Inami hairclip meter this week: leeks and baseball. And Maya makes her first post-ED appearance of the season – but sadly, still no check for Kawase Akiko.
It’s fair to say Working has been on a huge roll lately, and the last month of episodes might just be the best stretch in two seasons. This was another terrific one, maybe among the top three of four of either season. It was a nice blend of very funny comedy and some extremely deft character development. One of the remarkable things about this series is that, while it’s obviously fond of slapstick and sight-gags, almost of the humor is character-based. When you give yourself self a solid foundation, almost any kind of humor can work, and that’s the reason why Working has such an ability to vary the style of humor in any given episode.
I’m gratified to see some actual development by the characters, which is all too rare in comedy. To say I’ve grown fonder of Inami (and her relationship with Souta) is an understatement. She’s still not my favorite character but she’s so much more likable and attractive this season, having been toned down a lot and really making an effort to actually get better. I think it’s more clear than ever that Souta is returning the feelings she has for him, though he’s either too dense or too good at self-deception (I’m betting on the latter) to realize it. The first segment featuring Popura and Yamada trying to help Inami make more progress with her androphobia was loaded with good moments, not the least of which was seeing Inami as a reverse trap. Of course that simply consisted of putting on Souta’s uniform, poor girl – she didn’t even need to make any more adjustments. The sharing of a set of clothes is an indirect kiss of an altogether different sort than what we’re used to seeing.
I really enjoyed the sequence where Inami and Souta exchanged texts. First of all, Izumi’s reaction to seeing her brother anxiously awaiting a text was perfectly in character and a little disturbing – she horrified at the notion that he would have a girlfriend because he might not take care of her forever. It’s hard not to feel sorry for him with that family of his (thought Nazuna’s A-OK) and understand his tiny fetish. Also hilarious was Inami melting her phone with body heat after Takaniashi suggesting they become texting buddies. The payoff was a classic Working moment – when Inami sends him a picture of a kitten, total misunderstanding sets in with Izumi and Nazuna assuming he’s so happy because he got a picture of a cute kitten, but Souta (tellingly) more happy that Inami had texted him. Izumi’s “I’m so happy my brother is a pervert!” might have been the best line of dialogue in the episode, even if it wasn’t spoken aloud. The sequence of all the eyecatches cycling through while Souta was waiting for the text was a great sight-gag, too.
Not to be forgotten, Yamada has her moments in the spotlight this week too. She was the one who gave Inami Souta’s uniform in the first place, and the one who pushes her to force herself to interact with the men of Wagnaria because according to the “Yamada Guinness” Inami’s no-punch record is meaningless if she’s just avoiding males (and actually, she’s right). Alas, this leads to poor Daisy literally getting the stuffing knocked out of her, as the bear sacrifices itself in order to keep Inami’s no-punch streak (and Souma’s face) from being shattered. Yamada’s façade of being “grown-up” has no such luck, as it’s shattered when she’s accidentally locked out of Wagnaria and cries for her Mommy. Fortunately Satou returns for reasons we’re never told, and drives her to Popura’s house. He even keeps her secret about crying for her mother – though not about the crying. For this she gives him a present – though we never do find out what it is…
Looks like we’re set up for all sorts of interesting things in next week’s finale. Kirio drops in this week and even had a sort of détente with Souta, and with Yamada’s “Mommy moment” I wonder if we’re going to see them meet at last. Popura and Yamada witness the most tender Inami-Souta moment yet, and this one doesn’t even end ironically – that relationship looks primed to advance to the next level. But most disturbingly, the title of the last episode is “Farewell Popura”. She is a senior, and I suppose she’d be headed off to college soon – but damn, even though she isn’t vital to very many plots I would really miss her. Popura is an amazingly lovable person – one of the best examples of the plucky tiny girl anywhere in anime. She’s the heart of the series in that she’s the one person everyone else can rely on, she gets along with everyone and she’s unfailingly kind. The inevitable third season would be diminished if she weren’t a part of it.