Popura is able to reach the broken dish report sheet for the first time, troubling both Takenashi and Sato. Yamada also mishears that Taneshima is planning to quit working at Wagnaria, and word travels fast. Maya Matsumoto is introduced as a normal, no-nonsense young woman, caught in the middle of Wagnaria’s insanity. Popura clarifies that she isn’t going anywhere, and life at the restaurant returns to normal.
Ah, at last, we learn the mystery girl’s name. We don’t learn much else though, other than the fact her hair spiral is extremely elastic, and she wants nothing to do with all her nutso co-workers. She really just came to the surface in this episode to provide a fresh foil for Takenashi (calls her a hag), Sato (sticks a cucumber in her hair) and Yamada’s bro (calls her normally-cute).
Other than Maya’s introduction and brief appearence, this is an episode in which all the drama revolves around a misunderstanding that Popura is quitting, which will obviously be a huge blow to the rest of the staff. She was the reason Takenashi started working at Wagnaria to begin with, but he promises Inami he won’t quit too. But of course, since it isn’t really true she’s quitting – and we knew this all along – there really isn’t that much drama at all; just irritation with the trickster Yamada.
Inami has gone a record number of days without hitting a guy, but Yamada wants to challenge her further. She gets her a guys uniform – later revealed as Takenashi’s – so she can look at herself in the mirror, but it has no effect. Takenashi goes home and eagerly awaits a text from Inami saying she’s home while his sister observes him. Yamada is locked out of the restaurant, but Sato helps her. In another effort to challenge Inami, they put her in proximity to Sato, then Soma, and nearly punches him when he slips and gets too close. Sato saves him by sacrificing Yamada’s teddy.
When Yamada’s brother hears the chronology of Takenashi’s exploits with Inami Mahiru, he reacts like anyone would to the other guy’s ignorance of who she likes. She likes him. He even comments to himself that with all this progress being made – no punching, exchanging texts – what is Inami becoming to him? Of course, it’s understood he may not be capable of fully reciprocating her feelings for him, since he only cares about young, tiny, cute things.
Still, we’re liking the very gradual but noticable development explored here. The only time Inami throws a punch is when Soma nearly falls on her as a result of Yamada tripping him; an accident. But what if a guy came too close to her on purpose – like Takenashi, for whatever reason? It would probably require Yamada’s teddy to take another one for the team…
Yamada loses her teddy Daisy. Yachiyo overhears part of Sato’s conversation with Mashiba #2 and becomes concerned. Nazuna, eager to grow up, drinks lots of milk, gets lots of sleep, and gets advice from all her older sisters. Eventually everyone becomes concerned with the chief’s behavior, forcing Sato to partially clear the air, while pressuring himself to make a move soon, or quit.
Sato’s outward appearance may exude an air of normalcy in the crazy land of Wagnaria, where some days Kyoko eats more of the restaurant’s food than the customers. But he’s no normal dude, and we’re not just talking about his eye-covering yellow hair. How else do you explain his ability to sculpt Popura’s hair into the most amazing forms? Perhaps it’s better to call him the “most” normal of his peers.
He’s the quietest, most introverted and stoic too, but having coworkers such as his inevitably rub off. He gets impatient with things carrying on too long, or people who don’t work when they’re supposed to (read, Yamada and Kyoko). He also dislikes people getting into his business (Soma) and people misjudging him (Mashiba #2). But where he’s most nuanced is in his feelings for Yachiyo. He took a tiny step towards telling her the truth, but her insistence that they are [just] friends and her twisted upbringing at the hands of Kyoko and her thugs, along with the whole dating coworker stigma, makes his an uphill battle.
To save her from a stack of boxes, Takanashi has to get dangerously close to Inami; he’s only saved by her being knocked unconscious. The next day, she’s more nervous than usual because of the encounter, and Yachiyo makes her take a nap in the break room. Takanashi enters and sees her asleep, and pats her head until she wakes up, and runs out of the room screaming. She stays home sick until he pays her a visit as Kotori and they both apologize and exchange phone numbers for future contact.
So, after all that androphobia training, after all those walks home, after all that interaction, Inami and Takanashi have never exchanged numbers? Inconceivable! Still, that’s remedied this week, after a series of extraordinarily close encounters send Inami packing, not out of fear of Takanashi, but out of fear of punching him to death. Their interactions are nothing new, but regardless of the lack of progress made, Inami seems quite happy to finally have Takanashi’s digits.
We’ve always harbored a fear of walk-in freezers. Alongside kitchen burns or slippery floors, they’re a genuine potential threat to one’s life if disrespected. While the ones we’ve always dealt with had releases on the inside, it always worried us that while we’re in there, such a release could malfunction or break, and there we’d be, stuck in a mini-Antarctica with no coat and a ticking clock. Of course, we’d last longer, as we’re bigger than Popura, but still…
At Souma’s sly suggestion and with Kyoko’s indifferent blessing, Sato comes with Yachiyo to get her a cell phone, something she’s never had before. Yohei and Mitsuki return to continue helping Kyoko, and Yohei gets snagged by Kozue, who’s lamenting another dumping. Takanashi is tired of Yamada’s lollygagging and tells her to write everything he tells her to do down, but she misses the point.
