What it’s about: The world of Enta Isla is a hairs-breadth away from being conquered by the demonic overlord Sadao, when a hero arises and turns the tide. After a final climactic battle at the demon’s stronghold, he flees through a portal to another world in order to recover his strength. Ending up in modern-day Japan, Sadou is forced to adapt quickly to his new circumstances, re-channeling his lust for conquest into his new job as a part-time worker in McDonalds.
Why you should watch it: From the premise, the show sounds like it’ll end up as just another forgettable slapstick comedy and nobody expected all that much before its debut (go back and look at the announcement threads and the tumbleweeds blowing through them). But while it’s definitely a funny show, the studio doesn’t go so much for the easy sight gags and over-the-top reactions. Instead, it prefers deadpan gags and overwrought dialogue for the sake of absurdism – it would have done well as a British sitcom, to be honest. It’s really quite an intelligent show, filled with small details and jokes that one could easily miss the first time round. Particularly impressive is the way that it maintains a tension between Sadao’s honest, hardworking new life and the indefensible horrors committed in his name in his old one. If you’re a fan of dry, understated humour then this is a good bet.
Caveats: The shows individual arcs are quite strong, but between each of them are some rather generic filler episodes. They’re still fun and provide setup for what’ll come later, but it’s a shame that with a 13-episode show, almost a quarter of the individual episodes are merely “above average” rather than truly great. No word yet on a sequel either, I believe.
Themes: There’s a strong anti-capitalist subtext running through the show that’s quite unusual in a Japanese comedy. The huge impact that one’s job or role has upon one’s identity, both in your own eyes and those of others.
Similar works:Saint Onii-san is a similar fish-out-of-water story about magical beings (in this case Buddha and Jesus) trying to live normal lives, though it doesn’t quite measure up to the high standard established by Hataraku Maou-Sama. There’s also Yuushibu. if you actually wanted an ecchi harem comedy type of show with this sort of premise.