08 November 2012
#2LR - Too Late Reviews - "Working'!!" Season 2
In the first series of "Working!!", the regional manager of the Wagnaria restaurant, Otoo, enters the scene every few episodes or so. There's actually two reasons that he's out and about so often. One is that, well, he's a regional manager for what is presumably a franchise restaurant, so he's probably at the other franchises inspecting their books as well. As a reason, this works perfectly fine... but the show operates on two levels, so there's another reason he's in view occasionally. The other reason is that Otoo's searching for his lost wife.
After watching this whole series, I feel that Otoo's character and motivations do a very good job of summing up the two-pronged approach of the whole series.
The first prong is that there is a mundane reason and a wacky reason to everything in the show. The manager Kyoko can't work because she's lazy... but she's also a glutton that manages to suck down ice-cream sundaes pretty much four-an-hour yet it's never reflected in her figure (nor, for that matter, does her face ever get dirty). The floor manager Yachiyo is pretty much the sweetest person in the show, excepting possibly Popura... but carries a katana on her at all times and manages to scare the customers. Souta, the head chef, is aloof and maintains an extremely cool exterior, but in one of the more relatable "wacky" reasons, pines after Yachiyo and is not collected enough to ask her out. The other cook, Souma, always has a smile on his face yet manipulates people and delights in their misery.
The trick to all of this is to be able to balance the mundane and the wacky so that there's enough wacky to balance out the mundane, but that there's not too much wacky to make it non-relatable. I really do believe that the show does a terrific job in this balance, and I felt that it delivered at least one or two laughs per episode for me. I quite enjoyed the relationship between Souta and Popura, and despite the fact that Takanashi's "quirk" is a bit on the skeevy side (which many of the characters comment on), he's still sympathetic enough to be a good protagonist.
Which brings me to the second prong of the show's approach. Otoo's search for his wife in season one of "Working!!" is paralleled by another introduced character in season two of "Working'!!". The character's name is Yamada, which happens to be the same surname chosen by the new character alluded to in the second review of season one. The new Yamada is looking for his sister, and one of the episodes details Souma's travels with the female Yamada in trying to throw the male Yamada off of her scent.
I bring this up because the show is continually searching for family. There are already families depicted, Takanashi's specifically, and in a couple of appearances, Inami's family as well. However, the blood family relationships are not all smooth; Inami's wacky reason, her androphobia, is caused by her father specifically. Takanashi's older sister Kozue creates the most strife for him outside the house, as she will come to the Wagnaria restaurant in order to drink alcohol and embarrass Takanashi (and make him pay for it). This isn't to say that Takanashi and Inami hate their family, but just that the most friction for them comes from these sources.
However, and possibly unlike "The Office", the employees of the Wagnaria restaurant seem to coalesce into a family. Takanashi risks life and limb to help Inami with her challenges, Popura bears the brunt of the teasing with exceedingly good cheer, which helps the other employees with their stresses, and the restaurant continues to run with older brother Souta as the anchor in the kitchen. It's almost as if the show is saying that while you may be looking for pieces of your family elsewhere, you never know where you might find more of your family... such as in the "family restaurant" Wagnaria.
This show was absolutely in my sweet spot, and I will give it a 3.8. As stated above, "Working!!" has enough of real life in it to be relatable but enough humor in it to be really funny. It's also got soul in the under-the-surface family struggles and triumphs. The best part is that when I go to rewatch episodes of "Working!!", no matter which season, I could pick any episode and I would be able to enjoy it immensely, rather than rewatching two or three really good episodes without watching the rest of the so-so episodes.
A couple last notes, one on-topic and the other not.
--Matsumoto, the silent waitress, gets lines in the finale of season two. It makes me wonder if this show goes to a season three whether or not this will be a running joke, that she'll only be seen until the last show and then heard only on the finale.
--In the course of the past couple days, I've had my back bicycle tire go flat (my main transportation to work, even now in November) and my email hacked by someone who sent virus links to my contacts and deleted the contacts shortly afterward. I thought that I'd finally escaped the majority of my recent stress because a major project that'd been running since August had been completed last week... but the project resurfaced again on Wednesday. My sincerest apologies if you happened to get an email from the person in Peru with the bogus links, and thank you for your patience as I try to get things back to an even keel.