The 2nd episode of Maou-sama presents the reunion between the Demon Overlord and the Hero in a most unusual fashion. The Hero, who goes by Emi in this world, confronts Maou and threatens to kill him with a cheap knife. After some police intervention, they go their separate ways, though Emi continues to monitor how Maou lives his life. Finally, she offers to stop bothering him in exchange for his not wanting to return home, but they are interrupted by a sniper who is able to use magic bullets. Losing her purse on the way home, Emi has to ask Maou for a place to stay for the night.
One of the amazing things this series has done in the first couple of episodes is to blur the general opinion on who these characters are supposed to be. Maou had killed numerous people back in the old world, and now as a low-wage shift worker flipping burgers he’s a hero of sorts. Emi, has the comfy job and is trying to play the hero role by defeating the Demon Overlord, but she ends up stalking Maou and otherwise ruining his daily life.
The idea behind this series plays on the concept of the “underdog.” At some level, most people want to be pulling for something that has the odds against them to succeed. It’s a concept most associated with sports. Think of Giant Killing as an example. The story of ETU and their inferior players taking on Nagoya and their trio of foreign players and Osaka with their superior firepower and those make interesting stories even if it is about 22 men, some grass and a ball.
As it’s applied to Maou-sama, Maou and Ashiya and Emi all came into the world with essentially the same thing, nothing but the clothing they were wearing and their appearance. From that standpoint, it seems unfair that Emi ends up with a better result simply because of her appearance. At some level, most of us want them to end up with about even results, but it’s not meant to happen here.
That leads to another thing I’ve found very well executed so far, the complete dedication of this series to the banalities of real life. Working at the customer call center for one of the nation’s biggest telecom operators and taking angry calls all day can be frustrating, but it pays better than other jobs. However, being able to live comfortably, but yet being completely alone apart from work can seem like the saddest thing in the world. All that time and no one to spend it with. On the other hand, Maou and Ashiya barely have enough money to scrap by, but they have an aspirational goal even if it is unrealistic. They are much happier even as they are in poverty. Emi simply doesn’t have anything to aspire to beyond killing the two people she has a shared experience with.
As a romantic comedy, Maou-sama still has to play itself out. As a story of an underdog fighting against society, it plays the part very well. As subtle pieces of social commentary go, Maou-sama does its job with precision.