“The Devil is a Part-Timer!” Season 1 – At Times the Comedy and Drama Clash But Overall Consistent Tone and Theme

the-devil-is-a-part-timer

     It has been a while since I reviewed an anime, and “The Devil is a Part-Timer!” was one I had already gotten halfway through so I decided it was time to finish it, to see how it held up against the other animes I enjoy. This was a solid anime but has some of the common tropes I found annoying in that the Devil has a harem making it a harem anime (though thankfully he doesn’t hook up with anyone) and there is a contrast between the drama and the comedy that is jarring at times. To the shows credit on both counts it manages to offset some of it, which I’ll get into deeper into the review.

    The anime was based off a light novel of the same name written by Satoshi Wagahara with the anime being produced by White Fox and directed by Naoto Hosoda.

    The story involves the Demon Lord Satan and his general Alciel escaping their world of Enta Isla is the war they are losing against the Church, into Tokyo. Here they find themselves powered down leading Satan to take up a job at the local MacRonalds so they can afford to live in this realm. The hero Emilia who is hunting them crosses over too and takes up a job at an office as others from their realm pull them into what they behind as they find themselves changed by our world.

The Pros: The Premise – The premise is really cool! A powerful being from a fantasy realm forced to live as human and take a mundane job…there is room for so much drama there that sometimes the show does a good job exploring.

The Action – The fight scenes are a lot of fun and pretty epic in their own way as we see powerful angelic and demonic being tear apart the town in their standoffs.

The Characters – The characters are the main reason to watch this show, besides the the premise itself being draw enough. They are fascinating and most of them have arcs.

Chiho – Chiho is a high school student who has a crush on Satan, even after learning who she is. She is the heart of the anime as it is her appeals to goodness that change some characters back as she sees the most how Satan was not who he was before.

Lucifer – Lucifer is the villain in the first part of the anime but ends up being part of the good guys after he is depowered. Though he still manages to cause a lot of trouble when he does a ton of online shopping. His moment of great is when he punches the corrupt Church leader Olba during the final fight and shows that he isn’t about power and likes being human.

Suzuno – Suzuno is an inquisitor sent to kill Satan who changes over the course of the anime as she learns how to feel and sees that Satan is good and that she hates the fact that the Church and Archangel are using her and doing the evil they claimed Satan was. She helps Satan in the final fight after trying to kill him and is one of the core group.

Ashiya – Ashiya is the comedic relief as he is the domestic at the apartment. He is a good character as we see his devotion is what defines him, though he does long for more just not from Enta Isla.

Emilia – Emi is the hero sent back to defeat Satan as Satan’s forced killed her family in Enta Isla. She is obsessed with stopping him until she sees the Church is the one hurting people and forms an alliance with him the process. Their friendship is very combative and reminded me a lot of Ron and Hermione. Sadly she doesn’t get to take part in the final fight though she saves the Demons in the last episode from a scam. I wish they’d done more with her character as she is really cool.

Satan – Satan is the King of Demons and is very human after passing over as he is happy with his job at the MacRonalds and just wants to help people and have a life. In this way he doesn’t change at all and we never get how he changed from the Demon Lord of before. He is a great character though who could do with more exploration as his personalities between the two different worlds are very different.

Okay: The Comedy – The comedy is all over the place, the MacRondalds stuff tends to be funny since Satan is serious about his job but a lot of the humor tied to the girls who like Satan is really hit and miss.

The Ending – Satan stays to be a MacRonalds manager and is friends with the hero and the other friends he made as they stop a con man in town. It feels like a day in the life episode and was a waste as it did nothing to tie to Enta Isla or how they’d all changed. They still felt like the same characters from past changes.

The Cons: Tonal Shifts – The show wants to be a comedy and a drama but doesn’t pull it off nearly as well as “Voltron.” This largely due to having comedy in scenes that should be dramatic and vise versa. It is hard to know when to take anything seriously and that took me out of it. It is somewhat consistent in this in that the shift is happening all the time but I hate that in any kind of show.

