Takanashi and Satou are both sick of manager Kyoko never working and stuffing her face with the restaurant’s food. After they convene with Souma, he agrees to tell Kyoko she’s cut off by feigning an ordering flub. Kyoko is quickly struck by intense food withdrawal, which isn’t helped when Takanashi leaves a lost kid in her care. The girl, possibly sensing Kyoko’s despair, even offers her some of her dessert, but Kyoko declines, showing progress.
So Working’!! keeps chugging along with nice, pleasant, airy slice-of-life in the limited setting of a restaurant, as its predecessor did. Previous episodes of both have touched upon the question of whether Kyoko pulled her weight around Wagnaria, but things came to a head this week. If we were Takanashi, we certainly wouldn’t stand for our manager dropping potato chip crumbs over where we had just cleaned. It’s one thing to be lazy and not doing anything, it’s another to make other peoples’ jobs harder by making messes and eating food meant for customers and not paying for it. Yachiyo has been her chief enabler, but when all is said and done, nobody who works at the restaurant can consider themselves blameless for letting Kyoko continue as she has.
As Takanashi says, someone her age is set in her ways (he should know, having two grown sisters who act like children). But we like Kyoko’s simple philosophy: she likes anyone who gives her food. That’s a girl we can get behind right there. She even shows a little perceptiveness by telling Satou she doesn’t like him as much as Yachiyo does (though he continues to be lame about that) – and we really thought she’d take the kid’s pastry, but she didn’t! She may not do much and she may eat a lot, but her presence is still crucial to Wagnaria’s success. Why, we don’t know. But it just wouldn’t be the same without her.
When she returns to what was her “naptime room”, ten-year-old nun Maria is manipulated by Yozora into signing off as the official moderator of the Neighbor Club. Kodaka is weary of a potential stalker, who turns out to be first-year named Yukimura, who looks like a girl from any angle, but is actually a guy. With Yozora’s approval, he joins the club and serves as Kodaka’s underling, and Kodaka is charged with making him more manly. When Kodaka hears an explosion in the “science room”, he runs in and carries an unconscious girl to the infirmary. When she recovers, this girl, Rika, thanks him profusely and joins the club as well, revealing her extremely dirty mind as she “seeks his DNA”
Had this episode been all about Maria’s introduction, or Yukimura’s, or Rika’s, it might have worn a little thin by the end. But by introducing all three in one episode in a steady progression, the comedy stays fresh and interesting. Now the whole cast from the sneak peek in episode 00 has been unveiled. Back then we unavoidably formed opinions on these three characters. Assuming Kobato was a classmate, when she’s actually Kadoka’s sister. Assuming Yukimura’s a girl, when he’s actually a very girly man in drag. This episode rewrote those characters in our heads, and they’re better for it. Having met and gotten to know the three mains of Kodaka, Yozora and Sena,, these three are the side dishes to the ‘Neighbor Club bento’, adding spice and variety.
While Maria’s youth and naivete and Yukimura’s submissiveness make for somewhat passive characters occupying the background, I like Rika the most so far. Yes, her filty mind and lewd commentary is a little overdone, but one has to admire her stubborn honesty and forwardness in contrast to the pussy-footing of Yozora and Sena vis-a-vis Kodaka. She’s on screen for only a few minutes and is already able to do what they never could – outwardly express their feelings. Her ‘mecha-as-ecchi’ bit was also pretty spot-on. Meanwhile, as most of the school still fears him and takes every word he says out of context, Kodaka may be correct that the club is actually making his reputation even more infamous. But he cannot deny that the club has netted him new friends he lacked previously, which is the point of the club. Sure, they’re all weird, but a club full of ordinary kids would be painfully boring.
This week delves into the life and the past of Masako Natsume of the incredibly wealthy Natsume Clan. Her grandfather Sahei seemed determined that his family never be happy, and drove his son, her and Mario’s father away. She continually dreams of killing Sahei in elaborate ways, but when she wakes up, he’s always out in the yard practicing with a wooden sword. A poorly-stripped blowfish finally does him in, rather than any action by Masako, but he returns from the grave through Mario and challenges her to a similar blowfish challenge. She eats both plates, and while her body works out the poison, she dreams of a train where Kanba and her father are now servants of Dr. Sanetoshi, chosen to “put the world back on track…”
This series seems to know when a character is getting either too mysterious or too annoying, and then comes up with an episode that lifts that character up to a far more sympathetic and likable stature. Enter Masako, who finally gets some meaty backstory. She comes from strong stock; as not even death by blowfish could keep her gramps from messing with her life. As per usual, the devil’s in the details this week, and all the details here work.
From Strauss’ Blue Danube playing over a day in Masako’s life, to the hilariously random ways she dreams of killing Sahei, to Sahei’s equally hilarious and ridiculous feats of strength, and all his misogynist “Saheisms” like this nugget: “I like my tea like I like my women: as young as possible.” But also telling is how much Masako takes after the grandfather she hates. She too has a will of steel. And at the end of the day, her ultimate goal is the same as her stalkee Kanba’s: to protect her younger sibling and have a happy family. But it would seem she’s not quite ready to make the same sacrifice he made to save Himari. She wisely does not trust Sanetoshi, and neither do we, at least not until his backstory is told…