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.
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.
We’ve known for a while now that Kimimaro Yoga would eventually have to dael with Mikuni mano-a-mano, and this episode set up that climactic battle, which will have to wait until the final episode. This week, the question was answered: How can Mikuni be stopped? Mr. Goldteeth (Taketazaki) and Satou counsel Yoga on the need to acquire the “darkness card” from Mikuni; without it, he cannot start the rotary presses that make Midas Money, which saps the future from Japan.
Yoga doesn’t like Mikuni’s scortched earth strategy, nor his vow to die with his asset Q, if necessary. Yoga doesn’t want Mashyu to die; he even keeps her out of half of his deal with Kutsui. He’s acting more and more like her father, because, well, she is his daughter; his future by any other name. He eventually relents, letting Mashyu fight, and Kutsui is wasted. However, Satou underestimates Mikuni’s power and goes bankrupt, leaving Yoga alone, but bequeathing her cuddly asset Georges to him.
I’m not exactly sure, but something, possibly that, led to Yoga’s card turning black, giving him the power to reverse the presses. Of course, Mikuni has to be neutralized in order to prevent the endless cycle of starting and stopping the press. Meanwhile, Taketazaki is causing hyperinflation and crashing the yen, Mikuni’s power base, making me believe the victor of the coming final deal may have to rely on more than Midas Money to prevail. And then there’s Masakaki, pointing upward at where he gets his orders. Will whoever they are come into play before the end? I’m rearin’ to know. Rating: 4
P.S.: Shinjuku LOVE Sign Cameo FTW! I’ve been there…
P.P.S.: I’d be ridiculously remiss if I didn’t mention how totally and completely the soundtrack rocked this week. Epic, cinematic stuff befitting what’s on the line.
[C] finally makes its apearance as a menacing force of nature that devolves whatever civilization it comes into contact with. We saw a glimpse of this when the Tokyo skyline shrunk, but this week it happened all over East Asia; Singapore was totally wiped out and Shanghai became a shadow of its former self. Mikuni, backed by his guild, makes a deal with the devil (Masakaki) to secure funds to stage a last-minute buy that saves Japan from utter ruin, but at a humongous price. The GDP, economy, and infrastructure devolve more than a decade (this is obviously a reference to the real-life “lost decade”, birth rates plummet, and Tokyo is steeped in poverty and squalor.
This was another “jumper” like episode three in its first half, going back and forth through the timeline, unfolding how Mikuni managed to do what he did. But it was only a band-aid, and Yoga doesn’t believe it was worth it. Satou agrees, and they both agree to work to restore the future they had lost. Enter Mashyu: Yoga learns from Mr. Goldteeth that his father had an asset called Mua that looked just like Mashyu. He changed his tune about his father, who clearly had far nobler designs than he initially thought. Similarly, Yoga gets the idea that Mashyu was meant to be his own daughter, but joining Midas meant selling her for collateral. Assets are lost dreams personified.
As much as Mashyu has grown, she is still only an asset. Yoga wants her to be a real girl, and he wants everyone still in his life to have their futures repaired. This includes a Hanabi and a store manager who have totally given up. Indeed, the whole country has, which is why no one is being born. He can’t accept this Japan, and he won’t let it stay that way. They tried it Mikuni’s way, now it’s time for him to spring into action. No more sitting on the sidelines, no more soul-searching. Only…what are they going to do? Rating: 4
Fight and win, or pass and protect the possibility of your future? That’s the choice the oft-reluctant to commit Yoga Kimimaro must make once confronted by Sennoza, a very wealthy and successful fellow entre. He’s 56-1 and worth more than 9 billion. In the real world he’s a celebrity philanthropist. He offers Yoga the same thing he offers all his opponents: pass on a deal with him. Doing so costs an amount equal to half the passer’s fortune, but Sennoza offers to front that money, so Yoga essentially loses nothing.
In the real world, mulling over his decision, Yoga is ‘kidnapped’ by Satou, who is armed with french fries, three flavors of hamburger, and information. Satou sees that Yoga isn’t just interested in money, and wants him to join her cause of bringing down the financial world, one system at a time. This includes the Starling Guild he just joined, but doing so would secure the future of the country and balance its economy.
As I said, no one’s ever passed on Sennoza, and only one person has ever beaten him: Mikuni, natch. Mikuni finds his theories interesting, but unproven and unrealistic. Yoga continues to mull right up to the opening of his deal with Kennoza, and kind of half-heartedly decides not to pass. Sennoza attacks with ruthless abandon, crippling and eviserating poor Mashyu within seconds. It seems like its over for Yoga and his cute asset. This was another episode with some nice, if relatively inconsequential, exchanges between them.
Interestingly, the climax of the battle where Yoga turns the tables isn’t shown; only the aftermath, with Sennoza and Yoga on an empty baseball diamond, Sennoza the loser. It’s clear that he’s likely lost much or all of his fortune, but isn’t bitter, angry, or remorseful. IN fact, he seems to be glad to be rid of so much evil Midas cash. It would seem, at least this week, that Yoga agreed with Mikuni: fighting and winning (barely) is the tried-and-true method. But there’s still Satou’s route to consider. She and Yoga were followed by an ominous Crown Majesta – perhaps that was Mikuni keeping an eye on them? Rating: 4
This episode is a bit of a “jumper” – dancing from one POV to another, and from another timeframe to another. But it holds together quite well; despite being a bit bemused and dizzy at times, I was never lost about what was going on. And a lot went on. First, there’s a mole of sorts – from the IMF – is in the Far East Financial District. She’s called Satou, she liked lollipops (and to eat in general), and is investigating Yoga, Mida’s banks newest Entre.
Meanwhile, Yoga visits his aunt, who shows him his father’s lifebox (my term, not the shows – a lifebox is a storytelling device that efficiently helps the audience learn about a person or their past). His diary only contains numbers…and a drawing of the design on a Midas bill. Yup, his dad was an entre too, and it’s the reason he abandoned his wife and Yoga. This sends Yoga into a brief angsting session (even drawing his hood over his face so he can cry angsty tears).
But Mikuni sets him straight: he believes Yoga wishing for a normal, predictable life is the same as Mikuni’s father operated: solely for one’s own sake. Yoga’s dad fought and earned in the District for the sake of his family. He sacrificed his normal life so that Yoga could have one. Mikuni strives to earn for the greater good. When one makes money and spends it, others benefit from the spending. Saving only helps the saver (this is not exactly ironclad economic theory, but whatevs.)
Honestly, with their almost identical eye and hair color, I suspected Mikuni could have been Yoga’s father, but Yoga’s deal opponent at the end could be his father. Whoever Yoga’s father turns out to be, or was, if he’s dead, Yoga has the classic “go in his footsteps” or “step out of his shadow” choice to make. Meanwhile, Satou and the IMF are concerned about the Midas money flowing into reality…but fear stopping that flow carelessly could have dire consequences, financial or otherwise. Rating: 4