Thursday, July 1, 2010

Anime Review - Working!!

Director: Yoshimasa Hiraike
Length: 13 episodes
Year: 2010

Well, I should start the review ball back rolling with one of the few animes I've watched in the 2010 seasons and enjoyed. Working!! is based off the original 4 panel manga written by Karino Takatsu and is still current
ly being printed in Young Gangan in Japan. I hadn't heard of this series before seeing it pop up in comments on a few forums and being intrigued by the setting and genres it promised, I started watching it.

Working!! is a mix between comedy, r
omance, and slice of life. It follows the working days of the staff at the family restaurant Wagnaria. When the main character, Takanashi Souta, is recruited into the team, to say that wacky hijinks ensue is an understatement. All the characters have wonderfully unique (if unbelievable) personalities to them and the interaction between them becomes like that of a family. Even with such unbelievable personalities, you begin to fall in love with each one of the restaurants staff, learning to accept their little quirks (although some are far from little). While the main characters all receive a good chunk of exposition, there are a few characters that don't really appear for more than one episode. Somehow both these characters don't feel forced or rushed in their introduction and execution, but I would have liked to see just a little more of them. There's also room for an excellent spin of series to be found in the Takanashi family home. All of his sisters are introduced in the anime but they all feature very minor roles bar one who features for one episode. A short 13 episode series of their home life would be great fun to watch and I hope it's in the works. There is a slight overarching plot mainly concerning two of the characters while others look on, but it doesn't kick in properly until the final few episodes where it starts to become the spotlight of the show. In this sense it's a slice of life, but it doesn't quite have the same feeling as shows like Lucky Star or Quiet Country Cafe since it isn't focusing on the characters in different environments so much as focussing on the environment itself and how the characters change within it.

There's nothing special about the animation of Working!!, a thoroughly standard affair throughout until the final episode in which one or two scenes have noticeably had much more time put into them, being extremely fluid and graceful in movements. Clearly some animation budget was left over. The contrasting styles throughout the anime were a nice change of pace, keeping the somewhat Moe style of normal events but using fully chibi comical interludes. Quite a common thing in these sorts of shows, but done very well here. It also helps accentuate the fairly common visual gags that pop up throughout.

The Working!! opening credits takes it's spot in the limited set of anime openings I refuse to skip since the song is so good, earning a position next to both Haibane Renmei and Moyashimon. It's a fast paced rock song that refuses to let you feel anything but happy while listening to it, the perfect song to start the show off with. The ending theme is quite a bit more mellow, but still upbeat, ending the episodes nicely but not as well as the opening. Background music throughout is average, nothing jumping out to be amazing or worth getting the soundtrack for, although I did find myself tapping my foot along to the songs occasionally. The voice work was very good overall, all the characters had very fitting voices but once again there wasn't anything that jumped out and said PERFECT! to me.

Working!! is definitely an enjoyable watch for a lot of people. The strange characters will probably put some people off, as will the genre in general. Until I see Azumanga Diaoh, this is my recommendation as a more accessible Lucky Star as it doesn't have the specific knowledge gags and is set in a more open environment. Working!! is great for a lot of laughs, big grins, and plenty of chuckles, but also has some sweeter 'awww' moments as well. I'd advise watching this not only for the fun you'll have whilst doing so, but to see some of the more ridiculous character personalities you'll come across on TV.

Plot 8/10
Animation 8/10
Sound 8/10
Enjoyment 9/10
Overall 33/40
Grade B+

- Unique and loveable characters
- Great use of location for the show
- Characters maybe a little too out there for some

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