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.
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.
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.
I like that every other manga or poster featured in the background settings have become anime now. Kuma Miko, Servamp, Re:ZERO, Taboo Tattoo.
The story and "plot" is pretty simple. Bunch of co-workers, friends working at a manga shop. It's nothing too special except for the fact that there are romantic tension between a majority of the characters.What bothered me is how the story introduced the romance between the girls and the guys. They kept it subtle at some-points during the story. Then there were scenes where anything could happen like kissing or... maybe sex but not really.
The second bothersome part of the story is that
nobody was paired together towards the end. I couldn't fathom what the point of adding all of those intense scenes where characters could have potentially had created a romantic relationship; if there was no intention of acting upon on it. It left a bad taste in my mouth.
As for the comedy that the story has to offer. It's actually not that bad. There are a bunch of random moments where hilarity ensues and those moments are quite effective! Besides the romance, the comedic moments where something that I had fun looking forward to seeing each episode.Overall the story was good however, I felt like if the romanctic intentions were acted upon, then the story would have been much more satisfying to sit through. Too much teasing and not enough action were my main reason of giving the story a low 5.
The art and animation was certainly unique. I think the character designs were the best thing about the show. I felt like the character designer did a great job of making characters both stand out and... cute. Background settings were pretty nice too. As I mentioned earlier there are a lot of shout-outs to other popular light novels and manga featured in the background of the work shop.
The sound department could've been better however, I don't really think it had much of an impact on the show. When I went back to re-watch this, I noticed that the soundtrack doesn't really play a part in a majority of the scenes that play out in Denki-Gai. The voice actors were great. They did a pretty amazing job with the romance scenes. I felt that they put a lot of emotion into their characters and that made them feel "real.'
The characters themselves were great to a certain extent. I felt like each of them had a good personality to them. They were likable and there interactions with each other were always fun to watch. Especially when they would do competitions with their rivals. My only problem with the characters would have to be the lack of pairing. As mentioned earlier the romantic tension between most of the characters was play a big part in why I loved the series. However, not having the characters properly confess and pair up in the end ruined my experience.
Enjoyment for the series was above average. I was able to remain engaged in the story, there were plot developments that took me by surprise, and I was happy with the comedic moments. It's sad that the only thing that killed a lot of my hype and good impression for the series was the lack of pairing the couples together.
Overall Denki-gai no Honya-san is pretty good, despite the failed relationship pairing and romance. I gave it a 7/10 because it manages to remain interesting as well as hilarious at times. When there are romantic scenes I like feeling involved in them. I would highly recommend this series for casual watching.
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.