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Denki-gai no Honya-san – Laughs & Love in Otaku Paradise

Sensei-chan best girl. No wait, Hio-tan. Tsumorin! Erohon G-men? Too many choices!

Denki-gai is a comedy about the otaku life, but it’s in the characters’ relationships that it really shines.

The Comedic Beats

I went into Denki-gai cautiously optimistic, so infected was I by takaii’s excitement in the fall preview, but without that I don’t know if I would have watched it, because each characters’ stated schtick—the Zombie Girl, the Manga Sommelier, etc—didn’t initially grab my attention. I wondered how they were going to build a story on such simplistic character traits, and worried that it, along with the tried-and-true-but-done-before otaku humor, would leave the show floundering before long.

My fears were in vain. While I wouldn’t call the character complex, per say—this is still a comedy, so depth and complexity aren’t required, nor were they delivered—they’re not one-note characters either. Take Fu Girl: while her zombie obsession came up often enough, other times the jokes were focused on her size, shyness, her surprisingly foul mouth, or her relationship with Sommelier. And as I look back on the series now, I was never bored, and it never really slowed down, which is a hard trick for even the comedies I like to pull off.

Shipping & Mass OTP

The other thing I thought going in was that it would be another harem show, with Umio as the leading guy. I don’t remember if it was the first or second episode that disabused me of that misunderstanding, but it was pretty quick. And thankfully so! Because week in and week out, my favorite thing about Denki-gai, and what kept me coming back time and time again, was the tiny hints of love between the characters. The teases! They kept dancing around it, giving us hope for Sensei x Umio, Kantoku x Hio-tan, Sommelier x Fu Girl, and even threw in some hints of wild cards like Kameko x Kantoku or Sommelier x Erohon G-Men. And Umio, who I started out thinking would be the harem lead—he’s just as eccentric as the rest of them.

The delicate trick was in balancing a bias for the status quo—which is what most long-term comedies prefer, so they don’t wrap things up too quickly and lose a bunch of their jokes—with slowly developing the couples. By the end of the anime, each of the main ones actually made some progress, which was great! It’s slow, but as long as it’s going somewhere eventually, it’s not frustrating, and their rabu-rabu antics along the way are adorable.

A Little Moe, A Little Goofy

There is a certain amount of moe to the characters, particularly the girls. They’re all tiny, and while sexual dimorphism is a thing, and women are generally shorter, they’re … they’re just so small! But as moe as the art style is, the characters are, by and large, goofy adults. They live alone, they laugh, they drink alcohol—oh, the drinking of alcohol! I love it so—and they’re only childish insomuch as a bunch of die-hard otaku usually are. So they’re still moe, but it’s not the overriding flavor of the story to me. Your mileage may vary.

Comedy of the Year?

Denki-gai is a rock solid comedy that I enjoyed every week. It’s not one I’d say that every anime fan has to watch, because comedies can usually be skipped without “missing” anything, but if you like comedy with a side of shipping, I recommend this series. There’s never a boring minute, and occasionally there’s a touching one. Now kiss, all you baka couples!

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December 18, 2014 at 1:26 pm
  • December 18, 2014 at 2:27 pmsilke13

    I’ll never forget those unwholesome eromanga titles:

    “Pour that Hot Chocolate on Me.”
    “Take my Chocolate Banana in Your Mouth.”
    “My 70-Year Old Sister”
    “Battle on the South Seas”
    ”My Neighbor’s Mammary”
    ”I Love Lolis!”
    ”Eat My Chocolate Banana.”
    “I’m a Panda and You’re a Deer”

    ……oh well. I better stop.

    My favorite quote of the show: “Can i touch you? For science?” – Sensei

    • December 18, 2014 at 6:02 pmzrnzle500

      I liked the light novel which was called something like “Everyone on Earth except me has become my little sister” in the epilogue

    • December 18, 2014 at 8:19 pmCarma

      My favorite was “It’s not gay because we’re Just Friends”

  • December 18, 2014 at 2:33 pmHalfDemonInuyasha

    Sensei and Ero G-Man are the best! XD

  • December 18, 2014 at 6:05 pmzrnzle500

    On the question of comedy of the year, it is admittedly a good one but I think ultimately not comedy of the year, which I would give to Barakamon or Nozaki-kun

    • December 18, 2014 at 7:31 pmStilts

      Oh, I agree. Honestly I just couldn’t think what to call the last section. It’s solid, but it doesn’t stand out enough to get the award.

    • December 18, 2014 at 8:00 pms_w

      Definitely Nozaki. I damn near ruined a chair or two because of that show. Barakamon and Denki Gai were both cute, and both had their moments, but this was the year of the giant ribbons IMO.

