Thanks to Lucky Star and Azumanga Daioh, it seems at times that “slice-of-life” is synononamous with high school. However, titles that buck that trend like Doujin Work and Muteki Kanban Musume demonstrate that the world at large holds just as many laughs and it’s into this tradition that Working!! falls.
This series follows Souta Takanashi as he takes a part time job as a waiter in the Wagneria family restaurant. While his days consist mainly of serving customers and clearing tables, as comes with the territory, the staff full of eccentrics livens up his working environment considerably. Working!! mainly plays out as a standard 4-koma adaptation where each episode consists of a series of skits with easily-identified punchlines. But in this case, the series benefits from it's "workplace" setting which--as it differs strongly from the more common high school settings--helps its character interactions break the mold of many similar shows. Here, the gang does not act like family or best friends. Each character's indifference towards the non-work lives of his coworkers frees the show to inject real personal conflict without requiring a saccharine resolution at the end of every episode. And, from this tension springs some of the best humor. Kyouko, for example, might be selfish and violent, but since she makes the schedule for the restaurant, the staff knows better than to test her patience.
In addition, every character gets a chance to play boke and tsukkomi in turn and the quirky situations that evolve from this flexibility keep things fresh--for the most part. Sadly, Working!! begins to focus increasingly on Inami and her androphobia as the episodes pile on and the show suffers for it. Without any meaningful character development and only one possible punchline (well, two, if you include cross-dressing) she seems like a horrible choice to become the series’ other central character. Luckily, the cast's solid alchemy and fairly unique setting keeps laughs coming--albeit in smaller quantities--from different directions despite their decreasing time in the spotlight.
The only gripe that I have with the DVD version is the fact that the show skips straight to the episodes instead of starting you at the menu. This choice works fine when firing up the series for the first time, but if you put it back in the box between viewings it requires you have the patience to click back to the menu before selecting where to resume.
Though none of the character designs should knock anyone’s socks off, Working!!’s animation more than adequately serves each of the show’s gags. The combination of lovingly detailed environments and easily-deformed character designs give the show the feel of a low-budget K-On!, which works in its favor. By portraying its cast (for the most part) in a realistic manner, additional extras and new cast members slide in and out of Wagneria without seeming like jarring additions or mere comedic props (in direct contrast with, say, Lucky Star). Moreover, the attention to detail in the restaurant's portrayal helps ground the intervening moments between punchlines and adds extra impact to their delivery by reinforcing that all this absurdity happens in the course of a normal work day.
The official NIS version's animation matches the best quality rips available at the time the show was aired and the translation work matches the Crunchyroll sub. As a complement to the show's artwork the NIS premium edition features both attractive box art in the NIS tall-box style and an artbook which contains additional pictures of Wangeria and the cast (a welcome addition considering the detail of the location).
Go ahead and try to get the OP out of your head. I DARE you. “Someone Else” is one of those brutally catchy earworms that will end up on loop in your brain all day at the barest mention of its title. If you’ve not heard it, maybe it’s best to skip it every time it comes up lest you spend the rest of your life singing it (“Somewan wan wan!”). While not as memorable as the intro, the closing theme, "Go to Heart Edge", makes excellent referential use of classic rock guitar and tight harmony to conjure the memory of the 1950’s, which fits with Wagneria’s diner-ish atmosphere perfectly.
If Jun Fukuyama has a specialty, it would be playing unhinged characters who believe they are the only sane person in the cast. Well, that and being very good with English names. The experienced seiyuu gives Takanashi the gravitas and comedic timing required for the deranged “mini-con” to claim that he is perfectly normal with a straight face while also holding many of the gags together by sheer force of personality. Of course, the rest of the big names in the lineup elevate their performances to his level. Poplar Taneshima offers familiar territory for Kana Asumi who applies a near-trademark bubbling moe that should instantly endear the girl to any viewer with a soft-spot for all things cute. In contrast, Eri Kitamura breaks her usual tough-girl mold to conjure up a pitch-perfect faux-jousama interpretation of Yachiyo that makes the katana she carries seem particularly out of joint with the floor chief’s personality. Like any good slice of life effort, the good voice acting sells the show and much of Working!!'s humor stands on the shoulders of these three actors.
Of course dub fans are out-of-luck again, as the official release contains only the Japanese audio. But, given the star-studded voice cast I would have recommended they watch it subtitled anyway (seriously! Jun Fukuyama!).
