Hasebe learns that because he had a high fever, his father was preoccupied with him and thus registered Lucy’s ridiculous name. Burdened with this secret and worried Lucy will hate him for his indirect role in her naming, Hasebe and Lucy are awkward all day. Chihaya rubs his nose in it while Ichimiya and Saya try to cheer him up; by the end of the day all of them agree he should tell her the truth as soon as possible. He finally confronts her and tells her, and she doesn’t blame him, and wants him to keep calling her Lucy. She again rejects his call to go out with him, but qualifies it by saying simply “not yet,” and finally gives him her email address.
For thirteen weeks we’ve looked in on the lives of three new civil servants experiencing life in the workplace for the first time, their slightly more experienced supervisor, his not-so-secret girlfriend/co-worker, his irritating but devoted little sister, and the stuffed section chief. When we look back on how we entered their lives and now how we’ve left, it definitely makes the term “slice-of-life”, as this was literally just a thirteen-week slice. But ultimately the focus of these weeks was on the unlikely but burgeoning relationship between the girl with the really long weird hippie name and the guy who falls for her despite himself, and finds out he’s ultimately responsible for that name. Their scenes together have been the highlight of a series that was always consistently pretty good, though never outstanding.
One thing we didn’t like about this series was how much time it devoted to Toko. But when she wasn’t in the picture, we were watching adults taking care of business, but also earnestly (sometimes harshly) reaching out to one another – or at least trying their best to do so. Right up to the end, Lucy proves she’s an adult by shrugging off the truth Hasebe finally reveals to her after much stressing (their awkward exchanges prior to the confession are very well done.) She doesn’t even consider blaming Hasebe for having a fever…because she’s reasonable. We’re also content with her “not yet” answer to Hasebe’s repeated propositioning. It’s just like her to be careful and tentative in an arena in which she’s still very green, but it’s also clear she likes Hasebe, wants to spend time with him, and, after all her bluster about hating her name, likes it when he calls her by it.
Rating:7 (Very Good)
Worried that things could get awkward between them, Yamagami searches for Hasebe with the Chief, who ends up getting accidentally sold at the bazaar outside the office. Yamagami gets him back by offering a plaid bunny the girl thinks is cuter. Miyoshi decides to head into the city to clear her head, but ends up encountering every single person from work, and getting depressed. Her date with Tanaka doesn’t go as badly as she feared, and even agrees to go on another one.
Hasebe may have caught on something quite profound: he’s been living a carefree life, being good at many things but hardly making an effort as he’s sailed through it. It’s cruel yet appropriate, then, that he finds himself now paying for all that…carefreeness by falling for a girl with absolutely no notion of or experience with romance, who may never, no matter what Hasebe does, fully grasp the concept of a guy liking her in that way, as opposed to any other girl on earth. Yamagami is exceedingly adorable, but she’s a tough nut to crack, and it doesn’t bode well that Hasebe still hasn’t impressed upon her just how special she is to him. Realizing that wooing her will take far more effort than he’s ever put into anything has Hasebe feeling more outwardly gloomy than ever before, and it’s sweet that Yamagami admits she doesn’t mind that side of him.
But enough about them, the balance of this episode was about Miyoshi, finally! Her aimless day off – and all the aimless days off her co-workers and acquaintances are having depiction of the average office workers’ average day off. Tired from the week, but also faced with a sudden period devoid of structure, no one engages in particularly thrilling activities, instead ending up in a bookstore, at an arcade, or simply sitting on a bench in the park. Still…it’s not work, right? And once you get past the fact that Tanaka talked about Hasebe for an inordinate amount of time, had nothing else interesting to say, and let Miyoshi pass out from a sip of wine, the date actually didn’t go that bad! We can only hope Hasebe’s date with Lucy goes so smoothly…
Rating: 6 (Good)
Chihaya tries to tell Toko about her and Taishi, but Toko mishears and then falls asleep. Miyoshi gets tangled in a conversation about regrets with Tanaka and ends up agreeing to go out to dinner with him later. Kanon comes to the office to meet up with Toko, and has strange interactions with Hasebe, Yamagami and Miyoshi, while Toko discovers the Section Chief is a stuffed rabbit.
