April 7, 2015

Denki Gai no Honya San [Review]

Welcome back from Spring Break! Let’s kick things off with a slice of life anime gone ecchi gone romantic gone comedic gone heart wrenching! ...wait, What? Denki Gai no Honya San is the name of the game and we are going to jump right into this review!

Exposition Section Is To The Right, Sir

Denki Gai no Honya San [Japanese Translation: The Electric Town’s Bookstore] is an ongoing slice of life seinin manga series by Asato Mizu and published by Media Flapper. It has a 12 episode anime out Shin-Ei Animation and licensed by PonyCan USA [US subsidy of Pony Canyon]. The main plot centers around the lives of the staff of the Umanohone [The Horse’s Bone], a fictional doujin shop in [assumably] Akihabara. A drama CD was released in August 2013 and as of this writing, the manga is 8 volumes long.

Fully Staffed

The colorful staff of the Umanohone really are what makes this series, as par for the course for a slice of life anime. Not only do they mesh well but I really think that the voice actors not only had fun with their roles but also were the best possible choices for this gang of characters I have come to love. Small note that the cast goes more or less by their nicknames only. The only exception is Umio and maybe Hio-tan even though it’s said in the manga that that is just a nickname for her as well.

Zero Gavity Inq: Denki Gai no Honya San Review

Kicking off with the first couple is Umio and Sensei. Umio is just your typical anime dude - glasses, way more into 2D than he should be, dorky, ever so slightly perverted - but he certainly does have heart and passion for anime. Sensei is a wannabe mangaka, with most of her episodes focusing on her rush to be published in some way from awards to the yearly Comiket. Umio and various other members of Umanohone help her out but ultimately work falls to Sensei’s master of the craft. She’s often taunted for her low girl power but ultimately, that isn’t too important since it’s clear that Umio likes her regardless. I really like this pair since they remind me of a lot of my friends that were both anime geeks. It’s a typical love story and bolstered by Umio supporting Sensei’s dreams in any way he can.

Next is Hio-tan and Director. Hio-tan is the only one out of the staff that before working at Umanohone never really was into manga. She read a few of the more mainstream titles but she wasn’t really into the culture. Hio-tan [her nickname a pun on the fact that she’s a ‘casual’ to translate it to english] is cheerful and gullible at times, making her an easy target for Director’s teasing. Conversely there is Director which is one of the managers of Umanohone. He’s more than slightly perverted and snarky but ultimately cares about the staff under him. He seems to have feelings for Hio-tan but covers it up by picking on her. This is one of those ‘I like you so I am going to be mean to you’ type couples but I really enjoy it since it’s obvious that they care for each other and Hio-tan eventually learns how to deal with Director, no matter how outrageous he is being.

Rounding off the romantic couples is Sommelier and Fu-Girl. Sommelier nickname comes from the fact that he is a sort of connoisseur of manga, never mind that his tastes seems to go toward the way of hentai. He regularly hosts a Somme-Con where he gives his recommendations to those who ask for it. He’s a pretty big guy and never speaks if he can help it but underneath that intimidating facade is a heart of gold with a softness for those weaker than he is. Opposite him is Fu-Girl. Her nickname comes from her love of Zombies and she is constantly on the ready for the next Zombie Apocalypse. Despite her tiny size, she packs a punch with her weapon of choice, a baseball bat and uses Umio as target practice since according to her, he looks like he would make a really great zombie. Fu-girl and Sommelier are the odd couple, with him being a gentle [albeit perverted] giant and she’s a tiny violent girl but it works out somehow.

In our singles corner is Camera Girl, Ero Hon G Men and Tsumorin. Camera is also in the Umanohone staff. She’s one of the older staff members and is never seen without her camera. She hates having her picture taken, using ‘the camera will suck out my soul!’ as an excuse at one point, but is counted on to take the picture of various shenanigans the rest of the staff gets into. She also has a crush on Director but doesn’t plan to do anything about it.

Tsumorin is an established light novel writer and a former staff member at Umanohone. Her and Director used to date and she held onto her feelings for him for a while but has let it go in the face of Hio-tan's crush on Director. Also she drinks more often than she should.

Ero Hon G Men [aka Porn Book Agent] is a government worker who visits bookstores to make sure that the erotic material is sealed away properly to make sure it doesn’t get in the hands of children. She takes her job seriously but she also is a connoisseur of hentai herself with a love for yaoi. She seems to have a crush on Sommelier that goes all the way back to when they were children and went to the same school.

There are other members of the cast but these are the main ones.

It's Time For PLOT

Denki gai is pretty damn cute. Almost too cute at times but it tempers it's sweetness with more serious moments. I love the comedy at times but there is a little niggling thing that bothered me.

Episode 2, there was this gangbang joke [one would argue that it was referring to bukkake but the rub is that it dealt with Hio-tan being humiliated/overwhelmed/defiled/etc] which seemed really incrougus with the theme of the story. I mean on one hand it fits the tone of the series [and the author once I read her other story] but it really crosses the line to the point I almost didn't want to watch the rest of it. The same scene isn’t as explicit in the manga so I am not sure why it had to be ramped up to that level in the anime. I came here for slice of life comedy. If I wanted that kind of lewd, I have a nice hefty hentai bookmark folder for things like that.

That aside, the story is pretty solid with great continuity. The art isn't stunning but cute though without fear of deforming or shifting the art style. The music is more than a little forgettable but not too wretched. The main highlight of the anime is the cast and the things they manage to get themselves into.

Sommelier-kun Recommends

Great story that it is, I am sure some people may be turned off by the lewdness that is Denki-Gai at times. If this isn’t your thing, I really recommend that you check out Comic Party which has a similar sized cast and emphasis on manga. Duly noted is Genshiken and Gekkan Shojo Nozaki Kun which also deals with manga not only as an industry but from a fan perspective with elements of romance. Denki-Gai is really only should be watched by those over 18 for the aforementioned lewd situations and violence.If you do want to watch it legally, it's available on Crunchyroll. Support the industry!

The Final Page

Denki-Gai is a great anime and even greater manga with a strong cast, cute art and romance that doesn’t shy away nor speeds through. That said, it’s a bit lewd for my tastes and can frankly tone it down a tad. That said, I rate Denki Gai no Honya San an 8/10. Cute, funny, romantic is hits most of the notes but the lewd could be left out of this story.

Denki Gai no Honya San - 8/10

Agree with my thoughts? Completely disagree? Have a suggestion for similar anime? Wanna chat? Drop a comment below! If you want to read more of my opinions, subscribe via Email or RSS!

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Maira Gall