Volume 15 opens (and later continues) with a situation that anyone with two brain cells can figure is not what it seems, and there are no epic swordfighting or magical battles.
But this is one of the best entries in The Devil is a Part-Timer!, bar none.
Chapters in this series have always been named after one or more of the characters (“The Devil King goes…”, “The Hero does…”, etc.) The bulk of this volume is “The Devil King is Out of the Office”, and as you might guess, the titular character is mostly absent. Instead, it focuses on other characters, including interactions between unusual pairs like Chiho and Lucifer.
This sounds like the volume is filler. It’s not. On everyone’s mind is Laila and Gabriel’s request for Maou and Emi. While they haven’t officially turned down the mission to essentially slay a god, they don’t seem apt to take on the job. Maou is training to be a full-time employee (which seems more like a district or floating store manager position than a “you work 40 hours here now” approach like in the US), and we learn Emi is considering college. Most of their friends aren’t upset by this since the two have found a life in Japan and aren’t welcome in Ente Isla. Plus, no one completely trusts Laila or the other angels.
Still, some are torn. Norn wants Emi to be happy, but he also knows his wife wouldn’t be asking for such a favor if it wasn’t important. Ashiya finds himself thinking about Rika. Back in Ente Isla, Albert is frustrated by Emi not being welcome back to the world she saved. He’s also angry because Emeralda had extended her stay in Japan while he’s stuck with all of her responsibilities.
But she’s staying in Japan for a while longer for a very important reason: Christmas! Gotta get that holiday feast. Oh, and to celebrate with Alas Ramus, too, even though the friends debate the idea of introducing an Earth holiday to a toddler from another world who may not be on Earth next year.
So while Christmas is brought up as a way to get some laughs at Emeralda’s expense and find another excuse to spoil Alas Ramus, it also ties into the idea of what the future will be like for these individuals. Everyone thinking about the future to some extent. Ashiya, for instance, is taken aback by Sariel’s dream in a rare interaction between the two. Everyone gets some good characterization sometime in the story.
All this is good, but what makes volume 15 really good is that it goes into the history of the angels. It is fascinating. We’ve known for a while that angels are not some divine entities, but I was hooked. At times, the author has overloaded readers with so many names and terms, but the truth (as told by the angels themselves) is laid out clearly for the audience to grasp. This is important since most of these things and entities will certainly be revisited in the future.
I expected to be annoyed when the light novel closed with the continuation of the opening chapter, which obviously couldn’t be played out the way it was written. However, it ties into what Maou and Emi have decided to do with their lives and shows how far they’ve come. The decision is abrupt and is only shown after the fact, but it proves who is the most powerful being in the story. You can thank them if the next arc of The Devil is a Part-Timer! is good, but Wagahara deserves all the credit for making volume 15 excellent.