Well – that was the second straight “wow” episode of Working for me. Not so much for how good they were, though they were good (especially this one) but for just how much things moved along. I admit there’s a certain part of me that’s sad that the amiable time-wasting of most of the first two seasons has taken a back seat, but you know, this is what character-driven comedies do – they move forward. And I’m pretty pleased with the way this one is going about it.
After the hilarious premiere, there’s no question that the last few eps of Working have taken a more “serious” turn – and I suppose that’s a little sad, too. Still, there have been some terrific comic moments mixed in, and the relationship stuff has been frankly better than I expected it to be when (if) we got to this point. We have two major pairings in this show and both are moving forward, and while the two “two ships passing in the night” subplots are still being dragged out, I suspect they’ll get their seismic jolt forward in due course. Unlike a romance, all that needs to happen is for Otoo-san to see his wife or Kirio to see Aoi and those threads are basically resolved, so I don’t blame the series for not wanting to do so too soon.
This ep was more or less basically split down the middle, with Yachiyo and Satou getting the A-Part and Inami/Souta the B-Part. I think it’s very safe to say, based on Yachiyo’s behavior, that she absolutely feels something for Satou. There was no nonsense like her being so drunk she forgot the hug et al – she remembered it in exacting detail. And when Kyouko (misinterpreting what a “showdown and squeeze” meant) suggested it meant friendship, Yachiyo admitting that made her “gloomy” was the final nail in the coffin – she’s into Satou, for sure.
The question now, of course, is where we go with that information. And how does Kyouko feel, I wonder? I loved the moment when she told Yachiyo it was about Satou, and Yachiyo replied “You’ve finally gotten down to raw ingredients!” (I made that joke with my teacher Satou-sensei on occasion). Bat-in-wall suggests one thing, but she does seem genuinely interested in helping Yachiyo get her feelings sorted, to the point where she locks Yachiyo and Satou in the storeroom to get everything out in the open. It works – Yachiyo finally musters the nerve to (sort of) invite Satou out on another date. This is going to be a bumpy road, but I think it leads in the right direction.
As for Inami (was that an “81” hairpin?) and Souta, I think the signs are just as unmistakable there. There’s some great comedy here, as the Yamada siblings (who still don’t meet) meddle with their signature blend of incompetence to try and push the pair together. Souta is a goner, really – he finds himself admitting that Inami is “sort of don’t-blink-or-you’ll-miss-it cute” when she’s not punching men, not to mention admitting he’s getting “ii kanji” from her lately. Also pretty funny is the way he tries first to deny his own feelings, then justify them because compared to some women (his sisters) Inami actually is tiny – in some ways…
I freely admit I’ve come around in a big way with Inami, but in my own defense I don’t think it’s that I was wrong about her character so much as that she’s really, really changed. I mean, Inami has grown a ton over the course of the series – and isn’t that what we want from our anime characters in an ideal world? Not only is she doing better with her Androphobia, but she’s doing so for the right reasons – she wants to do better. How great is it that Working gave us the annoying anime violent girl trope, then flat-out condemned it for being a bad thing, and showed a character trying to overcome it?
So what’s next for this couple, then? Well, never take advice from Yamado Aoi for one thing – “Now’s the time to sell yourself – bargain sale!” didn’t exactly go over big. But as painful as the results were – Inami punching Souta gently was one of the most bittersweet moments of the entire series – I think the aftermath really does see these two inching closer together. Souta’s “Find a man you love and be happy” isn’t all that convincing, and I think his reaction to Inami’s heartfelt consternation at her love tap and calling him “Baka” reveals that he’s finding it harder and harder to deny his own feelings. This is going to be a rough ride, too, but I think the tickets have been punched…