This was easily the best episode of this season (just look at all the caps I took), and has to rank among the very best Working episodes to date. Pretty much wire to wire hilarity from start to finish, with lots of clever plot twists and excellent comedy drawn from verbal, physical and character sources. I knew from the OP that we were going to be meeting a new character this week, which is a fairly unusual event for this series to begin with. He’s Kirio Yamada (Satoshi Hino – interesting trivia, he was born in San Francisco), and it was obvious from the OP and his appearance that he’d be connected with Yamada. He’s looking for his missing sister, and in true Yamada fashion decided the best way to do it is to hide in an alley and grope every passing girl to see if she’s the right one. This is course brands him – I’m not so sure inaccurately – as a stalker.
Everything involving Kirio was a blast, starting with the fact that he and his sister both chose the same fake name. There’s probably a story behind that, but it just goes to show how baka that family is, and when Souta declares that Yamada Aoi isn’t his sister because the Yamada in her name is undoubtedly fake, he’s short-changing the idiocy than runs in the family gene pool. Kirio also provides a great showcase for Inami, who’s never been more charming than she was here. Obviously I like her better when she’s not punching guys, but almost is good is when they – like Kirio – can block her punches. It starts out funny when Inami’s friends send her into the alley to beat up the molester and just gets better from there, perhaps peaking with her hiding behind a light pole and trying to act scared. Kirio may be immune to her punches but not her charms – the poor boy is smitten immediately.
The ep is full of great gags, and pretty much everybody gets a turn. When a worried Popura sends Souta out to the alley to check on Inami, he witnesses her friendly interaction with Kirio, and this sends him into a funk that has all his co-workers very worried. My favorite subtle moment here was when Souma pretended he knew what was going on with Souta, rather than see his reputation as a deviant information broker be tarnished, but the whole sequence was full of win. Souta goes home and spends all night reading dog training books, trying to figure out why he’s so upset about all this (which is something of a continuation from last week in any case). He even has the dreaded conversation with Nazuna about whether he’s an “M” – not realizing that she’s been assuming all along he was. Of course my guess is that Souta is really worried he’s upset for another reason altogether, one even more terrifying than being a masochist.
As if all that comedy weren’t enough, there’s an extended post-credit sequence that puts a hilarious cap on the episode. Kazue visits Wagnaria again and once Popura has plied her with enough beer, she takes it upon herself to dress all the waitresses in nekomimi and puppy costumes, arguing that it will provide the restaurant a distinctive element and a competitive advantage. Obviously it’s a hoot to see Yamada and Popura – who look they were born to it – in their respective costumes, but the highlight is watching Souta and Satou react to Inami and Yachiyo in their outfits. True to himself, Souta tells Inami that it’s cute – if she were ten years younger.
I’ve enjoyed every ep of Working this season, as they’ve all offered consistently amusing atmospherics and the occasional top-drawer gag. It’s been good stuff, but this was the first time the series has shifted into a higher gear and delivered on every level. The character pieces were spot-on, the pacing was perfect, and the sight-gags and verbal banter were flawless. We even got what looks to be a very interesting new character added to the mix, and I think Kirio is going to change the dynamic in a way that’s full of possibilities. How will Yamada react to her brother, for one thing? And of course he looks to be a potential rival for Inami’s affections, forcing Souta to come clean with his feelings at the very least. Kiro is definitely “Yamada” blood – he’s somewhat daft, cute and unfailingly earnest. He’s also got the ability to block the falcon punch and judging by the preview, he’s apparently girl-crazy. The madness should continue when he visits the restaurant next week.