Umio is a shy kid who just started his part time job at a manga store smack dab in the middle of the city. But his lifestyle isn't as glamorous as the neon lights that illuminate the city. Umio's closest friends are his co-workers who are all unique characters, to say the least, and although they're nice people, they have their quirks. They are a tight knit group of friends, have nicknames for each other and spend their weekends inside, sheltered from the extravagant scene happening on the outside.
Welcome to Umanohone bookstore, one of the bookstores across Japan that sells manga, light novels, and doujins - even the dirty ones. The bookstore has an interesting workplace with a variety of characters that you won't feel dull encountering at. Denkigai no Honya-san is one of the few slice of life anime this season, and as the first few anime starting this season, it shouldn't be ignored nor forgotten.
The story is simple - just characters interacting together and partaking activities in and out of the bookstores. Nothing much can be detailed further. But what I can say is that the comedy is great. Certain tropes
and same jokes may have fallen but it's great that it has sustained well from episode to episode. There are plenty hilarious moments from the characters which may be memorable for a while, and these show what's true in their character. What is not expected in the anime is the romance. Halfway through it, I can spot a few relationships between the characters. While they are not very developed as the story progresses, it is sweet to see how two people in one relationship interact. Of course, you may feel tired seeing similar interactions, but like I said, it really didn't develop much.
But both comedy and romance in the anime are balanced well, and nothing had overshot to break the story and hence it becoming worse.
The anime uses a number of references from manga, light novels and anime. I wouldn't have spotted all of them since a lot of references are not very similar to the real counterpart. A few of them do give away, try your best. The fanservice doesn't really exceed to become an ecchi anime, but there are still some of it throughout. Some may say they are definitely not needed, but looking at the context, I think a bit of them is enough.
Each character in the anime is special. It might have been a typical cast of slice of life characters, but in this anime, they have a nice range of emotions and thoughts. They are likeable and funny, depending on how they act. Development-wise, not really much for a slice of life anime. But looking at how the characters feel in their relationships, I think they are trying hard to be normal, since he first steps of romance can be hard and shaky. Also, looking at Umio, as the most recent hired employee of the bookstore, he adapts well with his co-workers and that's great!
It's also great that the cast is small and it didn't introduce a ton of characters. There are a lot of anime with has a huge cast and it's really hard to keep track of all of them. But in this anime, even with a small cast, there are a lot happening in the story.
The anime's art is simple but not very dull. I like the colour palette to pull of a bright cheery feel. The scenery, both interior and exterior, look good, enough for a slice of life anime. I like the character designs as the characters look cute in them. The facial expressions are funny and adorable. Not much noticeable visual effects but overall, I think the atmosphere is fresh and sometimes lively, depending on the story.
I really don't know how the opening relates to the anime. Sang by one of the voice actresses in the anime, Taketatsu Ayana, its theme is about apples. It doesn't really match the context of the anime, although the animation of it does. Ignoring that fact, I think it's sweet and lovely. Who knows, I think it's a perfect Spice and Wolf S3 opening. The ending song, sang by four voice actresses of their counterpart working in the bookstore, is more cheery and catchy to hear. The background music doesn't really stand out a lot but they are nice and chilling to listen to. The voice acting is great as the voice actors tried their best in acting out the emotions of the characters. Most of them aren't relatively new to the voice acting industry, so there shouldn't be any screw-ups.
I read some chapters of the manga before watching the anime and I love how the anime adapts almost all of the manga used. Maybe the last episode may have been an original, and trust me, that was an awesome episode to end off the anime. Back to point, I think that the director did a good job in using most of the source material and added a few originals in.
Overall, the anime is fun to watch. It doesn't lack anything much, so it shouldn't disappoint you. If you need some laughs now, it is a good time to watch it. I don't mind a second season and I don't know if there will ever be, but for now continue reading the manga.
Since this is based solely on my opinions of the show and I'm not an expert or specialist in the area, I would call this a commentary rather than a review. Also, because it is my first time writing something like this, minor spoilers and misjudgments are expected.
