Friday, December 30, 2011

Review: Working'!! Season 2

I missed the apostrophe  the first time I saw this
Not much has changed between the first and second seasons of the slice-of-life comedy Working. All they did to differentiate the Japanese titles of first and second seasons was add an apostrophe to the title of the second season, which I know is giving a headache to many of you grammar fiends out there. “Working’!!” has not changed the whimsical character interactions and the light-hearted themes found in the first season of “Working!!”, but there have been subtle changes in the second season which have given new life to the staff of Wagnaria.

New look, same characters.
One of the most noticeable differences found in Working’!! is the larger production budget. Whereas the first season looked drab and slightly washed out, Working’!! noticeably looks much more vibrant, with rich colors and a smoother art style that helps accentuate the different quirks of each character. The improved look has also been accompanied by more dynamic shots and scenes, making the first season look visually static and unexciting in comparison.

As for my main complaint about the lack of development in the first season of Working!!, the second season benefits from directly picking up the threads where the first season left off, so more time is spent on character progression this time around. Characters and relationships are finally fleshed out, making many of the individual characters feel like living personalities rather than two-dimensional vehicles for delivering tired gags.

For those who dislike the characters and gags from the first season, unfortunately Working’!! does not do much to embellish the less-likeable aspects of the show. Much of the humor in the show still rests on the core gags established in the first season, and even though Working’!! does a good job in introducing fresh new situations and jokes, people tired of the comedic formula in the first season will probably not find much solace in the second.
You should not be so excited to be the least likable character, Inami.
Indeed, the main problem with Working’!! is not because of anything in the second season itself, but because to enjoy the humor and character interactions viewers need to watch the first season. This is a lot to ask for those unwilling to sit though the plodding character development and the sometimes erratic writing direction found in the first season. However, Working’!! is worth the price of admission, and those who stick with the program through the first season will be happy with the result.

I am normally hesitant to recommend any anime to people not familiar with Japanese culture, but the Working series is one of the few exceptions. Many of the tired and rather awkward tropes found in many other popular Japanese animes are not found in either season of the series, and the solid writing and whimsical tone of the show means makes it an easy recommendation.

At thirteen episodes, Working’!! ends way too early, but given the time spent and the care given to craft the second season, I am definitely willing to wait for the next season. Even though Working’!! had to work with the flaws from the first season, the second season is a nice payoff for fans that starts to fully explore the potential of the series. Watch it, even if you have to start from the first season.

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