Working!! is an example of an anime that’s been done countless times before and will be again. Admittedly I was expecting this but was attracted to the series cute looking characters and the slice of life pacing. While the series gets off to a slow start things did manage to improve greatly only to end in the dustbin of history thanks to the douchebaggery of its narcissistic cast of asshats.
The premise of Working!! puts us into the inner workings of a family restaurant. The employees run the gambit of strangeness and mental issues to setup all the outstanding and original comedy that awaits us. That’s sarcasm by the way. At the start of the show the restaurant is shorthanded and the search for a new part timer to help out ends with our typical over burdened high schooler, this time named Souta Takanashi. Apparently the financial distress of Japanese families is quite high and even though he lives in a modest house with three working age sisters and an alleged mother (I am assuming she existed, they said she did kind of like my Papa told me Santa Claus lived in the North Pole when I was five...) that they must put their high school younger brother to work to make ends meet. It’s such a romantic setting that can only occur in Asia apparently. The bastion of child labor and exploitation... oh wait I was talking about our lovely heartfelt slave err labor anime!
From the very beginning the show is decidedly unimpressive. The cast comes off completely stereotypical and clichéd from the start. Every character type is represented there has ever been there, in all their glory. Now this isn’t exactly new ground here, we see this in practically everything and at this point there basically are no original characters anymore. But these characters for the most part come off as bland copies, devoid of personality and psychotic misfits I would sooner see hauled off by a van with padded walls driven by guys in lab coats.
However, this starts to change and by mid series things start to actually get pretty fun and amusing. Characters which are annoying take a back seat and others which initially were the worst actually develop into pretty solid and interesting personalities. I found it unusual that I could have such a completely different opinion of certain characters in such few episodes from the beginning to the end of the series.
Things really fall apart though in the last episode. I was well on my way to having an average to above average experience with this anime until once again the characters that made watching this show such a pain in the beginning, bring it down into the sewer. I always find it strange how people who claim to all be "friends" in some of these shows can do the things they do to each other, even in fun and for their own selfish amusement. There are some lines that just can’t be crossed however and over the years I have found I have grown tired of humiliation and deviant behavior being used for laughs.
The cast is ripe with love and hate characters. On the positive side is our lead, Takanashi. At first I found him to be an initial source of annoyance as he looked to be your typical lolicon. Thankfully this wasn’t the case and he manages to develop into a pretty nice leading man and one whom the viewer can relate and root for. He is a bit strange in his own right, which is love of cute things but this is mostly harmless and for the most part is the only voice of reason and sanity.
Next to him would be another character who I thought would be irritating, Inami, who contrary to what the viewer might think from the start is actually the lead heroine. She suffers from a fear of men which makes her want to punch any man she sees. This of course causes a lot of problems in a working environment populated by both men and women and results in quite a few punches to the face of our unfortunate leading man. Despite this, as the reasons for her fears is revealed and her struggles with conquering them makes her ultimately a very interesting and satisfying character.
The bad would be pretty much everyone else. Characters initially amusing like the cute and adorable Taneshima become narcissistic perverts and contribute to my eventual disdain for this title. Others are just completely boring and unamusing. This would include characters such as the one dimensional restaurant manager, head waitress, and kitchen staff as well as Takanashi's useless sisters. While there are a few laughs with them along the way, they’re totally devoid of likability. Their contribution, through their selfish behavior, to ruining what should have been a touching final episode and the culmination of the series makes me despise them even more.
One of the real positives though is what initially attracted me to Working!! The artwork is really good. Despite my negative feelings for many of the characters, their designs were very good. I thought the humor was expressed very effectively through the animation when it was actually funny. The OP animation was also really cute and charming, even though the music itself was a bit ordinary. Vocally the acting is pretty average all around with nothing exceptionally bad or good.
Overall, Working!! is just too uneven an experience to be considered even average. Was I too harsh with this? Perhaps, but at this point I feel I have grown tired of certain anime fetishes. Incest, psychologic trauma from horribly inexcusable parenting, and cross-dressing are just a few. While there is nothing incestuous in this the other two are on display proudly. Is Working!! worth watching? I think that depends. If you’re a relatively new or inexperienced anime viewer this will likely be amusing to you and the things that stand out as clichéd won’t seem so much so. Anyone else should give it a pass, I sure wish I had.