That wasn’t an especially funny episode of Working, but it was undeniably interesting. Especially if you’re a fan of Satou and Yachiyo, whose relationship has gotten more play in the last two episodes than it did in the first season and a half combined. And it’s an odd one, not as intrinsically funny as the one between Souta and Inami but fascinating in its own way. It doesn’t generate much comedy, which is sort of a problem I suppose, but it’s always nice to see Satou’s façade crack once in a while. He actually smiled towards the end of this episode, which is perhaps the golden unicorn of “Working” – if it’s happened more than once or twice before, I can’t remember it.
Perhaps the most puzzling element isn’t even Satou’s sphinx-like implacability, but Yachiyo’s true feelings in all this. By all accounts she’s a one-woman girl, interested in Kyouko and Kyouko only. Nevertheless, there have been hints scattered throughout the two seasons that she feels something beyond friendship for Satou. They’re always subject to debate, but they’re obviously intentional. Her reaction to overhearing his “I’m interested – is that a problem?” to the always-annoying Mashiba #2 was one such puzzler. Why did this bother her so, when she thought he was talking about being interested in Mashiba? It’s the latest in a long line of such hints, and I think the real issue is that Yachiyo is so naïve and awkward about anything relationship-centric that she has no clue what she’s feeling herself. For my money, she definitely likes him – she’s just not sure how to process that. As for Satou himself, it was rewarding to see him take Popura’s suggestion that he “put some pressure on himself” and force himself to take action on his feelings – though whether he’d follow through on his pledge to quit if his conquest fails we can’t be sure. That’s about as close as we’ve seen Popura to actually being involved in the plot for ages, too.
There were two other threads this week, and though they deal with characters who are normally good for some big laughs – Takanashi’s sisters and Yamada – they both fell curiously flat. The first involved Yamada’s missing teddy bear Daisy (the one Souma bought for her when they were hiding from Kirio at the mall). In the end Satou has simply tossed into attic so she wouldn’t lose it, which really isn’t much of a payoff considering the buildup. The second was a sort of “day-in-the-life” of Takanashi Nazuna. It had some cute moments, but I’ve grown to like Nazuna and the sisters more when they’re at Wagnaria than when they’re off in their own parceled-off space at home. Probably the comedic highlight was Kozue forgetting to wear pants when giving Nazuna an aikido lesson. Of course, the undercurrent is that Souta continues to be dismayed at Nazuna’s continued physical development – to the point where every glass of milk she drinks fills him with dread.
We’ve only got two episodes left, but it doesn’t really feel like we’re getting anywhere close to an ending. Indeed, I’d be just as unsurprised to see a third season as I was to see a second – this continues to be a popular series with good BD/DVD sales, and the manga is still ongoing – give it a year or so and I’m sure A-1 will give us another go-around. So I’m not too worried that we’re nowhere close to seeing any of the loose ends tied up, although I will be a trifle annoyed if they leave the saga of the Yamada siblings unresolved, especially if they don’t at least follow up on the wholly unsatisfying way they’ve left it.