Even the Devil isn't safe from the wage-slave life!
I can only think of a handful of comedy anime that completely dedicated themselves to a premise without shooting off into sidebar territory or the safer (read: easier) realm of otaku humor later on. This is the first comedy show since Squid Girl that in one story arc was able to sell me on not just its humor, but also the characters, the world, and the stakes that went with it. It's a great showing from a series that I assumed would just be stereotype humor, and I highly recommend it not only for people looking for a laugh, but also to those curious if it is possible to be "serious" in a comedy show.
When his plans for taking over the fantasy world Ente Isla are stopped by the Hero, the Demon King retreats to an alternate universe, swearing that someday he will return to take his revenge. However, that plan goes awry when that alternate universe turns out to be Earth. Stranded in Japan without any magic, the Demon King and his loyal general Ashiya have to find a way to survive, starting with a part-time job at MgRonalds. As you can probably guess, a lot of the jokes play on the fish-out-of-water concept at first, but as the show goes on, more of the humor comes from how their real identities clash with their civilian roles. I won't get into too much detail to avoid spoiling the jokes, but the balance between the fantasy personas and how they deal with everyday occurrences is a sight to see. And on the gag end of things, most of the visual comedy revolved around reaction faces, and were also among the best I've seen in the genre.
The character dynamics are also fantastic, and not just because comedies tend to go one-note (i.e. a character has a single gag and that's it). From the get go, it's obvious that the show is playing with tropes but is not really concerned with worldbuilding (Satan and Lucifer being completely different people, for instance), yet it manages to build on these tropes in a way that makes them feel three-dimensional. For example, I was a little concerned when elements of a love triangle started showing up, but the show treated the characters and their motivations with a level of realism and maturity that I wish all anime shows would take note of. And as I mentioned above, it does have its serious moments. Unlike other comedy shows that suddenly decide to get serious at the end of an arc--creating a bit of thematic whiplash--it works in The Devil is a Part-Timer not only because the characters are well-done and likable but also because the show doesn't forget that its main objective is to make people laugh. The fantastic sense of humor and comedic timing carries over into the more serious elements, leading to some great moments.
However, this show is not without its flaws. The biggest disappointment is probably how the show handles its second story arc, which is largely a retread of the first. It also introduces another character, who is admittedly interesting in her own right, but the role she plays in the arc felt like she was just mimicking the other two female characters. The plot did the same, replicating the same highs and lows from the storyline the first time around. After being impressed with how the show handled it's first half, I was sad to see that it apparently only knew one way to set up its story.
Overall though, it's still a great show that distinguishes itself from the norm with a unique twist played out properly. I hope that this isn't the last we see of re-imagined trope-based humor in anime comedies. I highly recommend it to anyone looking for a laugh, if only to see those reaction faces.
Images from Hulu.com and Funimation.com.