The strangest thing about A-1 Pictures’ 2016 restaurant-slice-of-life is that it was known in Japan by its English language title “www.Working!!”. There was an original three season anime by the same name that showed in 2010, 2011 and 2015. (“Wagnaria” is a fictional family restaurant chain with the 2016 show set in a different restaurant, with different characters, from that in the original three seasons.) The idea for the show is fairly conventional but that is no indicator for just how unconventional this is. The clincher here is the batshit crazy characters who work in the restaurant. Providing a synopsis for the story is a bit of a struggle because it is so eccentric and weird that it eludes all attempts to summarise it. It is not that the story is as impenetrable as, say, “Owarimonogatari” (Shaft 2017) – it is humanly possible to understand the story - but it does require a certain amount of concentration on behalf of the viewer. The issue here is that the interaction between the characters is so off-the-wall that nothing runs quite in the manner as more-cliched anime shows. You might find this frustrating as watching the show can be a little demanding.
The story revolves around the potential/actual romantic relationships between three couples who work in the chain. The first is between High School students Daisuke Higashida and Hana Miyakoshi. Much of the story spins around the fact that Miyakoshi makes Valentine’s chocolate so toxic that it invokes a near-death hallucination in whoever eats it. Strangely Higashida seems drawn to eat the chocolate which leads to all kinds of bizarre out-of-body experiences from which they conclude that they should date in order to improve her cooking abilities. The next couple are Sayuri Manush and Masahiro Adachi. Un-smiling Muranushi has supernatural abilities and can see the dead but strangely she doesn’t believe in ghosts. Adachi is freaked out by her, but still falls in love with her, when she actually smiles at him. The final couple is Shiho Kamakura and Yuta Shindo: he is very poor because his family are in debt to her family. She takes sadistic pleasure in making his life a misery because he spurned her advances several years before. The restaurant has several other employees and regular all of whom are equally as colourful and bizarre as these six. The story is densely packed with the highly eccentric interactions between the employees and a small number of regular customers. It is a show you will watch to enjoy for the bunch of weirdos that populate it. You will never have seen such strange romances as the three or four then run through this show. Oh yes, and there is a racoon and a baby too. The show defies categorisation, reduction of simplification and is highly original in that sense. You find yourself glued to it through the endless fascination with these oddballs and how they manage to muddle through to a satisfactory conclusion at the end. Some may find the show quite irritating for the same reasons. It rather depends on how relatable and sympathetic you feel towards this bunch of dingbats.
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