Denki-gai no Honya-san – 09

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Denki-gai no Honya-san is the funniest, most creative anime series no one is watching this season. While episode 9 suffered a similar fate to Amagi Brilliant Park 9 (they were both about making fun of being cliched but were still just too cliche), it was still funny, touching and a pervy good time.

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Unfortunately, the technical nature of DgnHs’s humor is difficult to write about and time consuming. Given how much time I’m losing to holiday events and family this season, I can’t justify the effort. Not for 1% of the readership my Fate/Stay Night reviews are getting.

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Don’t get me wrong, it’s easy to understand why DgnHs is low on everyone’s list. It’s not very pretty, the intelligence of the structure requires digging, and it really does lean towards girl-love (and nerd girl love at that) as it’s core perspective.

Tough sell!

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This week’s episode was about summer colds… and Christmas. Again.

Why have we had two christmas episodes in the first half of this show’s season?

I have no idea but the unhinged brutality of the humor in the second arc was heart warming. I mean, what can I say that these screen caps aren’t telling you?

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So, with a sad heart, I bid good bye to my funny little love here.

No! I’m still watching the randy girls of Tokyo’s perviest comic shop each week but, like Shirobako, I won’t be writing about it.

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Sensei’s Fashion Guide for a Good First Date

Have you ever asked that guy you like on a date by mistake and suddenly realized you didn’t mean to make it a date and have no idea what to wear?? Fear not! Denki-gai no Honya-san’s Sensei-chan has got you covered.

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If you’re going to make a serious play, lay it on thick, girl! Let him know you mean business by wearing as many shiny things from as many different fashion senses as you can cram into a single outfit.

Bonus points if you make your eyebrows extra thin, rim your eyes in white, use too much pink and wear lash-extenders.

Just make sure he’s ready for that. Otherwise, if you want to down-play the dateness of this date, maybe you should try something subtly rough…

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Nothing says ‘Nah man, this isn’t a date’ like a honking leg of fried chicken and a bag of trash. He’ll know you’re just bros from the get-go!

[Oggaki’s note: I’m not sure if this is better or worse with sweat pants she decided to leave off…]

Umio-kun’s Girls with Glasses Rant

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“Why aren’t you wearing your glasses? Do you think your glasses are a drawback? You believe that urban legend that you can’t be a heroine if you wear glasses, don’t you? It’s nonsense! The thicker the lenses, the thicker the shield! The longer the legs, the longer the sword! A sturdy frame is your armor! Glasses are your offense and your defense — your heavy massive equip! Nay! Not only your equip, but your stats, your abilities, and your materials! The greats of the world know this to be true!”

Denki-gai no Honya-san – 08

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Denki-gai no Honya-san 8 is another Sensei-focused, breaking into the manga industry episode and… well it’s not very interesting. There’s no way this show can sell me on the struggles of an artist’s struggle to become a professional in a show this intentionally goofy. More importantly, while DgnHs is actually very funny, it’s jokes about making manga aren’t the funny part and it can not and will not ever escape the long shadow of Nozaki-kun’s humor about the same topic last season.

Fortunately, DgnHs gets me laughing in other areas and the episode wasn’t an entire wash.

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For one thing, we got TWO black and white Lime Cat movies this week. I have no idea what they are parodying, unless DgnHs is just making fun of art house movies in general, but these are just bizarrely funny.

This week’s Lime Cat is from Fu-chan’s perspective. Except there is no cat… that cat is a zombie! Obviously Fu slaughters it with the full length baseball bat she hides in her brazier. The second episode sees Fu following a lone zombie to a grave yard where a host of zombies try to scare her dressed up as ghosts. Obviously Fu slaughters them too.

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The real meat and potatoes of this week’s episode happened in the final arc where Sensei accidentally invites Umio-kun on a movie date and then completely freaks out over what to wear, her lack of girl power, etc.

With the not very helpful help of Hiotan and the girls, it’s ultimately decided that none of them know, at all, what boys want other than big boobs and that the only way they will make any head way is to invite an actual boy over and ask him.

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This being Hiotan that is helping, she invites none other than Umio-kun himself. Sensei is terrified since none of this was ever meant to be brought to his attention. However, the results are positive: after a lengthy rant about glasses, Umio admits he doesn’t care how she’s dressed, since her glasses make her cute, and thus he thinks she’s cute all the time.

