Denkigai no Hon’ya-san (“The Electric Town’s Bookstore“) is one strange fish of a show. Having worked at Tower Records, when both Tower Records existed as a store and you could buy records and the like, I enjoyed this series thoroughly. All of these strange and eccentric characters are not only tolerated, but wanted, as, believe it or not, they know their stuff. But, on to the show.
Welcome to Akihibara (well, I think it is, as for the caliber of insane nonsense goes on in that place) and the store Umanohone (The Horse’s Bone; that what the strange logo on their apron is). This is a most magnificent manga store, covering four or five floors. I assume there are hordes and hordes of employees, but we contend ourselves with these seven, from left to right:
Fu Girl (her real name Koharu Yatsu) is a 16-year-old high school girl who is obsessed with zombies and even has prepared if one day there’s a zombie outbreak.
Sensei is an aspiring manga artist, working under the name “Jonatarou”. She dresses haphazardly, as she is not confident with her appearance and “girl meter”.
Umio, newest employee here. Normally used as the ‘straight man’, he prefers 2D girls to 3D girls and has passionate discussions about it
Kantoku, the shift manager. He often records his employees on his video camera, thus his nickname (“Director”). He has a boob and underwear fetish.
Hiotan is a part time clerk who doesn’t know that much about manga, but is drawn to boy-boy love books, although is loath to admit it to anyone.
Sommelier is that hulking guy. He never speaks but has a profound knowledge of manga, and can match people to the suitable manga for them to read.
Kameko (means ‘turtle’) always has a camera with her and takes constant pictures, but will not let her picture be taken. Oh, and don’t take off her hat, OK?
We have some other characters of note:
Manager, who runs the store, but is never seen, only heard.
Tsumorin, used to work here, now has a career as a light novel writer.
Ero Hon G Men. A government worker who often comes to inspect the porn books, but loves yaoi.
This eclectic group of people is charged with running this store and making sure that all of your manga needs are fulfilled. One strong draw is the “Sommelier Meeting”. It is regularly held on an upper floor, where he recommends manga to a lot of different people. Here’s the thing: he is never wrong and nails it on the first try.
As far as their personal lives are concerned, it’s a mess as Fu Girl sees zombies everywhere and Sensei is struggling to enter another manga contest and Umio is trying to take it all in. This shop is a total madhouse and it is being run by the inmates. If you have ever working in a situation or circumstance like the one presented here, you can appreciate what goes on behind the scenes, after hours and even on the workroom floor. It is more than selling the latest stuff and getting rid of that which did not sell; it is really catering to the needs of the customer and that can get very tiresome. But everyone has a great deal of fun with things.
For me, it did not get old or feel retreaded, as is a potentiality in a show like this, and it goes far beyond the idea of how are we going to sell all of this manga. There is a back story, which tips its hand too soon, but it a nice tale nonetheless. Do you want to know where these folks will be in five years? Probably right here. A lot goes on just to be odd or strange, like an extended discussion about the ubiquitous ‘panty shot’, or some strange store-to-store competition, played out in the streets, with people in swim suits and water pistols. For me, it did not come off as all that odd, as I feel no matter what kind of retail store you are in (Toys R Us, Mervyn’s, Game Stop, Starbucks), you are going to encounter all of this.
It ends a bit abruptly, but it also gives thought to a second season. At the very least, we do have to see Sensei make it in her struggles to be a published author and maybe some kind of deeper relationship between Sommelier and Ero Hon. It’s a sweet, off-kilter show that is worth the time to watch it.
On a scale of 1 to 10:
Artwork 7 (It kind of played the ‘strange’ card)
Plot 8 (A lot more than it first appears)
Pacing 7 (Can get a bit out of hand)
Effectiveness 8 (Some nice story telling)
Conclusion 7 (It reaches a ‘coupler point’, but hasn’t ended)
Fan Service 1 (A similar show would be “Ouran High School”)
Overall 8 (Solid story and people)
And remember, it’s first run until you’ve seen it. We have the Special Limited Edition!