The episodes featuring the Takanashi sisters (I asked for one, I got one) are always a bit of a mixed bag for me. Their screwed-up antics are generally good for some laughs, but I always end up feeling terrible for Souta. Of the four of them – stern and dour eldest Kazue (Shiraishi Ryoko), sickly and dependent novelist Izumi (Hikasa Youko), shiftless drunkard Kozue (Itou Shizuka) and preternaturally tall grade-schooler Nazuna (Saitou Momoko) – only the youngest fails to treat Souta like utter crap. He cooks for them, cleans for them, and generally endures their abuse with the grace (and spinelessness) only an anime male lead could muster.
At the same time, though, they’re so screwed up that I find it impossible not to be entertained by their dysfunction. “Little” Nazuna is clearly the keeper of the litter – the sanest, kindest and hardest-working – but even she contributes to the nonsense. She’s convinced herself that her brother is a masochist who enjoys being pummeled by Inami. Through a cellphone picture she’s convinced Izumi that Souta is dating Popura, who Izumi (understandably) thinks is a grade-schooler. And while working for free at the restaurant as part of a “project” (I’d be looking for a different elementary school) she gets swept up in the insanity surrounding Yamada and Popura. She’s clever, though – the way she totally snowed them by calling them “Senpai” and “Onee-san” was one of the highlights of the episodes.
So living with three abusive and self-indulgent older sisters who think he’s either a pedophile or an M, it’s no wonder working at Waganria! and occasionally being punched by Inami doesn’t seem so bad to Souta. The goings-on there were relatively tame this week, with so much focus on the sisters, but with Yamada around there will always be silliness. My favorite Aoi moment of the episode was when she told Inami that “Future Yamada” would be able to change the register tape. Perhaps the biggest overall laugh though was the largely silent scene at the end where Izumi “gathered her strength” to try and stop her brother from following the lolicon path.
Again, not a lot of huge laughs, and this certainly wasn’t among the elite episodes the series has offered. But “Working” has a way of sucking you into its odd, skewed mindset and the rhythm of events on screen that makes small moments funnier than they have any right to be.