Contrary to what this anime portrays, working actually sucks. Especially at a restaurant where you are typically working with a bunch of people you grow to hate, nothing is particularly cohesive because of the mutual hate of everyone, and you’re working so why the hell would you be happy? On top of that it’s hard to find a restaurant full of cute chicks, let alone a restaurant that will hire someone who is androphobic and a manager who eats the food supply. So Working!! is a complete work of fiction with absolutely no basis in reality. If it were to be realistic and a factual slice-of-life, it would have ended with the main character using his paycheck to buy some marijuana and light up behind the restaurant and grow to hate his life.
Working!! is about Souta Takanashi, a guy who likes tiny things and, let’s face it, is probably a pedophile and a candidate for the sex offenders list when he turns eighteen. He gets recruited by the cute and tiny Poplar Taneshima to work at a family restaurant called Wagnaria, where only the weird are allowed to work. He only decides to work there because he appears to have a love for Poplar that transcends human comprehension but what appears to be the start of a love story between Souta and Poplar turns into MM! starring an androphobic girl who wants to cure her illness because she is falling in love with Souta. While this happens though Souta must take care of his crazy sisters who all seem to suffer from various symptoms of uselessness and that’s on top of working at the worst family restaurant in Japan. A family restaurant where your father has the potential to get beaten by an androphobic red-head, you are in fear of your life because of a long haired waitress who carries a katana, and if you don’t pay a tip you will more than likely get beaten up in a back alley because of the connections of an insane manager.
The androphobia is something that gets turned into the focal point of the anime. At first it just seems to be a quirky little character driven adventure in a rather strange restaurant. But what it winds up being is an MM! style, “Let’s go on a date and cure your androphobia” based plot that isn’t all that exciting. This is not helped by the fact that the androphobic character, Mahiru Minami, isn’t all that exciting to watch and the plot never really progresses through her getting over her fear of men, it just seems to be there to kill time. Which is sad because there are a lot of great characters that could have been worked with and could have had a bigger role, and I felt that the sudden change of focus from Poplar to Mahiru was just too fast. I would have been fine with it if the series started with Mahiru and Souta meeting and the androphobia being there and the series telling me that that would be the focus. The fact that it didn’t and shifted direction halfway through was awkward.
On top of that, the show seems to use the same jokes again and again and again. Mahiru’s tendency to punch men. Souta liking tiny things. Souta cross dressing. Poplar is short. The chef, Jun Satou, being in a one sided love with Yachiyo. Satou’s sister drinks a lot. The jokes don’t fall flat all the time, but seem a little overused. Which is why it is sad that the plot and the script couldn’t have been helped through more silly banter between the silly characters. If androphobia had been nothing more than a side plot, the anime would have probably been a lot better. But the moment that became the main conflict, the anime suffered.
The animation is pretty unexciting. The characters look okay, but the colors aren’t crisp and it all looks fairly dated.
The sound is good. The theme song is pretty awesome and catchy. The end’s Japanese Elvis homage is pretty entertaining. Music during the show suits the mood and voice actors are good.
Characters are a major part of what makes Working!! so good, and yet so average. Souta is your typical romantic/comedy/slice-of-life main male character, with the personality of a cardboard box. As does all main characters of the genre he has a particular complex that is exploited religiously and he overall never is real entertaining but for maybe two or three times.
Poplar is a clumsy, tiny seventeen year old who is adorable and funny. As stated previously, her shortness is continuously exploited by Jun, the badass chef who seems to be Sanji’s (One Piece) brother. Jun is in love with Yachiyo, who is in love with the manager, making things difficult. Yachiyo doesn’t have a lot of character, she is just the manager’s play thing, but the fact she carries around a katana and waits on people amused the hell out of me for no particular reason. I also found the one sided romance between Jun and her pretty cute. I just can’t get over how much Jun is like Sanji though. A chef. A blond. A chain smoker. I mean, come on…
Aoi Yamada is a younger teen who joins the restaurant crew half-way through but doesn’t seem to be anything more than your clumsy little loli girl. She’s as useless as Mahiru, another character who is flat and boring and yet is still the focus of the anime. And that’s the biggest problem of Working!! is focusing on the most boring characters.
And I also had a problem with the introduction of Maya Matsumoto on the last episode. She had been working at Wagnaria the whole series, yet doesn’t get a line until the end?
Overall, Working!! suffers from one problem, and that problem is Mahiru. If she weren’t the focus of the whole series, then it would be a pretty entertaining and all around fun little romp. But because the cool characters (Jun, Yachiyo, and the manager) aren’t focused on that much, the series loses a lot of points for me.
Working!! is, nonetheless, not a bad way to spend a boring afternoon. It does have some entertaining characters and Wagnaria is a place you’ll look forward to returning to again and again with every episode. It’s just that shift in focus that really ruins it and leaves it unable to be considered great. It is instead, just good.
Working!! is a 6/10.
The Good: Fun characters, setting exploited well
The Bad: Androphobia, main characters are the two most boring characters