I will begin by stating how I quite enjoyed Denki-Gai no Honya-san. After getting to know about the show and reading a bit about it, I sincerely did not expect much from Denki-Gai. As time went by and episodes kept airing, I began to like it more and more and ended up being a good, short one season
Story - 6
I believe that the story of Denki-Gai was quite simple. Definitely not the strong point of the show. Although that doesn't mean it was bad.
What I took from every week's episode was that the story was about the people who worked at the bookstore, how the bookstore itself worked and it gave me a bit of information about the manga industry in Japan. More specifically, about "doujinshi", a word I heard a couple of times but had no idea what it actually meant.
There were also references to other anime which were quite smart and amusing, but the one which takes the cake, in my opinion, (SPOILER ALERT) is the one in the last episode, in which the characters cosplayed other characters from different shows voiced by the same seiyu. It's a shame that I only recognised the simplest one, Kantoku as Kirito from SAO (Matsuoka Yoshitsugu).
Art/Animation - 6
To clarify things, I did not found the animation bad. It was not that good, but in hindsight, I felt that it was appropriate to the anime.
I won't say/write anything else about it, because I have very few knowledge about anime animation.
Sound - 7
I found the OP and the ED songs enjoyable and quite cheerful. Other than that there was nothing about sound that stood out for me, except for, the (SPOILER ALERT) "Boys don't hate underwear" voice.
Characters - 8
With Denki-Gai no Honya-san you don't get a lot of characters overall. What you do get are quite a few characters very relevant (Hio-tan, Umio, Sensei, Kantoku, Fu Girl, Kameko and Sommelier), two not so relevant, which still matter (G-Men and Tsumorin) and finally the rest, which I feel that are only there to make the store look legitimate and provide some extra laughs, for example, the manager.
My opinion is that the character development is acceptable. You get to know more about the characters' past and you see, in some, them changing a little bit gradually.
I would just like to add that I kept thinking that Umio was being ignored midway and at the end of the anime, but with the last episode, that "issue" was fixed. Also the seiyu for Sommelier should receive an award for best seiyu of 2014 because those lines were just class. XD
Enjoyment - 9
This is where, in my opinion, the show shined. It was so entertaining, I started laughing in the beginning and would only stop after the episode ended.
Needless to say that was always happy to know it was Thursday and I would be able to see a new episode of Denki-Gai.
All in all, for me, this show was comedic gold. No matter how I was feeling before watching an episode, I always felt much better after watching it. The anime certainly gave me a lot of smiles while it was airing.
I apologise if the review/commentary is a bit long so...
tl;dr: Great comedy and characters, short and enjoyable anime; Tomita Takahiro best seiyu 2014 AHAHA.
Having a passion is often a rewarding experience. A hobby or talent that brings one more joy than anything else. We understand this easily; for us, anime is one of our passions. Talking about a compelling story, comparing favorite characters, and listening to opening and ending music tracks are just some of the many varying attributes that anime entails. And through anime, through our passion, we are able to converse and connect with others. This scenario is seen with all groups, not just in anime. For example, the world of manga. For Denki-gai no Honya-san, manga is the
passion and the setting, but little is found beyond the panels.
Denki-gai follows the lives of the crew working at Umanohone, a local manga store. Umio, Sensei, Kantoku, Hio, Fu Girl, and Kameko deal with everyday life while attempting to juggle work and relationships.
This anime is first and foremost a comedy. The situations involved are often silly in nature, with the characters usually taking part in gag-like humor. Sticking to its "seinen" roots, the jokes are usually sexual or more adult-oriented. Despite where it all takes place, the comedic moments require the viewer to be a bit older to understand let alone appreciate the funny events for what they are.
But already two problems arise, one small and one big. Starting with the smaller, the anime attempts to incorporate romantic developments between the characters. That is, instead of focusing solely on the humor, it shifts its attention at times to romance. Not only are these elements unsatisfactory and largely unexplored, but their inclusion deters from the comedy that is at the show's core. Moving to tackle this issue, the anime tries to then use the romance as a stepping stone for the comedy. But it doesn't work because the feelings and emotions between the characters feel weak and unwarranted. In other words, it tries and fails to be a romantic-comedy.
