If the movie Waiting taught us anything it’s that the restaurant business is very grim on the other side of the counter. The employees are not above bending the rules and embarking on revenge against difficult customers, but what happens when you take a comedy like that and put it in the hands of A-1 Pictures? You get one of the most amazing comedies that I’ve seen in quite some time! This is a review of all three seasons of Working!!
In the Denny’s-themed restaurant Wagnaria (Italicized because that is the name of the series here in the U.S.), they are a little understaffed. One of their waitresses, Popura Taneshima runs into Souta Takanashi on the street and recruits him. Right away we are given a tongue-in-cheek joke about hiring anyone off the street because this restaurant just did! From that point on we are given an episodic look into the lives of the employees, their hijinks, as well as the overall story of the restaurant itself. There is a handful of characters, but my God… these characters!
I’ll get to them in a moment, but I wanted to take the time to delve into the story which many won’t really see in the first season until the very end. The overall story in Working!! Is the relationship between Souta and Mahiru Inami. Souta is oblivious to his own feelings and Mahiru has androphobia… a fear of men. She often reacts violently towards any man she sees out of pure fear, but Souta is there to help her cure her androphobia. While it is more or less a character story than the main story, by season three, it becomes the main story.
I can’t really go more in-depth about the story of Working!! because it depends on the richness of its characters to pull the majority of the weight throughout the series. So let’s take a look at them!
He’s our main character who has many different facets to him. On the outside, he’s caring because he will go out of his way to help his co-workers. Just like stated above, he takes it upon himself to try and cure Mahiru of her androphobia. Later on, he kind of becomes a whip cracker who is the bane of the lazy Yamada. He also likes really small things and when I say that he likes them… he LIKES them… to the point of obsession. This makes his relationship with Popura a bit awkward because he’s not in love with her, he just idolizes her because she, herself, is a very tiny girl. Oh, he also has a past in cross dressing due to his mother wanting another daughter and not getting it.
Souta is surely a mixed party bag of different characters. He tries to be the voice of reason but always ends up in a situation where you just can’t take him seriously, but at the same time you can. It’s really hard to explain as it’s something you just have to see with your own eyes to understand. He’s a very well-rounded character, but he’s far from my favorite. That honor goes to…
He’s the assistant chef at Wagnaria and he’s also the guy that everyone hates being around because he’s such a creep. By that I mean Souma is always taking photos of the other employees, spying on them, gathering information, and using all of that in several subtle blackmailing schemes. While all of his intentions are evil, he does it gracefully with a smile and a witty persona. He’s always mingling in other people’s affairs and sometimes (well, often) it ends up backfiring on him in the most hilarious way. From his overall personality to all of the things he does, any time he shows up on screen, I’m legitimately tuned in. I just love this character! He’s like a non-perverted version of Voyeur from Baka to Test.
Since we talked about the assistant, let’s talk about the head chef of Wagnaria. Jun is a chain smoking, laid-back chef who is a bit philosophical in his approach to the world, but he’s not above pulling a prank or two… especially when it comes to Popura in which he has a bit of an obsession of torturing her. Not in an evil or diabolic way, mind you, but in a way where he’ll do things like resting his pack of smokes on her head, tying her hair in obscene ways, or even making fun of the fact that she can’t grow any taller. He also ends up with his own love story in seasons two and three, but season three is where it gets the most focus. So who does he fall in love with?
She’s the head waitress at Wagnaria and a close personal friend to the manager due to an event that happened in the past. Yachiyo is so grateful to the manager that she goes to great lengths to protect her and feed her… mainly parfaits. She also likes to carry around a katana with her at all times all while being unaware that doing so is very intimidating and frightening… especially to the customers she ends up serving. Despite having the sword, she has a sweet and innocent personality.. unless you badmouth the manager, then the handcuffs are off. Speaking of the manager..
Ever have a really lazy boss in life that sits around, does nothing, eats the food out of the kitchen, and barks minimal orders with a minimalistic attitude? If so, then you can completely relate to Kyouko. She is the acting manager while the owner of the restaurant is out (more on that in a bit). She eats everything in sight without worry about the consequences to their profit margin and doesn’t really seem to care about working in general. She only makes decisions and performs tasks when she absolutely has to. Outside of that, she has this whole “Why are you bothering me? Don’t bother me” air about her. She does believe in sticking up for employees, though, and isn’t against using violence to toss unruly customers out of the restaurant. However, she only values her employees because they do all the work which frees her up to slack off.
Otoo-san (a parody on O-tou-san.. the Japanese word for father), is the owner of the restaurant but he’s rarely ever there. Instead of spending his days running a business, he’s spending them searching for his absent-minded wife who went out for milk one day and disappeared into thin air! Every once in a while he will return to the restaurant and bring everyone gifts. Kyouko always looks forward to his because he brings her many things to eat.
Haruna is Hyougo’s missing wife. She just wanders around aimlessly. Yes. That’s it to her character. I kid you not. She does, eventually get discovered, but just when you think you have her cornered, she finds some mystical way to disappear again. Even though she’s a secondary character, she brings some of the best comedic moments in the show! She’s a true sleeper hit of a character… especially in season three!
