「ぽうらの意地」 (Popura no Iji)
Just like its first season, the sequel to Working pre-airs its first episode a month ahead of its scheduled fall season start. The opening and ending sequences along with their themes “COOLISH WALK” and “Itsumo no you ni LOVE & PEACE!!” were similarly withheld for the regular premiere, but this was otherwise a full 24-minute dose of all things Wagnaria once again — now with an apostrophe in the title. Watching this episode really took me back to Spring 2010, back when I was all fired up about the new RandomC and blogging everything that I was watching. Sometimes, it’s hard to believe how far the site’s come since then, but more importantly, I seem to have a new and somewhat twisted outlook on a slice-of-life show like Working after watching another year and a half of anime. While there’s a real sense of nostalgia, allowing me to quickly get into all the characters’ goofy antics, I find that my ears are playing tricks on me, having heard all the seiyuu in a bunch of different roles since Working aired.
Take Satou Jun (Ono Daisuke) and Souma Hiroomi (Kamiya Hiroshi) for example. It wasn’t really apparent at the time when Durarara was airing alongside the first season of Working, but now I can really picture Heiwajima Shizuo and Orihara Izaya bumping heads in the kitchen whenever I hear them talk. Hiroomi even serves as the “information broker” of Wagnaria, taking a lot of enjoyment messing with the other staff. (Yes, you will grow taller if you eat dried lizards Popura.) The obvious similarity to Izaya actually adds a new level of personal enjoyment when our androphobic Inami Mahiru (Fujita Saki, the voice of vocaloid Hatsune Miku) almost laid the beat down on him. Then there’s Todoroki Yachiyo (Kitamura Eri), who’s nothing like this season’s Suzutsuki Kanade in Mayo Chiki, yet the sadistic master comes to mind immediately due to her tendency of putting up an innocent facade. In conjunction with Fukuyama Jun and Asumi Kana in the lead roles — the self-proclaimed “minicon” Takanashi Souta and his petite senpai Taneshima Popura — plus Hirohashi Ryou as Yamada Aoi, an outlet for well-warranted mistreatment, I find there’s a lot of enjoyment to be had from the shows within the show if you’ve seen your fair share of anime and have an ear for the seiyuu involved.
As for Working itself, this first episode took a more relaxed approach to reintroduce all the character nuances by centering around a fairly dead day at Wagnaria. At its core, we had Popura’s complex about her height, which got her into a one-sided fight with Souta. It’s been well over a year now, but the focus on Popura still felt like a nice change-up to all the attention that Mahiru normally gets — so much that she was completely forgotten about until the very end. Hats off to Souta for speaking his mind about Mahiru while distraught over their carefree manager Shirafuji Kyouko (Watanabe Kumiko) killing a bug before his very eyes. I say if he’s going to get hit anyway, he may as well return the favor in some way. As longtime readers may recall, I wasn’t too enthralled about all the attention that Mahiru got back in season one, mainly because her androphobia never seems to improve, so an episode about Popura (and to some degree Aoi) is a welcomed start to the second season. It’s always fun to see Jun join in on the innocent teasing, like when he made a point of how the sheet for broken glasses/plates posted up high isn’t good for Popura’s neck. It was also amusing to learn that Jun helped Popura reconcile with Souta not for their sake but his own, fearing that there would be no one to save them from Mahiru if Souta were to quit.
All in all, this was a fun episode that has me looking forward to the fall season next month. (Now if only I can get through the rest of the fall preview.) There was a small cameo of Otoo-san’s missing wife too, Otoo Haruna (Iwao Junko), with milk in hand. (She has a horrible sense of direction and went missing when she went out to pick up milk.) Hopefully that was a sign of things to come, which could also be said about Matsumoto Maya.
* In case you don’t recognize them and/or can’t read their names, the cast messages at the beginning and end of this pre-airing featured from left to right, Hirohashi Ryou, Asumi Kana, and Kitamura Eri.