What They Say:
Sota Takanashi, who loves all things small, one day got invited to work at the family restaurant WAGNARIA by Popura Taneshima, an upperclassman at school. There, he discovered all kinds of eccentric characters that turned his working experience into something unexpected. What kind of dangerous comedy awaits Sota and his coworkers at WAGNARIA today?
On his day off, Sota receives a call from someone called “Minegishi.” Claiming to be under the order of Sota’s mom, “Minegishi” is snooping around for information. Back at WAGNARIA, Sato finally musters up the courage to ask Yachiyo out on a date, but Yachiyo starts acting weird after that. Meanwhile, Sota and Mahiru’s relationship is at an awkward stage after Sota said something. Seeing this happening, Sota’s sister Izumi decides to do something about it. And finally, Yamada reveals the truth about her running away…
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 2015, the transfer for this TV series is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 in 1080p using the AVC codec. The seven episodes that we get for the series are spread across two discs with three on the first and four on the second. 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 and with it looking as close as it can to the previous season, not always easy after a few years, it’s definitely a welcome looking transfer.
After the more elaborate packaging of the first two seasons, it’s no surprise that this one will come across as a disappointment for most folks, never mind the lack of continuity for those that find that important. The release comes in a standard sized clear Blu-ray case with a soft slipcover that uses different artwork. The slipcover is pretty nice with the cast configurations that we get, such as our cooks messing with Popura by putting flags in her hair, while the back side gives it over to Popura and Takanashi with some bright colors and a big old slice of orange. All the technical information is kept to the separate wraparound on it as it breaks things down clear enough while allowing the slipcover itself to maintain a strong look without a lot of text or information. The case itself inside works the same approach with more character configurations, adding a little strawberry love for the front and blueberries on the back, with a very silly feeling. The reverse side shows off some tasty treats while breaking down the episodes by title and number for each disc. The set has a single pack-in bonus of a couple of really cute postcards that replicates the cover artwork.
The menu design for this is simple but nicely done as we get some of the character artwork sliding in from the side, such as Takanashi and Popura for the first disc, along with the logo strips and the menu along the left. The artwork stands out with the colors set against the white background and it has some nice pop as a whole while not being too vibrant. The menu navigation is done as a little book that you’d find at a restaurant and it works well enough but I disliked paging through multiple pages for episode selection. With nothing here besides the show and the credits submenu on the first disc, it’s a simple release that sets the mood right with the design and theme of it all but isn’t all that memorable afterward.
After the second season of Wagnaria ended back in 2011, I figured we wouldn’t see the show again since it was a few years without anything. So when we got the announcement that another series was coming at the same time that we learned that the manga was wrapping up, it was pretty surprising. You typically don’t get that since most shows are made to boost the manga circulation both in the magazine it runs in and with the compiled volumes. This season got a thirteen episode order plus a bonus special that ran at Christmas during 2015 that meant that the anime would bring the show to completion just like the manga. For anime fans, that’s rare and very welcome and that made going into this season all the more exciting because it’s actually working towards resolving some things and clearing the deck a bit for the characters, in some form, to move forward.
Though this season is looking to close things out it’s also doing a lot of the things from the previous seasons that made it so much fun. That’s what we get out of the first couple of episodes where it’s the usual shenanigans at the restaurant, which includes a former child guest coming back with special privileges and hanging on Takanashi’s back – something that just gets Yamada very frustrated. There’s some silliness with Takanashi’s family as they get involved, including Aoi being drunk on a regular basis as well as quite flirty, and seeing some of the bits about what’s ordered and why for stocks at the restaurant, with all eyes pointing toward the manager that has her own special favorites that she likes to have on hand. It’s all light and simple stuff but it works very well, even the bit that brings Minegishi back into play to visit with Takanashi to get the scoop on what’s going on with all of them, and it works well. It may not be deep or rich but after two seasons of this and knowing the characters it’s just fun to watch them in this form.
This set manages to mostly work through three arcs here that gets things moving forward for our favorite restaurant staff. My favorite is just watching how things go with Jun and Yayoi as a dialogue starts about how she’s never had a drink, which brings Aoi into the picture briefly to give her the guidelines on how to act, and with a little coaxing Jun and Yayoi end up actually going out for drinks. Naturally, she’s all over the map in acting pretty cute and silly while not really understanding what she’s doing to some degree and it’s good to see how it kind of unnerves June because that’s not the Yayoi that he’s fallen for. He’s pretty respectable here and it’s cute watching her deal with this, including how she talked about the new underwear she bought. You can totally understand the way Jun feels in seeing this unfold and trying to get a handle on what’s happening without letting it get too far. In the end, however, it serves to bring them closer together as she finds her gumption in telling him that she has feelings for him that are beyond that of a friend but is still trying to make sure she understands them. For Yayoi that’s a hell of a lot of progress.
The second arc that works surprisingly well involves Takanashi and Inami as they’re being brought closer together as well. While his love of all things little and cute is always fun, there’s a lot to like with their relationship as it’s developed and her doing her best to stop beating up on every guy she sees. The two of them are kind of manipulated into meeting up without realizing it’s the other, again thanks to one of Takanashi’s sisters, but like the Yayoi and Jun situation it serves to actually get some of this out in the open so that they can admit it to themselves. It’s a little less about Inami in a way as we get more of seeing Takanashi working through how he views Yamada and Popura and then Inami and how he first met her. Personally, I’m still not thinking any of the girls are right with Takanashi so I’m not invested in any of the relationships. But they do handle it well here considering the problem that afflicts Inami and how Takanashi himself handles her in regards to it.
The final arc here that doesn’t quite feel like it comes to a conclusion is a welcome one however as it digs into Yamada’s story a bit. She’s been doing her thing to be sure for some time and that begins to change when it turns out her story is one being told on TV about runaway teenagers. This gets Takanashi reaffirming his intent to get her back to her mother and that leads to discovering the problems that exist, her father’s death, and the struggle of studying and disconnect between mother and daughter because of just how different they are in personality. This brings Kirio back into play as well, which is amusing since both he and Yamada have been using fake names of the same type without even realizing it since it took some time for them to connect originally. It’s good to see how people rally around Yamada and try to get her to realize that she has to make the effort, though by the little we see of her mother (and her amusing connection to everyone through her work), you can understand why there’s such troubles between them.
The third season of Wagnaria definitely delivers on what the first two sets had built and is now starting to payoff with the connections and how things can evolve and change. I like what we get from the three main arcs, I really like seeing the bits we get with the supporting cast such as Takanashi’s family as they weave in and out of things, and i definitely had fun with the simpler pieces that work the restaurant business side and some of the quirks there. Aniplex USA has put together a very solid release here in terms of the content itself with the encoding and packaging and fans of the show will definitely like getting their hands on it as quickly as they are. This is shaping up to be the best season but only because it builds upon what was established before and is taking us toward what feels like a real conclusion.
Japanese 2.0 PCM Language, English Subtitles
Content Grade: B+
Audio Grade: B+
Video Grade: A
Packaging Grade: B+
Menu Grade: B
Extras Grade: B-
Released By: Aniplex USA
Release Date:June 28th, 2016
Running Time: 166 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.