WAGNARIA!!2 Complete Series Premium Edition Review

Anime

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WAGNARIA!!2 Complete Series Premium Edition Review
Studio: A-1 Pictures
Publisher: NIS America
Format: Blu-ray
Release Date: February 4, 2014
Price: $64.99 – Available Here

Overview
Whenever an anime finishes in Japan, viewers usually are left hoping that a second season will be made, especially if it is an adaptation of a continuing manga series. Sometimes a few years may pass between adaptations but more often than not a sequel will follow soon after if it will at all. Such was the case with Wagnaria!! which was given its second season a year after the first.

However when it came to the North American release of the series, fans had to wait much longer and many had given up hope of seeing Wagnaria!!’s second season. Thankfully NIS America has brought us Wagnaria!!2 after a two year wait. Was this wait worthwhile or has this dish spoiled after so long?

Story
This second season takes place sometime after the events of the first season which ended with Sota trying to help Minami with her fear of men by going on a date with her while cross-dressing. Nothing has really changed amongst the cast in this time and as such viewers are dropped right back into the lives of the eccentric cast of characters that work at or are related to the workers at the family restaurant Wagnaria.

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To say that there is much of a story to what happens in Wagnaria!!2 would be a challenge as this is a pure slice-of-life comedy where we the only story elements revolve around trying to cure Inami’s condition or just try to make it through a day without too many problems. Instead what makes Wagnaria!!2 worth watching are the cast of characters that fans have been introduced to over the course of the first season as we continue to follow them as they slowly make progress over the course of this season and of course all of the humor that comes from putting these characters together.

We have Inami who has such a severe case of androphobia that causes her to punch any man that she sees and is capable of delivering wall crushing blows since she has been trained every day since she was a child by her father, and her unrequited feelings for Sota who continues to look at her mostly like a dog that he is trying to train rather than as a person, probably because she treats him as a punching bag. As for Sota, his perversion for only liking tiny things such as bugs, stuffed animals, or Popura since she is really short for her age remains as powerful as ever.

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Throughout the course of this season nothing is really resolved in their relationship but we do see elements of growth from both characters as Inami begins to hold herself back a bit and Sota struggles internally with his feelings for seeing Inami interacting and not striking another male. Perhaps it is due to the slow burn of their progression but each step is feels meaningful, though it usually is then used as a joke with Inami finally punching Sota or Sota saying she is worse than a bug.

While those two are often the main focus, the large cast also features the gangster-looking but sweet at heart Sato as he tries to work up the courage to confess to Yachiyo despite the fact that she only seems to have eyes for the manager and talks Sato’s ear about her anytime she gets the chance and carries a katana everywhere, though she does seem to make some minor progression throughout this season as well.

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The rest of the cast is a fairly mixed bag, with Soma, the mischievous and easygoing cook who often humors Yamada’s needs, the always hungry and lazy manager Kyoko, Popura who is pretty much the mascot character for the series and is often the butt of many jokes played off of her height or Sato’s teasing. As for Yamada, she continues to be the klutz of the restaurant and tries to be as spoiled as Popura or create a new family for herself only to be punished for it. Sota’s sisters often appear as well and cause numerous misunderstandings amongst the family when it comes to who is who at Sota’s workplace.

There are a few characters introduced this time around, two of which are former members of Kyoko’s gang that try and help when she calls and two others that actually play a bit into pushing the story forward, although the one appears for only a short time to cause Yachiyo trouble. As for the other, he brings with him the potential for plot development as he is searching for his missing sister and bears a striking resemblance to Wagnaria’s Yamada. However his presence is instead used for laughs and to make waves in Inami and Sota’s relationship, and it is sad to see that he wasn’t used for more than that.

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Very little changes in Wagnaria!!2 but that really isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Sure a few running jokes do get stale now that this is the second season with the cast and there is missed potential regarding Yamada’s storyline but for the most part the series is highly entertaining and great for a laugh. Every character’s quirk is played for laughs, even the mostly background character that tries to be normal so hard that she is abnormal, and the new characters add a bit of spice to the series to keep things from going stale.

Visuals
This time around NIS America has only released Wagnaria!!2 on Blu-ray but while this may be detrimental to those who haven’t made the upgrade, the soft tones of the show really benefits from the new format. Each character has a unique design and a wide range of emotional expressions which really helps considering most of the time we see them, they are wearing their work uniforms which are relatively bland, though this does make their appearances outside of work all the better as their normal clothing is always varied.

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As for the background and animation style, the backgrounds are pretty simplistic but fitting considering that most of Wagnaria!!2 takes place inside of a family restaurant. There are a few areas where perspective makes doorways seem far larger than they should be but along those same lines the foreground objects are often used to great comedic effect as they often are used to block a characters face from view when they react to a situation. It is also worth noting that the series tends to shift from its normal style to a more chibi looking style occasionally for some basic scenes or for comedic effect.

Audio
Since this is an NIS America release, that means that Wagnaria!!2 comes with Japanese audio only with English subtitles. This isn’t a problem however as the Japanese voice actors are all incredible sounding in their roles, especially Kana Asumi as Popura and Saki Fujita as Inami.

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The background music remains very light hearted and is fitting for a series such as Wagnaria!!2 which is a great show to relax and laugh with. As for the opening theme, we have the highly energetic and “Coolish Walk” sung by the voice actresses for Popura, Inami, and Yachiyo with animation that ties into the song nicely. The ending theme is “Always Love & Peace” sung by the voice actors for Sota, Sato, and Soma which, while still a good song, is easier to skip through probably due to the animation accompanying it.

Extras
As with all of NIS America’s first release of an anime series, they have given Wagnaria!!2 the ‘Premium Edition’ treatment which means that the anime comes in an oversized chipboard slipcase and is accompanied by a hardcover color art book. Before we touch upon those, the on disc extras are scarce with only two clean versions of the ending theme, with only one minor difference between the versions, Japanese promotional videos, and trailers for other NIS America anime.

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Now for the physical extras, the slipcase features all members of the core cast, minus Kyoko, on the backside while the front of the case can be seen above and has Popura falling into a large cake with Yachiyo and Yamada not far behind as Inami and Sota look on. As for the art book, it is written as if Maya, the abnormally normal girl, had written it about what she saw. The art book contains episode synopsis, little notes about each of the current staff members disguised as an “employee survey”, introduction and character art to the new characters in this season, and finally ten pages of full page color art of the cast with little notes from Maya.

Overall
Wagnaria!!2 is the type of anime that you can sit down and relax while having a good laugh without having to think too much while still enjoying the cast of characters. While no major advancements are made, a potential plot advancement is avoided, and a few of the simple running jokes do get stale, this second season is nearly as good as the first. The cast is just as crazy and likable as they have been in the past and it has certainly been worth the wait to see them interact with one another again.

8-5-capsules-out-of-10
Capsule Computers review guidelines can be found here.

As a big fan of anime and games I'll be quick to cover anything that happens to be of interest.

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