“Serious” is a relative term when it comes to Working, but this episode definitely was one of the more restrained in the series’ canon. The eps focused on the Takanashi family situation often feel at a remove from the rest of the series, and they can be among the most madcap or the most low-key. It took me a few moments to remember who everyone was and what their respective quirks were, but once I did it came back to me why Nazuna is the only one of this quartet of sisters I really like.
If Souta’s mother has been mentioned in the first two seasons it’s slipping my mind (and I still don’t think his father has). Mom at least is alive, if unseen – and when she wants to find out what’s going on with her children, she sends Minagishi Tooru (Yuusa Koji). This being Working the odds were always good he was going to be some kind of freak, and it turns out he’s a masochist. He currently gets most of his kicks being abused by the Takanashi mom, but the really good stuff comes from his ex-wife – who just happens to be Souta’s eldest sister Kazue (the lawyer).
This is all very weird, and frankly not all that funny – but in its defense, not all of it was meant to be. Souta is naturally roped into doing the dirty work of meeting Minagashi (though in this one instance I can understand Kazue’s reluctance), and that meeting is strangely uncomfortable to watch. The most telling moment comes at the end of the sketch when Izumi (the hikikomori mangaka second sister) notes to Souta that as weird as Minagishi is, it’s still better than actually seeing their mother – to which he replies “Much better.” I don’t know what Mom’s story is (I suspect we’ll find out) but she must be a real piece of work.
The B-part is considerably more light-hearted, focusing on Souta’s glasses, Kozue’s drinking and Satou’s abortive love life. A chance collision between Souta and Popura prompts Yamada to remark on how his glasses must be super-strength to have survived so many punches from Inami, but after she lightly “daisy punches” him they shatter like Satou’s resolve. Being nearly blind without them, Souta (after the horrifying mistake of scolding Popura and petting Yamada) decides to refrain from any interaction until he’s gotten close enough to the other person to be sure of their identity. Stop me if you can see where this is headed.
I was quite sure we were headed for the end of a refreshingly long streak of no violence from Inami (and her pig harpin) directed at Souta, but miraculously he dodges the bullet. I’m tempted to chalk this up as further evidence of progress on her part (and she has made progress) but does fainting before you can punch really count as progress? As for Satou’s resolve, Kozue’s public drunkenness gives him a perfect opening to ask the libationally-virgin Yachiyo out for a drink, but sadly he bails – much to the irritation of Souma. Souma may be the ultimate troll, but his interest in seeing Satou get ahead romantically seems actually to be genuine – though whether that’s a positive for Satou is certainly open to debate…
ED: “Matsuge ni LOCK (まつ毛にLOCK)” by Fukuyama Jun, Ono Daisuke and Kamiyya Hiroshi