Hataraku Maō-sama First and Last Impressions: Not the Best, But the Ideal

As part of my campaign to rekindle my blogging drive, I decided to follow a few shows from the current season. Among them was Hataraku Maō-sama. And while the show’s premise didn’t show much of a promise for its cast, setting or plot, I took a particular interest on the titular character in terms of being the ideal overlord.

I’ve seen a few overlords in my time, and aside from the usual interference of your local hero, I guarantee you that most of them have faults of a drastic degree. There’s Laharl of Disgaea, whose sentiment towards familial ties hinder him from realizing that he is capable of love in a world of constant chaos. Then, there’s Mao from Maōyu, whose existing problems with both humans and kindred render her powerless from achieving true peace for herself, her country, and her supposed beloved. And then there’s Prier from La Pucelle: Tactics, who unwillingly became an overlord just because she has slain more demons than she has to[1]. But while the aforementioned personalities aim to be the best overlords, if not overlords with a certain specialty, Hatamaō‘s overlord requires him to be an ideal one, which is something that you don’t usually see being played out by demonic overseers.

The first trait that I liked about Overlord Satan, otherwise known as Sadao Mao, is that he maintains composure despite the fact that he was turned into a human, stripped of his powers and thrown into a world that is alien to his senses without any means of returning home. Any overlord who makes such a catastrophic blunder would be wrecked with humiliation and despair beyond help, but not him. Although he was surprised at first, he quickly took into account what he needed to have as part of what he needed to do. Even though he didn’t land a job befitting of his status, he accepted the fact that he must not be picky for one because he needed to survive on the modern world as a human, if not as an overlord. If we compare it to what might have been Emilia’s case, whose short temper may have considered our world hostile while being mistaken for a dangerous cosplayer with a very real prop, getting into a possible confrontation with local law enforcement and then landing a contact center job because of her looks, Sadao Mao handled his situation with enough tact and calm despite the odds he was dealt with.

Soar high, Overlord of the Black Pepper French Fry Fryer!

Another thing that made our fast-food chain overlord shine is that he is more than willing to work as a blue-collar employee. Most depowered overlords usually just complain to their vassals[2], wreak havoc as an escape before they lose their heads, search for a shortcut solution to restoring their powers[3], and then finally accepting their fate in the most miserable way possible. Other than that, they disappear obscurely or kill themselves out of total embarrassment. But Sadao Mao, for some reason, found some sort of motivation on his job at MgRonald’s. He suddenly believes that hard work is the catalyst for professional progress, and that he can conquer[4] the company’s hierarchy ladder just by being a hard worker. An overlord who wielded immense destructive power, transformed into a human with a indomitable passion and willingness for labor. Interesting.

Maybe the human factor does play a lot in this kind of plot. It seems that in Ente Isla, humanity is the base template of evolving into legendary archetypes of good and evil aside from Angels and Demons. Very Darwinistic, yes, but it serves an ideal purpose when we change the setting to Earth. That is, it lets Overlord Satan feel what it’s like to be human. By being transformed into the very species he sought to conquer, he understood that he is capable of kindness, humility, modesty and compassion just as humans are. If ever, it shows that he is capable of showing such traits for humanity’s sake, not just for his vassals and fellow kindred. This was evident on a lot of occasions, occasions where anyone of his status would’ve acted in the usual menacing way, such as the way he acts and speaks around Emilia. Though the heroine still retains the animosity behind her voice, speech, and expressions, Sadao knows that he doesn’t need to always reciprocate the feeling as such not because he’s powerless, but because it is simply out of place in more ways than one. Another instance is when he temporarily regained some of his powers after an earthquake that was meant to kill him and Emilia destroyed the underground mall they were in. Instead of immediately mustering his powers to attempt creating a gate for home, he chose to use them to save the people trapped in the rubble.

