What They Say:
Sota Takanashi, Popura Taneshima, and the rest of Wagnaria’s zany crew are back! Whether it’s Sota being reduced to tears over the death of an innocent bug, Kyoko calling in her old gang to cover some shifts, or Soma hilariously meddling in the personal lives of his co-workers, each day brings something new to the table! But if you’re a man, be warned! Inami still packs quite a punch… Contains episodes 1-13, plus a 32-page, full-color, hardcover artbook featuring episode summaries, new character biographies, and original illustrations.
The audio presentation for this release brings us the original Japanese language only in stereo encoded with the uncompressed PCM format, which definitely gives it a nice clean and straightforward bump. The show is essentially a simple dialogue driven piece where there’s some fun little action effects moments as well. There are heightened moments of dialogue where things get a bit exaggerated, but it never gets to a point where it’s problematic. The variety to the cast means we have a lot of different types of voices but they’re often well placed and clean and clear throughout. The mix for Wagnaria doesn’t stretch itself but it’s solid and problem free.
Originally airing in 2011, the transfer for this TV series is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 in 1080p using the AVC codec. The series is spread across two discs nine episodes on the first disc and four on the second alongside the couple of extras. With animation production by A-1 Pictures, a studio I have a hard time finding fault with for the most part, we get an appealing looking release here as the show works with a real world design and simple workplace comedy material, so it’s filled with a lot of detail but has a basic look to its actual animation. It definitely is a step up from the first series since this one gets the high definition form and it just feels stronger, more solid and colorful overall. With it being a character driven slice of life show, it doesn’t have a lot of heavy lifting to do but the characters look great and the use of animation to move them around works really well, giving them a fluid feel with a solid amount of detail to it all. The characters are all distinct and the look of the world is well captured by the transfer here.
Largely mirroring the first season, which is a positive to be sure, Wagnaria comes in the standard style of premium packaging where it has a solid chipboard packaging that holds a great hardcover book and two clear thinpak cases inside to hold the two discs. The front of the box has a great image of the main cast of characters for the most part together in their work outfits against the white background which also has the yellow and white ziptone section as well. They’re all smiling and looking positive in their own ways which makes for a cute look. The back of the box uses the same kind of background while the character artwork is more comical in nature with slapstick comedy involving a massive cake dominates.
Within the box we get a pair of clear thinpak cases that uses the same style as the box with different pairings of the characters in their uniforms set against a white background with the simple logo, all of which of course use the Wagnaria!! named as opposed to the original Working!! name. The back covers are light with what they have as it’s a breakdown for each disc with episodes by number and title and more cute character artwork. The bottom third of the back cover has a lot of the production information included as well as a very solid technical grid that covers everything very cleanly and clearly. Unfortunately, there’s no artwork on the reverse sides of the covers.
What drew me to these premium editions originally are the hardcover books and this one is no exception. We get the episode by episode breakdown with this book and with a lot of colorful designs and plenty of material, it’s pretty fun since it uses so many amusing images and shots. That dominates the book while the latter section provides full page fanservice oriented images that really are amusing with the quotes attributed to them as if they were photos taken by employees.
The menu design for the release is pretty simple and follows a familiar pattern which has the same layout on each disc. The right side has the straightforward text breakdown with the episode number and titles as well as the credits and setup aspect. The left side has different pieces of character artwork done in the same style as the front cover with it all in front of a white background, so it all ties together very well. The menus are very quick and easy to use with a simple but solid design that fits in nicely with things. With it being a monolingual release, there’s no issues with player presets.
The only extras included are clean versions of the two ending sequences which are on the second disc along with some trailers and commercials.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
After a first well received season in 2010 of Working!!, which was renamed to Wagnaria!! here since there was already a show with that name, a second season landed in Japan in 2011 and has now arrival here in a complete premium package form, albeit on Blu-ray for this version of it. The slice of life shows can be hit or miss at times with what they do, often because it’s high school kids sitting around talking and doing nothing, but Waganaria!! changes that up a bit by giving us a few more age ranges to work with and putting them in the workplace. Not that work really dominates here as it’s mostly the same kind of things, but with a workplace you get more personalities that you may not normally gravitate towards when you would otherwise just hang out with people you like and want to spend time with. And while there are always issues with that, you can often find some really interesting people to hang out with.
