Working!! is a Japanese four-panelcomic stripmanga series written and illustrated by Karino Takatsu, and concerns the activities of the unusual employees at the Wagnaria family restaurant. It began serialization in the January 2005 issue of Square Enix's Young Ganganseinen manga magazine. The first bound volume was released in November 2005 in Japan; as of March 2011, nine volumes have been released. Square Enix released three drama CDs between 2007 and 2009 with scripts written by Shōgo Mukai. A 13-episode anime series produced by A-1 Pictures and directed by Yoshimasa Hiraike aired in Japan between April and June 2010, and a second season began airing in October 2011. In North America, the anime is licensed by NIS America and is known as Wagnaria!!.
The main character of Working!!, Sōta is a 16-year-old high school student recruited by Popura to become a new employee at the family restaurant Wagnaria. He is enamored by cute things and thus favors Popura over the other employees due to her cute appearance. He voices his thoughts out loud and occasionally offends his co-workers, often resulting in him getting punished by them. He usually finds his co-workers and the rules of the restaurant to be strange, but he still has an attachment to his job. He is able to adapt quickly to his job at the restaurant. He has three older sisters and dislikes older women as he has been tormented by them all his life. He received hand-me-downs from his sisters when he was young, giving him the appearance of a little girl. He also has a younger sister in elementary school who is almost as tall as he is, but unlike his older sisters, respects him. Despite his problems, he is occasionally forced to cross-dress as a girl named Kotori (小鳥?, derived from the first two kanji in his surname), which is derived from Sōta's family name. Despite the fact that he constantly gets hit by Mahiru, he is actually quite skilled in fighting, as his sister taught him self-defense. He does not fight Mahiru because his sister taught him not to hit girls.
Popura is a short 17-year-old high school student who works at Wagnaria. Ironically, she was named after the poplar tree so that she would grow tall. She is a hard worker, but she sometimes makes clumsy mistakes in her job. She is very sensitive about her small appearance; many customers usually mistake her to be younger than she really is. She often fails to gain respect from Sōta, who is one year younger than her, as he usually regards her as an elementary school student. She is also unable to properly call him by his surname, saying "Katanashi" rather than "Takanashi", even when corrected. She admires Kotori, Sōta's cross-dressing persona, and the Takanashi sisters because of their tall and mature look.
Mahiru is a timid, 17-year-old girl who joins the rest of the employees at Wagnaria. She has androphobia and is thus terrified of men; she punches any male that comes near her. This violent behavior arises from childhood, when her father, who did not want his daughter to eventually marry, told her that every man is ready to attack her and conditioned her to violently attacking men at a moment's notice due to this fear. As she and Sōta usually share shifts, he takes the brunt of her attacks. However, she makes considerable progress with her fear of men by taking it out on Sōta. She wears a hairpin in her hair, which she changes every day due to Sōta's compliment on it (according to Sōma). At first she begins to develop a crush, but later she falls in love with Sōta when he confronts her father (as Kotori) about her androphobia. Thanks to Sōta her condition improved as she states that thanks to him she became able to be about two meters close to guys without having the urge to hit them, though this extends to only having fairly civil conversations (often ruined by Sōta's rudeness) or if Mahiru launches an attack on him. Despite that Sōta only manages to get closer to Mahiru without risk of being attacked when he crossdress as Kotori or by using a grabber toy.
Kyōko is the manager of Wagnaria. She usually maintains a rather apathetic attitude towards the restaurant she runs and almost never bothers to do any work herself, instead constantly eating food including Yachiyo's parfaits and Otoo's souvenirs. She is not beyond using violence to deal with unruly customers and firmly believes that employees come before the customers, as the employees are the ones doing all the work. She is 28 years old, but she becomes despondent whenever she is called old or any variation of. Kyōko was a juvenile delinquent, and Yachiyo and Kyōko met when Kyōko saved Yachiyo from bullies when she was a little girl and demanded food as payment.