The Villains – The villains are a corrupt Church official, Lucifer at one point who becomes a lazy computer guy and a pervy archangel who is just turned into a pervy human. I was really disappointed in the villains in this show.

The Enta Isla Plot – We get really cool glimpses of Enta Isla…from the Inquisition, to Emi’s backstory, etc. But it doesn’t amount to anything. In the end every character who crosses over just becomes part of our world and none of them go back. This was missed opportunity given Enta Isla sounded like a place that needed a lot of help.

     The premise is really cool but the show really feels unfinished at the end, and some of it’s worst tendencies were on display, such as fanservicing the female characters and having everything be about Satan in regards to saving the day, when Emilia was as much a part of the story on fighting corrupt folks tied to the Church as he was. This isn’t a great anime but if you are looking for a quick escape, the season is only 13 episodes long and the characters are great even if the tone can sometimes be all over the place.

Final Score: 7 / 10

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Constantine (2005): A Decent Adaptation Buried Under Weird Pacing and Stilted Dialogue

Constantine

       “Constantine” is one of those strange films that doesn’t quite work. There are some great moments in it, especially when it felt like the amazing character Constantine was there (Keanu Reeves managed to pull it off when he was given good dialogue), but the weird pacing, clash of tones and overall stilted dialogue keep this film from ever reaching good. Constantine is a fascinating character who is driven by outsmarting the greater powers than himself, he’s a deal maker and cynic and I wish we could have seen more of that, as well as the personal nature of most of the stories in the “Hellblazer” series where his story is told.

     The film was directed by Francis Lawrence, written by Kevin Brodin and Frank Cappello and produced by Akiva Goldsman, Lorenzo di Bonaventura, Michael Uslan, Benjamin Melniker and Lauren Shuler Donner.

     The story involves Constantine (Keanu Reeves) facing his mortality as he learns he has terminal cancer  as Detective Angela is pulled into his world after the mysterious suicide of her sister (Rachel Weisz plays both characters). As Angela discovers the magic that exists in her family forces plot against the world as Constantine and his allies must work to save it and prevent the end.

SPOILERS ahead

The Pros: The World – The world is one of the best parts of this film! There are half-demons and half-angels, and it takes place on the world stage in a world full of broken people. There are not heroes in this and that is part of what it makes it so fun.

Cinematography – The CGI is a little dated but the style of it is still amazing. I loved how Hell was done and how they presented seeing things that are hidden from us in our world. Philippe Rousselot did a great job.

Introduction to Constantine – We are introduced to Constantine as he kicks a warrior demon out of a girl. His interactions with the people and the demon is straight up Constantine. He’s standoffish, business all the way through and after takes out. Even his friends  give him space.

Hell – Hell is a twisted version of our world above and further below you have people consuming and being consumed. It was a very creative take on Hell and added terror to the demons we met.

Luficer – This Luficer is the threatening salesman and it works. He has power to how he speaks, with an heir of threatening kindness. I liked the white suit and the detail of him leaving behind black wherever he walked was great at giving him an otherworldly feel. He ends up punishing his son for breaking out and dealing with the half-angel Gabriel to try and take over and nearly takes Constantine until God protects him when he offers his life for Angela’s sister.

Chas Kramer – Shia LeBeouf was so much more likeable before “Transformers” and his later stuff. In this he’s Constantine’s driver and shows that he’s been studying up on how to fight demons too in the final fight, even though he does die he gets a lot of humanity and shows he isn’t just a fan, he wants to be respected.

Papa Midnite – This character is cold and cruel and after is chill and acts like an old friend again with Constantine. I like both versions of the character and just wish he’d been written more consistently. Djimon Hounsou does a fantastic job.

Constantine – Keanu can act when given the chance and he shows it here. We see him mad, sad, empathetic and all the emotions of a man dealing with death. His character also gets an arc too as his friends all die to Gabriel and Mammon but God protects him in the end when he finds belief and stops smoking since he got 2 chances as he kills himself twice over the course of the film (first to end the torture his parents were putting him through, second for the meeting with Luficer).

