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The Most Believable Romance in Anime History (kinda)

June 1, 2010

The one-way unwilling fascination that Inami holds towards Takanashi in Working!! is the most believable romantic situation I’ve seen in an anime in ages.

Seriously, dudes. Like, totally. For reals

What makes this “relationship” awesome is the fact that Inami and Takanashi absolutely don’t belong with each other. Nevermind that she’s a man-hating dragon-punching maniac and he’s a shrimp fetishist. Besides their opposing quirks, they simply aren’t made for each other. They don’t really click with each other the way you expect pairings in an anime to do. Most anime series tailor character traits for couples to the point where each character “completes” the other in some manner. That isn’t the case with real life relationships (most of the time).

When it comes to reality, people rarely fall for people who are their ideal. Sure, people fantasize about, hit on, and stalk people who match up to the Platonic ideal that floats about in their brain, but do people really end up with that ideal when you get down to it? Yeah, you like this person that you find yourself married to. Hell, you fucking love them to death. Why else would you get married to them (Money? Desperation? Blackmail? Ok, yeah, there’s other reasons, stop ruining my good thing here.)? But they aren’t that dream girl/guy/real doll that you thought about longingly as you drifted off to sleep at night during your single days. More likely than not, they’re a completely different thing. Not opposing-force different, just “ain’t that” different.

That’s what’s awesome about Inami’s fascination with Takanashi. The guy is far from her ideal man (Nevermind the fact that she hates men.). He’s blunt and forthcoming when her temperament implies she’d likely prefer to be around someone a little more subtle and gentle in their approach. She comes off as the sort that’d prefer a soft touch when it comes to things. Despite this, the girl’s slowly falling for Takanashi as the series progresses.

And there’s another key to making this relationship awesome. Rather than being some sort of love at first sight, you are my destined soul sort of thing you usually see in anime, Inami’s feelings for Takanashi get a nice, slow smoke. She starts off fairly antagonistic towards him, but she gradually becomes more accustomed to his presence. And the way people react to her feelings towards him as reflected this. At first people didn’t think much of the way she acted around him, but lately people are starting to notice that she has a thing for him. This isn’t a case of two characters meeting for the first time, batting eyes at each other and exchanging awkward glances, then a side character instantly catches on to the vibes transmitting between the characters. Again, like in real life, it isn’t always obvious that X likes Y, especially if the circumstances surrounding their interactions aren’t the most conductive to observation. Yeah, there are times when you can look at your buddy and realize he has the hots for that redhead across the room he just met, but when you’re hanging around people in a work environment all day, with all of the hustle and bustle, it isn’t always as easy to catch such behavior.

But the one thing that makes me see this as a fairly realistic relationship is the fact that Takanashi doesn’t reciprocate her feelings. There’s nothing about his character that suggests that he’d be the least bit interested in Inami in a romantic manner. Yeah, he sticks up for her and wants to help her get over her man-hatred, but everything we’ve seen suggests that he’d do the same for Shrimpy Girl or Katana Chick or Super Creepy Secretive Spy Girl (But not Old Hag Manager, since she’s granny-old by his standards.). He’s a bit of a jerk and has some strange tastes, but he’s just a decent guy for the most part and that’s reflected in the manner in which he treats Inami.

There’s also the fact that a lot of his helping is motivated purely by the desire to not be her punching bag, but still, he’s a decent guy that’d help out almost anyone else he knows in a similar manner.

But there’s no way that Takanashi and Inami will end up together. This is a completely one-sided infatuation, and that’s something that you don’t really see that often in anime to this extent. If a girl chooses a guy, unless there’s a “main girl” in the way of that girl’s feelings, she always gets her way. When it comes to these sorts of male-centric romantic comedies, you just don’t see a “girl who needs help” get turned down by the main dude. It’s against the code or some shit like that. But there’s no way in hell that someone like Takanashi would see someone like Inami as anything more than a friend, thus making this a crush that’s destined to end.

Just like the vast majority of relationships.

Also, I like how the main girl, Poplar, is pretty much relationshipless in the midst of all of the romantic entanglements at the restaurant. The only person who has any non-friend-like feelings for her is Takanashi, and his fetishes make him lean more towards “surrogate father” than “dude that wants to bang her.”

YOU ARE NOT LOVED, POPLAR! NOW GET BACK TO WASHING DISHES!

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9 Comments leave one →
  1. June 1, 2010 11:34 PM

    Yeah, totally.

    I always figured Working was just a seinen gag series. So it totally took me by pleasant surprise that it ended up having what’s probably one of the best and most believable romances in anime in a long time.

    From a storytelling perspective, they’ve done a nice, gradual build up which culminated in this ep.

    I’d say more, and maybe I will later, buuuut I’m kinda ill right now, so I’ll leave it at that.

  2. June 2, 2010 12:07 AM

    I was actually thinking about The Tatami Galaxy. Sure, it’s surreal. Sure, it’s made by Masaaki Yuasa and thus quite weird. But that’s the kind of romance I thought was most believable: Watashi at first seeks the ideal and wavers when there’s a girl that’s in front of him who’s quite pretty but not the ideal. He later on evolves to become accepting of her existence, but he still pursues both a realistic and a non-realistic ideal aside from the reality he’s presented with, and aside from the reality of the girl he likes.

    It’s only very subtly that the possibility of a relationship forms between them; however, as the episodes progress it becomes more and more plausible. I also love how it tackles the issue of desire over virtue, or sex over love in the way to the realization of true love, because let’s admit it: before we males are ever attracted to women spiritually and emotionally, it is their appearances that sweep us off our feet.

    I also love how, en passant they are able to allude to the idiosyncratic 2D complex that pervades in a lot of anime fans like us.

    I appreciate your post, however. I mean, the tangential connections and the one-way directionality of Inami towards Takanashi does resemble the formation of real life love of one to the other, but I just think among recent anime that the dynamism and energy of The Tatami Galaxy’s Watashi is a more apt picture of love.

    Thank you for the post.

  3. June 2, 2010 12:49 AM

    TAKANASHI IS JUST TSUNDERE FOR INAMI, AND HE’LL EVENTUALLY REALIZE HE’S IN LOVE WITH HER AND THEY’LL GET TOGETHER AND HAVE HUNDREDS OF BABIES.

  4. June 2, 2010 10:00 AM

    Reading your post here made me appreciate the relationship between Inami and Takanashi much more. It really is quite interesting – I never thought so much could be written about a relationship in a simple series like Working!!. Nice job =)

  5. Topspin permalink
    June 2, 2010 11:53 AM

    I still found Horo and Lawrence more “believable”, even if Horo’s a wolf/god/thing ;)

    But yeah, Working’s moemoe weirdness is surprisingly charming.. kinda reminds me of Toradora, except without the harem-ish undertones and it’s much straighter-to-the-point. I fully expect something genuinely strange to happen here, though, which takes it to a new level of weird.

    And yeah, Tatami Galaxy .. that one’s got a very interesting take on self-esteem issues and love-related cowardice doesn’t it? I wonder where they’ll take it as well..

  6. Elijah Hu permalink
    October 15, 2011 1:18 AM

    HELLO KING OF NIGERIA!

    I agree with you! I think Takanashi will end up with Inami but not his sempai!

    Elijah Hu

  7. September 6, 2015 2:31 PM

    It’s 2015 and the ship is sailing :3

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