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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