Because of the nature of the show, going between seasons is pretty seamless since there aren’t any radical changes that occur. This season is essentially more of the same, but it does get some minor growth along the way that makes you hopeful that things can be more interesting in some future place with it. The character personalities were all well defined in the first season and that means what we get here is a polishing of them in a way, where we’re now more comfortable with who they are and they are as well. The central character continues to be Takanashi though and that works well since he’s a lot of fun to watch. Since he started working at the restaurant because of Taneshima, she’s still a big part of his focus, and the others are also amused by her a lot as well. Takanashi’s love of all things small and cute certainly goes in fun ways since he’s still patting her head, grinning over her and loving pictures of her since it’s a way to see her even smaller.
But we also get a little drama with their relationship as there comes a point where a rumor starts that she’s going to be quitting since she has to spend time getting ready for entrance exams. It’s hard to square that away with her studying for college since she looks like a middle school student at best and the thought of her leaving makes others like Inami wonder if Takanashi will leave. The worry that the staff goes through in general, for their different reasons, is fun to watch, especially since Taneshima is oblivious to it all since she hasn’t given much thought to it, thinking she has more than enough time before real studying has to begin. What was welcome though was that we see Takanashi realize that he’s there for more than just Taneshima but also that others have really gotten to like her and don’t want her to go, though the adults that work there realize that she would have a realistic reason for it that they’d easily encourage.
Taneshima for her part has a lot of fun this season as she struggles with her size and the way others treat her. One of the best episodes has her finally being able to reach up to the broken dish report on the wall so she can put in what she’s caused on the bottom line. She hasn’t been able to do that before so she’s beyond ecstatic that she can reach it now and that just makes her hugely positive throughout the episode. For the others though, especially since it’s not just Takanashi that’s upset that she’s growing but also Sato since it changes the dynamic a bit and he’s kind of gotten into the whole short things is cute angle. Nowhere near what Takanashi is like, but the thought of her growing gets under his skin a bit. There’s obviously a gag to what’s going on but seeing the two sides cope with the changes in different ways makes for a lot of fun, especially just in seeing Taneshima being so upbeat and pleased by it.
Relationships are very much a big yet subtle part of this season as we see people being more expressive in their own ways about those they’re interested in. Sato is finally starting to get things out there a bit more about his interest in Todoroki but she’s just so oblivious and more interested in making Kyoko happy all that time, though that’s more of an adoration angle to be sure. Todoroki is just so oblivious about things and unable to really grasp the basics of living life that you can see how she’s very child-like in so many ways, which figures into why she’s glommed onto Kyoko so much. And Kyoko does treat her well overall, but she’s still so apathetic about everything in general that it’s not something that she really does much with since she still views it as a boss-kind of thing of thing. There’s no there there when it comes to the two and you really find yourself wishing that Sato would be able to get through to Todoroki.
The other relationship that gets explored a nice bit is the continuing one between Inami and Takanashi. She’s really starting to make some progress with her fear of men and she’s punching him a lot less, though she still does. He’s clear that he intends to stay with her for as long as it takes to help her, but she hears that in a different way and she has really grown to care for him, though like Todoroki when it comes to Sato, he’s oblivious to it. Even when she starts talking to others about being interested in someone, he can’t imagine that it’s him since he’s regularly getting hit by her. The small growth that the two have is welcome though since her admitting she may have feelings is huge and significant progress and his realizing that she is making progress makes him want to help her all the more. The two certainly make a potentially interesting couple and having that starting to play out in a very around the fringes kind of way is really neat to see.
Wagnaria!! is a slice of life show and those can be tough in a lot of ways, especially when you marathon them. This one plays very similar to the first season in all the right ways since it’s workplace focused, it has a greater diversity of characters to it and even though it largely takes place in one area it has a lot of variety to it. There’s a lot of character stories going on here with relationships, growth and change and a fairly expanded cast as well since we get Yamada’s apparent brother making a few appearances searching for her and more guest appearances by Takanashi’s sisters as they get mixed up in events a few times. But the vast majority of it is focused on the workplace environment and the interactions that take place there which makes it a whole lot of fun and pretty cute to watch in general with all the people involved. This is an easy pickup if you’re a fan of the first season and if you like character based workplace slice of life comedies in general.
Japanese 2.0 PCM Language, English Subtitles, Clean Endings, Japanese Commercials, Japanese Trailers
Content Grade: B
Audio Grade: B+
Video Grade: A
Packaging Grade: A-
Menu Grade: B
Extras Grade: B-
Released By: NIS America
Release Date: February 4th, 2014
Running Time: 312 Minutes
Video Encoding: 1080p AVC
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Widescreen
Sony KDL70R550A 70″ LED 1080P HDTV, Sony PlayStation3 Blu-ray player via HDMI set to 1080p, Onkyo TX-SR605 Receiver and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.