D’awwwwwww!

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Some of this week’s best moments were during the ‘what do boys want, anyway’ scenes. My personal favorite was Sensei-chan stepping into her manga mind to pretend to be a guy. She evaluates each of her friends in a hilarious way and ends up getting all weird with Fu-chan before giving up.

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Laughter aside, this scene reinforces my opinion that DgnHs is a show for girls and about girls in fandom, rather than a typical will he like me? slice of life romcom. We spend so much time with their perspectives, seeing how they see us and our wants and when we do actually see a guy and hear his feedback, it’s all affirmative: nerd girls are desirable for their nerdiness — for the sincerity of their part in fandom — as much if not more than for their looks.

I mean, Umio fell for Sensei over Hiotan (the girls with the biggest boobs) as soon as he learned that Sensei creates manga.

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Denki-gai no Honya-san – 07

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Denki-Gai no Honya-san 7 is a ‘hot spring’ (onsen) episode and, as you would imagine, that means we got skin, boob grabbing and some embarrassing moments. We also got some decent character development and a few inches of plot advancement.

Did DGnHs do anything interesting with this cliché of a clichéd setting or was it all just more fan service?

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I’m not sure, in all honesty?

DGnHs is always knowingly funny and this week pinned that on Sensei and Hiotan, who’ve never been to hot springs before. DGnHs very aggressively shows that their expectations, based on manage and anime, are way off. So off that they end up happily running into a co-ed waiting area, totally naked.

Even though the facial expressions, the long pause, slow reverse zoom shot is hilarious AND is the source for the show’s best joke via a call-back later in the episode,  Director, Ex-chan, and Hiotan could’ve exposed their true romantic feelings for each other anywhere.

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Likewise, Umi-kun and Sensei-chan’s romance goes nowhere, which is odd since Sensei received extensive screen time early in the episode. The result was… repetitive: She’s embarrassed and doesn’t know how to act feminine. We get it!

And yeah… yeah I’m trying to avoid talking about the “Now it’s time to feel your breasts” scene. I can’t think of a reason why that’s in there for anything other than fan service.

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The best scene, and most representative of DGnHs’ knowing, genre-poking style, came at the end, when Hiotan ineffectively confronts director about his feelings for her. In it, he admits to not having seen her boobs very clearly, because of some very awkward lighting.

Hence, the very strange ‘light line’ that censored her boobs in the first place.

It’s clever, pokes fun at convention, Has lots of energy. (both characters are standing on the back room tables, they are so wrapped up in what they are saying)

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But was it good?

Welllllll… a little more plot development would have been desirable. Additionally, ep 7 gave us some great laughs, it strangely didn’t give many.

So I can’t help but feel like this is exactly what it seems like it is: mid season ‘filler,’ to designed to give us just enough to hang on to the big relationship push, failure, and bounce back cycle that usually develops around episode 9.

I guess that’s what a hot spring episode is for. So its successful enough, which is good enough for me.

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Denki-gai no Honya-san – 06

dgnhs63“STOP SMELLING ME!”

Denki-Gai no Honya-san episode 6 goes all the way back to being a half way sane show about Sensei-chan making manga and Umi-kun being the only thing that keeps her from totally falling apart!

If that makes this week’s helping of crazy sound a little tame, well… it was!

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Sensei needs to make a deadline. Umi-kun and Hiotan volunteer to help her. They help her for 4 days, each day after working a full day at the store. Umi-kun stays at night to help too, and make sure sensei actually sleeps and/or doesn’t stay in ‘baby mode’ for too long.

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On the day of the submission, right after the final page is inked, Hiotan pours ink all over it and WAHHHHHHH crying. Everyone is crying.

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Later, Hiotan and Director’s X tie Sensei to a chair in an undisclosed location that looks like the war-room set from Doctor Strangelove! They have one goal and one goal only: to address Sensei’s utter lack of girl power and they’re using the secret footage shot by Director’s store cams to do it!

Sensei is, ba Director’s narrated standards, appallingly ungirly. She even gets an ungirly 5-hit combo for wiping herself down with a wet-nap and showering in the store sink!

