Working Series

Anime Hajime Review: Working’!!

Original Run: October 1, 2011 - December 24, 2011
Number of Episodes: 13
Genre: Comedy, Slice of Life
Based on the Series Created By: Karino Takatsu

***Warning, the following may contain spoilers for Working’!!. Reader discretion is advised.***

Series Synopsis

Welcome back to the friendly neighborhood Wagnaria. As always, the staff of this small family restaurant are happy to take their customers’ orders with a smile. And if you’re okay with the occasional oddity, you, too, can have yourself a relaxing meal at an affordable price.

Having worked for Wagnaria for a while now, Souta Takanashi (voiced by Jun Fukuyama) has grown quite accustomed to his job, and he has become one of the eatery’s most skilled employees. Not only that, Souta has managed to fit right in with his fellow co-workers, all of whom he considers dear friends.

Aiding Souta is the veteran waitress Popura Taneshima (voiced by Kana Asumi). Without fail, Popura can pick up everyone’s spirits even during the busiest of lunchtime rushes.

No one ever said working at Wagnaria is an easy job. In fact, some shifts can get a little weird. If nothing else, though, that just means there is never a dull moment.

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Series Positives

Note: From this point on, I will be referring to Working season one, a.k.a. Working!!, and Working season two, a.k.a. Working’!!, as Working 1 and Working 2 respectively.

Working 1 was fantastic. It was a hilarious, smart, and an absurdly entertaining slice-of-life series. It hit all the right notes when it came to the quality of characters, scenarios, and interactions. If you have not seen it, I highly encourage you to check it out. Afterward, if you feel like you didn’t get your fill, don’t worry, Working 2 will have you covered.

This sequel had everything that made the first one outstanding, and it continued building on everything that had been previously established. Not only that, there were enough new elements to this season to make it feel as though the Working series had moved forward.

As it was with Working 1Working 2 relied on personality. This series is now two for two in not having distracting filler content. And by that, I mean there was no fanservice. This show actually had faith in the material it was working with. The Working franchise has yet to implement many of the overused and often unnecessary tropes that have weighed down lesser slice-of-life anime.

Working is still very much a standout in its genre.

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With that said, I find myself in an awkward position. If you have read my review of Working 1, then you already know the positives of this season. I’m going to use the phrase “much of the same” to describe Working 2, except I don’t want that to be taken as a bad thing.

It is true that Working 2 may have had the same quality of jokes, the same relaxing atmosphere, and the same amount of fun goofiness as its predecessor, but so what? Those are all excellent points that I am happy made a return.

Adding to that, just like it was with Working 1, it was this cast of characters that helped make this season so enjoyable.

If anything, Working 2 had an advantage since it didn’t have to worry about introducing everyone. The prior season already did the job of shaping who each of the main characters were. From the start of season two, we already knew who everyone was. This opened the door for this series to explore its cast in a much broader way, and that is precisely what happened.

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Working 2 expanded on everything Working 1 introduced. Romances that formed in the first season deepened in this one. Mysterious backgrounds got a bit more light shed onto them. And most importantly of all, everyone distanced themselves from the person they were in season one episode one.

In the Working 1 review, I did a quick rundown of all the characters. I don’t intend to do that again, and I don’t even feel it is necessary to mention everyone by name. Thus, for the Working 2 review, I only want to focus on the characters who had the most improvement, and I’m going to limit myself to just three characters.

Before I do that, though, I want to make it known that almost everyone from the returning cast saw some kind of improvement. In addition, the following three characters I’m about to talk about may not necessarily be the best characters of Working 2. I’ll let you decide that detail for yourself.

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The first was Aoi Yamada (voiced by Ryo Hirohashi). Aoi was more childish in this season, and that worked in her favor. Despite trying to be the pampered princess of the restaurant, no one ever let Aoi get her way. Whenever she messed up, which was often, she always got what was coming to her.

Aoi was a much more significant player compared to last season. Her extended screen time allowed her to leave a much larger impression. Plus, she became one of the funniest characters in this show. Also, Aoi has one of the more intriguing storylines of Working.

The second was Hiroomi Souma (voiced by Hiroshi Kamiya). As a refresher, Hiroomi somehow knew everyone’s secrets. This made him both playfully manipulative, as well as an excellent counter for every silly misunderstanding. No matter what, Hiroomi knew the details.

The thing that made Hiroomi a better character was how he included himself in other characters’ lives. Last time, Hiroomi was a background voice. In Working 2 he had choices to make. Although he had all the information, that didn’t mean he knew what the right decision was. In his own way, Hiroomi wanted to look out for his friends.

