Another season of Working and yet another show about magical girls being victims of malevolent forces far beyond their control are the two things that I never thought the world needed more of, but I guess here’s Fall 2016 to prove me wrong. Here are my thoughts on one of those shows mentioned in the previous sentence. Spoiler alert: It’s exactly the one you think it is.
Working!! is a franchise that fell into the familiar trap of having characters with one-note, quirky personalities, with absolutely no way of keeping them fresh. And while it always did right by Yamada and Kyouko, there was no way that they could keep afloat what was fast becoming a sinking ship made of cheap parfaits and failure. Lord of the Takanashi, beyond having an incredibly perfect name, actually managed to give the increasingly dull affair a satisfying sendoff that raised my opinion of the franchise as a whole. Now I can’t speak for anyone but myself, but the growing tiredness of the formula and the dignified ending of the original animated run didn’t exactly leave me chomping at the bit for another 4-koma adaptation surrounding the obligatorily quirky cast of a generic family restaurant. And yet here we are.
The problem that I tend to have with Working!! is that the sense of humor, though far above the anime comedy average (which in turn usually hovers around the comedic genius of bargain bin joke books covered in ambiguously diseased bodily fluids), still tends to miss more jokes than it hits. After all, this is the same show where the girl whose gimmick is a pathological need to hit dudes, which was instilled in her by a father who insisted that all men had the equally pathological need to assault her. It’s somehow way more fucked up than it sounds, or the show actually realizes. Despite increasing attempts at humanizing the characters beyond their preestablished comedic traits, the series never much advanced the humor past these traits, ultimately falling into a formula of ceaseless repetition, and undermining what little character it successfully builds. But at least there was always Yamada.
WWW.Working!! is more or less a continuation of this trend, but with less inspired character gimmicks. For instance, rather than being your average teenage boy with an unhealthy obsession with cute things, the lead is the even more average teenage boy stuck in the purgatory of a never-ending manzai routine. And rather than the manager being a former gang member and a lazy piece of shit (two of the three things that make for my idea of moe), the new manager is just a bit dim (not on the list). However, while it’s less immediately amusing, I do think that this can ultimately evolve the show’s sense of humor by forcing creativity—provide it isn’t just several disparate character gimmicks crammed into one story in the vain hope that lightning will strike twice, this time with discarded ideas.
Despite spending the better part of three paragraphs poking at the show, Working!! is still more consistent than a great many 4-koma adaptations out there. If previous seasons are any indication, W-W-W-Working!! won’t exactly set the world alight with innovation, but it’ll be another thing to occupy time between the cradle and the grave. Again, it’s fine, but I don’t think it’ll unprove my idea that Working!! should be retired.