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What to say? Denki-Gai no Honya-san was good this week, in that it was occasionally funny and full of love for it’s core romance, but that romance has never been that interesting. Heck, the ‘i can’t finish my manage help me’ freak out plot isn’t that interesting either!

What saves this week is the second act, where we back track and retroactively see all the gross and silly things that Sensei was doing off camera and before she had help. Her own embarrassment about all this was pretty funny too.

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Denki-gai no Honya-san – 05

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Denki-Gai no Honya-san reminds us that Spring means panties and that means its time for the Spring Panties Festival!

Sensei-chan is challenged to truly appreciate panties by Director — and warned that her manga will never succeed if she doesn’t! Tapping her love, Protagonist, for all he’s worth, she and we all learn the depth we never knew!

dgnhs5_13this display incorporates a fan and a plastic pair of legs from which a skirt may flutter!

Did you know panty stories are always best in spring due to the stiff breeze? Did you know not showing panties is as important as showing them, because it implies nudity?

The entire act is delightfully pervy and fully of confusion for Hiotan, who consistently hears odd segments of conversation and always assumes the worst. The details too, are hysterical and so lovingly exposed that you can’t see how seriously the show (and the characters) takes its source material.

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Next it’s raining and all the girls except Sensei-chan have hair troubles. Kameko, who is wearing a Kameko shirt that’s probably a joke I don’t understand, is especially troubled. Her fro is fan-tastic

But the real madness sets in when Sommeliier shows up without a shirt…

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Everyone, including G-man/woman, loses their shit in a drooling phone-camera panic. It’s not even clear why Sommelier is shirtless, just that he is and it’s going to sell an awful lot of BL comics!

Extra points must be awarded for making the guys the most physically exposed, sexualized objects of the show. More importantly, when the guys are drooling over a girl, it’s usually because she’s an artist or an author they are really into…

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Act three could be entirely imaginary, or an art project run by Kameko, or actually what just happened to Sommelier from his own perspective. It probably makes no real difference because it’s in a totally absurd black and white art film filter.

In this… film… Sommelier protects a wet cat only to learn that it is a well taken care of animal owned by biker thugs who love it and even shampoo it! The movie is silent-style, with ‘dialog’ cards. This section too is wonderful and absurd and lovely retro music and visual effects sell every second of it.

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Finally we end on a Director focused act. Well, focused on his ex anyway. She’s a former employee turned manga writer and cosplay enthusiast. She acts just like Hiotan and Hiotan is insanely jealous!

But not in a Vanadis terrible way — Hiotan wants to learn from Director’s Ex. Hiotan wants to know why he loved her and why he doesn’t now and how she can get in that loop. At least, that’s what her actions say. Hiotan is a hot mess and doesn’t really know what she wants!

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I’ve decided Denki-Gai no Honya-san is actually about women in fandom, more than men. Its ‘protagonist’ has consistently gotten less screen time than the main girls, and when you’re about the boy loving on a girl, we see it from the girl’s perspective!

If i didn’t know any better, i’d say you were trying to make a statement. Especially with your average lookers. Even your blonde is a bit dumpy. (and Fu-chan is physically repulsive)

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What’s more, each of those loves is different. Sensei depicts the love of and for a fan, and the trouble that brings when that love is so obsessed with fandom in general.

Fu-chan’s love is for the hot guy who doesn’t belong in the industry (but probably has a weird festish below the surface that strands him there). It’s the Ugly girl who could maybe almost win the hot guy if he just has a weird enough reason to be around her story… that we basically never see anywhere else before.

dgnhs5_4Shin-chan parody? NICE!

Lastly, Hiotan’s love for Director is the love for a guy who’s in the industry, who knows what is going on and is willing to share it, and how she’s such an outsider wanting in.

Each of these loves makes the guy a guide in a way but they equally show case how incompetent at love these guys are. At life too.

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DGNHS is visually dense, quick, ugly as hell, and from an unusual perspective that I bet most people don’t even notice! It’s smart, educational, and full of heart and it’s built in a way that all those things come through clearly, but subtly.

That, in my book, is worth major major props!

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Denki-gai no Honya-san – 04

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Denki-Gai no Honya-san is this season’s Sabagebu!. I know! I promised I wouldn’t say that again but I have no better way to describe it!

