Working in a ward office has its perks and problems – and romance.
What They Say:
Lucy (abbrev.) Yamagami is a newly-hired civil servant who has been assigned to work in a certain government ward office in a certain city in Hokkaido Prefecture. Not only does Lucy have so many things to learn at her new job, she needs to do all of that in the company of her colleagues, who are all more than a little eccentric. If you thought a job as a government employee was dull, you better think again! Lucy and her colleagues, actively and covertly (?!) serve their community every day!
The audio presentation for this release brings us just the original Japanese language track only and it’s encoded at 224kbps. The series is one that focuses largely on dialogue as we don’t even get any real dream moments of something wild and outlandish to deal with. So it’s a very simple mix overall with a standard forward soundstage design that keeps us to a center channel based feel that allows the dialogue to come out well but without much in the way of placement or directionality. There’s a couple of moments with some decent depth to it with the way characters move about the office, but a lot of what we get is pretty standard stuff and it comes across cleanly and clearly throughout and without any problems such as dropouts or distortions during regular playback.
Originally airing in 2013, the transfer for this TV series is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and is enhanced for anamorphic playback. The thirteen episode series is spread across three discs in a five/four/four format that gives it all plenty of room to breathe since there aren’t any extras for the most part of note. The show has a good color design to it, some solid settings and good looking characters designs that comes together well while not requiring a whole lot of encoding work compared to some busier shows. That gives us a very appealing looking DVD that presents the show in standard definition with likely the best it can look. Colors are solid throughout and there’s some good pop where it’s appropriate, especially in the opening sequence. There’s no real flaws of note here and everything looks good.
The packaging for this release comes in a standard sized clear DVD case with an O-card over it where it uses different artwork than the case itself. The O-card gives us a good looking shot of Lucky at work in her standard outfit against a white background with some cute pink, green and orange circles floating about to give it a bit more color. The back cover works these colors more while letting Hasebe get a moment in the spotlight as we get the basic breakdown of what the show is about, the standard features and extras on it and the pack-in materials as well. The case uses the same color design by has a very cute image of the Chief and his daughter there with different types of colored circles. There’s just something so adorable about him. The back cover gives us Ichimiya and his sister with more colored shapes and a bit more of a serious look. We also get a breakdown of the staff and cast here which is nice to see. The cover is fully reversible as well which gives panels to both Chihaya and Miyoshi in order to let them have their moment as well.
The first pressing release comes with a great full color booklet inside that adds a bit of weight to the overall package that provides several pages of breakdowns of each of the episodes and a bunch of the four panel comics as well which is a lot of fun to see how that dynamic works. There’s also some good full color promotional material and a cover to one of the manga magazines that’s talked about in the show.
The menu design for the release is decent but it does have some cute bits to that work nicely for the theme of it. With a graph paper background that dominates it, we get the Japanese and English logos through the middle while various shapes float across it in green. The navigation menu is along the bottom and it’s done up as file folders with tabs for each of the sections where it uses various shades of green and a touch of yellow as well that works nicely. Submenus load quickly where needed and language selection is kept to the top menu for turning subtitles off and on.
The only extras included with this release are the clean versions of the opening and closing sequences.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Based on the manga of the same name by Karino Takatsu, any similarities to the manga and anime series Working!! are only going to be natural since Takatsu is behind both of them. With it being based on a four panel strip, I’m always a bit leery of them being done as a full length episode format since it can often feel like it’s stretching things, even if there are a few years worth of material. But with A-1 Pictures behind it and a solid team, there’s more than enough to help ease those concerns and see where they go with it as it introduces us to a trio of characters that are now working in the health and welfare section of an unnamed city’s ward office. And they make it clear that it’s not based on any actual people or places. But there’s that ring of truth to many places we’ve all been, of course.