An important thing to remember about slice-of-life series like this is that sometimes things that seem like they’ll be promptly addressed…aren’t. The Yamagami-Hasebe storyline is placed on the back burner this week, presumably to give Chihaya an episode in which to let Toko know she’s Taishi’s boyfriend…but that doesn’t happen either. Instead we get an awful lot of Toko and Kanon, two high school girls who are not civil servants. Or remotely interesting.
Have we mentioned we don’t really care for Toko? Well we don’t, and there was nothing in this episode that would cause us to change that stance. She’s shrill, clingy, inconsiderate, rude, and generally drags down the show with her presence. Her friend Kanon isn’t much better. This week she’s ostensibly the straight man to the antics of the office workers, but she’s as dull as Yamagami’s plain pasta. Whenever these girls become the focus of an episode, the series feels like it’s slacking off…like Hasebe.
Rating: 5 (Average)
Chihaya looks back to two years ago when she first started working at the office, which led to her meeting and falling for Ichimiya. She then takes Yamagami out to buy a skirt, telling her not to look down on herself. Kaoru stops by and invites Yamagami and Miyoshi out to dinner, where she discusses what she knows about Jyogi and his rivalry with Yutaka. The next day Hasebe gets the wrong impression, believing Yamagami is getting married. It turns out to be Kaoru. but the shock leads to him telling Yamagami she’s the only girl he needs.
In her increasingly frequent dealings with Yamagami, Chihaya isn’t just reminded of how plainly she herself used to dress when she first started her job, she also sees the same tentativeness and tendency to look down on oneself that also plagues her boyfriend. Yamgami and Ichimiya both put others’ wants and needs before their own because they’re always devaluing themselves. Chihaya points out to Yamagami that such an act gets old when it’s becoming more clear that Hasebe’s pursuit of her isn’t a joke. It’s trickier with Ichimiya, as Chihaya is resigned to getting annoyed no matter what he says.
Meanwhile, as he looks forward to his date with Yamagami, Hasebe is compelled to impress upon her just how much he values her, once he’s spooked by the false news she got engaged behind his back. Hasebe is at his least smug and most vulnerable this week. Yamagami’s commitment to take the date seriously is still more a matter of duty than romantic interest to her, but Hasebe is phone-breakingly, contact list-deletingly serious about dating her. His challenge isn’t just to win her over, but to get her into the state of mind where she can even start to consider being won over.
He would have had an easier time with any other girl, just like Chihaya could have had an easier time with virtually any guy other than Ichimiya. But we can’t choose who we love.
Rating:7 (Very Good)
- Baby Chihaya (well, Two-Years-Younger Chihaya) is so cute!
- Also cute? Her kissing of Ichimiya, followed by a slap; her reaction to his not-scolding her about cosplaying.
- Yamagami’s total inability to even try on an even modest skirt vexes us mightily.
- After talking with Kaoru, Miyoshi comes away liking Ryoji more, but only infinitesimally so.
- Kaoru’s gettin’ married! Does this put more pressure on Hasebe to hook Yamagami?
Hasebe takes Yamagami out to dinner, where she details her goal to complain to the civil servant who allowed her name. The next day, Tanaka, waiting outside the office, also invites her out to eat at the same restaurant. There, he complains about Hasebe and never being able to beat him, but thinks he can beat him by going out with her, the girl he’s hitting on. Hasebe rescues Yamagami. The next day his behavior has changed slightly. When asked by Yamagami what she can do to repay him for all his help, he asks that she go on a date, neutralizing Chihaya by assigning her to put Yamagami’s outfit together.
