And so we arrive at the root of the Takanashi family problem with “That woman Shizuka”. That phrase serves as both the episode title and a darn fitting description of the episode by large. This week featured the debut of the head of the Takanashi family and Souta’s mother. To call her odd and weird would be doing a disservice to those words, because Shizuka is just… something else.
If you were to boil down all the odd quirks and weird personality traits of the Takanashi siblings, clump them together and perform some kind of weird voodoo on it all, that would lead you to Shizuka. I will say this about her… Working!!! has been building up to her reveal over a few weeks now, and it didn’t disappoint. She’s every bit the apocalypse that Souta was dreading.
I think its the first scene of the episode, with a younger Souta, that gives us a taste of what kind of damaging childhood Souta had. But that’s just a taste, because Shizuka’s odd parenting extends the damage to all members of the Takanashi family, who take one or two of her weird traits and base their personality around it.
Lets take Kozue as an example. This episode actually focused a fair bit on the drunkard sister of the Takanashi family, and actually broke down her odd behavior in a way that made a lot of sense. Having largely been ignored by her mother throughout her life, its no small wonder that Kozue would have abandonment issues and a serious case of attention seeking behavior.
In a strange twist of fate, Kozue also takes after her mother in that she’s aloof. Its the part of her mother’s personality that she’s most familiar with, so its not strange to see that its THAT trait that almost defines her. But in focusing on Kozue’s issues, we also kind of get a bit of a resolution to her character arc.
And lest you forget, Working!!! is a comedy at heart, so Kozue’s little spat with her friends Youhei and Mitsuki culminates in her being ontop of a lamp post while the two try to make her feel better. In terms of gags, Kozue’s “You’ll go out with me” skewing of a sign of friendship is pretty high up there. I will also say that, I sympathize with Kozue a bit, which I honestly didn’t think was possible. Being told your entire life that you’d “be fine alone” is perhaps the worst thing you’d want to hear. The fact that her mother’s been reinforcing it, while ignoring her is just… yeah. While I don’t think Kozue’s drunkard behavior and her clear ignoring of others boundaries is okay, I do at least understand why she is the way she is.
Its a pretty tragic situation, and its kind of scary how skillfully Working!!! slips in some pretty dark stuff under the pretext of comedy. The flashback with a younger Kozue in particular, makes me wonder how she would’ve turned out had she had a more normal mother.
But its when we actually see Shizuka arrive in the dead of night, that we get a true sense for the horror that she brings to all her children. Its the interaction between the family in the living room that just breaks out all the stops, and would probably give a psychologist chills from all the emotional damage that’s being thrown around the room.
The first victim, of course, is Kazue, the eldest Takanashi. Its easy to see where Kazue comes in, she’s taken the headstrong, confident aspects of her mother’s personality, and I’d wager is the most normal out of all her siblings except… For the fact that she’s remarrying Minegishi. A fact that her mother wastes no time in mocking her for. Now granted, again, Its funny and I found myself chuckling the entire time. But think for a second… That’s pretty messed up. A mother laughing at her daughter’s expense as a passive onlooker? And using that to knock her down a peg when she tries to act all confident and independent? Man, no wonder she’s a politician XD
But I think the truly impressive act, is in how Shizuka whips her weakest and laziest daughter Izumi into doing something. The mere fact that she gets Izumi to not only get up, but make HER food, is simply put, amazing. And its poor Minegishi that’s used as her ultimate weapon too. I also find it interesting, that Izumi adopts her mother’s “others should do stuff for me” trait to its ultimate extreme, and yet is also the most knowledgeable and creative of the family. Boy… Shizuka knows (most) of her children so darn well that she can make them dance to her tune like puppets.
Nazuna is perhaps the most untouched of all the siblings, in that she simply adores her mother, but there’s the whole “dominating and gaming” society trait in her, that’s mixed inside all that positivity and niceness. Its too early to tell what kind of person Nazuna will become, but as Souta mentions, nothing good is probably going to come of Nazuna learning how to be an “emperor” from her mother.
Speaking of which… Souta. Its clear that Souta’s got his issues, being dressed up as a girl and what not, being the only man in the family, his whole “I like small things” as a defense mechanism for all the problems he’s faced with the women in his life. But its a revelation I think, when we really understand WHY Souta hasn’t actually moved into a relationship with the girl he likes. Its all related to his mother, unsurprisingly…
It turns out that the reason that his mother is suddenly visiting is because she “detects” that her son is in love with someone. There’s a special kind of delusion, in a way that only a mother can have, when she states all her children are so “high spec”. But its when she mentions that she’d like to evaluate and size up her son’s potential girl, that Souta really starts to cringe. Its clear that Souta doesn’t wish his mother’s attention on anyone, least of all Inami, who he loves.
And in case there was any question about that, its pretty much confirmed from Souta this week. He admits it to himself TWICE, and with it, comes perhaps the most HILARIOUS gag we’ve gotten from Working!!! yet.
I snickered and laughed every time Souta would admit that he liked Inami, and then proceeded to repeatedly bash his head into the wall and then say: “My Boom-desu!” (Which forgive me, but I have NO idea if that’s some engrish or Japanese) but Crunchyroll translated it to “I’m into that”. Whatever it means, Its just friggin hilarious, and works on me every time.
We’ve seen it a few times already, but its the kind of absurd, silly and funny gag that Working!!! excels at. The frequency with which see it, signals a change in the air between the two. It really is a joy seeing these characters interact on screen now. Inami is so nice and in love, being genuinely happy with every interaction she has with Souta, but dialing back her expectations. Souta on the other hand, is clearly won over, and is decreasing the distance between them proactively.
I loved how, in classic Working!!! fashion, the two grew closer by holding the magic hand at the handle, bringing their hands indirectly closer together. It all ends with Souta deciding that regardless of how he feels about Inami, he’s got to protect her from his mother. Personally, I have no idea why Souta’s that worried. Sure, Inami may join the ranks of people dreading Shizuka’s existence, but I don’t think his mother will find any issues with Inami.
A girl that can only stand to be around her son (for better or worse)? Is super nice, cute and likes him? I think that’s about as “high spec” as any mother could hope for. I’m actually kind of looking forward to Inami meeting Shizuka. Its just… I have no idea what will happen. Its like mixing two foreign chemicals together. They could explode, they could also lead to an all curing elixir.
And while the Takanashis dominated most of the episode, we did check in briefly with our other pair, Yachiyou and Satou. It seems that now that Yachiyou is interested in Satou, she’s having trouble even saying his name. In an effort to support her, everyone’s trying their best, whether its Popular or Kyouka-san.
Its worth mentioning that the show took this opportunity to hit with the largest dose of Kyouko x Parfait jokes we’ve had in a while. My opinion on them remains unchanged. They’re dull and I’d rather we not see any more of them but… In some ways this episode marked the end of Kyouko’s character arc. By the end of her whole “parfait” tasting test thing, she realized, in her own way, that her dependent relationship on Yachiyou can’t last. Yachiyou needs to be happy, and it’s more or less set in stone that she and Satou will end up together. I mean… I can hope can’t I?
With three episodes left after this week, I’d say we’re at a pretty good point as far as all storylines are concerned. Almost all the side characters have had their resolutions, and both of our core pairs are front runners for their particular stories to resolve. All that’s left is to sit back, laugh and let Working!!! work its magic.
Side note: If you check out the OP this week, you’ll see that all the new characters that we saw introduced in the last few episodes, including this one, make appearances!
It doesn’t seem like there’s many hints as to what we’ll see next week in the preview. Will it be Yachiyou focused? Will it be about Souta? I suppose we’ll know in a week.
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