Here’s something I found out in the summer: Working!! is really good! I watched it after Servant x Service aired while finding myself wanting more in that style, and it scratched that itch and then some. What I really enjoyed about it is the way it handled romance. Between the pairings of Inami and Takanashi and Satou and Yachiyo, there was plenty of it to get behind, but of course with the added humour of one in each pair being completely oblivious to the other’s feelings, and everyone involved being utterly dysfunctional and weird.
And what was great was just how easy it was to root for them! Even though Takanashi was a bit of a jerk, I found myself desperately wanting for him to reciprocate Inami’s feelings because I had become invested enough in her character to just want to see her be all happy and stuff. Similarly with Satou and Yachiyo, except neither of them are jerks and oh wow they would be super cute together seriously. But because it was so easy to get invested in them like that, and because the context that these relationships in potentia were forged in was so lighthearted, it was also easy to have those feelings exploited and abused.
On a side note, I’m pretty sure Souma is the mangaka’s self-insert or author avatar. There’s no other way to explain the sadism of this series…
Working!! was cool and introduced these pairings, but it was the sequel – Working’!! – that doubled down on it and started really developing them. The style and presentation of the show had shifted a bit, and instead of feeling like a series of pseudo-skits it felt more observational in nature. Wagnaria felt like an actual restaurant where they were working and the characters felt like they would actually do things off camera, and with that enhanced believability came even greater emotional investment in the characters. But the asymmetric nature of the feelings involved and the lack of communication present meant that misunderstandings were inevitable, and, well, maybe it’s best I just describe the scenario.
It’s episode 4. Through a convoluted series of events Takanashi has started to believe that Inami is crushing on Satou, and is feeling something that we, the viewers, can see is (or rather, hope) is jealousy. But Takanashi already knows that Satou only has eyes for Yachiyo, and so decides to take some action so as not to see Inami disappointed. So he decides to have a talk with her while they walk home.
“You have a crush, don’t you?” “H-How do you know?” “Uh, anybody can tell.”
Oh god. You can tell what’s happening here, can’t you? Of course Inami thinks he’s talking about her long-held crush on him, and of course Takanashi has no idea about that and is talking about someone else.
And of course this conversation gets worse.
FUCK YOU WORKING’!!, THAT IS NOT PLAYING FAIR.
THAT IS CRUEL.
YOU CAN’T GET THAT CLOSE TO BREAKING INAMI’S HEART LIKE THAT IT’S JUST MEAN TO EVERYBODY.
What makes it worse is the pause. Between Takanashi saying that there’s already another girl and him finishing that fucking sentence with “that Satou likes” there’s like a 10 second pause. Or maybe it was 10 years; I DON’T KNOW, IT FELT SO FUCKING LONG. The tension, the horror and the pain of watching Inami have her heart start to break due to a simple misunderstanding, only for Takanashi to clear up the misunderstanding at the end of the sentence was nothing short of torture. Time slowed down. I stopped breathing, blinking and (heart) beating. It was so cruel.
The best part was watching the episode a second time at our anime society (we were showing Working!! this semester). During that pause, you could have heard a pin drop. Turns out everyone experienced the same sensations I did.
See what I mean when I say this show is fucking sadistic? This is the most brutal example, but the second season was not short of them by any means.
Obviously I’m not actually angry about any of this. It was utterly hilarious and the crazy amount of relief it gave afterwards was wonderful. How can I get angry at such masterful manipulation of my feelings? The execution was just too perfect. It’s just… fuck yooouuu, Working!!.
It does serve as a nice reminder of how easily and how deeply I can get emotionally invested in a bunch of fictional characters, even in a sit-com like Working!!.