Such a job is certainly an interesting one and definitely important since it has so many people coming in for help and information, many of which will vary in temperament based on their situation and the way their lives go. Yamagami has her first time working with someone else in one of the windows and she’s nervous enough in general and some of the clients don’t make it easier. Hasebe has taken to the job easily and even ends up running his window by himself for a bit before he’s supposed to and it’s hilarious in how he’s able to get a girls email address as that’s his main thing. The other new employee, Miyoshi, is a bit of a cross between the two and seems the most even tempered as the new college graduate going at her first job. Of course, she also comes across as a bit of a pushover by some of those that come to the window as they talk off her ears. The trio have easy ways of connecting with each other but also get involved with several other employees pretty well.
As it progresses, we get some decent workplace comedy and the struggles of the new employees, but it focuses heavily on Yamagami. We get clued in to her reason for going this route of employment, to try and find someone that she had met there once before, and it’s kind of silly but it’s not all that extreme when you get down to it. The fun with the show is the dynamic between everyone. Pairing Yamagami up with Chihaya is definitely fun since Chihaya is definitely a skilled worker here, but she gets some jealousy going based on the size of Yamagami’s chest. All of them have to deal with all different kinds of clients, especially those that just outright hate civil servants and have to suck up the abuse. As much as it does focus on Yamagami, I really liked Hasebe and the way he skirts doing work a lot of the time and forces his supervisor to get after him the best that he can.
What helps to get the workplace material working better is some of those that are around them as it hits some familiar notes. Their immediate boss as a young man named Ichimiya who has done well by it and is competent but he has to deal with the new workers quirks while also handling his younger sister who has her issues that start to come across as a brother complex but is a bit more involved and layered than that. And there’s also the fact that he’s secretly seeing Chihaya, which doesn’t come out for a bit, and that provides an interesting look at a bit of an established if under the radar romance. The ward office also has a section chief who, as much as it bothered me during the simulcast and still does here to some degree, is a plushie. A cute, pink plushie bunny that walks and talks and doesn’t really act any different than a person to some degree. There’s a surreal aspect to it and it’s kind of hidden from some people but treated as normal by others. I can imagine that working beautifully in your standard comic strip, and that is where all this comes from, but I don’t think it transitions well here in this form.
As the show progresses, the workplace comedy does start to fall off a bit as it focuses more on the relationship side. A lot of it is focused on the slow but steady wooing that Hasebe does towards Yamagami, but she’s a hard nut to crack because she’s so focused on her name issue. Hasebe does start out as an immense flirt and Yamagami has her issues, but the slow build works well here because it does get only so far and there are real issues to be dealt with along the way. The downside is that we do lose a lot of the workplace stuff and that was a good bit of fun at the start. While this bothered me more during the simulcast, it flows better here when viewed as a full season series over the course of a few hours. And the threads that are bound to the other characters as they help out, such as Miyoshi being a good bit of support and Chihaya nuding things in her own amusing way with costume design and more. Little by little, the relationships are nicely covered here and the small threads all have their place.
Servant x Service manages to handle the transition from four panel comedy manga to full length episode series for a season in a pretty good way. And it really left me wanting more of it when it was done. I’m still kind of miffed that we didn’t get a second season out of it as I wanted to see more of where the relationships would go. The workplace dynamic is one that can be a lot of fun because you can get some really diverse characters, and we saw that with the original creator’s work in Working!!. This one doesn’t go to that extreme that some of those characters were like but you can easily see the two shows crossing over easily. Servant x Service stands fully on its own and the cast over the course of it becomes pretty fun and engaging to watch, making you laugh and smile and definitely grin as the little reveals come about. Definitely one of those shows that takes a certain kind of humor to enjoy, particularly the setting, but when it clicks, it clicks really well.
Japanese 2.0 Language, English Subtitles, Textless Opening, Textless Ending
Content Grade: B+
Audio Grade: B
Video Grade: B+
Packaging Grade: B
Menu Grade: B
Extras Grade: B-
Released By: Aniplex USA
Release Date: May 27th, 2014
Running Time: 325 Minutes
Video Encoding: 480i/p MPEG-2
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Anamorphic 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.