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?
The family issue of Yamada has been resolved…or so Kirio thought. Now Yamada won’t call Kirio her big brother and now it’s up to Kirio to make things the way it used to be. And at the Takanashi house, a certain person has returned home and it’s causing the the whole family to go through all kind of emotions. Back at WAGNARIA, Yachiyo overhears Sato’s decision to quit and decides to seek out Popura’s help… Also, Sota and Mahiru finally go on a date but Mahiru’s overprotective father returns yet again. What’s going to happen for Mahiru and Sota…?
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 five episodes plus double-length special that we get for the series are spread across two discs with four on the first and three 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, with the front pairing Takanashi and Inami together where they’re back to back and blushing, while the back side gives it over to Popura getting a full image with a couple of chibi characters in the background. 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, this time with chocolate bars and other pieces as the main focus, which works hilariously well. 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.
While the first half of this season had no extras, this one bumps it up a bit by adding the clean ending and some character trailers. The packaging lists the year end special as an extra but it’s the end of the series so it’s not something that I really consider an extra.
Coming at the same time that the manga itself was ending and knowing that we’re getting an actual completion of the storyline, Wagnaria’s appealing in knowing all that’s coming in a basic sense. So many shows are just the opening stages and sometimes the middle, but we rarely get the end of a story. And Wagnaria was not one that we thought that would happen with considering the time that passed between seasons. The first half of this season was pretty fun in moving things forward since life isn’t static, and this half of it works the final episodes of the season and then the double-length special that came a few months later to finish it all off. While it may not be a big piece of fireworks overall, what we do get is a solid conclusion to events.
With the spread of episodes we do get a decent run at working through the various relationships at hand. The piece with Yamada and her mother ended the last time around and we get the last bits of that here with some nice little nods along the way as to how the two are together. Yamada’s still pretty much not able to really connect with her mother since she’s kind of odd in her own way but there are cute bits at times, such as the way there’s such a delay in how they interact with each other. Yamada and her actual brother aren’t all that much closer after all of this either, though he comes across a little better as all of that is settled now and a big stressful piece has been eliminated from the family dynamic. Yamada’s still a tough one to connect with overall as I just found her skirting along the annoying line more often than not, particularly in how she tries to connect with Soma as a brother for a number of reasons. While she generates change within the show she’s also the only character I’d want to see go.
One of my favorite stories within this season is the one involving Sota and Yachiyo. The two could easily have a whole series just about them and it would be beyond delightful. The progress they made previously is playing out well here as they take it to the next step and we see just how much easier she’s feeling around him. She’s got issues as we know from her whole carrying the sword thing but watching as each of them admit their feelings to each other is pretty rewarding and satisfying. Sato does have a little time along the way where they have a challenge in all of this, what with his stomach problems, but getting to that resolution at the end is one of those great moments where we see just how much she’s progressed since the beginning.
While there’s a nice little subplot for Taneshima along the way that gives her a path forward as one of those not involved in any relationship, the bulk of the final run deals with Inami and Takanashi. The nature of their relationship has been an interesting one to watch since she has such issues with men and he’s not exactly problem free either considering his own family, who have some very fun appearances here, and seeing the progress they make together is great. While she’s still struggling but realizing her feelings more and more toward him, I loved seeing the distance he went to in order to understand her and what she’s feeling. While it may be much with him dressing up as a girl, it is very much a Takanashi thing. And that’s something that she early understands about just how far he’ll go for her, which is huge considering her feelings towards men in general. While the show doesn’t give us an epilogue with what’s going on down the line, we do get things wrapped up quite well with change in the mix and a sense of hope. It may be all done with a bow tied around it in a way but it’s something that works for a show like this.
While it’s taken a few years to get here and I never really thought we’d get here in anime form in general, Wagnaria draws to a close in a pretty solid way. There is a certain natural predictability to what we get here as this is not a show that wants to put true strife or hardship on the characters by giving them something terrible to deal with but they do have their challenges. It’s all handled well and you can enjoy it because they’ve all grown and changed since that first episode. It took some odd directions along the way and I really wish we got to know them as people more in a way, but at the end of the day I’m pretty pleased by this series overall. Even though it doesn’t match the previous seasons in terms of packaging presentation, Aniplex did it pretty well here overall as it’s a great looking and sounding disc with some positives in the packaging. I’m definitely glad to have been able to see this series through from start to finish.
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: August 30th, 2016
Running Time: 190 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.