by Paul Jensen,
How would you rate episode 9 of
Winter seems to be the prime season for getting sick, and that applies to anime characters just as much as us regular folks. In Muranushi's case, her most recent argument with Adachi is as much to blame as the weather when she comes down with a fever. With her supernatural customers terrorizing the restaurant in her absence, it falls to Adachi to help get the ghost-whispering waitress back on her feet. For better or for worse, the only way he can get her to see a doctor is by asking her out. Muranushi's not the only one calling in sick, though Yanagiba still shows up at the restaurant even after catching a cold. As Nagata tries to take care of her, the two of them get a chance to reaffirm their slightly unusual friendship.
For a character comedy like WWW.Wagnaria, Adachi's visit to Muranushi's home hits all the right notes. It's obvious that Adachi is in over his head as we see more of Muranushi's family and the weird decorations that adorn their apartment. His attempts to coax her out of her room strike a good balance between heartwarming intent and humorously idiotic. With Adachi getting flustered as usual, Muranushi sneaking in some witty comments despite her illness, and the rest of the family adding an extra dose of chaos, it turns out to be a very funny scene. Good writing and delivery are key in making the dialogue work, especially with some of Muranushi's deliberately deceptive one-liners.
As a comedy duo, Nagata and Yanagiba aren't as inherently funny, and the show has to work harder to keep their scene entertaining. Much of it comes down to an approach that the original Wagnaria used on a regular basis: having the characters own up to their quirks while refusing to do anything about them. Yanagiba is well aware that she's a pain in the butt, and Nagata knows it's odd to keep visiting the restaurant now that Higashida is in a relationship, so having them lean into their eccentricities ultimately makes the situation more amusing. There's a good back-and-forth flow to their conversation, and having them recommit to being friends allows the show to work the warm and fuzzy angle even while presenting everything in a comedic context.
After taking an underwhelming turn last week, the supporting characters seem to be back on their game in this episode. Everyone's reactions to the ghostly consequences of Muranushi's absence are nicely handled, as is the overly suspicious reaction to Adachi's relationship update. Saiki has largely been a one-trick pony thanks to his tenuous grasp of the language, but he holds up well in his increased screen time. He serves as a useful wild card during Nagata's heart-to-heart with Yanagiba, throwing just enough chaos into the scene to keep it from getting overly sappy. Even Kamakura's brief aside with her bodyguard is worth a laugh, and her lovably twisted personality almost works better in small doses.
WWW.Wagnaria hums along nicely from start to finish this week, with no one scene or element standing out as being in desperate need of improvement. It displays a good grasp of comedic fundamentals, and the characters are able to conceal some charming moments amidst all the goofy antics. It's a very by-the-book interpretation of the basic genre formula, but the execution is strong enough to make the time pass quickly. I've found myself checking the clock during the last few minutes of some of this show's weaker episodes, but the end credits actually took me by surprise this week. That's a good sign, especially at this point in the season.
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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