Anime Review: Working! Episodes 7, 8, and 9

(Originally published on Livejournal on 6/25/10)

Anime Review:
Working!! Episodes 7, 8 and 9

About The Series: Wagnaria is a small family restaurant in Hokkaido that is understaffed, so Poplar recruits Souta as the newest part-time employee. However, Souta soon learns that his fellow co-workers are anything but normal. For example, the manager doesn’t seem to care about her job, Yachiyo is always carrying around a sword, and Inami Mahiru is inexplicably terrified of men. Not that Souta is a bastion of normalcy himself; he has a fetish for small, cute things and the reason he took the job in the first place is because he can’t say no to the diminutive Poplar. Despite all their differences, the employees at Wagnaria do their best to keep the restaurant running smoothly.

ep.7 tl;dr review: The district manager picks up a stray girl, calling herself Yamada, to work at the restaurant; Adding Yamada to the mix wreaks havoc on the fragile social dynamics between the employees.

Episode 7 Synopsis: The district manager returns from one of his trips, but with a special gift in tow: a young, stray girl with a sob story. Otou-san instructs them to take care of her, and she settles in as Wagnaria’s newest employee, despite knowing nothing about her “real” past. She “decides” her name is Aoi Yamada, and everyone falls for her pity-play, except for Souta who is instantly suspicious of her true past and motives. Yamada tries to fit in with her new job, but is quite clumsy and inexperienced; but perhaps more importantly she is quite blunt in telling it like it really is, which is quite dangerous with some of the fragile egos at Wagnaria. It seems that a tenuously stable dynamic has formed between all the employees, and all it takes is one openly-frank (and true!) comment from Yamada to throw both Yachiyo and Jun into a paralyzing tailspin. It takes Poplar to bring them together to restore the balance and save the restaurant.

ep.8 tl;dr review: The Wagnaria crew takes a day off to visit the nearby hot springs; Souta is tasked with baby-sitting Inami the whole day.

Episode 8 Synopsis: The water main is broken, and the restaurant is forced to close for the day. With everyone taking the whole day off, they all decide to head to a nearby hot springs resort for the day. At first Souta does not want to go, instead opting to “dry out some plums” at home, but he is talked into it. But with Inami’s inability to get within a couple meters of *any* man, combined with the total unreliability of their transport (the manager), even the simple task of getting there is a major battle. Somehow they manage to arrive, and they head off in different directions. Souta, unsurprisingly, ends up with the job of watching over Inami to make sure she doesn’t pummel everyone she meets. Despite everything, it seems everyone has a fairly good time, even though they never even manage to take a dip into the hot springs itself.

ep.9 tl;dr review: Inami’s ultra-protective father visits the restaurant and Souta has to dress up as a girl to cover up for a lie; Souta ends up reading him the riot act.

Episode 9 Synopsis: Turns out Inami’s father is protective…*very* protective, and if he ever learned that Souta, a male, gave her the White Day present (the hairpins), she would be forced to quit. So Inami lied and said that Souta was a girl, and now he’s visiting the restaurant to check up on her. Inami, in utter desperation, begs Souta to cross-dress as a girl for the day, and Souta gives in. Souta, dressed in his reluctant alter-ego of Kotori-chan, is an instant hit, especially enchanting Poplar. Inami’s father arrives, and we soon learn that all of Inami’s phobias towards men stems from her father’s intensive psychological conditioning over many years. Souta/Kotori berates and shames him over all the mental anguish he has forced upon his daughter, and throws him out of the store, and Inami begins to see him in a new light.

My Thoughts: Rather than be a show about various odd people working at a restaurant, this show has turned into the “Inami Hates Men Show”. About three-quarters of everything revolves around that single plot point, and it stopped being funny around the third episode or so. Now, it’s just tiring, especially because Inami has shown essentially *zero* improvement, despite everyone’s attempts, including her own. Given such a rich tapestry of quirks the rest of the cast has, there’s so much other comedy potential out there; why introduce such a large cast when you’re not going to use them?

Speaking of which, they decide to add *yet another* new cast member, the adorable little liar Yamada. Her past remains a mystery, but she seems to be some sort of rich-girl runaway, although why she has stuff like quick-change costumes and a hidden-mic only raises more questions. Frankly, I actually do like her, for no other reason than she bluntly tells it like it is (I’m a no-nonsense guy in real life), none of this hemming and hawing and such. Methinks that if people in anime shows actually said what they really thought, 90% of the problems that arise would be solved immediately. Of course, wacky misunderstandings are the basis of most comedies and romance shows, so being straightforward and telling the truth would practically eliminate the reason for those shows from existing. I just wish she would drop the stupidity of referring to herself in the third-person — never an attractive trait.

I find it sublimely hilarious that they had an onsen (hot springs) episode, without actually going into the onsen itself. There seems to be a new unwritten rule in anime these days that every show has to have a hot-springs episode — even Darker Than Black II had a throw-away fourth-wall joke about it.

We finally learn *why* Inami is as messed up in the head as she is — it all boils down to her father’s unwillingness to give her up for any man. Years and years of mental conditioning have instilled a deep-seated hatred of anything male, and her punching behavior is almost a Pavlovian response to that. Nevertheless, Inami’s phobia is so incredibly extreme, and I’ve never heard of such a condition in real life myself, I find it all something I cannot relate to at all. Even with the years of psychological drubbing, I cannot rationally accept it — then again, phobias are by definition irrational. Still, I suppose part of the reason why I have taken such a strong dislike towards the Inami-heavy plotline is based on this point. I probably would have dropped this series by now, but I’m already three-quarters of the way through it (it’s only 13 episodes), so might as well see it through to the end.

The Verdict: — Cross-dressing? Really, now???

Up Next: Angel Beats, Kaichou wa Maid-sama, K-On Season 2, Arakawa Under the Bridge, Senkou no Night Raid, and The Tatami Galaxy.

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