It can be tough sometimes to sum up the overall impression of a show in a single sentence. So, instead, I’m just going to throw out a few words that represent Working!! (also known as Wagnaria!!): Smiles, laughs, kindness and, ultimately, joy. I’d be hard pressed to find another show that is simultaneously bursting with such energy without crossing into the realm of the absurd. Working!! straddles this line, and the fusion of comedy, romance and true-to-life workplace relationships blends into an energetic, heartfelt experience that is truly deserving of the descriptor “joy.” To see where Working!! ended up in my list of ongoing rankings, click here. It’s cracked my top ten, with potential to be moved up.
There are a few important things that Working!! is not. It’s not a romantic comedy. It’s not a harem. It’s not an ecchi. It’s a workplace comedy, although it might be more appropriate to call it a relational comedy set in a workplace (with the typcial shades of romance). Despite the fact that Working!! spends most of its time set in the family restaurant Wagnaria (adapted to be the working English title for the series), the food service setting provides relatively few gags. Most of the jokes come from the cast of characters themselves, each of whom have one dominant characteristic.
We have Inami, the androphobe; Takanashi (obsessed with small things); Taneshima (short); Sato (tough guy with a heart of gold); Soma (knows everything about everyone); Yachiyo (carries a sword); Yamada (a freeloading child); and Kyoko (the always hungry manager). Despite the fact that, except for Inami, who is a welcome exception to the rule, every character falls pretty into one archetype or another, the real genius of Working!! is putting all the archetypes together in one situation and the excellence with which they are portrayed. It’s also worth noting that most of the main cast is also developed beyond their archetype over the 2-season course of the series.
The two greatest strengths of Working!! are 1) the character relationships and, 2) the bright outlook it takes on pretty much everything. With the characters providing most of the comedy through their interactions with each other, the rest of the show (tints of romance & emotional moments) takes the cue and continually promotes the positive vibe that makes Working!! such a joy to watch. Taneshima is perhaps the greatest force, with her amazing rebound time against pretty much anything that goes wrong & her optimistic outlook on life. Furthermore, her energy is infectious to the rest of the cast, boosting up sad characters and acting as a friend and peacemaker to the entire staff of Wagnaria.
Beyond Taneshima, the sincere care evident between the restaurant’s eccentric crew is really something to see. Whether it’s Sato’s grudging care for Yamada, Takanashi’s growing & generous care for Inami, Yachiyo’s dysfunctional love for Kyoko, or Yamada’s desire just to be loved by the people around her, Working!! takes a honest look at working relationships and the friendships that can grow from them. It doesn’t shy away from conflict, but it manages them in a lighthearted, fun manner that still manages to stay in touch with reality.
Overall, there’s really not much to criticize about Working!! It does exactly what it sets out to do and more. There isn’t a character that’s unlovable, and the various struggles that the characters encounter (although occasionally in a humorous or exaggerated manner) are true to life. You don’t have to wear rose-colored glasses while watching Working!!; they are already embedded into the show for you. And, while in some scenarios such a relentless positive mindset might be tiring, Working!! never seems forced, contrived or otherwise fake. The whole show rings true, from start to finish, despite every absurdity.
Watch Working!! That’s the final verdict. Impossible not to love, joyful from the first note of the first OP to the very end, and filled with genuine people and relationships, this anime is the epitome of good comedy and good characters. But, as I’ve been saying this whole time, its greatest strength is the relentless optimism that comes flowing out. Would Wagnaria be a weird place to work? Yes, but you’d be happy there.
Reasons to Watch:
- A realistic, heartfelt and genuine portrayal of dysfunctional people functioning together and creating an atmosphere of real joy.
- Great character driven comedy, jokes that rarely fall flat. Doesn’t take itself too seriously without being a total joke.
- Nice moments of real emotion and characters that truly care about each other.
- You’ll feel happier after watching than you did before you watched.