Merry Christmas, Kawase Akiko-san.
Inami’s hairclip meter was only one item long this time – the fork and spoon. And the whole “Farewell Popura” thing turned out to be a troll, as did the Kirio arc. But you know, I don’t mind a bit because the final episode of Working’s second season was superb – the perfect mix of big laughs and solid character stuff that marks this show at its best. And at its best is just where Working has been for most of the last couple of months, with the best run of episodes in either season. And if all that weren’t enough, we got the longest stomach growl ever, and by far our largest helping of Matsumoto Maya-san.
It’s sort of sad that Popura seems to only be the focus of the first and last episodes of a season, because she’s a fantastic character and she was in her full glory this week. What I liked was that the episode got the tone of her “departure” just right – she really is the heart of Wagnaria, and the rest of the crew only fully realized it when there appeared to be a real chance of her leaving. Of course that misunderstanding was – as usual – the fault of Yamaa, who made a Yama-dash! straight to the conclusion that Popura was quitting to focus on school when she was nowhere close to deciding that. Yamada was also relishing her role as the “Queen of the Breakage Report”, and she spoke with her full authority in confirming that the height of the report hadn’t been changed, and appearing to also confirm that Popura had gotten taller.
Of course, the notion that Popura might be growing up had the expected devastating effect on Souta. This prompted arguably the funniest exchange of the episode, as Souma produced a photo of Popura straining on tiptoes to reach the report, for which Satou rightly called him “creepy”. Souta upped the creepy ante by responding to Satou’s worry that he’d blow up the picture and hang it in his room by saying no, he’d shrink it down so Popura would be even smaller and cuter. What was surprising was the devastating impact the notion of Popura’s planned departure had on Satou, who wistfully recalled all the hair-based tortures he’d inflicted on her, and how she always came back the next day with a smile on her face and the indignities forgotten. He even tried to substitute Maya for Popura – rolling a cucumber in one of her curls – but the effect just wasn’t the same.
This was by far the most Maya has been involved in the plot in either season, and I have to say, I think she’s more than “normal cute” and I wouldn’t mind seeing her be a “real” regular next season. True the “normal” gags might get old – though the “normal” conversation between Souma and Satou was pure win. But her relative normalcy is very funny as a contrast to the others without it being specifically referred to, and we’ve seen some tantalizing hints of the ways she might not be so normal after all. Not only did she provide the impetus for Popura’s decision to stay – the perfectly logical advice to keep working as long as her grades didn’t drop – but she even had an interaction with Kirio, calling him a weirdo for running up in a white jacket and asking if she was his sister – and then saying it’d be fine if was wearing a black jacket. Hmm…
I’ve been impressed as hell with the run this show has been on, and the last six episodes or so where so good that they might just have nudged this season past the first overall. It’s great to see a season end with a meaty and relevant episode that feels a little “special”, yet still perfectly carries the essential spirit of the show. A little progress was made between Inami and Souta, though they didn’t dominate the episode, and all the regular cast – even the luckless Otoo, who managed to make an appearance without anything bizarre happening to him – was a part of the fun. Of course not much was really “settled”, but life at Wagnaria goes on, and I strongly suspect we haven’t seen the last of the funniest workplace in anime.