The third was Popura Taneshia.

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Like I said in the last review, I would argue that Popura is this show’s main female character. Working 2 drove this point home. She wasn’t always the center of attention, but Popura was an anchor for whatever was going on in this season.

In Working 1, Popura fell to the sidelines every now and then. Working 2 firmly established that she was a critical part of what kept this group of characters together. By the end of this season, you realize Popura is one of the best things to come out of this series.

As I mentioned, most of the characters from Working 1 only got better in Working 2. However, there was something else about this season that really separated it from its predecessor. Working 2 knew how to have a moment.

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At times in this season, there weren’t any jokes. There would be very little talking. This show wouldn’t try to be silly. Things didn’t get dramatic or tense, but I also won’t say these instances were funny. I don’t know how else to put this: Working 2 knew how to be heartwarming.

I won’t say what happened in detail, but there was a point in this season where the employees of the Wagnaria restaurant had to look after a lost child. This segment was phenomenally well-done, and I don’t recall anything like it happening in Working 1. Then again, I don’t know if something like this could have happened in Working 1.

I was already enjoying Working 2 by the time this moment occurred, and I didn’t think this series could impress me all over again.

Let’s see if such a thing happens once more in Working 3.

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Series Negatives

To start, I want to follow up with something I said back in the first review.

I mentioned how Working 1 “introduced” a new character at the end of its run. When I wrote that, I wasn’t sure if this series was trying to sequel bait for Working 2 or if this was the punchline to a long-running joke.

Having now sat through Working 2, I have a lot more confidence in saying that season one was most likely aiming for the latter. After all, season two did the same thing.

So you know, Working 2 was just as sequel bait-ty as Working 1; as in, not that much. Regardless, I’m still not a hundred percent on whether this final episode setup is leading anywhere.

It also probably goes without saying that this was not the reoccurring detail I expected to be covering over the course of these Working reviews.

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The up-in-the-air nature of this – let’s call it, a joke – is why I am mentioning it in the Series Negative section of this review. By itself, I don’t believe this is a mark against this show. However, since this series has now done the same trick twice, I can’t say that this is doing Working any favors either.

Perhaps this is me being way too pompous, but I don’t see this joke as having much of a purpose so far. I’m curious to see what happens in the next installment since this is easily the biggest question mark hanging over this series.

In case you are wondering, this was, in no way shape or form, distracting from all the other amazing stuff that happened in Working 2. I didn’t think there was much wrong with this season.

Or at least, that was what I wanted to write.

Unfortunately, there was something to Working 2 that fell flat. This was the one area where this season took a step back. Given how good this series has been, this single element was incredibly jarring.

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You know how I said almost every returning character had some growth? There was one who didn’t, and that was the main character Souta Takanashi. At the end of this season, Working 2 turned Souta into a bit of a prick.

Don’t be mistaken, Souta has always been a jerk. However, he was never worse than anyone else. To a small degree, everyone in this show wasn’t what I would call a righteous person. Nevertheless, everyone, Souta included, had always remained likable. Not so much the case in Working 2.

On a few occasions, Souta said some hurtful things and would be unquestionably in the wrong. The guy who once stood up for his friends when they needed him the most, the guy who earned his spot as a fantastic protagonist, and the guy you wanted to root for, wasn’t often here.

Souta got downright despicable in Working 2.

Believe it or not, this wasn’t the problem. Had Souta been a total butt, yet learned from his mistakes, that could have done wonders for his character. The issue I’m having is that Souta never redeemed himself from his awfulness. The thing that made it worse, Working 2 tried playing it off as if he did.

I will give this season some credit, Souta did come back from his lowest point by the finale. Granted, he was also miles away from where he was in the first season. Is his character ruined? No, it isn’t. I don’t dislike Souta enough to not give him a second chance.

That notwithstanding, Working 3 is going to have to make up some ground.

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Final Thoughts

Had I chosen to do so, it would have been easy to sit down and watch both seasons of this show in a single viewing. In fact, I would have been more than okay with starting up season three in the same session.

This was an excellent continuation, and I cannot wait for more.

The humor was hilarious. The characters, for the most part, were still a ton of fun. In almost every area you can imagine, this second season was as good as the first. However, I will say that this series did push its luck with its main character. Fortunately, this show can recover.

Like it was with the first, Working 2 is an easy recommendation.

But these are just my thoughts. What are yours? Have you seen this show? What would be your advice concerning Working 2? Leave a comment down below because I would love to hear what you have to say.

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For Anime Hajime, I’m LofZOdyssey, and I’ll see you next time.

Post Editor: Onions

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