DENKI-GAI
Episode 10

by Lauren Orsini,

Liking somebody who doesn't like us back: we've all been there. The clincher is when they find love, and you're torn between celebrating their happiness and wrestling your own jealousy. This episode of Denki-gai no Honya-san was about that bittersweet feeling when other people are finding love with the person that you love yourself. It was an episode that humanized my least favorite character, Tsumorin, and made me truly sympathize with her.

Denki-gai continues to move through the seasons at breakneck speed, and we're now experiencing our second Valentine's Day of the series. That's right, it's time for the girls and Sensei especially to agonize over the making and delivering of chocolates. In my previous reviews, I've been pretty harsh on Tsumorin because of her tormenting, groping, and hazing behavior that makes the other female characters uncomfortable. In this episode, I saw her role as more of an older sister, sometimes cruel in her teasing, but also caring and ready to dispense her womanly knowledge to her younger sisters. She was certainly patient with her young charges this episode, as she taught the hapless Hio, Sensei, Fu-Girl, and Kameko to bake a chocolate cake. As things became increasingly disastrous, Tsumorin never lost her calm and collected demeanor.

Honestly, the Denki-gai crowd seriously needs an older sister. It's been ten episodes, but none of the relationships have progressed beyond the pair blushing and stammering at one another. Both the girls and the boys have an elementary school viewpoint on romantic love, intentionally hurting one another when they can't figure out how else to express their feelings. Take the scene where, yet again, Kantoku and Hio-tan end up in a situation where they have to spend the night together. (There's no shortage of scenes like this in Denki-gai!) There's an intimate exchange of words and this time, there's no possible way it was in Hio's head, like it could have been back when she was sick with the flu. Kantoku tries to intimidate Hio, but it comes off not as hostile, but as a childish way of getting her attention. After ten episodes, this pair is getting frustrating. They've spent the night together multiple times, and there's never been so much as a confession between them!

Later, however, the two are pictured as an elderly couple after completing a difficult task, and although they haven't shared their feelings it's almost like a preview of the future, a promise that some day, maybe when they're old and gray, Hio and Kantoku will be together. Even if they don't see it, Tsumorin does, and it crushes her.

There's an interesting conversation this episode between Tsumorin and Kamako—two characters who have rarely interacted prior to this scene. As it turns out, they both have a crush on the same guy, Kantoku, but their shared secret is also a bitter one, since they both know neither of them has a chance. From episode one the canon relationships were established—between Hio and Kantoku, Umio and Sensei, Sommelier and Fu-Girl. There's no room for these two, the odd ones out.

Denki-gai is constantly thrusting its three main couples into romantic situations, and it isn't like Kameko and Tsumorin haven't noticed—heck, Kameko photographs every moment at the shop. So many shows end with everyone happily paired off, and if anyone is left out, we really don't see their perspectives, to keep from killing the mood. The characters in this show may be stuck in elementary school but this show is clearly not, as it continues to explore the boundaries of what constitutes a comedy romance.

Rating: A

Denkigai no Honya-san is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.

Lauren writes about anime and journalism at Otaku Journalist.


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