Alternate Title: Working!!
Published by: Nippon Ichi Software America (North America)
Based on: Based on 4koma manga under the title Working!! by Karino Takatsu
Genre: Comedy, Slice of Life
Audio: Japanese Dubs
Aspect Ratio: 16:9
Runtime: 312 minutes
Cost: $39.99 for Standard Edition from NIS America Store
Blurb: What do you get when you have a guy who likes small things, a high schooler who looks like a child and another girl who would rather punch a man in the face when she gets close to them….. and they all work in a restaurant? Why! You get Wagnaria!! of course. The storyline is enjoyable and consists of an enjoyable as well as quirky character cast, but lacks an overall storyline. The design is suited to the genre whilst the opening theme is one of my now personal favourites.
Special Thanks: Special thanks goes to Nippon Ichi Software America for providing me with a review sample of this title.
This review will be based on the standard edition of the Wagnaria!! series – which whilst not consisting of all the bonus goodies that other NIS America premium editions come with – it still has what is most important… the actual anime series. Due to a few issues during release, this series is called Wagnaria!! however in the actual animation, there has been no modifications to it, to the point where even the opening sequence references the title Working!!. Anyway, after the jump I shall deliver my verdict on this series.
A high school boy that loves small, cut things starts working at the family restaurant, Wagnaria, a nest of abnormal fruitcakes. He is flabbergasted by its deviant culture, but gradually leans to acclimate himself. One day however, he meets a young woman who will alter his fate for good.
A quick summary of the storyline for those who are not familiar with it. The main character Sota is a High School student who is recruited into the Wagnaria’s restaurant team by a girl who he thought was a grade-schooler however is a grade up from him. He has strong feelings towards that which is small and cute – to the point where he finds even the most bizarre small things cute. Coming from a family of four sisters, he has a different backstory then the viewer would expect but also has troubles keeping it a secret. The second character Popura takes the role of Sota’s sempai and has the primary role of comedic support as she is a common target for others jokes – then finally the third main character is Mahiru who has androphobia and desires nothing more then to punch every person of the male gender in the face. These three are just some of the interesting personalities that occupy the staff of this family eatery.
A majority of the plot takes place inside their restaurant, but this is not your ordinary workplace so it is far from the characters just serving the customers and the occasional customer backstory but instead how about if they were to throw in a manager who is laid back and uses her position to gain gifts from others and punish those who call her old? What about if they throw in a waitress who carries a katana despite her friendly personality and has an admiration for her boss whilst blatantly ignorant of the chef being in love with her? Or maybe even the head of the restaurant bringing in a mysterious young girl he “found” on his trip to find his wife who has no verifiable identity and lives in the restraunt? These are but some of the oddities that present themselves in the series, and they are an enjoyable watch.
The storyline does not fully focus on the happenings within Wagnaria but also shift to the characters lives outside of the restaurant as well as their backstories. There is the obligatory Hot Springs visit that every series of this sort seems to have for example, however they choose not to follow the norm and focus more on the comedic aspects instead of the fanservice aspects, but other then there is nothing much else taking place outside of the restaurant until the last episode of the series. The backstories have a focus on the restaurant however generally only focus on one character. The three characters have character development in the first season were Yachiyo (Negligible), Sota (As mentioned above, generally due to his childhood and hassling from his sisters) and Mahiru who has the long-term backstory involving her goal to rid herself of her fear of men – and to display to the viewer the cause of this fear.
Overall however, this is a storyline that is hard to put into words without you actually watching for yourself. There is no set plotline and therefore there was no real end-point for this season, however for those who have enjoyed similar series in the past such as Azumanga Daioh, you will no doubt find this a rewarding watch – with a clever variety of plots and quirky characters, I couldn’t ask for more.
The first thing that will catch your eye in this series is the characters hairstyles. Generally anime series are known to have an interesting array of different hairstyles but it is quite hard to place them in this series. They still retain the same styles you would expect from a slice-of-life anime series, however the design style they have used gives it a more realistic color scheme whilst retaining their anime charm – if you watch my drift. The overall character designs are interesting, and I do like the designs of the characters considering that they are usually in the same working attire. It is more the little things that make the character designs so special to me. Actual environmental designs are limited due to the setting, however I think their designs are well suited to represent a realistic working environment, and the few outside areas they have are also appropriately done. No problems on my part in terms of design, but perhaps the environmental designs could be a tad more diverse.
SOMEONE ELSE by Kana Asumi, Saki Fujita and Eri Kitamura
This will most probably be one of my favourite opening sequences for a while, not only due to the catchy song but also the animation which is very adorable at some points – such as the marching Army of Chibi Popura’s. The overall design itself might have been learning towards the simpler and childish side, but that is but one of the many charms.
Go to Heart Edge by Jun Fukuyama, Daisuke Ono and Hiroshi Kamiya
It is commonplace that almost all opening and ending sequences seem to be sung by either the female voice cast or otherwise a female artist. Therefore, I find it a nice change that they have an all male cast for the ending song, but that they are also the voice actors for Sota, Jun and Soma. Overall, the song might not have been the best, but it did have active animation and was overall an enjoyable watch.
In terms of the music in this series, I have no real strong opinions on it. The music is there to put across the mood and whilst there are a number of tracks, none of them were overly memorable. Mostly they were softer-toned songs that were well adapted to the restaurant environment however. In terms of voice acting, as mentioned above the series only has a Japanese dub to it, therefore those who usually listen to the English dub will have to adapt to reading subtitles. That being said, the Japanese dub is an enjoyable listen with all the voice actors/actresses suiting their role and despite the oddity of their personalities, managed to make it seem like these events were normal occurrences. The one thing I have found with NIS America subtitles is that they are very enjoyable to read – that and I suppose most of their titles I have watched have been on the comedic end of the scale.
This review is based on the standard edition of the series. I found that whilst it is fair enough to review the NIS America Premium Editions that they release, as they are releasing Standard Editions of their older titles – it might be a good idea to also focus on what you get in a standard edition. So, the first question is – What do you get in the Standard Edition. The answer is – A DVD case. There is no fancy artbook inside however you do get a small insert story guide which is a nice little touch which has brief descriptions on all the episodes (Honestly, it was a great reference whilst writing this review). The disc designs are also food-based which are a unique touch. In terms of extra content on the discs, they haven’t included much with the only bonus being two clean ending videos.
Finally it comes down to the all important Personal Opinion. I was a bit hesitant about this series – as I felt that 13 episodes based around a life of people working in a restaurant would result in a rather bland series, however I was surprised to see how enjoyable it turned out to be. I felt there could still have been a better way to end the season then they did, but I am curious to see what they will produce in Season 2 – and hopefully NIS America will release it as well.
Storyline/Character Development: B
OP/ED Sequences: A
Music/Voice Acting: B
Personal Opinion: A
Overall Score: B+