I’ve come to believe that Kyuujitsu no Warumono-san has something special about it. It’s deep – and while deep is a word that gets tossed off a lot, I don’t use it very often where anime is concerned. It’s not anything that jumps off the screen and grabs you by the scruff of the neck. It’s subtle, a sneak attack. For starters, it’s one of those series that always grows in impact so that by the end of the episode I’m way more invested than I was at the start, and that’s a sign of depth for sure.
More than that, though, it’s Warumono-san himself. See, this guy is actually a deeply contemplative and thoughtful soul. A beautiful spirit who’s stuck in the wrong job. And how can you not identify with that? He has, I might say in archaic terms, the soul of a poet (which suits the preview voice-overs). He values every moment and tries to get the most out of it. He appreciates beauty and the small pleasures in life, like meat buns and coffee and ice cream. He sympathizes with the weak and helpless, and puts his money where his mouth is by actually offering to help them. He has a relentless curiosity about the world around him – despite the fact that his job is to destroy it. Sooner or later, something has to give there.
Make no mistake, there’s wistful comedy here too, and the show is perfectly enjoyable on that level. The first chapter, which follows a rookie salaryman struggling to adapt to his new lifestyle (Japan still sucks for work-life balance), seems pretty straightforward. But “work-life balance” is arguably the central theme of this entire series. The kid learns from the “scary dude” that he needs to reward himself rather than punish himself. There’s definitely an underlying message rebelling against Japan’s workaholic, black company culture here, urging one to slow down and live in the moment.
The world’s best konbini clerk and Warumono-san certainly do have a special bond. And he trusts her recommendations whenever new products come in (or old ones exit), because she clearly takes this stuff as seriously as he does. I also really appreciated the cafe chapter, having managed coffeehouses for years. I love the siphon myself – makes the best cup of coffee of any method, and the first time you see it you almost can’t believe what a good show it is. And that panda latte art thing was as classic Warumono-san as you can get. He’s just the biggest softie around – a sentimental fool to the tips of his ears.
Then, the milk thing. Too much milk, too many stairs, no elevator. OK, there was nothing deep about this, it was just a gag. But a gag with a good payoff at the end. And just an intermezzo before the main event – and as is often the case with this sort of show, the last chapter is the most weighty. Warumono goes to the park to check out the sakura the humans are so obsessed with (after enjoying some sakura pudding recommended by you-know-who). He’s mostly missed the moment – which is kind of a bummer, as he’s packed a bento and everything. But under the tree he spies a pink-haired little girl gathering petals. She seems interested in his lunch, so he offers her an onigiri and tells her to take as many as she wants.
There are similarities with the Santa chapter here, as we have what’s clearly a supernatural being won over by Warumono-san’s innate kindness. His reaction to a hungry child – “some planet this is” – kind of speaks for itself. But then he gets a lesson in mono no aware. He learns to see the beauty in the falling petals, not just the ones in the trees. Again, enjoying the moment – appreciating something that much more because of its fleeting nature. The messaging here is slipped in quietly under cover of humor, but it’s genuinely profound sometimes. And, in the context of the host nation, even subversive. Those are things I love in anime, and Warumono-san has qualities I love in a character. Needless to say, the combination is seriously working for me.