Simple and crazy. That’s the path to victory in comedy slice of life, whether it be Azumanga Daioh, K-On!, or Doujin Work, and Working!! knows this. As Souta Takanashi points out, the entire staff is nuts, each with his or her own peculiarity played for maximum comedic effect. Souta’s utter sincerity towards his mini-con habits and his deadpan nature allow him to transition easily between the role of straight man and funny man given the right stimulus; in both cases, he's helped by Jun Fukuyama’s aforementioned brilliant realization. Poplar combines similar versatility with dangerously concentrated moe to act alternately as the voice of reason and a delicious, targeted missile of cute. In fact, most of the cast performs this kind of dual functionality, delivering what they believe to be grounding truths in blunt fashion based on their own bent interpretation of the world. This mix forms the basis of interactions that can pile joke upon joke as each Wagneria employee weighs in on a situation and helps form the core of the series’ best moments of comedy.
Of course, your mileage may vary on the cast’s true boke members. Inami quickly gets old when her development stalls out and her only line of humor comes from her desire to punch men. Had she spent more time breaking the restaurant with her super strength in a more casual manner, maybe she might have not overstayed her welcome. For different reasons, Aoi Yamada can also grate on people’s nerves. On the surface, her constant self-reference and sense of entitlement cast her as an annoying brat. But for viewers (like myself) who have an affection for truly delusional cast members, her complete lack of propriety and infectious enthusiasm make her an excellent vehicle for filler jokes to transition between scenes and ideas.
All that said, Working!! is well worth the watch for fans of the slice-of-life genre. Divorced from the weekly viewing schedule, Inami’s non-progression no longer drags down the series and you should find it easier to focus on the rest of the cast and their enjoyable antics. The excellent voice cast and the unique setting add a little spice to format that has seemed over-saturated of late.
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This review will cover all 3 seasons of Working!!
*So the first thing that I liked about this anime was the comedy. This anime made me laugh every single episode. I loved all the humor in Working!! from Satou’s ultra dry humor to the absurd situations Inami get’s herself into. Every episode there was at least one moment where I was laughing out loud.
*Next positive point were the characters, I loved every character in this anime. I even liked Yamada with her cocky personality. If I had to choose my favorite characters, I would choose Satou for his personality and his humor. And as second I choose Inami because she is just so cute. I really liked her for her looks, her personality and she belongs at the top of my most adorable female characters list.
And than I have to mention one thing about Takanashi: a couple of weeks ago in my review of Ore Monogatari! I said that the main male Takeo gave the word dense a new meaning. Well Takanashi comes pretty close because it literally takes him 30 episodes to realize the feelings that Inami has for him, something that we see from the first season.
*And that brings me seamlessly to the romance. I loved both romances in Working!! Let’s start with the one between Satou and Yachiyo. It’s a romance that we don’t get to see early in the anime but when it appeared I immediately got into it. Satou soon realizes his feelings for Yachiyo but is to ‘scared’ to tell her. And with Yachiyo is about the same story only she realizes it much later. But I really routed for them and was then of course really happy when they finally became a couple in the last season.
Now I would talk about the Takanashi-Inami couple but I’m going to save that for later in this review, you will see why.
*And lastly I also enjoyed the opening and ending songs of all the seasons of Working!!. The opening songs were always so cheerful that you just had to become happy if you heard them. And the ending songs were also very good going from a rock theme in the first season to a more disco vibe in the second one.
*A first negative point were the endings to 2 of the 4 story lines. The ending of the Yamada storyline I found bearable. There was build up to that ending but it still felt a bit strange. But the end of the Oto storyline was less to my liking. That ending felt so sudden, with out build-up. It was just: here’s your wife Oto and that was the end of it.
*The following negative point resolves around one of the characters: Matsumoto. I don’t understand why she is in this anime. She only appears in 2 episodes so she adds completely nothing to the anime. I understand that the writhers put her into the anime to at least have one ‘normal’ person but then she should have made more appearances. I would have appreciated her more than.
*And a last negative point, well negative is a big word here, was the massive trolling that the anime did at the end of the Takanashi-Inami storyline. I was routing for Takanashi and Inami from the first moment they met. Yes it was pretty obvious that they would fall in love with each other but still I found the development in their relationship enjoying to watch. And as I said before Inami is so damn cute so I really wanted her to get into a relationship with Takanashi.