Mitsuki is quite correct; Yachiyo is cute, and always has been…but so shy, and as this episode indicates, hopeless in all non-work-related social situations. Still, the cell phone sales rep barely conceals her contempt for what looks to anyone like a couple in Sato and Yachiyo, and they would be one if Sato had the guts to set things in motion (and Yachiyo had only the slightest awareness. As things stand, she only has eyes for Kyoko).
As for Kozue, she may be drunk and loose, but her intuition isn’t wrong. Even if she is just teasing Mitsuki, Souma is in fact sadistic, Sato is sweet beneath his rough surface, and despite his oh-so-subtle gestures, he’s definitely into her, even if the crushing futility of ever attaining anything more than friendship weighs him down. When one can’t be direct in their like for someone, they typically tease or otherwise mess with them instead. Oh yeah, there was more Yamada Being Yamada, and for once Inami didn’t punch Takanashi (she was barely in this, though). That is all…
Nazuna has grown to the same height as Takanashi, so he hires Popura to be his Cute Little Sister for a day. A jealous Inami tries to get him to call her cute as well, and succeeds by showing him a picture of her as a little girl. She records his voice on her phone to listen to it over and over again. Kirio arrives at Wagnaria to search for Aoi. Takanashi considers him a threat, and Souma artfully keeps Aoi away from him.
Souma can be a cruel, ruthless guy. He loves nothing else but the look of humiliation on the faces of others, after all. Yet After a whole day of teasing his coworkers, Souma does something nice for Aoi; she keeps her blissfully unaware that she’s being hunted. Even if it isn’t the right thing to do, it’s to make her happy, not to humiliate her. This works great in concert with everyone’s standoffishness vis-a-vis Kirio. They’re not trying to protect Aoi, but they don’t seem to like the guy either. He gets too close to people; he’s a disruptive element.
Last week, we were made to believe that Kirio is stronger than Takanashi, and perhaps a more suitible suitor to Inami, because he can stop her punches, while Takanashi takes every one. Hilariously, it turns out not only could Takanashi stop her punches if he tried, he can pacify Kirio as easily as he swats a fly. This fits his background as a kid with many older sisters; Kozue whaled on him and in so doing, toughened him and taught him self-defense. But the fact he doesn’t resist Inami’s blows because doing so would hurt her is a very romantic sentiment, even if unconscious.
Mahiru is warned by classmates of a molester on her route to work, but they insist she’ll be fine. It turns out to be Kirio Yamada, who resembles Aoi and is looking for his little sister. He can also block her punches. When Takanashi sees her talking comfortably with another guy, he becomes extremely emotionally distraught. After talking with his little sister, he confronts Mahiru, insisting he’s not a masochist and only likes little things.
We liked this episode. Thar be developments here! As in actual things happening to people that aren’t just limited to this one episode! For one thing, somebody we’re pretty sure is Aoi’s brother is looking for Aoi (Why else would he look exactly like her?). While his hesitating when saying his name is a little suspicious, I can’t buy Takanashi’s belief that Aoi made up the name Yamada. But that will be delved into further next week. The most important development this week was Inami finding the perfect guy.
He’s well-dressed, her age, worried about her missing sister (sorta), and most importantly, he can totally neutralize her punches, forcing her to, well, deal with him, and tolerate his closeness. But even that’s just because he knows karate. Otherwise, he’s just a normal guy…not the freaks at Wagnaria. As for Takanashi’s reaction: we don’t care what excuses he tells himself or everyone else: when he saw HIS girl with another guy, he got jealous – plain and simple.
Satou and Popura catch colds when Yamada trips and drenches them with water, so Kyoko enlists the aid of her gang underlings, Yohei and his twin sister Mitsuki. They constantly bicker at each other but obey her every order to the letter. In order to show her gratitude for his hard work, Kyoko relieves Takanashi of his Inami-training duties. Inami’s wishy-washy response leads to a row between the two, which is eventually cleared up when she admits she was just looking out for him.
You know what’s really annoying? That the show decides that one…just one worker at the restaurant gets absolutely zero lines or characterization whatsoever. She’s just there in transitional scenes or in the background, like Ann Veal. Who the heck is she? Why doesn’t she get a name or anything to say? We keep thinking she’ll be introduced, but six episodes in; nothing. If they’re not going to do anything with her, why is she there at all?
That’s the end of the mystery girl rant. Our next beef: we’ve already tread upon the Takenashi/Inami relationship over and over again. The closest thing to progress we see this week is Inami being forward with her displeasure at Takanashi no longer taking care of her. But then all that sentiment and progress is thrown out the window for a cheap gag: giving Takenashi a long-built-up punch in the face. We know, we know: their dynamic will never change; this show isn’t about people changing. But c’maaahn, throw us a bone.