Okay: Constantine’s Arc – the arc was too easy, he is a cynical guy who knows that there are tons of higher beings out there but knows they can’t be counted on (even God drops the ball on letting his friends die and all the people who died from the fallout of Mammon and Gabriel getting their plans together) so him becoming a sudden believer made sense in the simplest of arcs but didn’t feel quite true to the character…so putting it at okay.

The Cons: Angela Dodson – Rachel Weisz is usually always the damsel and she is here too. She learns how to have psychic powers and is used by the villains almost immediately. It’s annoying and I hated that her character only seemed to exist in this role.

The Dialogue – The dialogue is stilted and sometimes characters will make comments that are meant to be jokes but it just ruins the tone of the scene and makes the pacing feel choppy.

Tone – The tone is thankfully largely dark but the moments of attempted humor don’t always work when they try go light hearted, I almost think this was meant to be a PG-13 movie but because they went for the R it just made the tone jarring.

Pacing – Thanks to tone and dialogue the pacing doesn’t flow all the time. The pacing of the opening and middle are fine but right around the end and leading up to the climax there are scenes that linger and it ruins the pacing.

    This is a film that is worth seeing once or renting and that is it. The great moments where Constantine is the cynical anti-hero of the comics make this film a lot of fun, and Keanu has more range than he is given credit…I think he suffers from having films with bad scripts or off tones, as this film does, but he is still a positive of this film. There were moments he felt like the Constantine in the comics, even though Constantine finding God and quitting smoking felt out of character, in all the “Hellblazer” comics I’ve read, nothing close to that happens. He makes deals and cons higher powers, he doesn’t give them worship. Still, I get why they did the arc, Constantine’s growth when it happens is hard write, so these writers took the easy way to write growth rather than writing something more complex, but given that they wrote the dialogue, the story is going to be brought down regardless. Rent it if you like Constantine, DC and Vertigo comics and films or like Keanu Reeves, but don’t go in expecting a good film.

Final Score: 7 / 10

“Supernatural” Season 11 – Reminds Us Why We’re Here for the Characters and Chokes at the End

Supernatural Season 11

    Well, I came back to the show. I didn’t watch the non-myth arc episodes unless a friend recommended a certain one, but I came back…and the show got better! The ending still kind of sucked, but the overall story improved a lot! This was the season that payed off on the relationships that have been building up for so long and seeing how those relationships unfolded really lended power to the choices and consequences that happened leading up to the Finale.

      I wish the show had been canceled this season though, so much of what was bad about the Finale could have been avoided if they’d just tied the story together at the end as the Winchesters and their allies live on after their greatest battle..if only we’d been so lucky. Last season was terrible, and here are some of my thoughts on it:https://cameronmoviesandtv.wordpress.com/2015/05/25/supernatural-season-10-retrospect-terrible-writing-pointless-deaths-dropped-arcs-and-codependency-continues/

But this season managed to fix some of those things, and avoiding the “Monster of the Week” episodes made the overall experience better.

    The showrunner for this season was Jeremy Carver, and he actually managed to capture a lot of what made the Lucifer/Apocalypse Arc back during the first 5 seasons (after how bad last season was I wasn’t expecting this).

SPOILERS

    The story involves the Winchesters trying to stop The Darkness after they release into the world after last season when Dean killed Death and the Mark was destroyed. From here they will free Lucifer, find God and create an Alliance to stop the ending of everything.

The Pros: The World – The world of “Supernatural” is fascinating, and we actually get some questions answered as to the nature of the world in this season. Seriously, for a lot of this season it feels like it is trying to everything that went wrong last season.

Metatron – Metatron’s back and actually has a redemption arc! We see Cas about to kill when he’s filming people he’s killing to make money on the street, but when God finds him to write his Memoirs there is a turn around and we see Cas’s mercy actually helped him to grow. In the end he stands against the Darkness/Amara and dies for it.

“Safe House,” The Bobby Episode – More Bobby is great and I like that he was helping the boys through his journal not physically being there. It was tactfully done and showed the cost of being a hunter.

Team Free Will – Team Free Will is the best it has been and now Crowley and Rowina are kind of part of the Team too, as well as Chuck/God (yep, he’s God). They finally take these arcs somewhere interesting.