The bigger of the two problems is located within the comedy itself: repetition. What's strange is that Denki-gai actually contains some rather unique jokes or funny dialogue during certain moments. But in-between these exist the same exact set-ups time and again. Examples include Sensei's "girl power," Fu Girl's zombie hatred, and Umio's obsession with Tsumori. Repetition isn't necessarily a bad thing; characters can have hilarious shticks that can see quite the degree of variation. Denki-gai, sadly, doesn't do this. A clever joke involving Sommelier's talent in the past or an "inspiring" speech by Kantoku is drowned out by the use of the previously mentioned, already-used jokes. In conjunction with the poorly executed romantic elements, much of the comedy that the show aims at presenting is ultimately lost.
Beyond the comedy, romance, and repetition, Denki-gai gives us at least one life lesson. Whether you are having fun with your friends, staying up late to finish some work, or pining after the one you love, at the end of the day, life is what you make of it. The events you experience are shaped by you and those around you, and they become everlasting memories. Even when tomorrow becomes "work per usual," as long as you had fun in the moment, its impression will last a lifetime.
Denki-gai offers a mixed bag when it comes to the art and the animation.
The art style feels both unique and generic at the same time. The locations are often typical (work place, someone's home, in the city), but it all feels devoid of detail. The character designs, on the other hand, hold a different vibe. Fu Girl's sharp upper teeth, Kameko's afro, and Hio's sparkling eyes are simple examples that show off how different they tend to be when compared to other shows. Also of note are their general body heights. They all (minus Sommelier) appear quite short, but they are in fact older than at first perceived.
The animation within Denki-gai errs on the side of caution. It contains some rather well done moments with a good amount of character action, typically thanks to them exploding the situations. However, during its downtime, there isn't as much extravagance to be had.
The characters of Denki-gai play their parts, generating an overall nice cast.
There really isn't a main character within the anime. If anyone gets the title, it falls on Umio. As "otaku" as they come, his initial reason for working is to be close to the subject he loves most. Helpful towards his friends and understanding of the situations they find themselves in, he more often than not experiences more trouble than the majority of the cast. He's your typical, everyday enthusiast, "one of us," if you will.
Having a strange nickname, Sensei is an aspiring "mangaka" to be. Her low girl-power, low self-esteem, and low tolerance for difficulties may make her out to be a rather annoying person to deal with. But behind these layers of low lie a much more refined young woman. She constantly seeks to better herself, be it with her drawings or in the art of love. At the same time, she is no stranger to accepting aid, giving the audience the opportunity to contemplate such actions. That is to say, everyone can always use a little help.
Hio is known for her general clumsiness and large bust. While quiet, she is prone to outbursts, especially when dealing with Kantoku. Among the whole cast, she is often the most at odds with the feelings she maintains. It's difficult for her to properly express herself because she cannot seem to comprehend the idea of the person she loves feeling the same way towards her. Complex emotions are generally hard to articulate, and she serves as a nice example.
As a gentle giant, Sommelier is the watchful guardian. Silent at all times, with eyes almost never noticeable, he seemingly has a sixth sense when it comes to people's tastes. Even from a young age, his heart has always been in the right place. For him, his motto is "actions speak louder than words."
Fu Girl has a strange name and an even stranger personality. Reserved in all things but the zombie apocalypse, she's a kind young girl looking to have the one person she holds most dear look at (and consequently, down!) at her. Part of what makes her special is how out of place she seems, even among everyone working at Umanohone. Her actions are usually either non-existent or extreme in nature, lending credit to the argument that everybody is different.
Last, and indeed perhaps least, is Kameko. Placed on the sidelines for nearly the entire season, she is quite dishonest with herself. She prefers peering at the world through a camera lens as opposed to with her own eyes, giving her the chance to capture those all-important memories. In a way, she acts as the audience member; never contributing much to the on-screen antics, and merely along for the ride.
The best part of the OP comes in the beginning. It has a more whimsical feel about it, giving it a "Christmas-y" vibe. The little bell chimes add to this effect, while the rest of the composition is mostly uninspired.