Yachiyo is the chief of staff at the restaurant and is 20 years old. She usually carries around a katana which, according to her, was made by her parents who used to be blacksmiths. Yachiyo is unaware that some of the customers, and even Sōta, are intimidated by her blade. She admires Kyōko, considerably after she was saved from bullies by her, and has followed her ever since. She constantly makes parfaits for Kyōko and becomes hostile to anyone else trying to give her food, which is usually Otoo. Yachiyo is very close to Jun, as she has worked with him the longest and considered him her closest friend, as she was unaware of his feelings for her and spent most of her time talking to him about Kyōko, much to his dismay. However, later on she reciprocates his feelings, and they begin dating. In the crossover drama CD bundled with the Servant x Service limited edition Blu-ray/DVDs, she and Jun go together to enter their names into the family register, and instead of babbling about Kyoko to others, she now boasts about her husband Jun. She is often addressed as "Chief" by Sōta.
A 20-year-old chef who works in the kitchen, Jun is a helpful but intimidating individual. He is in love with Yachiyo, but has problems expressing it. However, because she is so devoted to Kyōko, she failed to recognize any hints he attempts to make. He likes to take out his anger on Popura by messing with her or bending the truth, to which Popura naively believes. When Hiroomi tries to help with Jun's development with Yachiyo, Jun unrelentingly hits him with a pan, showing that he is sensitive about his feelings for Yachiyo. However, later on in the manga, Yachiyo reciprocates his feelings, and they begin dating. In the crossover drama CD bundled with the Servant x Service limited edition Blu-ray/DVDs, she and Jun go together to enter their names into the family register, and after the process is completed, Jun refuses to stop bullying Popura by changing her hairstyle, saying that he is too happy being a newlywed man.
Another chef who works in the kitchen, Hiroomi is a young man with an easygoing attitude. He often blackmails other workers to do his job for him and pass it off as a form of modesty from the other employees. He can blackmail anyone except for Jun and Mahiru; the former usually responds to his blackmail with hitting him with a frying pan and the latter punches him even before he manages to talk to her. He is terrified of Mahiru's urges and is thankful for Sōta's existence in the restaurant since she takes out all her urges on him instead. His biggest weakness appears to be crying girls. Moreover, Aoi has been the only person to ever backfire his blackmails, leaving him depressed. However, he somewhat dotes on Aoi, trying to protect her whereabouts from her brother and buying her Aoi's most beloved possession, a stuffed bear named Daisy.
Aoi is a mysterious, self-proclaimed 16-year-old girl who Otoo meets on his travels to find his missing wife. Her true identity and age are a mystery besides the fact that her first name is Aoi. He brings her back to Wagnaria where she starts working as a waitress and lives in Wagnaria's attic. While she has great confidence in herself, during work she is an unhelpful troublemaker who gets yelled at by the other staff members, especially Sōta. Since she is in training, her position among the staff is low, which she complains about. She is bad with dealing with Sōta's constant complaints about her, but she does write down some of his suggestions (along with idle complaints). She yearns for the idea of having a family, especially towards Otoo whom she sees as an ideal father figure. She goes as far as to apply to be adopted by him. She is also rather childish and does not like to be (in her view) "left out", in that sense she goes so as far so as to ask Kyōko to drive her home (even though she "lives" at Wagnaria) or ask for Sōma to poke her, as he and Satō poked Inami and Popura. Her favorite food is nattō. Her ladylike manner and lack of knowledge in the kitchen makes Takanashi suspect she is actually from a rich family. Later on, her brother appears looking for her, but Sōma continues to prevent them from meeting. After the two eventually do meet, Aoi states that she ran away partly due to her family situation, her father had died and her mother is described as 'robotic', but largely because Kirio had eaten the nattō she had been saving in the fridge one day. In the crossover drama CD bundled with the Servant x Service limited edition Blu-ray/DVDs, she wears the same school uniform as Touko Ichimiya, which proves that she attends the same school as her.
Otoo is the top head of the restaurant. Most of the time he is away searching for his missing wife, who apparently is so bad with directions she got lost while running errands and is now lost wandering Japan. He periodically returns to Wagnaria to check up on things and bring back souvenirs. Due to his habit of bringing food back for Kyōko whenever he returns, his life is constantly in danger from a jealous Yachiyo. He is noted to have a light presence, and is even compared to (and named) "air" by Sōta when the latter is attempting to convince Mahiru not to attack him. He finally reunites with his wife, and they are now living together once again. He keeps a very close watch on her so that she will not get lost again.
