Ai KayanoRina HidakaRumi OokuboNaomi Ozora
Servant x Service
Medium: TV, series
Year: 2013
Director: Yasutaka Yamamoto
Original creator: Karino Takatsu
Actor: Ai Kayano, Mai Nakahara, Tatsuhisa Suzuki, Aki Toyosaki, Mikako Takahashi, Rikiya Koyama, Rina Hidaka, Rumi Ookubo, Takahiro Sakurai, Tetsuya Kakihara, Akira Ishida, Ami Nanase, Arisa Nishiguchi, Asami Yano, Chiaki Mori, Chihiro Takada, Daisuke Namikawa, Fumiko Orikasa, Katsuhiro Tokuishi, Kei Shindou, Kujira, Kunihiko Yasui, Manami Tanaka, Masamichi Kitada, Naomi Ozora, Ryou Hirohashi, Soma Saito, Takaaki Uchino, Yu Kobayashi, Yuka Maruyama
Keywords: anime
Country: Japan
Language: Japanese
Format: 13 episodes
Url: http://www.animenewsnetwork.com/encyclopedia/anime.php?id=15241
Website category: Anime early 10s
Review date: 15 April 2016
It's another anime from the creator of Working!! They're basically the same, but with different characters and a different work environment. Working!! was set in a family restaurant while this is set in a ward office, i.e. the place that processes your documents when you need to move house, get married, get a new passport, etc. It looks boring. Our heroes are bureaucrats, but ones who often sit in booths dealing with the public. The family restaurant was a more engaging setting, but fortunately both shows are really about relationships and character-based comedy.
I like both series a lot. They're funny and charming. The difference is that these characters are more mature, as you'd expect given the setting, and so the potential romances have a different flavour.
Furthermore this show's also exploring different themes, often taking a distinctively female point of view and offering an interesting examination of the harmful extremes to which one can take modesty. (That's a very Japanese trait and there are at least three such characters here, although the only one who's predominantly so is Yamagami.)
Incidentally, I also notice that in both cases, Karino Takatsu's built her show around a very short main character with big boobs who's serious about her work but is innocent and super-gullible. Both have a complex about something about themselves (Popura's height and Yamagami's name). The difference is that Working!!'s protagonist was Souta (male) rather than Popura, whereas here it's Yamagami who has the spotlight. I think she's a rather interesting character, actually. She's a bookworm who's desperately short of confidence, to the extent that she'll shoot down Hasebe when he asks her out for a date on the grounds that he can't be serious and she isn't good enough. It's because of her name. Her parents called her (deep breath)...
"Lucy Kimiko Akie Airi Shiori Rinne Yoshiho Chihoko Ayano Fumika Chitose Sanae Mikiko Ichika Yukino Reina Eri Ai Tamiko Chikage Emilia Julia Shizue Erina Chisa Yumeka Natsuki Ranran Rieko Setsuri Chikako Azumi Marina Hideko Chiaki Misaki Naomi Campbell Miku Yuka Masako Sachiko Nana Mutsumi Haruka Yuna Shimako Yukie Rin Sakura Kanna Wakana Hazuki Hanami Ruri Mihane Momoka Himari Nozomi Futaba Mayuyu Ayano"
Those aren't middle names, by the way. Japanese people don't have them. It's all one ridiculously long first name. Yamagami took a job in the ward office in order to find and take revenge on the bureaucrat who let her parents call her that. She's even touchy about being called Lucy.
Anyway, she has a striking figure, but she's almost dangerously unaware of this, except as a source of inconvenience. (Her co-workers eventually start scolding her for her lack of self-awareness.) She always wears black turtleneck tops and thinks she looks boring. She can't buy clothes, she wears underwear that doesn't fit (possibly deliberately) and there's a bit in ep.3 where her bra strap breaks. What's interesting about the latter is that it plays out from a female point of view ("what if your bra strap broke?") rather than the male one you'd get from lots of anime (i.e. boob jokes).
This puts obstacles in the way of her relationship with Hasebe. He likes her a lot and is completely serious in everything he says to her. He's a lovely guy. Unfortunately he's also a happy-go-lucky slacker who likes teasing people, so even someone with more self-awareness than Yamagami might have had trouble believing him.
The show's other characters include:
MIYOSHI - modest, shy and serious-minded. Has trouble saying 'no', which makes her a magnet for customers who only came in to gossip for hours.
CHIHAYA - part-timer with otaku hobbies like cosplay and writing doujinshi. The most sardonic and self-aware regular, capable of playing with other people for her own amusement even as her deadpan expression never, ever changes.
ICHIMIYA - another worker with low self-esteem and a sister called...
TOUKO - a schoolgirl who comes into the ward office every day to bully the staff and annoy her brother, because she's fixated on him. She knows people's jobs better than they do.
SECTION MANAGER - a stuffed toy rabbit. No, really.
It's not a show about plot. It has a number of couples (either official, potential or under development), but the storytelling's in no hurry. You're in no real doubt about where it's going, mind you. It's just pleasant to watch the journey. It would be nice to see a second season, but I presume that won't happen since the manga's now complete. (Working!! has 13 manga volumes and 3 anime seasons, while Servant x Service has 4 manga volumes and 1 anime season.)
It's a warm, funny show. It makes me happy. I don't believe the anime's been licensed in the West, but the manga has been (although, like Working!!. it's a four-panel gag manga rather than long-form). Recommended, obviously.