I knew Denkigai no Honya-san was broadly a parody of life in a comic store in an Akihabara-like neighborhood, but I had no idea that it was going to be so nakedly Toranoana in Akihabara. Not only did they choose a funny animal name (Umanohone), they kept the same color scheme and even stuck it right next to Animate (“Unimate”) like the real thing. Absurdism aside this is a show that tacks very close to real life, and anyone who’s spent some time on the otaku/fujoshi circuit in Tokyo will see a lot that’s very familiar here.
While the premiere of Denkigai wasn’t brilliant or anything, I quite enjoyed it – I laughed several times (thought admittedly often from recognition, which has the same inherent dangers for a series as any inside joke) and there was enough intelligence in the writing to keep the show from feeling completely routine. We end up with a show that’s a lot like Working! set in a doujin shop, though the material isn’t of that caliber yet. The characters are pretty much stock archetypes, but in a series that’s going for the type of parody this one is, that’s understandable.
The cast is a mix of oddballs in their early 20s, seemingly (some might be teens), with the nominal straight-men hero Umio played by the omnipresent Ohsaka Ryouta. Among the rest, we have “Sensei” (Tsuda Minami) – she turns out to be Umio’s favorite doujin author – the dojikko Hiotan (Takamori Natsumi), the manager “Director” (Matsuoka Yoshitsugu), manga-recommending savant “Sommolier” (Takata Tomohiro) and “Little Camera” Kameko (Aizawa Mai, almost always very good and rarely noticed).
The two plots that drive the first episode are pretty effective – first, a “G-man” (Kobayashi Yuu) working for the Tokyo Government’s Bill 156 thought police turns out to be a closet ero lover. Later, Umi and Hio help Sensei get ready for Comiket, giving Umi a chance to show off his gallant and competent side. I liked the gags surrounding Sommolier’s manga recommendations (though I hope his non-talking routine isn’t a long-term joke), and the way Umi and Sensei reacted when Hio said she lived in Tokaido – which reflected the sense inner-Edo dwellers have that anything outside the Yamanote Line loop is a distant planet (Takaido is all of 15 minutes from Shibuya and rather nice too, with an onsen). None of this is gut-busting, but it’s mostly quite amusing and well-presented, and there’s a good bit of wit to the writing. I had this one pegged as a sleeper and I saw nothing in the premiere to make me rethink that, though there’s still a good deal of deal-closing to be done and obvious traps to be avoided.