It’s tradition for the new Demon King to shake things up to start their rule and Pecora is no exception as she appoints Beelzebub, a mousy, wallflower government worker to be the new Minister of Agriculture! In a society where might makes right, and not everyone seems to be in their right minds, it’s going to be an adjustment for Beelzebub but she’s got no other option but to rise to the occasion!
As a quick note, while I haven’t read the original I’ve Been Killing Slimes for 300 Years and Maxed Out My Level light novels I have watched the anime adaptation and I’m working from an assumption that the anime was a faithful adaptation. You certainly could read this one-shot without being familiar with 300 Years of Killing Slimes at all (the setting is so basic as to be instantly familiar, the “plot” is all self-contained, episodic chapters, and all of the reoccurring characters, like Pecora and the leviathan sisters, are re-introduced) but I don’t think there’s quite enough to this story to interest newcomers who aren’t already invested in these semi-fleshed out, comedic characters.
It does feel like there was a certain amount of ret-conning from the original, main storyline in order to create more of an origin story about Beelzebub, or at least for the first chapter. Despite being named Beelzebub, aka Lord of the Flies, and this being used to set-up at least one gag in the main series (with Beelzebub transformed into a fly for spying purposes), here she’s quick to say that nah, that’s all just a total coincidence! She’s not that demon at all, just someone else with the same name and apparently a few similar abilities. Beelzebub’s personality is also a little different, which makes sense given that this volume is set starting a few hundred years before the main story, but again, for the first chapter at least. Beelzebub begins as a meek and reserved character, someone who has remained a bottom-tier bureaucrat for 1,500 years by choice and isn’t happy about suddenly being thrust into the public’s view thanks to Pecora’s decree. Beelzebub decides to change her demeanor into something more benefiting a minister of the demon realm, and within sixteen pages of starting the book she’s back to the personality and mannerisms that she has in the main series and it’s business as usual!
Given the fact that this volume does cover a few hundred years worth of time I was left wondering why Kisetsu Morita felt the need to have Beelzebub change so quickly instead of say, milking her character growth for all the comedic potential it had. Were they afraid that fans wouldn’t like Beelzebub if she didn’t act the way they expected? Was the idea of introducing this persona change gradually over the course of the entire volume too much work? Who knows! But it certainly made the set-up seem rather silly if it wasn’t going to actually have much bearing on the story after the first chapter, it definitely felt like Morita wanted a particular, silly title for this story and then adapted the story idea to fit the title later on.
To be fair, very little in each individual chapter has little bearing on the next; Beelzebub actually ends up meeting most of the main cast in passing (not that anyone remembers these events) and none of the troubles she encounters as a minister have long-term consequences. Some of the individual stories are less funny than others — the part where her parents come to visit and have the broadcast country accents I’ve ever read in a parody was probably my least favorite — but otherwise you could call this volume “inoffensive.” Overall I didn’t enjoy it as much as 300 Years of Killing Slimes but the difference there may lay in how it’s easier to give an anime 75% of your attention while doing something else (in my case, knitting) but you can’t really do that with a book.
Looking at the afterword, it seems like Morita has done a number of other short spin-offs in this same universe and while I’m a bit interested in The Red-Dragon Academy for Girls, I think I’ll stick to the anime adaptation of this franchise and not seek out the original light novels.