Watching this season of Working, it’s hard to escape the impression that the beast has been uncaged, the genie let out of the bottle. One by one, the frozen plotlines have been thawed and the hanging misunderstanding clarified, and progress on almost all fronts (there are hints hat the last big holdout is going to be addressed next week) unmistakably began. And after a glacial start, momentum is asserting itself, and by the end this season may be less “Ice Age” and more “Silver Streak”.
This week starts out with a focus on the Takanashi household, where it strikes me we see a bit of an S & M dynamic repeating itself. It’s overt between Kazue and Minagshi, of course, but what is one to make of Souta consoling himself from his Inami troubles by obsessive housework? He’s rebelled against his dysfunctional family relationship by developing a thing for lolis and other tiny creatures, but there’s obviously a part of him that gets off on being pushed around. Man – what must the mother be like for that bunch to be so against the notion of even seeing her?
It’s pretty rare to see Izumi take the initiative in any instance, but I guess when the stakes are a future where she might have no choice, even Izumi will be proactive to preserve her right not to be. There’s an amusing bit where she gets a dressing down from her editor, played by Matsuoka Yoshitsugu – who turns out to be a woman (not that he was doing anything differently). Then, she sets about trying to cheer Souta up by matchmaking him with the girl he met in the park (the funniest moment comes when Souta thinks she’s actually talking about babysitting and his face lights up like Christmas morning). Of course that girl happens to be Inami, and Izumi happens to believe Souta has broken up with Popura (who of course he never dated in the first place), who she happens to believe is a grade-schooler (which doesn’t seem to bother Izumi at all).
This all looks like standard misunderstanding situation comedy, especially when Inami (who shows up because Izumi threatened to die if she didn’t) shows up for the meeting with Souta (who shows up because Izumi lays a guilt trip on him for having actually gone outside and done some work to set this up) dressed in a paper bag and boxing gloves. I won’t blame you if you groaned and said “Not that old cliche!”, but hey – this is the new Working, and things are different now. Not only does Souta figure out who this is and Inami take off her bag (I have no idea what either of her hairpins was supposed to be), but it happens after she’s basically spilled the beans about Souta being the boy she actually likes.
It’s pretty refreshing to see this play out in such a straightforward way (and that random bit with the two kids sledding down the grassy hill – totally unnecessary yet adds richness to the moment). Souta may be dense, but not so much so that he missed the obvious implications in what Inami said – and how much of her behavior they explain. I don’t think there’s any going back from this – things can’t ever be the same between these two now, whether they get together or not. And for a potential anime romantic relationship, that constitutes a huge development.
Meanwhile, most of the comic relief in the episode is provided by Yamada. She’s at the center of a totally disconnected B-plot that intercuts the main one, where her stormy love affair with natto (regular readers will know that natto is my arch-enemy) sows disorder at Wagnaria. This is amusing in a totally random way, especially when Yamada rejects suggestions for a new culinary partner on the grounds that they’re in the “same family” as natto (and she’s actually sort of right – for a change). What the Japanese see in natto I’ll never understand – but then, if I were a disgusting fermented soybean dish I don’t think Yamada would be my type either…