More and more, Hasebe and Yamagami are starting to remind me of a slightly older Takanashi and Inami from Working!!. Yamagami isn’t afraid of men, but she is afraid of going out on a date or wearing a skirt, and has never even given either much thought. While we’re not sure about the latter fear, the former is due to her long name, which she feels would make dating someone impossible. But she’s gradually warming up to Hasebe, and Hasebe, who initially hit on her as a joke, is really starting to like her the more time he spends on her, which is affecting his work.
While Yamagami’s name haunts her (and she’s too deferential to her nice parents to have it changed), Hasebe’s past and potential haunts him. Tanaka is a remnant from that past, who saw the greatness and laments that it was never harnessed. But like Yamagami is content to buy and read books (only leaving enough money to buy the most utilitarian of food), Hasebe is content to sail through life on a breeze of ease…at least up to this point. Now he has a goal, and a laudable one: to date Yamagami. That’s not something that can be achieved easily, but he’s still pursuing it.
Rating:7 (Very Good)
- Yamagami is able to enjoy a beer (or at least part of one) without passing out and waking up next to a female version of Hasebe. Progress!
- Tanaka knocks back like six bottles of red wine, and is still able to hobble home. Though he’s kind of a mean drunk.
- Chihaya was ready to shut Hasebe down, but he was saved by his quick thinking: making his date an opportunity for her to dress Yamagami up.
In the first half, Chihaya plays and wins games against Touko and dresses her up in a cosplay outfit. Chihaya is frustrated with the lack of progress in her relationship with Ichimiya, and he apologizes for not knowing why she’s mad. In the second half, Miyoshi meet’s Tanaka’s grandson, who is very upright and seems very responible, but is also obsessed with Hasebe. Yamagami learns a little bit about Hasebe’s past with Tanaka, but he stops short of the whole story.
The more the characters of SxS interact, the more we learn about them as people. Touko’s friend Kanon stands in for us as fourth-party observer of the dynamic between Touko, her brother, and Chihaya (who Kanon instantly picks up as being Ichimiya’s girlfriend.) As she watches Chihaya, she initially suspects she’s just using Touko, but when she asks her straight-up, she learns that Chihaya actually likes both of the Ichimiyas.
It’s also been established that Chihaya is an exceedingly patient girlfriend, as Hasebe is an exceedingly timid boyfriend. They seem to have little or no physical contact with one another; he recoils when she makes an advance on him when the two are alone. Seriously, why bother having an interoffice relationship if you can’t have some fun in a storage room? We realize Japanese romances can sometimes be quite formal and conservative, but something’s gotta give here.
That brings us to Miyoshi’s Tanaka Situation, which also just got more complicated. We like how Tanaka’s personality is unveiled only a little bit at a time. Like Kanon with Chihaya and Touko, Miyoshi observes Tanaka’s behavior (as does Lucy) and her take on him evolves accordingly. As for our take, the show made it fairly clear that he may have a flame burning for Hasebe (though the BL angle is Chihaya’s). He certainly doesn’t seem that interested in Miyoshi.
Rating:7 (Very Good)
- Touko is terrible at games, from Old Maid to Jenga, Othello, and Life.
- On the Hasebe+Lucy front, Lucy likes learning more about Hasebe, but turns down dinner, not because she doesn’t want to, but because it isn’t payday yet. So practical!
- Tanaka’s grandson bears a passing resemblance to Tsubaki Sasuke from Sket Dance.
In the first half, the manager Momoi wants to interact more with the newcomers. He spends time individually with Hasebe, Yamagami and Miyoshi, who also meet his daughter Kanon. Hasebe is worried about Touko not having any friends, but Kanon is one such friend. In the second half, Miyoshi’s daily interactions with Mrs. Tanaka, Touko and Momoi wear her down into a beginner’s slump. Hasebe lets her vent, but she ends up depressing him. Tanaka asks her to marry her grandson, but after advising the others, she turns down the offer as tactfully as possible.
