Here we are at the tail end of the Summer 2010 season, with hardly anything worthwhile to watch. As Bakacast listeners know, we at Project Haruhi are having a hard time finding things to like in the anime we review each week. It’s getting pretty desperate here, such that we no longer care if the flat, uninteresting characters in shows like Highschool of the Dead live or die. Thankfully that is where Working!! comes in. This lifeline of hope was thrown to me by a friend who knew my despair. “This should help! This is moe as we remember!” she said as I sobbed into her arms about my lack of faith in moe. I remember her smile was like a ray of sunshine, boosting my confidence. Happily, she turned out to be bang-on correct. Read on to learn why she was right!
From the get-go, Working!! presents itself as a charming anime centered around a small cast of high school students working in a family restaurant, Wagnaria. The ‘highschool’ part is inconsequential however, as outside life never really intrudes into the operations of the restaurant or the story, for which I am truly thankful. Instead, interactions between the new recruit, Sota Takanashi, and the rest of the employees as they work in the restaurant drives the story forward from episode to episode.
Making up the cast is Sota, a 16 year old boy who has a huge fetish for small, cute things. When he bumps into the tiny (and oh so cute) Popura Taneshima on the street, he can’t resist her request to come fill a vacancy at Wagnaria. Popura herself is probably the moe centerpiece of the anime; she is a short 17 year old girl, ironically named after the poplar tree so that she would someday grow tall. Add in her sensitivity to her short stature and a natural clumsiness, and the moe wave becomes a tsunami.
In the restaurant we also meet Yachiyo Todoroki, the katana wielding head waitress who has lesbian tendencies towards her boss, Kyoko Shirafuji. Kyoko, being the manager of Wagnaria, has declared herself to be above work and spends most of her time eating Yachiyo’s wonderful parfaits. Manning the kitchen we have Jun Sato, always helpful but with an intimidating appearance which puts him at unease with people who don’t know him. To make things interesting, he also has a massive crush on Yachiyo, who is completely ignorant of this (because she’s a lesbian, duh). Also a chef, Hiroomi Soma comes across as a positive influence on the others; however he often coyly blackmails people into doing his job for him. To top off this motley bunch of eccentric people, we have Mahiru Inami, a timid 17 year old girl who has a chronic fear of men and vents her fear via extreme (and extremely funny) violence.
As I mentioned earlier, the interactions between the characters forms the centerpiece of the story, as there is little in the way of outside influences. Popura’s height, Jun’s crush on Yachiyo, Yachiyo’s crush on Kyoko and Inami’s use of Sota as a punching bag makes for a lot of laughs. As there is plenty of background character development, this usually ties in with current events within the restaurant with humourous results. As the series progresses through its short run of 13 episodes, the pace never slows down and the humour remains plentiful. The art style is quite good as well, with surprisingly fluid animation. Of course, lets not forget the moe…
Another charm, as Jake mentioned earlier, are the OP and EDs of the series. The songs are snappy and quickly get stuck in your head, while the animation shows of each of the characters more quirky traits. I guarantee you that the OP will be stuck in your head for days, especially the image of the little dancing Popuras. Still brings a big grin to my face whenever I watch.
Overall I recommend this series to all who enjoy slice of life and moe, but are perhaps are a little sick of K-ON!. Working!! certainly isn’t anything new to the genre, but it’s enjoyable storyline and charm makes for a fun and engaging series.