Maya is an 18-year-old glasses-wearing girl who works at Wagnaria. She professes that she is a "normal person" striving to be completely ordinary in work and life in general. She has a hard time understanding the other employees seeing how awkward all of them are and tries not to be too familiar with them. The irony is that because she tries too hard to be "normal", she ends up being pretty weird herself. Maya briefly appeared in volume one of the manga and did not resurface until volume five due to readers requesting more information on her from the author.
Kazue is the oldest sister at age 31. The tallest in the family, she is a lawyer, previously divorced, and her first appearance is in chapter 25. She is an expert in law and often uses it to her benefit in combination with violence and wordplay in arguments. She appears to be very serious, but it is just a cover for her emotional problems. She often ignores Sōta's viewpoints and appears to not get along with Izumi or Kozue, though she does care for her family and shows clear worry when Izumi leaves the house. She spoils Nazuna. She divorced her husband (a childhood friend) because of his constant masochistic tendencies, although it has been hinted that she still has feelings for him (her ex-husband blatantly loves her).
Izumi is the second sister in the Takanashi family at age 28. Tall and slender, but she is rarely shown standing and puts little attention into her beraggled appearance - always dressing in black, not wearing make-up and being covered in ink. She writes romance novels for a living; though she loves her job, she is often driven to despair by deadlines and writer's block, and often locks herself in her messy room. Izumi has a weak constitution - she gets muscle ache from carrying anything heavier than a pen - and frequently relies on others to take care of her, doing no household chores and being cared for by her brother, and relying on taxis.
Kozue is the third sister at age 25. Slightly shorter than Kazue, she is an aikido instructor, and appears in chapter 20 of the manga. She is often found passed out by the front door. She loves to go to Wagnaria and latch on to any employees (especially Mahiru). Sōta has a hard time dealing with her as she loves to wear revealing clothing. She gets lonely easily and loves to pick up guys, but breaks up with them often. Her relationship issues are a contributing factor to her alcohol abuse. She loves Sōta but goes about it the wrong way which causes him trauma. It results in him treating her more harshly than her sisters. Due to her job, she is the only person who can withstand Kazue's physical attacks.
Nazuna is the fourth sister and the youngest in the Takanashi family at age 12. Still in elementary school, she is almost as tall as Sōta. Nazuna appears in chapter 25 of the manga. When she was little, she saw the abuse endured by Sōta from her sisters decided to protect her brother. So far, only Izumi is being spared from her discrete machinations against her unsuspecting sisters. However, Sōta worries that she will grow up to be a worse sadist than her sisters. Being still in elementary school, her stamina makes it harder for her to stay up late at night. After assuming that Inami is Sōta's girlfriend, Nazuna uses a school report assignment as an excuse and with bribes to the manager, to start helping out at the restaurant. Later in the series, she helps out once in a while and appears to work without pay.
Name unspecified, loves his daughter to the point of making up lies about males so that no boys would come near her; out of jealousy, he told Mahiru that all men wanted to attack her so that she would fear them and never get married. He is the cause of Mahiru's androphobia and abnormal strength, having subtly trained her from birth, though this has also made him a target for her punching. Due to the possibility of getting hit at home, he lives and works by himself faraway, almost forgetting what Mahiru looks like. Appears to be calm and normal but carries a rifle with him which he intends to use on boys who get too close to Mahiru.
Otoo's wife, who went shopping one day for some milk and has since been unable to find her way back home due to her terrible sense of direction. She has occasionally run into other members of the Wagnaria staff, but often mysteriously disappears soon afterwards. In reality, she navigates her way through the sewers, only stopping for milk at convenience stores, explaining why she and Otoo never cross paths.
One of the members of Kyōko's old personal gang, who occasionally gets called in to help at the restaurant when staff are low. Yōhei is unemployed, a status which he does not change in order to ensure he is always available should Kyōko need his help. When he remarks that Kozue is pretty (shortly after she is dumped by her latest boyfriend), she develops a persistent interest in him because he rejects her on the grounds of not being able to provide for her given his unemployment rather than because he dislikes her. He does not get along with his twin sister, Mitsuki. He is distinguished by his green jumpsuit, ponytail, and snaggle-tooth.
