by Paul Jensen,
How would you rate episode 13 of
Pay your tabs and head on home, folks, because it's closing time for WWW.Wagnaria!! It wouldn't be a proper ending without one last helping of Miyakoshi's terrible cooking, and the poor girl nearly drives herself crazy this week as she tries to make something that won't put Higashida's life in danger. In the end, she's finally able to serve up something that's merely vile and disgusting instead of actively poisonous, which is good enough for both Higashida and Saint Valentine. Meanwhile, Shindou gets a better-paying (but more dangerous) job at a construction site, and his relationship with Kamakura reaches a slightly more functional state. Adachi also leaves to start working at his family's restaurant, and he talks Muranushi into coming with him. The episode ends with Higashida breaking up with Miyakoshi, but only so they can start a fresh relationship that has nothing to do with cooking.
Considering how many anime romances hinge on big romantic gestures, the requirements for Miyakoshi and Higashida to finally satisfy Saint Valentine are hilariously low. Only in a comedy like this would a mildly successful attempt at not poisoning the other person count as a sufficient display of affection. Valentine's final farewell sticks to the dynamics that have served this group of characters well in the past, with his encouraging remarks being vaguely insulting to Miyakoshi and completely unhelpful to Higashida. Higashida's own “romantic gesture” at the end of the episode is also very much in character, especially when he freely admits to leaving Miyakoshi hanging for a minute in between breaking up and asking her out. The strength of this couple has always been their blend of open hostility and reluctant affection, so it's nice to see them get a fitting conclusion.
Of the show's three couples, Shindou and Kamakura get arguably the weakest ending. It's kind of amusing that Shindou continues to walk a fine line between life and death even at his new job, and I'm amused by the idea of the rest of the cast growing accustomed to the flowers that grow out of Kamakura's head. Beyond that though, their final appearances are a little underwhelming. Adachi and Muranushi fall somewhere between the other two couples; their final scene is satisfying but not outrageously funny. While it's charming to see Adachi get flustered by Muranushi's deadpan act one last time, it feels like the emotional and comedic high points of their relationship came earlier in the series.
Not to be outdone by the main couples, the show's supporting characters also show up in force to make their final appearances. There aren't any big surprises here, but there are a few amusing moments. Nagata and Yanagiba are a particular highlight, with Yanagiba turning the tables on their sappy moment of friendship by announcing that she's officially given up on ever going back to school. The need to hustle through so many characters in just one episode means that not everyone gets a chance to go all-out, but the goodbyes are still pleasant and amusing.
Apart from feeling rather rushed, this is more or less the kind of ending that WWW.Wagnaria ought to have. The characters are able to reach reasonably happy endings without abandoning the quirks and flaws that make them fun to watch. Even as the supposedly romantic couples march off toward the next stages of their relationships, they bicker and gripe about one another's personalities. Neither too sweet nor too bitter, it feels just about right.
If the goal of WWW.Wagnaria was to provide a spiritual successor to the original Wagnaria, then this series has been fairly successful. It's certainly captured the style of comedy that made its predecessor so entertaining, and the new cast has been well-balanced to provide a steady stream of character humor. The new generation hasn't quite replicated the emotional hooks of the original, but this has been a respectable single-season effort on that front. Taken out of the context of the franchise, WWW.Wagnaria looks better; its sharp wit and occasional moments of sweetness mark it as a strong entry in its genre. A part of me would like to see more of it, but the finality of this last episode means we might have to add a third restaurant to the Wagnaria chain in order to get a new season of workplace comedy.
WWW.WAGNARIA!! is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.
Paul Jensen is a freelance writer and editor. You can follow more of his anime-related ramblings on Twitter.
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