Episode 4

by Lauren Orsini,

Anyone who's ever worked a customer service job has a story. However, that story is usually not “My boss fostered my creative expression by giving me a shelf of my favorite manga to sell.”

Such is the minimum-wage fantasy of Denki-gai No Honya-san and its fictional Electric Town bookstore at which I'd gladly ditch my day job to work. Here, employees are appreciated by each other and their customers alike. In this episode, every employee's manga preferences were highlighted in order for the staff to hawk the books they would recommend most. Think those Barnes & Noble Staff Picks turned up to eleven.

Hio-tan continues to be Denki-gai's Everywoman. Unlike her otaku coworkers, Hio isn't particularly interested in any manga beyond the “already popular” ones. Hio is the viewer avatar, taken by the hand as she explores the magical world of manga, “where all desires are welcome.” That includes sexual ones, of course. Even as the show underlines the wholesome pleasure in a hard day's work, it never wavers from the distinctly unwholesome content of what manga the characters prefer. Don't think for an instant that Hio's eventual manga awakening won't also be a sexual awakening.

Denki-gai serves up humor—and moe—in excess through the female characters' hilarious hyperbolic reactions to everyday situations. When Sensei realizes she's forgotten to buy chocolate for Valentine's Day, her mind immediately flipbooks through dozens of unfortunate events, from a wine glass shattering to a pup getting hit with a stick to… a laser beam destroying Earth. Yes, that's exactly what it's like to forget your chocolate, Sensei.

The return of the Erotic Book G-Woman was another pleasant surprise this episode. As everyone cowered dramatically in the glow of her corporate gaze, she continued to break the stereotype with her own manga preferences. Denki-gai has a large cast for a show of its ilk, and these recurring jokes make it simple to keep everyone straight, even if it also makes them a bit tropey.

Denki-gai continues to balance three sweet romances among coworkers with the far more adult humor intrinsic to the manga they're working to sell. It's a balancing act that could teeter off to one side at any moment, and the preview for next week's panty shot bonanza has me wondering if the show will be able to retain its particular sugary/sexy concoction.

Rating: B+

Denki-gai no Honya-san is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.

Lauren writes about anime and journalism at Otaku Journalist.

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