I started off a little peeved that the Yamada siblings’ storyline was going to be shoved aside this week, but it didn’t last too long as the series delivered another excellent episode. The last month has been the strongest of the season, which (with an exception we’ll get to in a minute) has done a very nice job of finding ways to feature everyone in the main cast. There was a little something for almost everyone this week, including Kozue. She seems to be carving a bit of a role for herself as a standalone character rather than just a participant in the episodes that feature Souta at home. She got heavily involved in the shenanigans here, and got off one of the more memorable lines of the episode – “Marry me so we can start dating!”
That line was directed towards the hapless Youhei, who along with sister Mitsuki was back (for no obvious reason) to stir the pot and generally add a welcome dose of idiocy to events. These siblings are certainly bakas, but their stupidity is of a slightly different flavor than the other idiots in the cast so they feel fresh. Their eps always find a way to cast a little spotlight on Yachiyo and Kyoko as well, though the tie-in with Kozue – distraught over having been dumped again because she was too violent (there’s a shock) was a nice twist. Full credit to Souta for having the compassion to try and steer Youhei well clear of Kozue, but it looks as if the hook might have been in too deep.
The best part of the episode – both in terms of quality and screen time – was dedicated to the Sato/Yachiyo subplot. That’s always nice to see and it’s been pretty quiet this season, but this was the finest episode of either season to focus on that pairing. It must be the week to focus on teens being oddly ignorant about technology, because on the heels of Haganai 07 we find out that Yachiyo is generally a technophobe when Satou’s cell phone terrifies her by vibrating. Souma – helpful for once – suggests Satou take her out shopping for a phone, and it was rather sweet to see the two of them spend an afternoon together. I don’t think I realized quite the depth of Yachiyo’s naiveté until now – not only about cell phones, but about romance and seemingly any normal human interaction in general. Under the spiteful gaze of the overprotective Mitsuki Satou finally has some face time with Yachiyo, who seems genuinely grateful but stabs him through the heart by quite literally friend-zoning him. It’s hard to know quite what to make of Yachiyo’s romantic inclinations – her obsession with Kyoko really might just be pure hero-worship and not romantic. If anything, Mitsuki seems to have more “traditional” romantic feelings for the boss.
Also getting some spotlight time is Yamada, who’s probably delivered more laughs per minute than anyone else this season. Yamada has emerged as a character that seemingly can’t not be funny – her very presence is amusing, and when she actually opens her mouth… With her facial gymnastics and feckless sincerity, she’s a riot, and she really had me in stitches when she indignantly recited a litany of Souta’s faults (which were actually good qualities) before proclaiming “I wish he’d marry me!”. Competition for Inami? Well, Yamada seems almost sincere in her desire to do better and please Souta this time, and he’s very sincere when he tells her he’s so hard on her because as a runaway, she needs to learn to fend for himself. Alas, the moment is spoiled when he finds “Takanashi is an idiot and wears glasses” written in her notebook. Working is great at creating moments and deflating them, as witness the tender scene of Satou draping his jacket over Yachiyo and watching her sleep and mutter his name – only to find she’s telling dream Satou all about how cool Kyoko is.
If I’m to gripe (apart from the trolling with Yamada’s brother) it would be about the lack of Popura. It’s interesting that the second season seems to have developed exactly as the first did in this way: Popura was heavily involved in the first couple of episodes, but after that was rarely center-stage. For whatever reason, Working seems to have a tough time finding ways to involve Popura in actual plots. She’s always present, and she has isolated comedic reactions and acts as a buffer between her squabbling friends or as a foil for Souta’s tiny fetish. But in terms of real Popura storylines, the cupboard is almost bare. I wonder why that is – it’s really too bad, because she’s a wonderful character and I’d love to know more about her.