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.
While returning from the store with Kyoko, Yachiyo finds Otoo’s long-lost wife, but is too slow to catch her, and she vanishes again. She becomes very sullen, which everyone notices. She asks Satou if he likes her while Mahiru is listening, and she becomes aware of the love triangle. Satou makes her promise not to tell everyone, but she feels so bad for Satou, Takanashi starts to think Mahiru likes him. Satou takes Yachiyo aside and promises her no one will ever hate him, including him, and she tells Otoo, who shrugs it off. Takanashi confronts Mahiru as well, and she allays his fear she likes Satou.
Yachiyo, Satou, and Mahiru act a little off this week, and it’s a testament to how well the staff knows each other that they almost instantly sense when they are off (Well, aside from that one waitress we still haven’t met…we wonder what the deal is with her.) Yachiyo, as usual, has the lowest possible opinion of herself, just over some little thing completely out of her control (a wife emerging from a manhole cover than vanishing as if she had disapparated, for instance). Her sudden inquiry to Satou was surprising though, she’s not the most forward person, after all. The ridiculously long pause was classic Satou.
Satou’s an interesting case: on one hand, you could say he’s a fool for not making his feelings perfectly clear to Yachiyo, who is so socially inept anyway. Whatever subtle signals he’s thrown out (and there haven’t been a lot), she’s not going to pick them up; he has to be firm and clear; loud and proud. But his reservations don’t just lie in his fear of rejection or his own shyness, but consideration for his boss, Kyoko. He feels like Yachiyo is off-limits. And in any case, falling in love with someone at work is tricky enough. Actually trying to have a relationship where you see each other all day and work with each other is trickier still.
Souta’s youngest sister Nazuna starts working at Wagnaria, and upstages Aoi. She also gets the wrong idea, telling her writer sister Izume that Popura is his love interest. After seeing a photo, Izume thinks Popura is underage. When Nazuna learns Yamada feels threatened, she breaks a plate and asks for help, boosting Yamada’s confidence.
When it comes down to it, Working!! is a show about nothing, but that nothing is very well-presented. Things happen, certainly, but rarely anything of lasting consequence. No huge conflicts. No villains. No ultimate goal. It’s all about the in-between; the minutiae; the creamy middle. And the details. And so far, Working’s second season has all that down. This week was as pleasant as Nazuna is tall for her age.
This episode focuses a lot on Takanashi’s four sisters, particularly Nazuna and Izume. It’s pretty obvious there are two camps in the Takanashi household: the givers and the takers. Souta, Nazuna and the eldest, Kazue, are the former; while Kozue the flirt and Izume the struggling author are the latter…it’s just interesting how each sibling makes use of their energies, and how the family manages to stick together just fine. Everyone has their role; just like at Wagnaria.
Taneshima tries to get Takenashi to compliment Inami, to no avail. Yamada misses Otou, and tries to stalk Souma with Taneshima, to no avail. Taneshima tries to get back at Satou for always picking on her, to no avail. Otou returns, and Yamada hangs off him constantly, wanting him to adopt her. When he leaves again, Yamada finds solace in the busts of her co-workers.
This was a pleasant enough episode. There was nothing exceptional about it, but it did execute its various trifling plots competantly. There are some things that worry us, though. First of all, Takenashi and Inami’s relationship actually grew closer quite a bit as last season progressed. So why is it she’s acting pretty much how she did the first day she met him? It would be nice if this season eventually acknowledges the progress they had made. Nothing changes fast in this series, if at all, though.
The second worry: Where is that girl with the weird hair? I thought a new character would show up this week, as the last episode hinted; perhaps she’ll show up later. We don’t watch Working’!! to be blown away by the story or have our sides split. We watch it because it’s relaxing, and for the charm of the myriad characters, and because its lived-in feeling world is essentially limited to a restaraunt. So it’s a relaxing microcosm.
This pre-air episode follows Takanashi, Inami, Popura, Aoi, and all the other employees around at a typical day at Wagnaria family restaurant. Jokes are told, tiny things are declared cute, punches are thrown, and dishes are broken. Like I said, typical.
From the looks of it, the new, aprostrophe’d Working’!! will not diverge considerably, or at all, from the original Working!!, but will be a vehicle for new material in the same setting with the same ensemble cast – and perhaps a new face here or there (a girl with Leia-like buns in her hair is glimpsed only for a moment but not heard). That’s okay, as the first season was very watchable, lightweight slice-of-life in which the quirkiness of the characters lent spice to the proceedings.
We’ll have to wait until October to see if new material will indeed be infused in the formerly successful recipe of the Spring 2010 series. If things get too repetitive vis-a-vis Takanashi and Inami, or too tedious vis-a-vis Yamada (the former new kid) and the new new kid (whoever she is), well, there are potentially a lot of series more worthy of RABUJOI’s undivided attention. But from what was seen in this sneak peek, we’ll probably be watching.