The visuals are dated! The characters are totally bizarre! It’s shit-your-pants-scare-your family-in-the-middle-of-the-night funny (much of the time)!

How can it not deserve your love??!

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This week starts off with Hiotan and the Director continuing to build there while-no-one-is-looking relationship. You see it’s staff recommendation season and Hiotan is such a mainstream reader of manga, she has nothing interesting to recommend.

Nothing as genre specific (and sales-strong) as anyone else at least. However, the director knows Hiotan’s buttons — he’s even used her likeness to sell BL books in his own recommendation area — and he’s here to help. So she starts recommending BL.

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akak National Standardized Girl Power Exam Final Answer Finals!

Then we get a little bit with Sensei-chan. Poor Sensei-chan has forgotten it is Valentine’s day! Subsequently her Girl Power (bar) is draining as she loses consistently to all other girls in the store.

This segment is the funniest by far, if only for the absurd visuals and timing. Still, it plays into the fears a young woman may have and differently for a young woman who is no longer in the simple ‘high school’ world of being all about one boy. It’s hard for me as a 300-something American man to really connect the dots with this one on a culturally meaningful level but, like you’ll find it, I laughed my ass off regardless!

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Then we end with Fu-Girl. Good old horrifying Fu-girl and her terrifying teeth want to give Sommelier-san a gift because she loves him in a creepy sexual way because she has horrifying teeth and is, at least, five years younger than him, but probably ten years younger than him!

Poor creepy Fu chases Sommelier all the way home, past all sorts of imagery and locations that make no sense but are snot-bubble unexpected. She even climbs through the barbed tree-tunnel from My Neighbor Totoro!

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Eventually Fu reaches Sommelier’s house and she gives him a Manga he’s not read before. To her, she copped out in not giving him chocolate but to him, she’s warmed his heart even more than her cone-shaped-teeth and underage loins already had!

YIKES! Too bad neither character understands the other’s reaction and the relationship isn’t going anywhere. At least, I hope, until she’s a consenting adult and wont get Sommelier thrown in prison…

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Fu’s zombie chocolate. Words are unnecessary…

I’ve decided Fu-girl is a stand in for all nerd girls. She’s physically somewhere between unattractive and attractive, depending on the light and how ‘open’ her mouth is, but she has a lot of heart and a love of fandom any otaku should love if he weren’t obsessed with the creme of the top sexy new resin models!

That’s hyper conjecture on my part, honestly. I’m not sure if she’s meant to criticize the fanbase or not. If she is? Brilliant! If not? Who cares! Her story — the setting and visuals at least — is hella funny!

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Denki-gai no Honya-san – 03

cs3_17Yes, she has snacks hidden under that giant hat. Mystery solved!

Denki-Gai no Honya-san goes all christmas episode on us this week, divided in no fewer than 5 acts! That’s a lot of little pieces of crazy for us to gobble up make sense of. So lets get cracking!

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Act 1 starts us off with Hiotan, who’s agreed to dress up in a skimpy santa for the store’s first holiday sale. Little did she know that she would be standing out in a blizzard handing out fliers and that Fu-girl made the superior choice when she chose to dress as a reindeer.

The reindeer is totally gross by the way. It has a giant outy-style belly button but it is warm. FULL ARMOR ON!

cs3_99Love the zombie-like visualization for their customers. creepy AND easy to spot the employees in the crowd!

The director and Hiotan spar a bit, but the director comes out on top. Ehem. Which results in Hiotan agreeing to help him shop for decorations — for the employee christmas cosplay party hosted at the Director’s luxury apartment!

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Act 2 and 3 give Hiotan some payback. First, she totally has fun crashing around Director’s apartment. Then, after the sad-sack employee party act is over, she doesn’t leave with everyone else in the morning.

Instead, Hiotan hangs around reading manga (possibly the Director’s manga?), eating his food, and playing his gaming consoles. They have a good time, sorta, and eventually have dinner together.

Then Hiotan ‘comes back’ (aka never leaves) and Director is stuck with her all over again!

cs3_19Not to self: do not think about food when Hiotan is in the room. She can sense it and will say she’s hungry too!

I’m not sure if DGnHs is angling for a romantic interest between these two characters, but the implication is there. At least, that they sometimes like each other’s company. I only note it because I got the feeling Hiotan was part of a love triangle with Protagonist-kun and Sensei-chan.