But, as with all epiphanies, such cases of enlightenment have their own repercussions. In Sadao’s case, the changes not only affected the way he sees himself, but also the way the other relevant characters see him, especially the hero Emilia. Mao’s newfound outlook towards humanity, as well as his actions, confused Emilia’s feelings to the point where she is torn between her duty to slay the overlord and her realization that Mao may not be the overlord that she thought he was anymore. I don’t blame her, though. Her father was killed by the same vile creature as the poor, pathetic man who works at a fast-food store, who is the very same man who saved her and a few others from an assassination attempt of rumbling earth and falling slabs of concrete. “Is it still right to kill this man, even though he has killed my father among thousands and thousands of innocents?” “Why hasn’t he shown such kindness back in Ente Isla?” “If he was this kind, then why did he started an invasion that nearly burned my world into the ground?” Such questions torment her, making her think that her quest was pointless, and that the fates dealt her a bad hand. But, hard as she might cling on her vendetta, her alignment as a hero prevents her from killing an overlord struggling to understand what having a human heart really means. Funny, all this coming from a hero who was once human herself.

Very materialistic. But he’s poor, so it’s okay?

All in all, despite suffering from drama fits that detail bitter pasts and party-crashers who ruin the mood of this unusual case of slice-of-life, Hatamaō is good for the laughs. I’d like to see how the plot tries to stretch the idea of concept-equals-power, since it can stretch through the boundaries of religion, such as belief in angels and demons, as well as prominent names of the devil like Lucifer and Satan gaining occult notoriety. But since Sadao Mao is the only link that keeps me from dropping the show, I don’t think I’ll do a good job in writing posts for it. It’ll only anger the Emilia fans more.

Further Reading

Quoting EmperorJ: “Now I have to take a guy who works full time at McDonalds as a serious action hero.” On second thought, that might have been awesome:

Hataraku Maou-sama 04: Out Goes the Comedy – Lower Mid-Table (04/25/2013)

Why Sadao Mao is the great balancer of the show, be it drama, comedy, or serious stuff. Also the reason why Ashiya Shiro is an M:

Hataraku Maou-sama 04 — Inklings of Drama – Draggle’s Anime Blog (04/26/2013)

Footnotes

  1. This is an allusion to the Japanese proverb that he who kills a thousand demons becomes a demon himself. []
  2. Comes along, but not limited to, with physical abuse and death. []
  3. “Shortcut” being “any”. They become less picky with the alternatives as time passes. []
  4. Apparently, in the literal sense. []

4 Responses to “Hataraku Maō-sama First and Last Impressions: Not the Best, But the Ideal”


  • Of all the blog commentaries in the net about this show, I’d say it’s this commentary of yours that came close to my personal opinion. Aside from the laughs, the MC is the main reason why I watch this show for one of the reasons you stated: he lacks the arrogance that most villain-overlord types have, and at the bottom of all the lulz, fantasy action and romantic hijinx with anime girl archetypes, it’s basically the story of a demon lord coming to terms with having a human heart(or spirit, or soul, whatever works). Not wanting to anger the fans of certain, ahem, characters is a good idea. Shipping wars, “my character is better then yours”, it all gets tiring.

    • Hello! Welcome to the blog and thank your for commenting!

      Back on topic, considering how most Overlord characters act (I can’t call him a protagonist because he was a bad guy formerly and by nature), Mao has shown very strong character presence despite his repeated attempts of normalcy and humility along with the constant reminder that he’s now a powerless, poor guy working as service crew on a fast-food joint. Maybe because the Lucifer arc has helped him get viewer appeal and sympathy. Then again, it can also be interpreted in a sense that Mao is simply interested in Earth, and that he will invade and burn it to the ground once his curiosities has been satisfied, which is a good reason for Emilia to keep an eye on him. Then again, that’s just me.

      Re: Shipping wars, yes, it’s tiring and repetitive to do. Most of the characters have too generic a disposition to make interesting things in ships happen. So yes, no shipping on this show.

  • Augusta V. Levine

    On Earth, due to lack of magic, his powers are weak, so that he is like an average human. However. his powers were temporarily restored during the battle with Lucifer due to the major presence of civilians.

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