First Impressions – Denkigai no Honya-san

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I certainly appreciate Denkigai no Honya-san a lot more than I would have before I moved to Tokyo.

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.

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6 comments

  1. G

    I thought it was quite funny and really enjoyed it. Looking forward to more.

  2. K

    So they have shops that 'just' sell doujin? I know they sell them in manga stores, but I didn't think a store that exclusively sold doujin without manga or light novels could be successful.

  3. Listen to the intro – they sell all sorts of stuff . Doujin are the top three floors roughly. There are doujin only shops, but much smaller than Toranoana.

  4. G

    They sold video games as well. Did not say if they were just romance video games (rotten girl, yuri, BL, etc…) or all kinds.

  5. There are seven floors, plus the event space. They sell manga, games, merchandise, adult and all-ages doujins. The left side is for dudes, the right side is for girls.

  6. t

    it was funny and fun-to-watch. I enjoyed it.
    in a way, this is kinda like Genshiken but in a working place.
    I am glad there is at least one good comedy to enjoy this season. hopefully there will be more.

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