Oh well, they get their own little segment soon but first…

cs3_22Gah! Fu-girl! Your freakish shark teeth give me nightmares!

The Electric City Bookstore throws a big sale for new years and everyone is killed in act 4. It’s all pretty crazy, watching more or the gray, zombie like shoppers trample our cast to death, or simply over work them at the register. Hat-chan’s unexplained blood-splosion was definitely my favorite moment.

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Act 5 is returns us to what may sorta, kinda, maybe, if anything is, be DGnHs’s central plot thread: the romantic tension between protagonist and sensei.

Here, we find them taking a train home alone. Together. Sorta both. Then, being the more interesting one of the two, Sensei finally speaks up and asks Protagonist if he wants to join her at a quiet shrine for New Years ceremony stuff.

He does and they do, which is a quiet good time that ends with them not entirely but maybe letting on that they like each other. At least, to themselves.

cs3_18What? My nips? nah dog, just took a bath. … why are you still in my house, anyway??

This week’s structure worked quite well. The little modules let us take little bites from many people’s cakes. Slice of life and all. As usual, everyone and everything is very silly, over the top, and funny.

For me, the most interesting development was the apparent redirection of Hiotan from the triangle over to Director. It’s not a bad thing. Not even clearly a stated intent. But it does mix up the formula and keep me guessing — and uncertainty is a good thing!

cs3_11about to cut off my finger in 3… 2… 1…

I’m not even sure I know what this show is about? Slice of life, duh, sure, but who’s? Not Fu or Sommelier or Hat-chan obviously, but we’re starting to get thought bubbles from Hiotan and Sensei as frequently as from Protagonist-kun.

Scratch that! We’re getting more thought bubbles from Sensei than any of them. Weird! Exciting! Unpredictable! Funny! If you liked Sabagebu! Go watch it!

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Denki-gai no Honya-san – 02

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Denki-Gai no Honya-san follows in the footsteps of last season’s Sabagebu! in that DGnHs completely departs reality for a world of parody and crazy joy. It went totally off the rails this episode, made fun of many anime tropes and had moments that were absolutely pants-crappingly hysterical!

Episode two gave us two acts, which were tied together by Sommelier’s love for Fu-girl. Also, and this appears to be a core point of the show, a general sense of pervyness was around every corner.

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This week opened with a late night release party for The Devil is an Idol, a in-world LN advertised at the end of the previous episode. As with last week, the activities at the shop are only a foil for the interactions between the characters.

In this case, the activity sets the stage for everyone to go drinking together after work at a family restaurant that is definitely not the set from Working!! but end up back at the store because it’s too late to catch trains home and/or people are too drunk.

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Sommelier and Fu-girl leave first and, because he is so tall, Fu’s head gets banged on several door frames before officially being put to bed in the break room.

Perfectly executed slap-stick aside, the act keeps posing the protagonist and Fu as having a thing for each other, which is getting Sommelier down. Until the morning…

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The Protagonist wakes, straddled by Fu, who appears to be confessing her love. However, her true confession is that he has the face of the perfect Zombie and, to his horror, she has already done up his makeup.

It’s not clear what happens next, exactly. Except that Fu-girl goes crazy with zombie survival lust and beats the Protagonist senseless with a baseball bat. The whole scene would be disturbing if Fu-girl wasn’t so hilariously drawn. As is, it’s funny as hell!

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The second act doesn’t really need the context it doesn’t have: everyone is participating in a battle-style contest to win 10,000 yen. Each challenge is pervy, bizarre, and designed to embarrass its participants to the maximum.

Hiotan must gently race a giant golden ball that is body temperature across a finish line, The protagonist must race his ‘wife’ (a soft vinyl figurine balanced on a spoon) across a finish line, Sommelier must eat several pairs of panties… and race to a finish line. I think you get the idea here…

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Everyone has fun or is horrified, which is great because DGnHs jokes are pretty good here too — but also horrifying!

There’s something profoundly disturbing about seeing Hiotan in a skimpy bathing suit getting surrounded by men and ‘gunned down’ with water pistols while screaming. There’s something even more unsettling about the men moving off and revealing her in a pose so reminiscent of the fan-drawn gang rape hentai that seems to roll out parallel with each no anime season.

