Title (English): Denki-Gai
Title (Japanese): デンキ街の本屋さん
Animation Studio: Shin-Ei Animation
Genres: Comedy, Seinen, Slice of life
As we all know, Japan loves manga. They have whole stores dedicated to manga. Then of course there are doujinshi, works made by independent artists using source material by other artists. Denki-Gai no Honya-san takes place at Umanohone, a doujin shop. Seven employees run the store, each with their own unique personalities. Welcome to Denki-Gai no Honya-san!
Story and Characters:
The story of Denki-Gai no Honya-san is quite simple really. It follows the daily lives of the employees of Umanohone as they work together and build their relationships with each other. If you watch the first couple of episodes, you may not think much of this show unless you’re big on comedy. Even then, the first couple of episodes had a lot of fan service scenes with jokes that probably only the people with perverted senses of humour would understand and enjoy. After they’ve hooked you with its wild first episodes (or pushed you away, depending on how well you handle crazy perverted fan service) then they delve into its seinen roots, and start developing the characters. Its quite a dramatic shift away from the humour of the first couple of episodes, since now there isn’t a lot of emphasis placed on it. Sure, the show remains comedic, but now it’s about the characters rather than the humour. I feel like it is better that way, because now there’s more of a reason to care about the show rather than just plain humour.
Since this show is about developing the characters and their relationships with each other, naturally they become the strong point of the show. All the characters are different from each other, which prevents the characters from becoming stale as you watch it. First, there’s your regular everyday otaku, Umio. He’s the most knowledgeable about manga, anime, video games, etc. Then there’s his polar opposite, Hio-tan. She knows very little about otaku culture (in fact her name is derived from the Japanese abbreviation for non-otakus “hi-ota”), so she has to learn about it for her job. Sensei is a mangaka and she works at the store to support herself until she hits her stride. Although she wants to achieve her dream of becoming a true mangaka, she doesn’t cope well with pressure and her work habits of made her sloppy with how she lives her life. There’s the zombie-obsessed Fu-Girl, who is often seen hanging around the silent Sommelier who, as his name implies, is an expert at finding the best ero books for people. The shop is run by Kantoku, the laid-back senior employee who runs the store in the Manager’s absence (who never appears on-screen). Kantoku, despite being a pervert, is an expert with girls. These main characters are supported by only a few supporting characters. Kameko is another employee of the shop and she is the photographer of the group, Erobon G-Men, a government employee whose job is to make sure that ero books are properly placed away from regular books, and Haruka “Tsumorin” Tsumori who is a former employee of the store and currently successful writer in the industry.
The character development as the series goes on gets better and better, especially when they start diving into romance. While I wouldn’t go so far as to call the anime a romance, it comes pretty close with the way it handles the relationships between some of the characters. While it would have been nice to see them delve more into the romance part of this anime, it was nice to see it at all and it made the anime more interesting. The small cast of characters really gave them time to develop everyone, even the supporting cast, and you’re left with great characters that you can relate to.
Visuals and Animation:
When it comes to the visuals and animation, there isn’t anything that special here. It’s par for the course for regular slice of life anime. Nothing in particular really stands out in my mind as being bad or particularly good. I don’t have any complaints about the art and animation but I also don’t have any compliments. Maybe perhaps one compliment: the characters were drawn nicely. However, that’s it.
Sound and Music:
The music of Denki-Gai no Honya-san is all right. Nothing in particular really stands out except the OP and ED. The OP, 齧りかけの林檎 (Kajirikake no Ringo), and ED, two-Dimension’s Love, are nice catchy tunes that help set the mood of the anime with their upbeat and cheerful tones. A few of veteran voice actors also make their way into this anime to help give their characters an added punch. Yoshitsugu Matsuoka (Kirito from Sword Art Online), Ayana Taketatsu (Azusa Nakano from K-On!), and rising star Ryota Osaka (Sadao Maou from Hataraku Maou-sama!), lend their voices to Kantoku, Fu-Girl and Umio respectively. While I like their performances, I preferred the jobs done by a couple of the lesser-known voice actors. Natsumi Takamori (Mei Misaki from Another), and Minami Tsuda (Yui Funami from Yuru Yuri) as Hio-tan and Sensei did their best to make these two girls lovable as the main romance interests of Kantoku and Umio, and that’s what they did. The voice acting cast really helped out in the sound department.
Denki-Gai no Honya-san wound up being quite a surprisingly good watch. I wasn’t a huge fan after the first couple of episodes of crazy fan service, but the shift to the characters really made the anime for me. I enjoyed the way the anime split up the episodes in a way that each half of an episode focused on a specific characters and their relationship with another character or the rest of the cast. It made you care more about the individual characters and their lives, and that to me made the anime a lot of fun to watch week after week. If you enjoy seeing a focus on characters in anime, this one’s for you.
+ Great characters and character development
+ Strong voice acting
– Initial fan service may turn some off
What did you guys think of Denki-Gai no Honya-san? Let me know in the comments below!