This was an odd series for me, in the fact that I found out about it regarding its THIRD season. The only thing worse than coming into a show three or four episodes into its run is coming into a show three or four seasons into its run. That is too much background to try and cover all at once and you will lose the catch-up game. So I thought it would be best to see “Working!” right from the start spot. Now, it may also be found as “Wagnaria!”, as that is the name of the restaurant this mostly takes place in.
Wagnaria is a family-style along the lines of a Denny’s or a Cracker Barrel. Although it feels like a moderate chain business and not a solo independent, the show details the trials and tribulations of the rather divergent cast out of this place. We will rock around the clock with the wait staff, as it were, starting at the six o’clock position:
Don’t worry, the cast gets bigger as we advance, OK? The real problem that I have is that everyone, and I mean EVERYONE, is defective in one manner or another. For example:
Too worried about her height
Androphobia (fear of men)
Carries a samurai sword on her person
Eats the food at the restaurant but doesn’t pay for it
A caliber of blackmailer
Emotionally cold and distant
Rarely at work, as he is searching for his missing wife
Likes things that are tiny and small and cute (like Taneshima, who is tiny and small and cute).
Now, this does make for some charming storylines, as Jun is constantly teasing Taneshima about her height (she was called Popura so she would grow tall), or how Yachiyo is always making parfaits for Kyoko and that Yamada is always breaking dishware and the like. We do have a stronger line, as Takanashi tries to help Inami cure her phobia, but he ends up getting pummeled into submission. My concern is that it might wear thin, as we keep these folks around for their quirks, but do nothing to ‘improve’ things. We also get to see Takanashi’s home life, where he is run ragged by his sisters, all of whom are a caliber of loser (but I cannot tell who is worse, the Goth author Izumi or the Dumped Damsel Kozue). One thing I want to bring to your attention is that Taneshima mispronounces Takanashi’s name as “Katanashi”. It takes a few moments to realize the error, so it is not a transcription error.
The Mr. Otoo story takes a bizarre turn, when we run into the missing wife. She is not a real runaway but has a wretched sense of direction and spends a lot of time in the underground system, coming up to figure out where she might be and where she has to get to. But she does have this nasty tendency to flee, so she is akin to trying to nail Jell-O® to the wall.
It’s a wonder anything gets done at all. As far as a restaurant goes, I never hear about the quality of the food. I assume it is serviceable and/or cheap, as they do get a goodly crowd. The other aspect is what is the operating hours. Since this is a part-time job for Takanashi, he seems to be there throughout the day. And I would also assume that you do not wish to pay overtime (yeah, OK, my knowledge of Japanese Labor Laws are a bit skint), so everyone gets an 8-hour shift, but what does that do for the store hours? 11 am to 7 pm? Do we pay people overtime? Do we have the part timers come in after 4 pm to keep it open to 10 pm or 11 pm? Sorry, this is the logistics that go through my mind. I assume since it started out as a 4-koma, it has that set-up/punch line approach to things.
This in itself is not a bad thing; “Azumanga Daioh” started out the same way and was a very effective series. (Hmmm……maybe I need to review that for you as well), but it fgollows the story is a less lineal manner than if it was a true manga.
Still, for thirteen episodes, they do soar along rather quickly and a lot is set up for the second season (and I already knew there was one, but with a couple of plot points left exposed, it was going to happen if I had seen this on the original go-around). So, if you don’t look too closely at things (it’s much like watching someone make sausage), I think you’ll have a good time.
On a scale of 1 to 10:
Artwork 7 (Standard anime)
Plot 7 (Rather typical)
Pacing 8 (Does turn frantic)
Effectiveness 7 (Feels like a sitcom)
Conclusion 2 (It reaches a ‘coupler point’, but hasn’t ended)
Fan Service 1 (A similar show would be “Ouran High School”)
Overall 7 (Nice, but light)
And remember, it’s first run until you’ve seen it. Welcome home, master.