Servant X Service – 13 (End) and Series Review

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Servant X Service closes with an excellent finale that amounts to a celebration of small victories.

This is another one of those Summer series that ended up being quite a bit different than my initial impressions, but generally succeeded in what it set out to do.  No question Servant X Service was an uneven show, both in terms of the cast and the plot, but more often than not it managed to be solidly entertaining.  At its best, it rode the strength of its central pairing to be one of the better romantic comedies of recent anime vintage.

Endings are never easy, but I think this one was pretty much an unvarnished success.  The main reason is that it struck a nice balance between realism and absurdity, something S x S didn’t always manage to do, and avoided any unrealistic leaps in the progress of Lucy x Hasabe without leaving us totally starved for development.  And it addressed the cliffhanger it raised last week (the fact of who approved Lucy’s name being pretty much a foregone conclusion, the real suspense being how she’d react to knowing) rather than take the cheap anime route of punting on it (though it did satirize that route in the process).

There’s a certain amount of suspension of disbelief in this scenario, obviously – for the fact that a parent would name their child thusly, and that the child would be so obsessed with taking revenge on the wrong person.  After all, it’s really Lucy’s parents who’re to blame for this when push comes to shove, not the hapless Hasebe Pater who merely gave his assent (note: since writing this post I went back and re-watched Episode 1 to see if that character had been played by who I thought it was – he was – and noticed that way back then Hasebe flat-out said, “You should confront your parents first!”).  But that’s OK – I’ve been asked to believe in a lot more ridiculous conceits in character comedies, and this one is genuinely funny, so they pretty much had me at “hello”.  And the reality is that this is a pretty huge Sword of Damocles hanging over the prospects of Hasebe and Lucy’s future, much to Hasebe’s dismay and Chihaya’s glee.

The twist in all this is that it was – sort of – Yutaka’s fault.  Turns out he was in the hospital with a cold (yes, they often do that here) the day his Dad signed the papers, and the elder Hasebe was too distracted to kick up much of a fuss about the name.  Again, you and I (and Lucy, as it happens) can see that Hasebe Jr. is even less to blame than his Dad, but the premise is what it is, and in context Yutaka’s dismay and hesitation is understandable.  Incidentally, I still wonder what’s going on with Kaoru’s fiancee – I couldn’t help but notice that his identity was hidden from us yet again (too drunk to meet Yutaka, being carried off to bed) – I suppose it’s either a red herring or a teaser for whatever comes next…

In any event, Hasebe Sr. (played hilariously by the relentlessly superb chameleon Namikawa Daisuke) turns out to be an interesting fellow – he describes Lucy as “a hippie name if ever I heard one”, which sets him off talking about the weird names that crossed his desk all those years ago.  His “Wow!” reaction to Yutaka’s spit-take is probably the funniest moment of the episode.  Ironically it’s Chihaya who ends up taking the impetus to break the logjam back at the office – mainly because it irritates the hell out of her to see Hasebe Jr. moping around feeling sorry for himself.  There’s also a nice bit of scripting here as Hasebe’s dilemma is neatly tied in with Ichimiya’s, when the latter gives his kouhai some good advice – just go ahead and get it over with – that his “girlfriend” is only too pleased to remind him he should have followed himself.

I can’t say I find fault at all with the ultimate moment of reckoning for Lucy and Hasebe.  It was just right – the somewhat silly premise was treated with the seriousness it deserved in the context of the story, but with humor, and I thought the way both of them behaved was in-character.  Lucy continues to blame herself for everything, which Hasebe doesn’t want, but of course he doesn’t want her to blame him either.  Ultimately he spits it out more or less by accident, and Lucy reacts like the trooper she is – she sees right to the logic of the situation, that Yutaka is not to blame in any way, shape or form.  In fact, by insisting he “take responsibility” and keep calling her Lucy, she’s effectively confessing – which may be what drives him to try a full-on confession himself, only to be interrupted by a succession of idiots (Tanaka Jyouji, Touko and Kanon, Momoi) which the others do their best to deflect.