Among other things, this episode underlines how everyone ended up working as civil servants at the ward office for different reason. Yamagami, perhaps the simplest character due to her insufferable innocence, simply wanted to get a good job so she could afford as many books as possible (she loves to read). Hasebe’s father was in this business, and he had nothing else going on, so he ended up in it too. Miyoshi was in the middle of grad school, but her parents tricked her into coming home by lying about her father’s health. Considering how Miyoshi ended up at this job, and how stressful dealing with the people she has to deal with can be, we’re not surprised she was the first of the three newbies to consider quitting, if only for a moment.
She’s even given another reason: one of her clients wants her to quit so she can marry her responsible banker grandson, which might give her an opportunity to return to her studies. She politely refuses, but Mrs. Tanaka hasn’t given up. In addition to fleshing out Miyoshi’s situation and giving her a potential out, it also, strangely enough, shows that despite his surface sheen, he isn’t entirely happy with his situation either. Which means Yamagami is the only newbie totally happy with where she is and what she’s doing…though she’s also there to confront the one who allowed her ridiculous name pass…
Rating: 6 (Good)
Yamagami wakes up in bed with a girl who turns out to be Hasebe’s sister Kaoru, who is also an easy-.going civil servant and also loves to mess with people. When Yamagami stops by Kaoru’s the next day to thank her, she takes her to her brother’s place, which is awkward. Back at the office, Ichimiya warns Hasebe of the perils of dating co-workers. Chihaya lets fly that she and Ichimiya are dating, but passes it off as a joke to cure Yamagami of her hiccups. Chihaya arranges for Miyoshi to occupy Touko while she and Ichimiya discuss their relationship. Touko returns early, adding to Taishi’s stress.
Those who were thinking Hasebe would stoop to getting a room at a love hotel with a passed-out Lucy were soundly rebuked, as he – as Megumi puts it, “acts like a human being.” Still, it’s clear Miss Cowlick won’t be drinking any alcohol anytime soon. He takes her to his sister’s place instead, but her sister, like all the Hasebes, can’t quite help themselves when presented with a mark as easy as Lucy. Kaoru also gets the feeling her brother cares about this mark, and so gets them together on Sunday, hoping the resulting awkwardness will be entertaining, and it is. But with all this discussion about Yamagami and Hasebe as a prospective couple, there’s been a real and long-lasting couple hiding in plain sight: Chihaya and Ichimiya.
It’s a bit out of left field, though if we were to go back and watch all their past interactions in the office, we’d probably find slight clues here and there of the fact they’re a couple, albeit one that doesn’t make it public knowledge at their workplace. For her part, Chihaya is a good sport, willing to be with Ichimiya despite his self-confidence problems and his horror of a little sister. She doesn’t come right out and list the reasons she dates him – and has dated him for a year-plus. But she does have her reasons. For what is worth, we like them as a couple, if for no other reason than it has neither the predatory air of Hasebe’s pursuit of Yamagami nor Touko’s bro-con tediousness.
Rating:7 (Very Good)
- Yamagami seems to have a closet consisting of nothing but white pants and black turtlenecks. We hope to see this closet at some point to confirm this.
- Kaoru and Yamagami wait at a metro station with a green circle marked H-07. Thus the city can’t be Tokyo, as H-07 in real life is Hibiya Station on the Hibiya line, which is silver, not green.
- Enduring Hiccups are a very old comic device, but Yamagami is so cute doing them we don’t mind.
- Touko’s birthday is Christmas Eve, making it difficult for Ichimiya to keep girlfriends. Talk about a Catch-22…
- Chihaya loves cosplay, but wearing Touko’s uniform is still pretty darned kinky. We feel like her explanation to Touko shouldn’t have passed muster.
- That said, that look Chihaya shoots at Touko when she comes in (see above) is pretty great.
Chihaya confides with Miyoshi how she’s secretly taking Yamagami’s measurements for cosplay, when they walk in on Yamagami and Hasebe hand in hand; he’s teaching her sign language. Later, Chihaya tells Hasebe they’re rivals, and warns Yamagami to be careful with him. Hasebe asks her out and she rejects him, but not because of him. Undeterred, he takes her out to eat often. The newbies finally meet the section manager, Kenzo Momoi, who has the body of a pink stuffed rabbit, and once worked with Hasebe’s father. He takes everyone out drinking, but Yamagami gets smashed instantly. Missing the last train, Hasebe takes her to a hotel for the night.
