With only one more volume after this one to go, volume 20 would be the prime time for The Devil is a Part-Timer! to ramp up the story, to shake off its previous volumes’ criticisms as it prepares to wrap everything up.
Unfortunately, the author seems to have really liked the track the light novel has been on and decided to continue that path for one final time.
So, first of all, that means the invasion of Heaven is once again pushed into the next volume. I know I’ve said this before, but this time, I gotta be right! Considering how long this battle has been on the horizon, even if it takes up the entirety of volume 21, it’s a shame that the big fight is going to be restricted to a single volume.
Even moreso considering there’s surely going to be some post-fight dramatics, like what’s going to happen to Alas Ramus and Chiho getting an answer to her confession. In Chiho’s case, while this is probably the least amount of pagetime she’s gotten recently, the book still puts a lot of emphasis on how special she is. At one point, she lists all she’s been doing lately:
- Exam prep
- Gathering info
- Training her holy force
- Learning debate techniques
- Watching political debates
Oh, and we can’t forget how she set up the MgRonald’s reveal in the last volume and hanging around with Wurs for the big conference in Ente Isla. Maou and Emi are taken aback at Chiho’s dedication, but she still insists it’s her own selfishness. Combined with the extra final chapter and her actions in the final pages of the main story, Chiho fans will once again fall in love with her, but she’s treading closer to Mary Sue territory for me.
The original deuteragonist, Emi, manages to regain a bit of the spotlight, but in a rather mind-numbing way. Alas Ramus suddenly starts randomly aging, and Amane proposes a way to stop it: have her, Emi, and Maou all live together! Comes out of nowhere. I guess this was to be the last Emi flag raised to help the Devil King make some life (and love) choices, but it all comes across as a forced way for the author to half-heartedly make up for Emi getting the short end of the stick as of late.
And for a penultimate volume, outside of Chiho, the chapters don’t really do much to light a fire in the characters’ souls. In fact, uneasiness is the mood here — not even about actually winning, but about other things: the guilt Maou and Emi feel about the MgRonald’s crew knowing about their world, Emeralda seeing Maou and Emi getting along, Suzuno having said her feelings to Maou. Sure, it’s normal to have regrets and concerns before a life-or-death mission, but there’s more melancholy about inconveniencing fast food workers than defeating the angels. The Devil is a Part-Timer! volume 20 is practically interchangeable story-wise with the last few volumes, and with the conclusion just around the corner, I expected more.