I never really expected we’d get to a formal confession-acceptance here, so I’m not that disappointed we didn’t get one. We got enough, I think – Yutaka’s feelings are openly stated, and Lucy’s just about so, and despite her “not yet” (which is surely a lot different from “no”) I think the handwriting is on the wall.  Heck, he even got her email address at-last, that has to count for something.  Lucy’s been carrying around the name grudge her whole life and using it as a crutch to explain away all her social issues, so it’s only logical that she needs some time to come to terms with no longer having that crutch to lean on.  As for the rest of the potential romantic pairings, I’m glad there wasn’t more push with Saya and Jyouji – even the two of them going out to dinner so she could scold him was too much – and I certainly didn’t expect Ichimiya to walk the walk and tell Touko the truth.

There’s an obvious temptation to compare Servant X Service with Working!, and I think I’d asses my feelings this way: Working! was the superior comedy, but S x S is the superior romance.  Over the course of two seasons Working! certainly delivered the big laughs more consistently, and mined the workplace aspect for more of the humor than Servant X Service has.  I was surprised by how much of S x S’ appeal ended up being on the romance side – but then, it also happened to have probably my favorite romantic pairing of 2013 so far, so while it isn’t what I initially expected I’m certainly not complaining.  Given that this series features cute teenage girls far less than Working! it’s not surprising that it hasn’t been as much of a commercial blockbuster, but it’s doing pretty well – well enough for another season to be a real possibility, except that it’ll be a couple of years before there’s enough source material for it to be an option.  Perhaps we’ll see an OVA in 2014.

The fact is, appealing romantic relationships between adults are exceedingly rare in anime.  While there are certainly other strong elements in S x S – Saya’s character and her ability to lob perfectly-aimed missiles without even intending to especially grew on me over the course of the series – this show is really all about Hasebe and Lucy.  Adults they are, and it’s incredibly refreshing to see their relationship play out free of the trappings of a high-school setting.  But they’re also at the stage if adulthood where they’re still learning who they are.  Hasebe is living a kind of half-asleep life as a talented slacker who doesn’t let himself feel anything too deeply, and Lucy is struggling under the weight of her massive lack of self-confidence.  They’re perfect for each other, really, and that fact becomes apparent the more they interact with each other.  Their conversations were some of the most natural and gently amusing of any couple in anime, and each of them works well as a character, not just as part of a set.  This pairing is a winner, plain and simple, and it’s the best thing about Servant X Service, and one of the best about the entire season.

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ED Sequence:

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19 comments

  1. K

    I knew it! It's a robot!

  2. WHo – Momoi? That reveal happened several eps ago, didn't it?

  3. t

    great episode, the best of SxS so far and proper finale. it was funny and sweet.
    at first glance I thought that the series won't be something more than average one, though I liked the concept of civil work. but slowly everything started to the develop – characters and mostly romance. and everything merge into this.. fabric of SxS.
    As I understand season 2 is very far…anyway I probably won't go this far to read 4-koma manga. but I;d like for season 2/ova/something one day.
    I'll miss the show. it had romance and comedy, and I really started to like all those..peculiarity of every character.

    great review Enzo 🙂

  4. i

    I liked Hasebe from the get go but I never really warmed to Lucy till today. This was her moment for me to mature and she succeeded brilliantly. If she did an anime trapping and freaked out or went tsundere or ignored him for a while to lengthen the plot I would have flipped my eyes higher than I ever did with AoT but as she didn't I'm real glad.

    I also like how three more sane people stopped the three less ones, even Ichimiya doing something for once. And Kaoru's finance looks pretty obviously like someone we know.

    Overall I think its a show that's one half good romcom and the other shouldn't be discussed. But I would really rather have a Working S2 than a SxS S2. The former is just real funny all the time while the latter is cute half the time.

  5. Well, you had a Working S2 already, 2 years ago – so you should be pretty happy!

  6. H

    I liked this show more than Working!!, mostly because I really disliked the introduction of Yamada, and her presence thereafter. To me, she was far more of an 'off-the-shelf' character than Tohko was in this show, and almost everything about her annoyed me (including her 'stuck-in' presence in the OP). I also felt like this show did better to keep from making the characters just walking quirks.

