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WWW.Wagnaria Collection 1 Blu-ray Anime Review

7 min read

www.wagnaria collection 1 packagingIt’s a franchise experience!

What They Say:
Daisuke Higashida starts working part-time at a family restaurant due to financial difficulties at home. However, between a shift manager who is hopeless when it comes to cooking, and the wait staff’s reliance on the power of money, it seems this restaurant doesn’t have a single normal person working there!

The Review:
Audio:
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.

Video:
Originally airing in 2016, 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. 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.

Packaging:
Similar to the third season of the main series, this release comes in a standard sized clear Blu-ray case with a soft slipcover that uses different artwork. The slipcover and the case works the various pieces from the Japanese releases with standalone character images that all bring the volume numbering to it so that it’s consistent throughout. It’s soft in color tone but it looks good and fits the show well. 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 with a very silly feeling. The reverse side shows off this particular restaurant’s exterior 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.

Menu:
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.

Extras:
None.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
With the success (and ending) of the main Wagnaria series after three seasons, fans were certainly surprised last year to find that the web-manga iteration that was being produced for print as www.wagnaria (or www.working if you prefer) was getting an adaptation. At first, it seemed like an idea way to do some short form comedy when I first head of it but then it was revealed to be full length material. More of this world is more than fine in my eyes after enjoying what had come before but then you discover that this predates the previously adapted material and it focuses on a whole other restaurant as part of the chain of family Wagnaria restaurants. At this stage you feel like the kid going on that “it’s still good! It’s still good!” after watching your last meatball roll off the table.

The premises takes place over the course of a year with this first set of seven episodes and that’s problematic in and of itself. We get to know the characters across it but by the time we get to the end of it it doesn’t quite feel like the characters have known each other this long as the interactions still feel almost first-week stilted in some ways. And when you excise the bulk of the time in seeing the group gel through the new employee you end up undercutting a lot of what makes things work by seeing it all through his eyes. Those eyes are of Daisuke Higashida, a young man that at fifteen needs the work even while going to a high-study school that he enjoys because his father’s company has gone bankrupt and can’t get an allowance anymore. So some spending money is necessary for things and that has him coming here. He’s able to make a solid enough impression as a serious young man that can be counted on so he gets the job easily enough.

Naturally, there’s a range of characters that works this place, notably with Miyakoshi, a fellow high school student that’s kind of intense at times and has a potential thing for Daisuke, though apparently she pushes her terrible chocolates on anyone every Valentine’s, which makes him the newest target. We get the strange character in Muranushi that’s quiet and withdrawn but often deals with invisible customers that only she can see that plays up a supernatural element that’s cute at first but wears as it goes on. They’re backed up by Adachi working in the kitchen as a cook along with Kono, all of which operates under the manager, Sakaki. There feels like there’s more to be done with the manager from time to time as comes across competent in some situations more than others, but this series plays the ensemble thing in a small way as it focuses on Daisuke and the girls with rest relegated to supporting roles.

The show largely plays through familiar things when it comes to the stories at hand as there are the minor work quibbles and character interactions that unfold, most of which feel like we’ve seen a few times over in the main series previously. Essentially, you can do new things in the same restaurant setting with a different cast but you can also just essentially repeat everything. This incarnation doesn’t give us anything new outside of the characters and instead repeats the same kind of gags and situations, most of which don’t feel all that memorable because there’s no serious time investment in the characters considering the time leaps between episodes of several months. When you lack the bonding time with them it disconnects you from them. This would be fine if it was kept to short-form things with quick hit gags, but this show tries to get you to care about the characters and that just doesn’t happen.

In Summary:
I had no idea what to expect going into this series as I didn’t watch it during its streaming run but was still riding high on the main series. If you had gone into this series without watching the other you’d probably enjoy it a lot more as I’m a fan of workplace comedies and all they can offer, even if it’s filled with a bunch of high school kids. With the work played straight and the humor coming from situations and interactions there’s a lot of potential there. Sadly, this series feels like a whisper of a shadow of the other series because it’s leaning into what was done there rather than truly staking out its own ground. And with the characters getting nowhere near enough time to feel fleshed it that makes it feel even more superficial. For fans of it, however, they’re getting a solid release here with a great looking encode, a solid package, and a good presentation overall.

Features:
Japanese 2.0 PCM Language, English Subtitles

Content Grade: B-
Audio Grade: B+
Video Grade: A
Packaging Grade: B+
Menu Grade: B
Extras Grade: N/A

Released By: Aniplex USA
Release Date: July 18th, 2017
MSRP: $89.98
Running Time: 166 Minutes
Video Encoding: 1080p AVC
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Widescreen

Review Equipment:
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.

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