The ED is quick, and fits more in line with what the anime offers. The vocalists take turns singing, creating a fun little arrangement that, combined with the nice drum beat, makes it a catchy tune. Plus, the "pa-pa-pa" parts at the beginning and end are just as silly as the rest of the song.
The soundtrack contains mostly float-y and nonchalant pieces that fit the mood of the scenes at hand. None of them are particularly standout, however.
Voice-acting-wise, there are no notable performances to be had. Special shout-out to Takahiro Tomita for his role as Sommelier, where he has nearly zero actual lines!
As a comedy, the show is largely hit or miss. The repetitive jokes never made me laugh, but the cleverer, unique ones were certainly able to at least get a chuckle. Again, the issue is that the more witty jokes can only be found by trudging through what the rest of the anime has to offer. It's never going to make you laugh consistently the whole way through. And while comedies don't have to accomplish such a feat, the amount of laughter that this one got out of me was just too minimal.
The romance, while out of place, at least helps it slightly. Tons of blushing and attempts at getting him or her to notice were fun to see. However, since the anime isn't particularly interested in developing the romances in the first place, it unfortunately leaves many areas largely open-ended, with no clear future for any of them in sight.
As a comedy anime, this one is less than stellar. While the characters represent more than their outward appearances may show, the story and animation elements just don't reach the same level. The workplace can be quite the hilarious topic, but Denk-gai no Honya-san couldn't capture this feeling.
Story: Bad, "adult" comedy lost among misplaced romance and misused repetition
Animation: Fine, art style, character designs, and animation are each average
Characters: Good, Umio, Sensei, and the rest personify more than just their quirks
Sound: Fine, bad OP, okay ED, okay soundtrack, average VA work
Enjoyment: Bad, laughs are few and far between with unsatisfying romances
Expectations sure are a bitch! Keep them too broad and you’re bound to, eventually, be met with disappointment, but we still need them to prepare ourselves whenever we began experiencing a work from the media we love. When I first began watching Denki-gai no Honya-san, I had just come out of watching the first two seasons of “Working!!”, which remains one of my all-time favorite anime, so I wanted to experience another slice-of-life focused on the day-to-day of people at work. Being the workplace in question a manga store and the people in question passionate Otaku, people like me, I was in for a treat.
It just wasn’t the treat I was expecting.
Story and Characters
Credit where credit is due, the show actually makes a nice move by utilizing two distinct characters in order to develop the setting: Umio, a very passionate otaku with no restraint to displaying his affection for the hobby, is the new employee, which gives the anime the proper excuse to explain the situation of the cast; Hiotan, in the other hand, is the one character who has no experience with the one true religion of Otakudom, so it’s in relation to her that the show gets to comment about anime, manga and other aspects of otaku culture. Not a bad setup, now allow me to explain why it fails: remember how Genshiken, for example, actually spent the first episode giving away the characters main traits and easing the protagonists in to then begin developing the conflict? Denki-gai is not very good on that. At all. Right off the bat it’s easy to see that the series is more worried about setting the scenario than the characters, which is ironic since once the conflicts begin, this setting seems more like a backdrop to bring the cast together than something actually meaningful to the plot.
The running motif of the story here are the different couples who form amidst the various gags, so before progressing, let’s do the presentations:
Sensei is an aspiring manga artist and the only one to seems to have what is immediately recognizable as an actual character trait, rather than a simple quirk, that of being slovenly and easily stressed. As early as the first episode, she and Umio start developing romantic feelings for each other, although it displays the most barebones chemistry possible: nice guy helps desperate girl. I realize this might sound hypocritical, given some of my favorites, so I’ll address it properly in a moment. A running gag involving Sensei is her lack of “Girl Power”, and that happens to be one that eats away a lot of her “development”, since frequently all of the traits the show applies to her end up invariably playing to this same gag.