    I know opinions differ about Tohko, but I think her character rallied significantly throughout the show, especially as you could see her inner fight between wanting the safe support of Taishi, and realizing that that's not the best for him and that she should rely on him less. It even felt like she was a somewhat different take on the brocon imouto with that conflict, because it showed introspection that you never see in that kind of character. About halfway through the series, she wasn't ruining scenes for me.

  7. A

    I just loved the part at the very end where the entire cast was all "Oh **** this! No way we're stretching this misunderstanding subplot for another season! IT ENDS HERE—!!"

    It was fun to see an early established romance from something that isn't a shoujo. Let's hope for another season of Kiritsugu plushy in a tie.

  8. R

    *Sigh* Another good anime that just ends in the middle. I can't wait two years or more, if a second season even comes into existence, I'm going to have to read the manga. It makes me sad when studios adapt ongoing manga with so little material.

    P.S. I just saw your notification about Pupa, if the episodes are only five minutes long I'm going to cry ;_;

  9. G

    I liked the series but had to do a facepalm when the father remembered the name of a girl that came across his desk one day like 15 – 18 years ago. Thats like me asking you what you had for lunch on July 12, 1998?

  10. To be fair, that's a pretty weird-ass name. And for that job, that's probably like the most exciting day ever.

  11. C

    Just like my RL name, people remembers registering my name at school because it has a different spelling than what is usual people use.

  12. E

    Huh? Of course he would remember. I don't remember what did I eat on July 12th 1998, but I sure remember when I ate monkey's meat for the first time… and the last time!

  13. R

    Servant X Service was one of my most anticipated shows before the season started. Throughout the course, it has its ups and downs, and I have come to like Uchouten, Watamote, and Rozen Maiden more than S x S. Having said that though, overall I am satisfied, and I like the finale. I love the dialogue and the mutual confession between Lucy and Yukata, and I laughed when Saya, Ichimiya, and Chihaya went out of their way to stop the "intruders". I like how the show poked fun on SSY by playing the tune from Dvorak's New World Symphony at the end of the work day, and I love seeing Yukata getting all bubbly again.

    I thought S x S was a sitcom, but it turns out to be a romcom. I don't mind it at all — I have always liked the chemistry between Lucy and Yutaka. Indeed, stories about romance between adults are rare these days — I think Natsuyuki Rendezvous was the last that I watched. Like you, Enzo, Saya grows on me. I like how perceptive and intelligent she is. She cares and is funny in her own way. I probably would have liked the show more if it gave us more of Saya and less of IchimiyaXChihaya.

    Of all the summer shows that I have followed, this is the third one that ended — so far so good. I will look forward to your series review on Rozan Maiden, and I am desperately waiting for Sunday to come — this is when my favourite show of the season, Uchouten, will come to end.

  14. Actually, that piece of music is used in Japan to mark "the end" quite a lot, including at some factories, offices and schools. I don't think it's a homage to SSY so much as a cultural reference.

  15. R

    I see. That's interesting.

  16. f

    NAMIDAI?! REALLY?!

  17. A

    I work for a Government department in CA and I was mind blown on how much most of the series is almost identical to how it is in my office. Office relationships, the slackoffs, the enviroment, hell even the whole Lucy x Hasebe plot :p.

    It was really refreshing and thoroughly enjoyed it. Really hoping there's a second season and this is coming from a person who doesn't normally watch anime :p

  18. R

    I find a little dissapointing sxs. It wasn't fun at all and the romance thing didn't get me.

  19. E

    Ichimiya is a black stain on this decent romance anime.
    I actually stopped watching this anime at episode 9, and only watched 4 remaining episodes in one go today.
    It's really infuriating to see him freaked out when Chihaya jumped on him. This guy is totally a gay!
    I know he's supposed to be one of this show's comedy / ridiculous character, but a comedy character should be likeable instead of hate-able,
    I could have rated this anime 9/10 if it weren't for this clown.

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