The scene is solidly funny, but in the back of my head I could hear part of my brain screaming!

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DGnHs solidly apes Sabagebu directly for much of this act. The gun play, the gruff no-failure nature and endless storm of cursing that comes out of Fu-girl. It’s all effective and fun.

But the best part is when Fu and Sommelier must ‘combine’ Voltron style to produce a mega water warrior. it’s totally stupid but absolutely on the spot.

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If I was worried that week one felt too much like a knock off of Gekkan Shojo Nozaki-kun, week two banishes those worries. The show may well parody everything from last season, from general anime genres, and fandom at large — but I’m now certain it can do it in its own, mercilessly absurd voice.

DGnHs, you’re my kind of show!

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Denki-gai no Honya-san – 01

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Director, Hu-Girl, Hiotan, Sommelier, Sensei-san, the male protagonist, and Kameko

Denki-Gai no Honya-san is dizzyingly packed slice-of-life comedy that could be mistaken for the offspring of last season’s GSN dash K and Sabagebu! It features 7 quirky teenagers, working in a busy manga shop, while juggling other manga-related pastimes on the side.

There’s a romance angle or two, too, if not a potential love triangle already brewing. So let’s jump right in!

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Comic Umanohone is a busy place and DGnHs lets us know that means one thing above all else: employees gotta shrink-wrap a ton of product! There’s also a lot of taping shut ‘must not be read in the store’ product but only when government censors stop by for secret inspections!

There’s so much shrink wrapping that DGnHs spends almost no time in the front of the shop. This was actually an interesting decision because it gives us a lot more time with the characters getting to interact with each other than being distracted by their interactions with customers. More interesting, because they surrounded by product, we immediately see their relationships to the industry…

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Sure, this means some throw away “what’s BL mean” and “is he a hentai” style jokes but DGnHs delivers its lines without feeling too stale or predictable. Having Hiotan discover the Director staring in an indie BL ONA was a nice touch too.

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Hu-chan is… a character in this show with… uh… weirdly specific looking teeth?

While DGnHs presents 7 cast members, most of them appear disposable or just there to pad the mid season with origin stories and such. Since the protagonist, Hiotan and Sensei-chan start working together (outside of the shop) in this first episode, they’re the natural focus of the show.

The Director exists to generate shop-focused narrative and fill the archetypical ‘light heartedly mean teasing’ guy role. He also films everyone (being a directory of BL and all) so I suppose that’ll wind up a plot thread now and again…

The Sommelier knows the perfect manga fit for anyone and, because he doesn’t talk, Komeko is there to hand over his suggestion. Beyond throw away gags (and maybe cosplay?) they don’t appear to have any real purpose in the show.

And let’s not dwell on Hu-chan, who’s whole purpose appears to be the character with no purpose at all… blargh.

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Remember I mentioned DCnHs has some similarities to GSN dash K? Well, literally, the protagonist announces “I love this artist’s work” and is told that “that guy” is, in fact, Sensei-chan. Then Sensei-chan see’s that the protagonist can draw and gets him to help finish her current manga for a tight deadline.

And Hiotan does her betas.

Yeah! I’m not touching that!

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Cute scene about staying up late, though the protagonist is kinda a classic japanese male chauvinist in my eyes…

Like Sabagebu last season, I’m not immediately sure if I want to watch DCnHs. When I describe it as packed, I mean visually and contextually: it flings train line jokes, tons of manga covers in the background and little details that I’ve only noticed because I’m pausing to take screen captures (Sommelier’s on stage body guards were just card board cut outs, for example).

Honestly, It’s kinda overwhelming.

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Dialog is quick, characters are simple and.. kinda half-chibi/deformed style and half generic. It isn’t hard to look at or listen to but it isn’t special either.

At the end of the day, my only real concern is that DCnHs is tame and not starting off with an especially original idea. Worse, unlike GSN dash K, DCnHs’ cast is generic and we haven’t seen any twists on genre.

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Still… I laughed quite a lot! I’m not sure if I was laughing with the show or at it though. For now, I guess I’ll keep watching.

If you caught Denki-Gai no Honya-san this week and noticed something I didn’t (like a reason for Hu-girl to exist??) let me know down in the comments below!

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