So there I was starting the final episode of season 3 with the thought that that would finally happen. But then the anime decided to troll me by postponing that moment even more. Because an extra 1 hour special called: Lord of the Takanashi was announced after the final episode. Now nothing like a release date has been released yet but I hope I don’t have to wait long, hopefully not another 4 years, for it because I’m really eager to finally see that relationship happen. When it comes out I will definitely do a separated review on that.
So as a conclusion Working was a very fun, heartwarming anime that you don’t watch for the amazing deep storylines but for the excellent comedy, the likable characters and the sweet romances. I had a blast watching it so I’m going to rate the entirety of Working!! at 4 stars. If you’re a fan of romance, comedy, slice of life I definitely recommend watching this anime.
(This review is over the series as a whole, not just season 1, and is spoiler-free)
I was pleasantly surprised by Working!! . As a Slice of Life anime, you don't expect it to suck you into its antics as much as it does. But, if you stick with it, you will find a anime that is calming particularly because of the instances of what occurs.
First of all, Working!! has a good story for a SOL anime. There are character arcs for most of the main characters from the beginning to the end, and this production does a good job at tying up loose ends in each character's lives. Just trust me, once you reach the end of the anime in the third season, you will see just how great the character progression is in the story of this anime, even if that is a trivial afterpoint compared to what is going on.
The setting, a restaurant, will be intimately familiar to anyone who has ever worked at a restaurant for any period of time. The day-to-day life of the characters at the restaurant is simple, from work romances to playful banter, but still is refreshingly entertaining. Of the anime I have seen, this is one of the few that breaks the "characters-in-school" trope that is so commonplace in anime. In fact, plenty of the workers at the Wagneria restaurant are older than just high school age, being college age or higher.
Of course, what would a good SOL anime be without entertaining characters? You have a borderline loli, a 17-year old the size of a child, a sharp-eyed chef with a big heart, a intelligence-gathering scoundrel, a androphobe, a glutton boss, a docile but airheaded girl, and more later on. The character interactions are just great, very entertaining to soak your hours in as you watch them fuddle around at work. And I know I have already mentioned it, but the character progression is solid.
On top of this, this is truly an anime that just gets better as it goes. Sure, there are moments where the plot has to be suspended for some filler, but I sure hope you are willing to watch filler if you are watching a SOL anime like this one. The whole show is arguably filler with romantic pursuits and a veiled but overarching story worth divulging into. With about 42 episodes altogether, there is also no shortage of material.
Don't just take my word for it. Check out Working!! and come with a mindset ready for casual viewing, and I think you might be impressed. Just keep in mind that as a SOL anime with SOL anime tropes, there will be some ways you might end up dissapointed. For example, the soundtracks do eventually become tiresome, even though the voice-acting is well up to par. Ultimately, if you don't enjoy it immediately however, I would recommend just dropping it there; the formula for Working!! does not change much the entire show.
7. Sota is a 16-year old student who gets recruited to work at Wagnaria, a family restaurant. All of the people who work there seem to have their own strange habits or problems. Sota himself only likes small and cute things, there’s also a girl that has androphobia - she’s scared of men - and a girl that likes to wear a Japanese samurai sword while serving people. All the episodes in Working are about the this family restaurant and its odd workers.
Plot and pace
6. There is a lack of plot in this Anime. The only thing that could be called a plot, is the part where Sato says he’ll cure Mahiru - the androphobic girl - from her sickness, but in the end you’ll still be disappointed by the lack of progress.
5. There are no cliffhangers whatsoever. The reason I still gave this a five, is because sometimes I did hope something would happen, so for the short moments of excitement, I still rated it a five -.-
5. Since it lacks plot and all that happens are conversations between the restaurant workers and their chief, you can’t really say there’s a satisfying ending. If they didn’t say ‘thanks for watching’ at the end of the final episode, I would’ve never expected the series to be over.
6. All episodes seemed the same to me, so I guess not.
9. One of the strongest parts of Working are the characters. They all seem to think they’re the only normal person in the restaurant, while in reality there’s not one totally sane person inside that place. You do get to sympathize with the characters, even with the one that’s hitting men all the time.
9. A big thumbs up for the funny conversations in Working! If it was played by real life actors, it could’ve been a funny comedy film, but without a plot that is. One of the workers always picks on Popura, a 17-year old girl that hates being small, and that was really amusing. Also the part where Sota said: Sigh I’m actually the only normal person inside this restaurant, and when he turns around he sees a doll that the kids get as a present with their menu and wants to keep them for himself, that really cracked me up xD
9. Lovely, the characters all look attractive and realistic. A job well done.
6. Episode one takes place in the restaurant for most of the time, episode 2: the restaurant, episode 3: … You get the point.