Next is the growing bond between Hiotan, whose quirk seems to be excessive and trivial panicking, and Kantoku (director in Japanese), nicknamed this way because he apparently likes to film his employees in awkward moments. Truth be told, Kantoku seems to be the only one with the semblance of a diverse personality: he’s a pranker, but not a mean spirited one, which doesn’t clash with his behavior when he needs to act as a leader or be responsible with his employees. The way the romance between this couple springs into existence, though, is piss-poor: at one point in the story, Hiotan clings to Kantoku, initially for comedic purposes, and then begins to take his kind acts, in contrast to his usual behavior, as the result of romantic feelings, up until the show decides to treat their clichéd, innocuous and barely eventful interactions as the marks of a “soon to be”, “maybe someday” couple. Please, craft bigger quotation marks in your mind, these ones are not enough.
One relationship that seems to be already going on is the one about the backfired moe bullet Fu-girl, who is obsessed with anything related to zombies and has a mad crush on Sommelier, a tall and silent man who acquired the nickname by doing manga recommendations to the clients. It’s obvious that the feelings here are mutual, but none of them really progress in their efforts because both don’t know how to properly communicate that. As I write this I noticed that none of my notes over the series actually addressed their relationship, and that is because, frankly, all that can be said I just summarized right above. The two are easily the most vapid creatures in the whole anime and their interaction is a very clear example of the general problems plaguing the show.
Couples out of the way, now we can get to the lone candleholders on the block: firstly, Kameko is a girl who enjoys taking pictures with her camera (get it? CAMEra, Ko = child, get it?), who is revealed later on to have a crush on Kantoku, but got left behind for trying to keep low profile for too long. Why should the audience be invested in the late-to-show-up emotional grievance of the second most insipid block of ink in the show is not properly conveyed, but hey, at least she’s not Fu-girl, whose brick-like presence and complete lack of meaningful personality drags the scene down from painfully average to just painful. Did I come off as bitter? Anyway, next in line is Tsumorin, a former employee at the shop and now a cosplay celebrity/ doujinshi author who ALSO had a crush on Kantoku. Is there any kind of projection going on here? I hope you like attempts of empathy for a character that has barely been established and offers no reason for the audience to care about, cuz this show sure is going to try! Possibly the only real reason she exists in the story is to make the idea of a romance between Hiotan and Kantoku a little more credible.
Ok, let’s dial back a bit and address the issue of Umio and Sensei, Some might find a bit hypocritical of me to criticize their dynamic, since some of my favorites (Toradora!, Working!!) have similar ones going on between their main characters. The point of my criticism, though, is not the set up itself, but the way it’s handled, which is why I don’t think it displays good chemistry between the two, so please hold on while I attempt to expose my perspective. Building good chemistry between love interests in a story involves crafting this idea that both play off of each other’s personalities and visibly add something to the other part. That can’t work properly if it happens to be a one-way street, as it is here: Umio acts kindly, helping Sensei with her manga, she pretends to bring out some semblance of confidence, backpedals and the situation devolves into a gag. Being fair, as a plot point, the relationship between Umio and Sensei actually does something to Umio’s character, by portraying him as a very supportive person, even if in a simplistic way. That, however, never goes beyond the “nice guy/awkward girl” archetypes they are set into and the show doesn’t properly convey how they could really work as a couple. Truth be told, the notion that they are meant to be in a romance is kept simply by the shackles of the genre, which we’re all knowledgeable of already, and by how heavy-handed the anime is about it.
You might have guessed already what the main problem here is: the underdeveloped cast. At the top of the characterization pyramid is Kantoku, but even then he only reaches the Decent mark, while the rest of the crew is stuck between completely vacuous outside of a simple quirk, or one-dimensional. You may argue that the way they act within the jokes lay out more details in a subtle manner, but I think the point of having effectively subtle characterization is by getting the various traits about a character to connect in the big picture (personality), so when these traits fail to connect in a cohesive manner is that the attempts of characterization become meaningless. The point I’m trying to get with this diatribe is that the characterization in Denki-gai is disjointed and the show’s attempts at it end up creating a shallow picture instead. To make matters worse, the romantic progression is close to nonexistent. Romances get introduced, for sure, but no proper confessions are made and whenever any kind of development (or at least what the anime passes for it) is attempted, the show seems to take a step further, just to step back and shove its head in the ground, dreadfully afraid of making the status quo any less stale.
