Pure comedy is almost always a question of balance. Without artificial (or legitimate) drama or the spine of an overriding story to fall back on, comedy simply has to get the balance of all its elements just right to make you laugh. In the end, generally speaking, it’s either funny or it isn’t. With Working – which at heart is basically a show about people giving each other a hard time – it’s not just a question of balancing the various cast members, but (as is so common in anime comedy) of getting the tone just right. A balance has to be struck between meanness and genuine affection, and you can see countless examples of how this same dynamic plays out in shows like Minami-ke, Shinryaku Ika Musume and Mitsudomoe.
Generally speaking Working has done a very good job of keeping things in balance. Without a doubt the second half of the first season focused too heavily on Inami and her tiresome attacks on Takanashi. What really encourages me about the second season is that so far at least, the tone has been just right. All of the characters have had their moments to shine (well, maybe not “regular girl” Maya), and the tone has been edgy but not outright nasty. Popura and Yamada – who at this point I would say might be the funniest members of a very funny cast – have had ample comedic payoffs, and that’s good for the show. I especially enjoyed Yamada this week – here determination to “devour Otoo’s retirement was perfectly in character, and her epic fail at breast fondling when Inami walked into the room made me laugh as hard as I did at any point in the episode.
Some might argue that things are a bit stagnant, as there doesn’t appear to be too much “growth” among the cast. But this series is all about the quirks, and I find the quirks to be very funny and charming. I love the interplay between Satou and Popura as he tortures her over her height. I love the way Souma has a way of creeping out everyone with his vaguely dangerous weirdness, all the while with a big smile on his face. Yamada’s mooning over Otoo was a nice addition this week, too – we didn’t see them interact too often last season (not that we say all that much of Ooto period). Yamada is one of those characters that really straddles the line between annoying and loveable pretty hard – she’s definitely a manipulator and a slacker, but there’s just enough genuine innocence to her to make it tolerable.
Besides, I do think we’re seeing some slow growth. Inami really isn’t as bad as she was, though I still find her the least funny and likable cast member. I much prefer the notion of Takanashi and Popura pairing off, though I don’t think we’re going to get any real romance in this series – just a lot of unrequited love. Here’s hoping we see more of Takanashi’s crazy sisters soon, as that was a terrific side plot in the first season and a nice change of pace.