Satan.  The drama thickens as we get a PTSD-esque flashback to her childhood, essentially outlining the trauma of leaving her father to become a holy warrior and watching him lose everything, including his life, a few days later.  Her back-story is well constructed (if cliché), giving us a strong reason to empathize with her hatred of Maou.  I found Yusa’s lineage particularly interesting, as it is essentially a gender role-reversal of the story of Jesus in that the saviour (Yusa) is female rather than male, the father is the human and the mother is the heavenly being.  Again, more proof that Yusa really shines as a character when she’s able to connect herself to the shounen plotline.  Furthermore, in the flash-back, everything evil about being a demon lord is distanced away from Maou faster than Reagan distanced himself from Iran-Contra.  Lucifer becomes the fall guy for the atrocities, as he is the one that actually destroyed the region that Yusa was originally living in, and was the person to kill her father.  Up to now, Maou has been a noble demon; now he’s just a good guy Greg who happened to be named ‘Maou Satan’.  Hopefully, at some point later on down the line Maou does something actually unethical and disproves that the whole “demon” thing is a bait-and-switch; for now, consider this blame-shifting an official announcement that Maou has absolutely no negative qualities whatsoever.

Afterwords, Maou clears up the rubble and, in an uncharacteristic spark of understanding, leaves Chiho when he hears her father is coming.  Because the cameraman seems addicted to following Yusa around, we then follow her as she stays at her co-worker’s house.  Here again the drama is laid on, as it seems her coworker lived in Kobe when the 1995 Kobe earthquake hit, and went through personal trauma as a result.  This moment acts to create a special bond between Yusa and her coworker, as Yusa herself remembers the violent acts she has witnessed and committed in defense of her homeland.  Her coworker also tells her about the power of people to change as their environment changes, making specific reference to angels and demons; by doing so, her co-worker is giving her a way of resolving her internal cognitive dissonance over who exactly she and Maou actually are.

MY PUPILS!!!

The next day, we switch back to romcom mode.  After another typical interaction between tsundere-Yusa and Maou (where tsundere-Yusa has become so incompetent and dependent on Maou that she can no longer walk down a single flight of stairs), Yusa pours on the drama, accusing Maou of destroying her childhood and (by extension) ruining her life, and asking Maou to resolve her own cognitive dissonance for her.  Maou has a “my god, what have I done!” moment, insisting that he simply didn’t understand humanity back then.  The generalized sadness only expands when Chiho walks in, misunderstands the situation, and runs away crying.  We get then get some fairly non-sequitur scenes from the landlady and from Ente Isla, which I assume are foreshadowing some future event.  For the climax of the episode, we cut back to Chiho at the train-station; as previously hinted at, Lucifer has manifested himself as the primary antagonist in a scene that is reminiscent of Raditz’s first interaction with Goku.  If there were any doubts that this series is a shounen, they have all been cleared now.

There is barely any comedy at all in this episode, except for a few self-contained scenes that had no bearing on the plot; the only thing remotely connected to the rom-com plot is Chiho walking in on Maou and Yusa, and as much as the landlady would like us to believe that this is the height of romantic comedy, the plot implications of this event are simply hand-waved into the shounen plot because apparently Lucifer is Palpatine.

Hataraku Ep 4 ED

“Good. Use your aggressive feelings, boy. Let the hate flow through you.”

For those that enjoy drama, the drama, although cliché, was well written.  For those that were hoping to see any substantive degree of slice-of-life comedy, this episode leaves us S.O.L.  The dialogue and cinematography have been good thus far, so I still recommend this show, but I’m not pleased with the direction the plot is heading.

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Filed under Hataraku Maou-Sama!, Spring 2013

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