As expected, these problems spread over to the humor too. Now, I have no issue whatsoever with establishing comedy based on character quirks; “Working!!” has about 80% of its comedy crafted in the same principle, Tanaka-kun wa Itsumo Kedaruge drives this home in every chance it can get away with (which is every time) and I have no complaints with the way these shows do it. The matter of the issue here, besides the lack of additional layers to the characters to help endear them to the audience and make their reactions comically effective, is the application. In both of the shows mentioned, the quirk in which the jokes were based on was a constant, but the punchline was handled with a twist in every opportunity, either a difference in timing or the situation in which it was applied, while the same doesn’t come out much in Denki-gai, and knowing each character’s main trait makes the joke quite predictable already. This anime tried a lot, in many forms of humor, but none of them displayed the cleverness of writing required to actually pull it off and set the timing to the appropriate moments.
This is not turning out pretty. At least the presentation section comes out shorter than the Story one in my reviews.
So, how else does this anime drops the ball? Well, we have the character designs, for once. It’s not that uncommon for different characters to have similar faces in the same anime, but it’s uncanny how the models in Denki-gai seem to have identical facial structures, with only hair and accessories used to differentiate them. Add to that a sickeningly excessive use of blushing and I wouldn’t exactly call this an example of variety in visual presentation. I’m not kidding when I say that with a third of the show left to watch I was having pavlovian style reactions of disgust every time I saw someone’s face go red, Fu-girl herself I couldn’t even look at because of how much her character became an eyesore with her face that screamed “I’m about to start crying desperately” in every frame.
When it comes to the voice acting, the show is surprisingly tame for a gag manga, although this might also be an effect of how stretched out are the skits, and the acting doesn’t reach very emphatic degrees for the genre. To be fair, this particular approach might resonate better to the comedic preferences of other viewers than they resonate with mine, so it isn’t really a point I can use to detract from the anime. That same trait also spills over to moments that are more dedicated to “characterization, although perhaps with the exception of Matsuoka Yoshitsugu as Kantoku, and thank goodness for at least his presence in this anime. Fun fact: Hiotan shares the same seiyuu, Takamori Natsumi, as Miyano, from Tanaka-kun. She doesn’t have the friendly demeanor or the dedicated personality Miyano displays, though.
Just comes to show how connecting to the work in the first place helps a lot when you watch it, it’s a lot harder to find enjoyment when the first episodes failed so hard to get you involved. Sometimes I wonder how much more I’d speak highly or poorly of any work if it managed to be something I had special attachment to, or no attachment at all. Were my disposition towards a show like Steins;Gate, for example, superior to indifferent, would I be among the people shouting endless praise to it and stamping a 10/10 in my review? There were some instances, sadly not many, of my re-watch of Denki-gai when I looked at what had just played out in a scene and thought to myself “This normally would be something I’d laugh at, if my disposition weren’t so low”.
That doesn’t mean I don’t stand by everything I said here or in my other analysis, but it really makes me ponder how much our initial attachment or to a work can makes us more prone to catching up faster to the qualities or shortcomings it might exhibit. Tell me if you never thought about it: watching a show you already like in the first episodes makes you see more than other viewers do when getting to specific moments that might come off as meaningless to others, while if you dislike the show from the beginning the multiple little grievances stack up to form a larger problem, making the whole picture seem uglier, to the point where its qualities end up becoming mute.
I didn’t expect to turn out this bitter when I first decided to write this, but among my set of opinions that have changed over the years, this one didn’t turn up for the better.
Disclaimer: The manga listed in this article contain dangerous quantities of sweetness. We here at MyAnimeList are concerned for our reader’s safety, and strongly recommend seeking treatment for diabetes after reading any of these titles.
Fujoshi can definitely claim to be one of the most contentious words ever. With so many uses and meanings, and all of these with different emotional interpretations, it's no wonder many are thoroughly confused. It's definitely time to put fujoshi under the microscope.