Title: Servant x Service Vol 1
Author: Karino Takatsu
Publisher: Yen Press
Genre: Comedy, Slice of Life
Publication Date: April 26, 2016
Typically, I would dive in and analyze the story, but Servant x Service is not your typical manga. It is a compilation of 4-panel comic strips, but when laid out side by side, they flow into each other and begin to chain together each and every event. Ultimately, Servant x Service is about the workers and their everyday lives inside of the Health and Welfare Department of Public Services. The series is more about the characters than the story as each character has their own specific background as well different interactions with the other characters.
If this formula seems a bit familiar to you, it should as Karino Takatsu is also the creator behind the hit comedy Working!!, which involved the stories of workers inside of a restaurant named Wagnaria. In fact, I have a review of it here if you would like to check it out! It’s basically the same exact story, just in a different setting with new characters and new interactions. Don’t take my explanation as this being bad, though. Working!! was a phenomenal series with great comedy and if you loved it, then you’ll fall in love with Servant x Service as well. While the characters don’t really stand out as much as they do in Working!!, they stand out enough as there is still a great deal of them with each bringing their own unique story to the table.
Since this series is mainly about the characters, let’s take a look at them.
What Servant x Service does with their characters is they introduce you to the bulk of them right out of the gate. They then follow up by defining their personalities, what makes them unique and then they begin to throw them into different situations and it’s through those situations that they begin to grow. Most of the situations, though, are running jokes, but even those running jokes become some of the focal points of their development which is pretty cool.
Lucy Yamagami is one of the running jokes in the series because when she was born, her parents didn’t know what to name her. They asked around and compiled a list of names from peoples’ suggestions and then decided to go with all of them. Then a brainless paper pusher at the hospital didn’t even notice it and approved her birth certificate. Therefore, Lucy’s full name is Lucy Kimiko Akie Airi Shiori Rinne Yoshiho Ayano Tomika Chitose Sanae Mikiko Ichika Yamanagi. They typically refer to her as Lucy (etc.) throughout the manga. Because of her name, she has no confidence, especially when it comes to romance. At times she can be pretty shy or embarrassed and other times she becomes a bit angry when people refer to her by her first name. She seems to be a bit in the background at first, but she becomes the focal point later on when she begins to interact with Yutaka. Let’s touch on him next.
Yutaka Hasebe has to be the laziest prodigal genius I’ve ever seen. Yutaka is good at every single thing he does from his job, to video games, to sports, etc. You name it, Yutaka can best anyone, anytime, anywhere, but it’s because that he’s so good at what he does that he often has a lot of free time on his hands so he spends it avoiding extra work and mingling with his co-workers. One of the co-workers that he loves to mingle with and pick on is Lucy. In fact, he draws her ire every single time he interacts with her, but things begin to get a bit complicated when Yutaka starts to fall in love with her. I really like the Yutaka character as he is not only efficient when getting his job done, but he’s a complete and total slacker at the same time who is just so carefree… .at least that’s what it seems like at first. When they go into Yutaka’s past, you soon realize why he is the way he is and it really adds a bit of depth to his character. In fact, his past makes him seem very uncharacteristic of what he is today, but once you understand why, it all falls into place. Without spoiling how she’s introduced, however, I’ll just say that Yutaka also has a sister named Kaoru who also likes to play tricks on people. She is also a civil servant, but in a different department than her brother.
Next up we have Saya Miyoshi who is a very shy and timid character. She is the kind of person who doesn’t want to be rude so she’ll just stand there and listen to people. This becomes a running gag when an elderly woman named Tanaka comes into the office very often and just talks Saya’s ear off about her daughter-in-law. This seems like a routine running gag, but then it gets some attention when Tanaka stops talking about her daughter-in-law and wants to know if Saya will marry her grandson with her only selling point on him is that he’s a hard worker and works at a bank. This ends up introducing us to Jouji (Georgie) Tanaka. I’m lumping him in here because not only does he play a role in Saya’s story, but he also crosses over into Yutaka’s story as well. In fact, Jouji and Yutaka have a bit of a past and these two help build the backstory for each of their characters. I really loved how they transformed a running gag into the introduction of a new character and tied it into the main cast. It was very well-done and it ended up being one of the more interesting stories so far in this first volume!
Taishi Ichimiya doesn’t seem like much of a character at first. He’s Yutaka’s superior at the division and that’s about it. His development comes from another character, Touko Ichimiya. Touko is Taishi’s sister and while she doesn’t work for Public Services, she can recite every rule, policy, etc. off the top of her head like it’s second nature. She’s also very brash and is always scolding and training Taishi’s employees, effectively doing his job for him despite the fact that she still attends high school. Her backstory explains why Taishi is a civil servant, but it also explains why her desire is to become one herself. Not to mention she has quite the brother complex. She’s a borderline tsundere without the whole love relationship thing. I find her a bit annoying as a character, despite her backstory which is supposed to make you feel sympathy (instead it just paints Taishi to look like an idiot), but just the way the character is handled is just so run-of-the-mill. She just comes off as that loud, annoying teenage girl that you just want to put a piece of duct tape over their mouth. She was my least favorite character of the bunch so far because of those reasons.
A new character is introduced however which shows Touko’s non-tsundere side and that character is Kanon Momoi. She’s Touko’s friend, but also, she’s the daughter of the boss, Kenzou Momoi. Kenzou has to be, hands down, my favorite character in this entire series. As much as I like Jouji and Yutaka because of their backstory, Kenzou takes the cake when it comes to pure awesomeness. Kenzou is a 50 year old man who is in charge of the Health and Welfare Division, but he’s shy and has a difficult time talking to people… so he does so vicariously through a stuffed rabbit. Yes, everyone at the Health and Welfare Division is being lorded over by a toy bunny. He also loves his alcohol, but never got to go out drinking with his employees due to his shyness, but he eventually does. Despite just being a rabbit, he ends up drunk anyway because he decided to drink wherever his real body is. Of course, there are other great moments with Kenzou, but once you get introduced to him, you’ll realize just how awesome of a character he is.
And lastly we have Megumi Chihaya. Going into her character would spoil a bit of interaction and development for another character, as well as herself, but I will say that she is a temp employee who seems normal at first, but she ends up being a cosplaying otaku. Beyond that would spoil a pretty bit plot point in the manga so I’ll just leave it at that. Her personality isn’t anything really special at first, but when she starts talking about cosplays, she gets excited. In fact, she tries talking some of her co-workers into cosplaying and it’s pretty great. She’s enjoyable all-around!
The first volume of Servant x Service (which is actually a two-volume omnibus) does an amazing job bringing one of the dullest sounding topics to life. While I said Working!! is like Japanese equivalent to the American movie Waiting, Servant x Service is the manga/anime version of Office Space. The characters have very rich backstories, great interactions, and each have their own little personalities that make them feel very unique. It’s a formula we’ve seen before in Working!!, but it works and works well! While the first volume is a little over 300 pages, the comedy keeps you flipping through and it was an absolute joy to read!
Karaino Takatsu has done it again and I highly encourage anyone to check this volume out. Even if you haven’t seen Working!! (which means you need to put that on your To Watch list right now), you will still find a lot of enjoyment and laughter in this volume!
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This item was provided for review by Yen Press