Hiroshi KamiyaYoko HikasaSaki FujitaMasami Suzuki
Working!! (season 1)
Also known as: Wagnaria!! (season 1)
Medium: TV, series
Year: 2010
Director: Yoshimasa Hiraike
Original creator: Karino Takatsu
Actor: Jun Fukuyama, Kana Asumi, Saki Fujita, Daisuke Ono, Eri Kitamura, Hiroshi Kamiya, Jouji Nakata, Kumiko Watanabe, Momoko Saito, Ryoko Shiraishi, Ryou Hirohashi, Shizuka Itou, Yoko Hikasa, Akiko Kawase, Hideki Tasaka, Houchu Ohtsuka, Masami Suzuki
Keywords: Working!!, anime
Country: Japan
Language: Japanese
Format: Season One: 13 episodes
Url: https://www.animenewsnetwork.com/encyclopedia/anime.php?id=11017
Website category: Anime early 10s
Review date: 31 March 2016
wagnaria season 1
I liked it a lot. For a while I assumed it was the usual static slice-of-life comedy, with charming but never-developing characters in a fossilised status quo. I'd have happily watched that too, but then to my surprise the characters actually started moving forward.
It's set in a family restaurant that's apparently a thinly disguised version of the real Japanese restaurant chain, Saizeriya. Our heroes are the staff. They work there, when they're not teasing each other, trying to hide their embarrassing siblings and/or failing to get over their issues. There's romantic tension, but always in some weird and probably doomed form. Satou loves Yachiyo, but: (a) he's too stoic and gruff ever to say a word, or even let anyone else speak up on his behalf, and (b) she's obsessed with the store's manager, Kyouko. Souta is fixated on Popura for an unsettling reason, but he ends up being sucked into Inami's orbit because she keeps punching him. (It's nothing personal. It's because he's a man, hence scary.) Oh, and I bet the two mildly evil staff members are going to become a couple too, albeit quite possibly against Souma's will.
It's funny, enormously likeable and more interestingly written than I'd expected. The nice-guy protagonist, Souta, for instance, isn't identikit at all and is actually a bit of a freak, with a worrying fetish and a challenging family background. He's also prepared to face death. (Long story.) Everyone thinks he's a paedophile, which he counters by explaining that his obsession is actually for tiny, cute, helpless things like children, puppies and water fleas. Uh-huh. However you'll start to understand when you meet his sisters.
Meanwhile Popura is exactly the kind of character you'd expect to fade into the scenery, being a cute, good-natured girl with no real eccentricities in a cast of loonies. She'd like to be taller, but that's it. However the story ends up finding cool stuff for her to do that's at once distinctive, funny and Popura-ish.
Most of the women are dangerous. Kyouko used to be in a gang and has been known to have customers beaten up. (She never does any work. It's her trademark. On the few occasions when the staff do manage to persuade her to do something, she warns them in advance not to blame her if it turns out badly. She can also be bribed with food.) Yachiyo is a girly bubblehead who'd be the perfect employee if it weren't for her samurai sword. (Fortunately she only attacks people for specific reasons.) Inami is terrified of men and can't stop herself from punching them, despite being strong enough to dent walls. Incidentally, she's another example of this story finding more depth than you'd expect in what could have been a one-note gag character. Inami's phobia is preventing her from living a normal life, since for instance she can't get on normal buses or enter normal shops. And that's before we meet her dad.
The show also has no fanservice, perhaps because the manga-ka, Karino Takatsu, is female. I must check out her Servant x Service, a similar work-based comedy. Oh, and this show was licensed in the West under the title 'Wagnaria!!', since the English word 'Working' understandably sounds less distinctive in English.
One slightly unusual thing about the show is its season count. Season 1 (Working!!) aired in 2010 and Season 2 (Working'!!) in 2011. That's the usual anime pattern. Shows appear, then disappear. However when the manga finished its ten-year run in December 2014, a third anime season (Working!!!) appeared in 2015. This pleases me because it means they completed the story, but it's also impressive because most shows don't bother. When the manga's still running, an anime is fantastic publicity. Once the manga's finished, though, there's no ongoing series to boost any more and no one really cares.
It's fun. It's relaxing and it makes me laugh. I'd recommend it. I understand some people have found Inami a bit annoying in Season 1 because of all that punching, but as far as I was concerned, that's simply a symptom of her illness. I respect the others for how well they understand the situation (even when being punched). Besides, apparently she's going to grow in that regard. I'm rather fond of this one.