On the surface Working`!! has very little going for it. Sliding off the back of the first series the second introduces no major new jokes or any characters of substance, the animation is scrappy and there's no drama that isn't wholly manufactured. Telling then that the most exciting part is when Matsumoto - the eternal cameo - is gifted a voice and takes part, albeit in a small way, in the ongoing story. Against all of this, somehow everything clicks together and works.

often situations are resolved with a rare outbreak of sensibility but just as many are run unceremoniously into the ground

This is mostly thanks to a core set of characters which play off each other very well, making sure that no personality (foibles and all) is allowed to dominate. So the sparky Taneshima remains the most enjoyable character thanks to her indomitable good nature, but her clashes with Satou are kept spaced apart, providing brilliant but occasional visual humour. Likewise Takanashi, who exists on the knife-edge of creepy and eccentric, interacts more with Satou and Souma now and his baffling relationship with Inami is kept restrained.

Sometimes though, some more variety is needed which warrants the intervention of the Takanashi's sisters. Even this is too well-worn for the series' mid-point which brings in cronies from Kyouko's past,  as well as another member of the estranged Yamada family. It takes the focus away from storylines which were already tired but fundamentally changes nothing.

And there's the rub. For the series to work the constancy of the character chemistry, situations and jokes needs to remain otherwise it would slip into unwanted drama or be required to grow a pesky storyline. Certain episodes tease a kind of self-awareness with a possible revelation or overhead conversation that threatens the status quo, but events always expire and dramas always pass without consequence.

This is after all light humour and often situations are resolved with a rare outbreak of sensibility but just as many are run unceremoniously into the ground. There is a surreal streak to the comedy though, beyond the basic workplace shenanigans is a young girl hiding from her family in a restaurant, a business owner looking for his sewer visiting wife and a freakishly strong androphobe. This isn't like the British workplace comedies of yore (Brittas Empire and Dinner Ladies et. al.) but an off-the-wall look at the microcosm that is employment.

Wagnaria like any business is an odd, disconnected place where disparate people are expected to work together while outside of the workplace their grievances, romances, trials and traumas don't exist. Sometimes we see Souta at home with his sisters, and this series we even see into Inami's homelife, however their school and private lives - what they do when not working - are almost entirely omitted. In that way then, the characters aren't people but wholly defined by their quirks and any semblance of well-roundedness is entirely accidental.

So if you can ignore the torturously punctuated title and accept a flawed, sometimes funny but always lighthearted take on a service-industry workplace, Working`!! is great, unoffensive entertainment. The premise is fragile and a prime target for negativity: too similar, nothing happens, characters are annoying etc. The first outing may have been too much for many and this second series doesn't try to remedy these complaints and settles for continuing and refining what is at heart, a romantic office comedy.

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