My first exposure to anime licensed by NIS America was a show I recently reviewed called Yuru Yuri, a series I thought to be quite abysmal and an overall dud. There was no originality to the aforementioned series, it was bland, it had humorless characters and was overall just a bore and tiresome to get through. Wagnaria!! has pretty much the same concept, yet it just works. All of the characters are unique in their own ways, the humor is on point, the story, while completely episodic, was completely enjoyable throughout, something of which I did not expect to see going into it to be completely honest. A pleasant surprise indeed.
Wagnari!! or better known as Working!! takes place almost exclusively inside of a family restaurant (also called Wagnaria!!) The series is pretty much about the daily lives of the staff as they deal with their own problems along with keeping the restaurant up to par for the customers.
First lets meet the characters of Wagmaria!! 2 if you're not familiar with it. The show doesn't really have one specific main lead character, however if I had to pick one, it would be Takanashi (voiced by Jun Fukuyama), as he is pretty much the only lead character we see outside of the restaurant. Takanashi is pretty much your typical lead character, he's a high School student who is a bit awkward, and obviously has a crush on one of the other characters who works at the restaurant, Inami. Inami (voiced by Saki Fujita), is again your typical female lead, except that she has a terrible phobia known as Androphobia, for those that do not know the meaning of that, it's an intense fear toward men. Because of this phobia, pretty much every time she feels uncomfortable arund a guy, she'll punch them (comically, of course), usually it's Takanashi who gets this fate though. As I said before, Wagnaria!! is meant to be a complete ensemble, however this is the story of Takanashi and Inami's relationship. Over the course of the season, we see Inami become more comfortable towered men (primarily Takanshi.)
The other character along for the ride are Popura (voiced by Kana Asumi), a short, sensitive, and clumsy 17 year old girl who is ill tempered since she is constantly being made fun of about her height (especially from Sato), she is the one who got Takanashi his job. Sato (voice of Daisuke Ono), the head chef. Sato is extremely calm and laid back, he pretty much always speaks in a monotone voice and is constantly making fun of Popura for her height, he's also in love with Yachiyo, although he doesn't quite know how to express himself to her. Yachiyo (voice of Eri Kitamura) Sato's crush and best friend, she is chief of staff at Wagnaria!! and also acts as Kyoko's personal chef (pretty much.) Kyoko (voiced by Kumiko Watanabe) is the manager of Wagnaria!! She's almost never seen doing actual work, and usually IS seen eating Parfaits (only made by Yachiyo though), she saed Yachiyo as a child, and because of that she has felt indebted to Kyoko. Soma (voiced by Hiroshi Kamiya) is another laid back character chef, although the difference between Soma and Sato, is that Soma blackmails others into doing his work (and for fun), he's also a bit of a sadist. He was Inami's original punching bag before Takanashi showed up, and he has a crush on Aoi. Aoi (voiced by Ryō Hirohashi) is quite an enigma, not much is known about her background is the only person who has been able to get one over on Soma. because of this he has a crush on her. She is a constant troublemaker at Wagnaria!! and hopes to be adopted by the boss, Otoo. Maya (voiced by Akiko Kawase), the self proclaimed only normal person at Wagnaria!! She gets a considerable less amount of screen time out of the main cast. Lastly, Otoo (voiced by Jōji Nakata), like season 1, he only shows up in 2-3 episodes, he is still out looking for his wife.
With the characters introduced we get to the story of Wagnaria. There is no one simple plot in the series, instead it's comprised of 13 episodic stories with various recurring sub plots. The main sub plot of the series is the budding relationship between Takanashi and Inami. As hard as he tries to get her to warm up to him (and she secretly does, she just continues punching him because she likes to.) This is probably my favorite of all the side stories as it's nice to see some real development between the two.
Another somewhat prominent side story has 3 episodes of the season focus on Otoo's return to the restaurant, where for the most part he is usually hounded by Aoi. Ironically and hilarious, after he leaves, his long lost wife comes stumbling in looking for him, only to leave when she finds that he's not there. Lastly, we also have a side plot featuring Aoi's training with Sato, Aoi is a bit of a hadful and does not like to listen to others so she is a bit of a pain in his ass, it's entertaining to watch.
Since there is not much of a recurring plot and only a few stories featured in more than one episode, the series does rely on episodic storylines. A few of my favorites is actually based around the Sota/Popura dynamic, the first focuses on the rumor that Sato and Popura are dating (since they spend so much time together scolding each other.) The second is Popura is finally able to reach the time sheet on the wall, and Sota is pretty terrified at the concept of her growing taller, this event oddly puts everyone's life in perspective. Another episode that I quite enjoyed focuses on the cast trying to cure Inami's androphobia by having Takanashi dress up as a woman.
+ great cast of characters that carries the show. The chemistry between all of the characters is fantastic.
+ Great humor.
- Would have liked an overall and more focused/cohesive storyline.
Video and Audio
The animation quality of Wagnaria is consistently good, but not great. Each character for the most part has a unique look to them, however the unique designs are a bit hindered due to the lack of originality in the uniform designs (which he characters are always wearing, since almost no other scene takes place outside of the restaurant. The setting itself is pretty good, but again is limited to where the series takes place.
I always love the detail that goes into the exaggerated faces. The colors of the series are very bold and strong. The animation stays consistent and fluid throughout.
The only audio track available for this release is a 2.0 LPCM Japanese audio track. The acting is honestly quite great throughout with no one really giving a bad performance. the dialogue is clear throughout and their were never any moments with noticeable audio dropouts/distortions.
I love that NIS America goes through the effort that they do for physical extras, the art books are amazing, but I would like to see a bit more on disc features.
- A beautiful 36 page hard cover art book. The book features episode and character descriptions, sketches and artwork for the series.
- NIS America trailers.
- Textless Closing themes.
Wagnaria!! Season is a very strong show. The series features a varied cast of unique characters that have a great chemistry. Another aspect I liked about Wagnaria!! is almost every single character gets some form of development.Along with the solid set of characters, we get some really fun episodic stories and some great humor. Consider Wagnaria!! Season 2 recommended