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WWW.Wagnaria Collection 2 Blu-ray Anime Review

7 min read

www.working visualThe relationships deepen even if the work is superficial.

What They Say:
With new friends joining them, it seems this restaurant is only getting livelier! Will Higashida survive Miyakoshi’s killer cooking? Will Adachi be able to withstand Muranushi’s smile? Will Shindou finally pay off his debt? Don’t miss the final volume of this restaurant comedy!

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 are 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 six episodes that we get for the series are spread across two discs with three on each. 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 leads 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:
The only extras included with this release are the character promos that were released prior to the show to highlight each of them, which clocks in at just over five minutes total.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
The first half of this Wagnaria series was one that I had some enjoyment with simply because the environment and the kinds of situations that come about from it are to my liking. But the problem that I had with it was that even after seven episodes I still didn’t feel like I had really connected with the characters in a meaningful way. Yes, it took time in the original series as well but there was something that just clicked with them better through the introductions and setup. This series almost feels like it’s a show made about the “real world” happenings in the original Wagnaria as opposed to just a show about another restaurant in the franchise. For fans of the show however, they’ll once again be pleased by a strongly put together experience with the audio and video that’s up to the usual Aniplex standards.

This half of the series continues on with some of the same kind of low-level silliness and smiles that I expected and it has its moments where it works well. The workplace side of it has its cuteness simply because of the nature of the characters and the slow growth of relationships that we’ve had so far. So seeing them deal with minor struggles and some of the bits and pieces to it all in how they are, especially with Higashida really struggling at times to understand how some of them manage to survive at all never mind accomplish or even get to work, makes for good material. But these are all small pieces, the incidental humor that comes from a four-panel kind of project where it makes you smile but doesn’t really feed any kind of long term storytelling. That comes more in the character relationships and there’s some nice stuff there but at the same time, I’m still feeling very disconnected from the cast as a whole.

While the show does move between the various characters well a good bit of time continues to be spent on the Higashida and Miyakoshi relationship. She’s amusing in her own kind of somewhat off kilter and deadpan way and her pursuit of Higashida is certainly fun to watch because it’s harmless and fictional. There are silly bits with how she interacts with him but the best was when circumstances has Higashida alone at home for a night and she sets things up to come over. All the implications of a night of shenanigans are there and the way he panics is cute, especially in trying to get his sister to stay home instead of going to a sleepover. It’s all naturally not what we think it is as Miyakoshi is certainly naive and innocent in many ways and the reality of why she’s there is completely her in every way. But the dynamic between the two throughout the whole experience was one of my favorite moments of the set.

I also liked the dynamic that unfolds with Muranushi and Adachi as there’s a lot of potential for fun there if they just felt more cemented as characters. His interest in her is definitely in the realm of adorable and when he visits her house to talk to her after she takes a rare sick day helps to give us more of the kind of bond they share. Just what he has to deal with when it comes to Muranushi’s mother is fun since she’s totally on the spiritual side. And seeing how many talismans there are around the house you’d believe that every item or place has one somewhere and somehow. This blends into the workplace side a bit as well and that has its moments but the main episode focusing on them is really a lot of fun and definitely made me grin throughout it for Muranushi and her family overall.

In Summary:
The www.wagnaria series is one that I really wanted to like because I wanted more of the Wagnaria world. And everything we get here is just that, more of that world. But for me, it felt like a shadow of that world because it didn’t develop with as strong or interesting characters and it’s far, far, too easy to make comparisons in this realm.Which definitely isn’t fair but it’s going to happen on some level. I like the characters but there’s a layer of simplicity and blandness that felt attached to them. Aniplex’s release, like the first one, is spot on in delivering good things with a great looking encode, a solid package, and a lossless audio presentation that serves up the material well. Fans of the show will like what they get and being able to own it.

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: B-

Released By: Aniplex USA
Release Date: October 17th, 2017
MSRP: $89.98
Running Time: 144 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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