「勇者、仕事優先で魔王城に泊まる」 (Yūsha, Shigoto Yūsen de Maōjō ni Tomaru)
“The Hero Stays at the Demon Lord’s Stronghold for Work Reasons”
Remember, she knows where you live.
Any doubts I had as to whether or not Hataraku could retain its sharp humor past its premiere have now vanished out the window; clearly, White Fox knows what it’s doing, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
I’ll admit I was a little worried that Emilia’s entrance would stifle the witty and well-executed humor in favor of a more familiar romcom route, but this episode proved me wrong. Tsundere though she might be, Yusa Emi (as she’s known in the human realm) is a perfect fit in her dual role of romantic interest and semi-antagonist, and she adds yet another level of exquisite comedic flavoring to an already brilliant start. After having chased Maou and Ashiya from Ente Island, Emi finds herself in their shoes, magic-less, broke, and stuck in an unfamiliar world, though unlike them, she has no one to rely on. So, she does what any level-headed Hero would do: she gets a job.
While the humor in Sadao’s (“apologize to all the Sadaos in Japan!”) situation is in watching him and Ashiya acclimatize to everyday life (enthusiastically so), the humor in Emi’s is watching her fit human life to a T and being totally miserable and lonely about it behind her serious façade. Though she claims to be stalking Sadao for surveillance and for the sake of making sure he doesn’t step out of line, her real motivation in doing so is in simple camaraderie; the Demon Lord and his retainer are simply the only people in Tokyo that she can relate to, and she’s desperate not to let them out of her sight. Her various approaches (“Let me in! I’ll kick down the door! Is that what you want?!”) don’t have much of an effect on Maou, who realizes from the moment she threatens him with a 100 yen knife that she’s not much of a threat without her magic. Their banter, however, is brilliant, and it’s not always crystal clear just who’s playing the tsukkomi role in their relationship. Though Emilia has more common sense on how to live off a part-time wage, Maou certainly has a clearer goal than she does (ridiculous as it is, I suppose world conquest must begin somewhere), and he’s not all that fooled by her sudden intrusions into his life. As it is, at some point the fact that these two are sworn enemies is forgotten by everyone but Ashiya, and Maou seems to take some pity on her when she keeps showing up.
However, Sadao and Emilia’s relationship isn’t the only thing happening this time around. Sadao’s co-worker, the loli Chi-chan (she’s even got the backpack to match), seems to have developed quite the huge crush on him, and she also seems to be the only person seriously affected by all the small earthquakes happening in the city. I wouldn’t be surprised if there was a connection there, because Emi and Sadao are also attacked (by an unknown magic user and in public, no less) and it seems that something or someone is out to make sure the Demon Lord doesn’t get too comfortable with his new lifestyle.
All in all, White Fox is doing a spectacular job in nearly every way possible. The acting is right on point, the humor is excellent and employs perfect timing, the art, the music, the direction… what else can I say? Hataraku Maou-sama! is well on its way to prove that great execution is just as important to a series as having a good premise.
ED2: 「ZERO!!」 by 栗林 みな実 (Minami Kuribayashi)