Yōhei's twin sister, and another member of Kyōko's old gang. She is currently working as an insurance agent and is easily embarrassed by her past looks. She presently wears red business attire and brown hair, though she used to have puffy blonde-dyed hair and yankee schoolgirl attire. Like her brother, she is more than willing to avail herself to Kyoko should her leader call for her help. Mitsuki is also highly protective of Yachiyo, developing a dislike of Jun as a result of his romantic interest in Yachiyo and his correct assertion that Mitsuki's attitude towards Yachiyo is the reason why Yachiyo has not become self-sufficient.
Aoi's older brother who has been constantly searching for her. Like Aoi, his surname is an alias which coincidentally matches hers. He is the captain of a karate club and is strong enough to defend himself against Mahiru, who he gains a crush on. He shares his sister's eyes, dark purple hair and irises, and wears a white school uniform.
Working!! had its origins in a web comic written and illustrated by Karino Takatsu also called Working!!, which she published in irregular intervals on her personal website. The web comic's setting and characters are different from the later four-panelcomic stripmanga, which began serialization in the January 2005 issue of Square Enix's Young Gangan manga magazine. While the restaurant in the web comic and manga are both called Wagnaria, they are different branch stores, so the world is the same. For example, Kenichirō Sakaki (榊 研一郎,Sakaki Kenichrō?), the web comic's store manager, is an old friend of Kyōko Shirafuji and Masahiro Adachi (足立 正広,Adachi Masahiro?) from the web comic is a band mate of Jun Satō from the Young Gangan version. The author called the web comic version Cat Group (猫組,Neko-gumi?) and the serialized manga version Dog Group (犬組,Inu-gumi?). The first tankōbon volume of the manga was released on November 25, 2005, and as of March 25, 2011, nine volumes have been published in Japan. Ten additional chapters have been released via mobile phones. The manga has been licensed for release in Chinese in Taiwan by Tong Li Publishing. Takatsu launched a biweekly web version of Working!! on October 16, 2009 to commemorate the anime series and posts the manga on the anime's official website.
Square Enix released three drama CDs under the title Young Gangan Book In CD Working!!, with scenarios written by Shōgo Mukai. The first volume, released on January 25, 2007, came bundled with a 96-page booklet with bonus manga and the scenario included. The second and third volumes, released on April 25, 2008 and March 25, 2009 respectively, also came bundled with similar booklets. The voice acting cast for the anime is different from the drama CDs.
The anime television series' 13-episode first season, produced by A-1 Pictures and directed by Yoshimasa Hiraike, aired in Japan between April 4 and June 26, 2010 on Tokyo MX; the first episode having a special pre-broadcast on March 6, 2010 on Tokyo MX. NIS America licensed the anime under the title Wagnaria!!, and an English-subtitled DVD box set was released on March 24, 2011. The anime's opening theme is "Someone Else" by Kana Asumi, Saki Fujita and Eri Kitamura (the three female leads). The ending theme is "Heart no Edge ni Idomō Go to Heart Edge" (ハートのエッジに挑もう Go to Heart Edge?) by Jun Fukuyama, Daisuke Ono and Hiroshi Kamiya (the three male leads). The special ending theme for episode nine is "Golden Day" (ゴールデン・デイ?) by Saki Fujita.
A second season, titled Working'!! (with an apostrophe), began airing on October 1, 2011, after a September 3, 2011 preview airing.Crunchyroll is doing a simulcast of the series. The second season's opening theme is "Coolish Walk" by Asumi, Fujita and Kitamura, while the ending theme is "Always Love & Peace!!" (いつものようにLOVE&PEACE!!,Itsumo no Yōni LOVE&PEACE!!?) by Fukuyama, Ono and Kamiya.
Internet radio show
An Internet radio show to promote the anime series titled Yamaking!! aired 13 episodes between May 21 and October 29, 2010, and was hosted by Ryō Hirohashi, the voice actress of Aoi Yamada. The show restarted with the title Yamaking'!! on October 7, 2011.
The fourth manga volume of Working!! was the seventh highest selling manga volume in Japan for the week of October 23 and October 29, 2007. The sixth manga volume was the sixth highest selling manga volume in Japan for the week of March 24 and March 30, 2009, having sold over 73,000 volumes that week.