Music and sounds
7. Childish but catchy intro song, decent voice-acting.
I've been struggling with this review for the longest time, trying accurately describe my conflicting emotions with regards to this series. In an attempt to ease the writing (typing) process, I've decided to disregard the usual categorical segmentation of Story, Animation, blah blah blah. This is due, in part at least, to my own past struggles with properly segmenting character and story summary, and being forced to hammer out a paragraph about the sometimes lackluster elements of animation and/or sound (certainly the case this time around).
Also, I couldn't think of a way to convey this review without some spoilers, so... yeah. There's only 1 aspect that I feel might have a chance to diminish enjoyment while watching, but it is there.
Right, on to the review proper!
Yay! Terrible Font!
I've never had the misfortune of meeting a cock tease, being a pasty-skinned, bespectacled Chinese guy from Singapore, which was recently named "Geek Central" by CNNgo, who'd sooner fork over 20 bucks for a punch in the gut than be granted entrance to a club on a Saturday night, but I really couldn't find a more apt analogy for metaphorical blue balls the Working!! plot left me with. Coining the term 'plot tease' and uploading a definition to UrbanDictionary might seem a little hasty, but I sorely considered it.
If you didn't already read the synopsis on your way to clicking to this review, Working!! follows the day-to-day antics of a ragtag group of employees at a famires (family restaurant), and neatly falls into the Slice of Life Comedy genre, which is already plagued with titles like Minami-ke, Hidamari Sketch, and Ichigo Mashimaro, that collectively have less plot than your average Tweet. So why would I have a problem with Working!!'s shortcomings in the plot department? Well, the short answer would be because it half-succeeded in having one. Or rather it strung me along, then slammed the door in my face after inviting me in for some hot metaphorical coffee.
Shamelessly stolen from our forums...
The delicious caramel that holds this series firmy together is the quirky cast of characters. Arguably, many stereotypes are represented, and while they don't truly break the mould, they definitely help bore out and deepen it. The protagonist cum straight man of the series, Takanashi Souta, is at a glance your standard protagonist fare, with a side of lolicon meshed with a fondness for small & cute things, juxtaposed with an inherent distaste for older folk (anyone over 12).
Well, okay, maybe not really standard fare in the strictest sense.
Over the course of the series, it's revealed that this stems from 3 looming, less-than-ideal elder sisters, and being raised almost like a daughter by both them, and his father. In order to establish and substantiate his position as a male, he takes to raising his younger sister in his father's stead. But even she is maturing fast and becoming more independent by the day, sinking that little boat he's been keeping afloat in. This leads him to Inami Mahiru, his violently androphobic coworker, and his taking it upon himself to help her overcome her disorder.
All this, wrapped in the guise of a gag series. I know, right? (Excuse me, I need to choke myself for using that.. *gkkt*)
Our dear Main Protagonist: Top-right
The rest of the gang have a fair bit to read into, and most do a good job of pushing the boundries of their respective archtypes. Not only that, the chemistry among the cast is like the chemistry between Mentos & Coke - sweet, frothy, fun, and a bit of a mess. It's been a while since I last saw such a well-thought-out cast attain this level of interaction.
But alas, now that I've sung enough praises of the character design to have them canonized, it's time to get back to my sob story.
This screenshot needs context, doesn't it?
The only proper story arc that develops over the series that isn't exploited for the sole purpose of giggles is one that deals with the potential relationship between androphobic Inami and Takanashi. And while I'm well-aware that many a sitcom (and these days, even regular dramas) relish, and indeed hinge upon teasing viewers with actual story progress, only to yank the plot back via its leash, I felt especially disappointed this time around. With the curtains drawn and no sequel visible on the horizon, it seemed the conflicts and struggles endured by the characters towards their goals had been invalidated, leaving me feeling cheated and in no mood to do anything but sigh in disappointment at the closing scenes.
I'm being overly emotional. Ultimately, Working!! achieved what it was advertised and set out to do, and did so arguably better than any other series I've viewed recently. Plot progress was just a surprising gem to be found in such a series, which only served to disappoint when I realized it was made of plastic. And really, marking this series down because of it would be like penalizing a student for being a myopic, pasty-skinned asian kid with slanty eyes.
Some people can't help it, okay?!