Inter-office romances have a reputation for being very tricky, and can obviously end badly, but that doesn’t mean they’re bad or should be discouraged. If that someone you happen to fall for just happens to work with you, that fact isn’t a dealbreaker in and of itself. It just means treading carefully is called for. Hasebe is a ladies man with hundreds of emails, but he rarely if ever is the one doing the asking out…until Yamagami. There’s clearly something about her that moves Hasebe to ask her out, and when she instantly rejects him out of fear she’s too boring and wears glasses, is he discouraged? Not at all; it just means he has to gradually win her over.
Yes, Hasebe can be creepy, and he does get away with too much, but we don’t think he’s a creep, and we think he has a genuine interest in Yamagami (besides her figure). Perhaps the fact that she shows no interest in him is enough to tickle his fancy. Or maybe its her inherent naivete and vulnerability about seemingly everything. This is a girl who was seemingly put on this earth to be a civil servant and nothing else. If it weren’t for Hasebe taking her out or Chihaya lending her books, it would seem like she has no life beyond her job and going home to sleep. So even if she’s unsure of Hasebe’s true intentions, it’s good that she’s experiencing new things as a result of her exposure to him and the others. Work isn’t everything.
Rating:7 (Very Good)
- Yes, the remote-controlled(?) robotic(?) stuffed rabbit-as-section manager is a hard pill to swallow…but at least he’s less annoying than Touko. Much less, frankly.
- Of couse Yamagami can’t hold her liquor in the slightest…
- Is the series going to tease us all season about Yamagami cosplaying, or will Chihaya make it happen? She really just has to ask Hasebe for her bust measurement, though now that he knows they’re “rivals” he may not be forthcoming.
- When Yamagami wakes up, she assumes she’s home and thinks she’s lying next to a “woman.” What’s going on? There’d better be follow-up next week.
The hooks on Yamagami’s bra suddenly break. She hopes nobody notices, but everyone does, and Hasebe suggests she go home and rest. When she returns, Hasebe continues his quest to get Yamagami’s email. He follows her to a bookstore, treats her to dinner, distracts a kid for her, lends her a music player in a storm, and offers to teach her sign language. Even when she asks him if there’s anything she can do in return for all his help, he still forgets to ask for her email.
This week we saw a lot less of the non-adult, non-civil servant Touko (though unfortunately she wasn’t totally absent…why does the series feel the need to have her poke her nose in every day?), a lot more sexual harassment by Hasebe, tempered by several kind deeds. Let’s just say this guy is very lucky Yamagami is either uncommonly patient or uncommonly oblivious; come to think of it, she’s a little of both…and her cowlick (ahoge) is a hoot and a half.
Yamagami doesn’t like relying on or owing people, but Hasebe is determined to show her that it’s okay once and a while. In attempting to get her email, he shows up his many and varied skills, proving that he can be highly capable when sufficiently motivated, which is almost never. In fact, most of the skills he’s amassed all serve to make slacking off easier. Still, we’re hoping his lewd comments are kept at a minimum and he learns to talk with Yamagami without bringing up her not un-ample bust.
Rating:7 (Very Good)
Constantly attracting elderly people who converse with her at great length, Miyoshi has taken to hiding under her desk. Her predicament is put on hold when “Touko-sama” arrives; an abrasive high school girl who coaches the newbies, only to get exacerbated by their quirks. Taishi coaxes Touko off, and the newbies learn she’s his little sister. Chihaya decides to use Touko to train Miyoshi to speak her mind and draw the line with clients. Her words get Touko upset, and Taishi has to shoo her away again, but Miyoshi assures her she’s welcome back (every second or third day) to continue their “counselling.”