Continuing on the with chain of character linking to each other, Yamada is a girl who runs away from home and ends up at Wagnaria. She then begins to live in the restaurant’s attic and wishes nothing more for Hyougo to become her new father. Yamada’s work ethics, though, have a lot left to be desired. She’s constantly slacking off, breaking dishes, and not really doing anything helpful to the restaurant.
Aoi’s older brother. He spends his time searching for Aoi and has training in karate. He ends up running into Mahiru one day and uses his karate to defend himself. Since then he’s had a crush on Mahiru which makes Takanashi pretty angry to the point where he can’t stand seeing Kirio. Of course, Takanashi has no clue he even likes Mahiru so he just takes Kirio as someone who is trying to spoil all of his hard work of curing Mahiru of her androphobia.
She’s a waitress at Wagnaria who reacts violently towards men due to being afraid of them. That’s pretty much her character which seems pretty shallow for a main character roll, but her development comes when she slowly overcomes her androphobia and begins to realize that she’s in love with Takanashi. They sound like simple developments, but the way the character is handled, you end up rooting for her throughout all three seasons. You actually become invested in Mahiru and she is the perfect example of an interesting character with a slow burn for development that keeps your attention. She’s my second favorite character of the show because of this.
Popura wishes she could grow taller, but can’t. She has a hard time reaching medium height shelves, reading the posted schedule, or even carrying medium weight objects. Many people mistake her for a young child and some even question the restaurant’s ethics in hiring child labor when she is, in fact, older than some of the crew members. Outside with her obsession to grow taller, Popura seems like the only normal character of the bunch. She also has this habit of mispronouncing Takanashi’s name by always calling him Katanashi. No matter how many times Takanashi corrects her, she never gets it right. She’s a lovable, huggable character… the kind where, you too, wish you could sit there and pet her head for hours on end.
This brings us full circle with the majority of the major characters. There are also Takanashi’s family, including his sisters, Kyouko’s mafia members, and many other smaller characters which round out the overall cast. None of the characters, no matter how large or how small their roles/appearances are, are considered throwaway characters. Every one of them has a purpose, a story, and a unique personality that simply just shines. Typically you don’t see a comedy take the time to develop their characters to the levels of some of the bigger animes out there, but Working!! does an absolutely amazing job with its entire cast. Everyone feels unique and special in their own way and they each bring a different kind of comedy that is both funny on its own and funny when mixed with others. That is a very hard feat to pull off and A-1 Pictures did it.
Art, Animation, & Sound
The show’s art style is simplistic. You’re not going to find breathtaking backgrounds, heavy CG, or anything of that sort. You’ll find characters that are plainly designed, yet, they stand out enough to where they are unique. The shows takes a very minimalistic approach in this regards and proves that they can be masterful with it.
The animation is pretty decent. You’re not going to see big budget action scenes or anything of the sort. It’s all pretty standard fare when it comes to character movements and interactions. Just fairly average stuff.
But then there’s stuff like this.. (Click)
The soundtrack isn’t anything to write home about either. All three seasons shared the same OST with maybe a splash of a new song here or there, but for the most part the music is recognizable, but also forgettable at the same time. If you watch all three seasons, then you’ll know how it can be recognizable, but if you settle on just one season, there’s really nothing that will stick in your head. The only exception to this is the show’s opening themes. Each season’s opening is AMAZING! Not from an art perspective, but from a music perspective.
“SOMEONE ELSE,” “COOLISH WALK,” and “NOW!!!!GAMBLE” were all performed by the voice actresses for Popura (Kana Asumi), Mahiru (Saki Fujita), and Yachiyo (Eri Kitamura). Usually when the voice actors do the theme, it’s pretty generic and boring, but Working!! took it and ran with it and all three opening themes just blow the lid off of the stereotype, flip it upside down, and drops it on its head. If you like wild, crazy music that makes you go “WTF did I just listen to?” all while making you tap your feet and wanting more then these tracks are exactly what you are looking for!
While the art, animation, and main OST are nothing special, the overall characters, jokes, and situations make this show a must watch. There are comedies that make me laugh, but there are few that make me laugh and want to see more of it immediately. Working!! is one of those shows that made it painful to wait until the next week to see more. You get so invested in each of the characters that you feel for each and every one of them. Not many shows can pull that off in a comedy setting, but Working!! does so and does so flawlessly. The biggest gripe I have with this show is the non-ending ending it got. It just left things unfinished and while there is a one hour OVA in the works that will, apparently, wrap up the series, I cannot understand why, for the life of me, A-1 chose not to wrap it up when they had 36 episodes to work with. That left me scratching my head down to the scalp.
Be that as it may, this is definitely one comedy… nay… one anime that you don’t want to pass up. With 36 total episodes, this will keep you laughing for a very long time! I will give you a bit of advice because the anime itself isn’t listed as Working 1, Working 2, Working 3 so it could get a bit confusing if you’re jumping in for the first time. The order to watch them in is Working!!, Working’!!, then Working!!!. Season one has two exclamation points at the end of the word, season two has an apostrophe and then two exclamation points, and season three has three exclamation points.
Now that you know the order… flee into wilderness and find yourself a housewife! (Don’t worry, you’ll eventually get that joke. Just think of me when you realize it)
Overall Rating: 9/10
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Until next time,
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