Castiel – Castiel is the sacrificial lamb this season and becomes Lucifer’s vessel to defeat the Darkness. He is an outsider from Heaven and is full ally of humanity at this point. Misha continues to own this role and his performance as Lucifer is fantastic.

Lucifer – Lucifer possesses Cas to defeat the Darkness and we get to see him try and kill the brothers and eventually resolve things with God as they both resolve how selfish and flawed they both are. He also keeps fighting the Darkness until she kicks him out of Cas and possibly killed him. Misha’s performance here is brilliant.

Dean  – Jensen Ackles continues to be the charisma of this show in regards to why the Winchestsers are still main characters. Here we see him become more of a mentor to countless characters and even help the Darkness and God resolve their issues. This is a character who is tough with a lot of empathy and this season really illustrates that.

Sam – Jared Padalecki does alright. He still doesn’t feel all that different from all his past seasons…but at least he’s given more to do this season. Sam feels like his role has been taken over by Cas and the only way to counter that is to have Cas possessed by Lucifer, so props to the writers for getting that right. He isn’t memorable per usual, but I liked that he at least didn’t bring the show down.

Allies – Rowina and the Witches and Crowley and his demons become allies at one point! This I thought was handled pretty well as we see Crowley getting human blood really did change him a lot and Rowina’s motivation for helping makes sense. The treading water with these folks last season actually goes somewhere.

Rowina – Rowina like Crowley allies with Lucifer and is nearly killed…allies with the Darkness…same thing and finally gets that she needs people who care about her a little and resolves things with Crowley and even makes friends with God in relating to being a parent.

Crowley – Mark Sheppard is one of my favorite actors and he owns the role of the King of Hell. In this he loses it when Lucifer comes back but escapes and later becomes an official part of Team Free Will when he realizes his minions don’t respect him for his humanity and that he is the outsider, just like them. He is Neutral at this point, with leanings to good and it lends power to his role. He ends up embracing that when he can’t win on his terms as the Darkness doesn’t owe him anything and he values having something whether it is respect for relationship. Crowely continues to be one of the best part of this show.

Chuck/God – Chuck is God and how they do it is really cool…what if God were humanesque but alien? The show tackles that as he learns to see the details in the big picture and his overall good intent is explored to the fullest as he seeks out to resolve thing with Amara/The Darkness after she tries to kill him. This reveal was handled amazingly and I like that they made this writing choice.

The Darkness/Amara – I’m glad that the Darkness has a personality. This is a character who I expected to hate after last season but whose performance manages to actually matter thanks to Emily Swallow. You get why she hates what God did, given he imprisoned her forever…Her arc is resolving this as we see at the end of the day she is in everyone, not just Dean which there is romantic tension due to him having the Mark. I got her choices and changes and really , this is where the show had ended. There is nowhere to go after this that doesn’t feel like a cheap encore.

Okay/Con: The Ending – Everything with Amara, Rowina and Crowley, the brothers, Castiel, Heaven and Lucifer…and Chuck is great…but it keeps pulling away from that to set up next season with the London Chapter of the Men of Letters. 

The Cons: The London Chapter of “The Men of Letters”  –  These guys ruin the drama going on between Rowina, Crowley, Lucifer, Castiel, Chuck/God, The Darkness/Amara and the brothers. This only exists because they got renewed and just hurts the plot that I would have at least put at an 8 if not for this crap.

Happy Ending When Show Isn’t Done – The show should have been done…you defeat the thing that was around before God and make it care about what God made. This could have been much more emotionally powerful if it had just been the end, but it wasn’t. London Chapter comes out of nowhere to prosecute the boys and shoot Sam and Dean finds Sam and Dean’s mom…What the hell?

  As you can see there are a lot more pros this season than last season, which felt like it was largely treading water. I think that they were getting ready to end the show but when they were green lit for another season they knew they needed something to keep the cash coming, and it cost them good story in the process, and gave us a Finale that was good when it wasn’t setting up next season.

Final Score: 7 / 10