After the first episode showed us a lot of clients, there were almost none this week, aside from the tiny old lady who is always rambling to Miyoshi. This was ostensibly to focus on what goes on with the servants in between the stretches of civil drudgery. Or, we should say, instead of them. Chihaya takes the day off and we learn that no only is she an otaku, but their line of work is very otaku-friendly, due to the holidays and such. It’s a neat little detail, and we like how a lot of her suggestions involve dressing up her not unattractive co-workers in cosplay.
As for Yamagami, Miyoshi, Hasebe, and Taishi, a lot of their time is taken up by the imperious Touko, your classic tsundere sister. It doesn’t take long for everyone to notice what Taishi doesn’t: Touko is always hanging around the ward office because she wants to be with Taishi. Her encyclopedic knowledge of welfare code and procedures is both a pretense and side-effect to that. We’ll admit though, we were a little annoyed that a kid showed up to steal time away from the adults, and like Miyoshi, we hope she doesn’t dominate too many more episodes like she did this one.
Rating: 6 (Good)
- We’re not familiar with Touko’s seiyu, but does a good job with both sides of Touko; she sounds like a mix of Taketatsu Ayane and Kugimiya Rie.
- Yamagami seems to have led a sheltered life, at least where video games, manga, anime, and fashion are concerned. Perhaps she dresses plainly (and sees herself as plain) as a possibly subconscious revolt against her space cadet parents who gave her a dozen names.
- Miyoshi may have started to learn to draw the line, but Hasebe crossed a different one by asking Yamagami to disrobe not once, bit twice. Yeah, it was a joke, in an office environment, there’s another term for it: sexual harrassment.
- As for getting Touko’s email? A bit creepy.
- Another true-to-life office moment: the “random meeting” that Chihaya called. Those do happen!
Newcomers Yamagami Lucy Kimiko Akie Airi Shiori Rinne Yoshiho Ayano Tomika Chitose Sanae…, Hasebe Yukata, and Miyoshi Saya start their new positions as civil servants in the health and welfare section of the city ward office, where Ichimiya Taishi and Chihaya Megumi have already been working for years. Lucy is hardworking but tense and easily distracted by Hasebe’s teasing of her name and sensitive to scolding, Saya attracts older women with rambling stories, and Hasebe slacks off every chance he gets. They help bail each other out when they get into tight spots with clients, but learn that ultimately the job is essentially to get scolded and being able to absorb the abuse without cracking is vital.
As we said in the season preview, we love slice-of-life series involving adults (or at least older teens) working and going about their normal lives, such as Working!!. This series takes us out of the familiar restaurant setting and into an expansive city office where the servants serve the citizens, and also serve as punching bags. Lucy, Yukata and Saya are thrown right into the arena, but comport themselves well, though in different ways. Lucy (whose name is actually much longer thanks to new-agey parents) is actually there for revenge, but turns out to have a knack for civil service, even if she herself hates it (and that’s, again, mostly because of her name.)
Yukata is a third-gen servant, and a highly intelligent, sociable, talented young man to boot. The thing is, while he’s stellar when he applies himself, he rarely intentionally applies himself, preferring to glide through life with this cushy job. Of course, we see firsthand that it can be particularly un-cushy. A lot of the clients are taking time off work and don’t want to be there, so they’re understandably impatient, but there’s also a stigma about Lucy, Yukata, and Saya’s line of work: they’re paid with taxes, so the taxpayers not only resent them, but demand perfection. Still, when the second day ends, Lucy & Co. get thanks from the same clients who were difficult earlier, it’s clear that properly dealing with them has its rewards.
Rating:7 (Very Good)
- The OP is the coolest this season so far, combining live action shots of an office with CGI and animation, along with a very peppy, Working!!-like theme song.
- We find it kinda funny that Lucy is so self-conscious about her name. Sure, all the other names are extraneous, but “Lucy” is not a bad name from where we’re from!
- Lucy’s ahoge is kinda outta control, innit?
- When the workday is over, “From the New World” plays on the P.A. Weird…
- We love the ED too, which shows the three ladies relaxing at home after work, pouring themselves three beverages and chillaxing.