Working!!! – 13 (End?) and Series Review

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My one word reaction to how that finished:

Uwah!

Well now, it’s not too often in anime that I’m as surprised – and pleasantly too – as I was by the final few moments of Working!!!.  About how the series would be ending I didn’t know much, except that I knew for certain it would be ending.  This was the final season, the manga is done, it’s been a great ride – but all good things must come to an end.  I was sad about that, but ready for it.  So what the hell??

I don’t honestly know what to call this post now, or how to label it, or even how to approach it.  This isn’t the end, it seems, yet it is the end of Working’s regular broadcast run.  It’s a nice problem to have, all things considered – I’m thrilled to be getting a bonus hour of Working that I never remotely expected to be getting.  I have no idea when we’re going to be getting it, but given that it’s going to air on TV rather than be a Blu-ray release I would expect it relatively soon.

It did start to get a little worrisome as we got into the final third of this episode and there still seemed to be an awful lot of plates spinning.  I even specifically thought to myself at one point “All this is nice, but – are they really not going to resolve anything with Takanashi’s mother?”  I’ll wager that was exactly the reaction the director and writer were hoping for, in which case yet more kudos to them for a remarkably polished and well-considered run that’s lasted this entire third season.

Mind you, there was plenty of stuff that screamed “finale” here to bring our guards down and remind us we were watching the last episode.  The A-part focused almost entirely on Souta and Mahiru (wearing a gorgeous lute hairpin), as you’d expect.  The big wrinkle?  Mahiru’s dad reappeared (played of course by the instantly recognizable Ootsuka Houchuu), hardly what this already complicated situation needed to work itself out.  Inami-san is a bad dad even by anime standards – in case you’ve forgotten he was the cause of Mahiru’s androphobia – and it appears his presence is so traumatic for her that she’s blocked his existence out of her memory.

As this was playing out I was still convinced Souta’s mom was going to be the final boss, but it was nevertheless interesting to see how Inami-otousan would impact the moment.  Funnily enough he doesn’t seem so scary as he did last time – which I think is testament to how much Mahiru and Souta have grown up since then.  Mahiru is still a girl on the edge – the thought of going on a date is enough to make her punch a hole in the wall just to make sure she’s awake – but with Souta’s help she’s grown an awful lot.  I was a bit saddened when she punched her father – obviously not out of sympathy for him but because it seemed to represent a regression for her.  But I was heartened when she said it was her “last” androphobic punch (even if she did follow that with a meek “probably”) – it shows that as usual, the writing really understands who these characters have become at this point of the story.

So we did get a sort of ending for Souta and Mahiru, and kind of a happy one – thus when the B-part shifted to Popura’s promotion and a general valedictory for the series, I could almost convince myself that’s where we were leaving it with those two even if it felt like something was missing.  There was a definite finale tone in what went down at Wagnaria here, with Yachiyo coming clean about her departure and the focus on getting a team picture with the reluctant (how ironic is that) Souma-kun.  My favorite part of this sequence came when Aoi did her impressions of events from the past – though the fact that none of them involved the perpetual observer Souma sort of made them beside the point.

That trip down memory lane was emotional in a pleasingly low-key way – it’s been a long and rewarding run with this series, and it was nice to see some love for Popura and Souta as a pair in the end, just as there had been in the beginning.  There may be no romantic mojo between them but I still love the friendship chemistry between those two, and Popura being as underused as she has been is one of the few real complaints I have with Working.  It was a nice way to finish – but things still didn’t quite seem finished.

Well – now we know why.  That surprise announcement in the epilogue was nicely done both in the secrecy and the execution.  I sort of doubt “Lord of the Takanashi” is going to be the overtly fantastical outing the preview teases – I took that to be symbolic – but who the heck knows?  In any event it seems the theme is going to be Mahiru saving Souta from his mother, and that’s kind of what I was expecting all along – and it fits from a character and poetic standpoint.

Given what’s to come, I won’t wax overlong for now on how much fun these three seasons of Working have been – but they’ve been a blast.  This has been a textbook display of how to do character-driven situation comedy in anime, eerily consistent from season to season (there were lulls in S2, but they were the exception).  What really makes the experience rewarding is that the characters have actually grown in a huge way, and their stories have advanced commensurately.  In comedy turns this season has really been a case of having your cake and eating it too, a real rarity in anime – and I can’t wait to see how “Lord of the Takanashi” is going to apply the frosting.

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Preview:

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1 comment

  1. g

    I threw a surprisingly earnest fist pump when that preview came at the end of the episode.

    Really like that they are going all in to give Working the sendoff it deserves.

    When they did that Popura fantasy sketch a few episodes back, I remember thinking that I really wanted them to go back to that well. Kudos all around.

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