  • December 18, 2014 at 6:40 pmBROOKLYN otaku

    im loving the girl power skits…the mangaka girl is pretty gross with da wet-wipes and ramen…girl power -500!!!

  • December 18, 2014 at 6:57 pmMike

    Yeah, the show is pretty inconsistent, but most episodes are good to excellent. Fu-girl has to be my favorite; her tiny shyness, general repulsiveness, and psychotic zombie destruction just works for me.

    I am hoping for a full length lime cat feature. Not directed by J.J. Abrams.

  • December 18, 2014 at 7:18 pmNitro

    I initially thought this was just going to be another “pervert humor” anime (which i’ve gotten incredibly sick of the past year (lookin’ at you, Seitokai Yakuindomo)) and didn’t plan on watching it, but at the insistence of a friend i gave it to try. safe to say, this show has delivered in heaps.

  • December 18, 2014 at 7:55 pms_w

    I enjoyed the show a lot. It was a solid adaptation of a goofy manga I love to read. I wish there’ll be a second season… who am I kidding? ;_; I’m gonna miss this show.

    One amusing thing: Fu-Girl’s seiyuu, Taketatsu Ayana, also was the seiyuu for Sawatari Fuu in Tamayura. I found the casting kind of funny. From Fuu to Fu.

    The thing about Denki-gai is that it’s about 60% comedy, 30% awkward (sometimes really awkward) romance, and about 10% wistfully sad/kind of painful (I want to just call it 切ない and be done with it, damn words that don’t translate well), and that’s a really good blend for me.

    And of course Kameko is best girl.

    I highly recommend picking up the manga from here on. There’s more stories to tell, more analyses of Girl Power, a new character or two, and the usual hijinks.

    • December 19, 2014 at 12:47 amMetalder

      I love Cam too

  • December 19, 2014 at 3:25 am

    I feel bad for Kameko, she is likeable but just got dealt a mehhh hand.

    • December 19, 2014 at 1:11 pmStilts

      Agreed. I always felt insulted (on her behalf) that she wasn’t marked as a main character. She was one of the team! She was as main as any of the rest of them, I think. She should have been… ;_;

    • December 23, 2014 at 9:54 amMetalder

      regarding likeable “side characters”… sometimes I wonder if they would be as likeable if they got more spotlight and better luck. I mean I sympathized with her “unrequited love” situation and wonder if without it she will still got sympathy points.

  • December 19, 2014 at 3:34 amZhinvu

    With all the gags in the show, I didn’t expect the little tearjerker moments courtesy of Tsumorin. Felt really sorry for her when she cried on Kantoku’s lap. Makes me wonder why they broke up in the first place, though Tsumorin going crazy during drinking sessions could be one of the reasons. I also wonder if that after credits scene with the baseball kid and the girl who walked pass him is supposed to mean something. Oh and for me Hio-tan is best girl followed by Sensei.

    • December 19, 2014 at 1:12 pmStilts

      Honestly, I don’t think Kantoku and Tsumorin were a good match, at least not compared to Kantoku and Hio-tan. Might not have been a big reason they broke up, just a this-isn’t-working situation

      • December 19, 2014 at 9:40 pmZhinvu

        It might be their personalities and circumstances. The show already tells us Kantoku likes teasing the girl he likes, and Tsumorin is a successful light novel author. So I have to say their relationship might not have worked out because somebody like Tsumorin is hard to tease or mess with and her career might have gotten in the way. Almost forgot to mention Ero Hon G Men as another favorite of mine in this series.

  • December 19, 2014 at 10:13 amP Ko

    I loved the series, so very much.

    Sensei best girl.

  • December 20, 2014 at 6:52 amlegwkio

    It was good, but not Comedy of the Year good.

    Also, Ero-hon G-man the best.

  • December 20, 2014 at 11:02 amRiktol

    I assumed Ero G-Man was going to be a one shot character but I was so glad when she kept turning up.
    And Tsumorin was the best drunk.

    • December 20, 2014 at 2:47 pmStilts

      Agreed on both parts. I want to party with Tsumorin! She might give me a run for my money >:3 Though I’d prefer beer or whiskey to sake.

  • December 22, 2014 at 10:32 amMiaminights

    Thanks for the closing thoughts Stilts! I too came back week after week to get my fill of the cast; Fu Girl and Sensei chan particularly.

    Tsumorin and Erobon G man appearances were near perfect and added so much to the laughter. Secondary characters get lost in comedies, but when these two made appearances it was golden! The Gman back story was great and Tsumorin…oh Tsumorin. SAKE FOR ALL!!!!

  • December 23, 2014 at 9:51 amMetalder

    Just rewatched the whole season.
    Man, these girls have big teardrops.