Episode 4

by Paul Jensen,

How would you rate episode 4 of

After three episodes full of character introductions, this episode of WWW.Wagnaria gives us a chance to slow down and get to know the core cast a little better. The only new arrival is Miyakoshi's mother, who decides that her daughter needs to marry Higashida after learning that he was able to survive an encounter with her terrible cooking. Adachi continues to stress out over his feelings for Muranushi, while Shindou's suffering at the hands of Kamakura seems to be getting worse. As Higashida braces himself for another round of chocolate from Miyakoshi, Nagata struggles to understand just what sort of relationship the two of them have. Can it still be love when toxic sweets are involved?

This episode gets off to a slightly rough start, and the introduction of Miyakoshi's mother isn't really entertaining enough to justify the time spent building up to it. While the banter amongst the restaurant staff is mildly amusing as they speculate on what sort of person she might be, it doesn't have the sharp wit that this series has displayed in its best scenes. When Youko Miyakoshi finally does arrive on the scene, she turns out to be something of a one-trick pony. Her blunt attempt at setting her daughter up with Higashida is certainly funny, but it's also the obvious route for the scene to follow. This sequence needs a couple of genuine surprises to really work.

Once that exchange is out of the way, things start to pick up. The supporting characters in WWW.Wagnaria are beginning to step it up on the comedic front, and the interactions between Muranushi and Adachi are especially strong here. Muranushi's low-key delivery and inscrutable facial expressions don't look like a recipe for humor on paper, but they allow her to say completely outrageous things with a straight face. This plays well against Adachi's inner turmoil, allowing Muranushi to mess with his head in spectacular fashion. It seems like Muranushi is at least partially aware of the effect she has on Adachi, so expect more strong humor from these two in the future.

At the end of the day, however, Higashida and Miyakoshi still lead the show's comedy charge. The chemistry between them has already found a natural back-and-forth rhythm, and they tend to steal the spotlight whenever they're in a scene together. Their bickering conversation at the shrine shows that they can carry a lot of screen time on their own, with Nagata's running commentary proving to be amusing but not necessary. Saint Valentine also makes another appearance to coincide with the return of the dreaded chocolates, and the angry outbursts that Higashida makes while lying half-dead on the floor are a lot of fun. Even as the other characters start to grow and develop, it's clear that the headstrong waitress and her unwilling taste-tester will remain the core around which the series revolves.

This is perhaps the first “business as usual” episode that we've seen from WWW.Wagnaria thus far. Jokes and routines that have worked well in the past return with slight tweaks and modifications, and the show throws a handful of new ideas at the wall just to see if anything sticks. It's the kind of slow and steady progress that the original series often banked on, so it makes sense that this approach would resurface here. It's not the most surprising or hilarious effort we've seen from WWW.Wagnaria, but episodes like this help keep the show going until it can build up to something newer and more exciting.

Rating: B

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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