DENKI-GAI
Episode 9

by Lauren Orsini,

Most of the time, being a single adult is manageable. However, this episode of Denki-gai no Honya-san featured two instances when it really helps to have a significant other you can count on: when you're sick or when it's a romantic holiday.

Hio-tan's charm comes from her reliably flustered reactions to any ordinary occurrence. In this episode she gets sick not once but twice, and counts on her friends to nurse her through a fever of about 101 Fahrenheit (38.5 Celsius). As soon as we found out Hio was sick, I was hoping for Kantoku to come take care of her, and Denki-Gai delivered. Even when she's otherwise helpless, Hio saves her last burst of energy to direct ire at Kantoku.

I was hoping that Hio and Kantoku's relationship would advance a bit more than this by now. Even after Hio overhears Kantoku's confession to Tsumorin in episode seven, she still deals with her feelings through aggression toward her love interest. It's in total contrast to a whispered moment of sexual intimacy between the two—but it's left unclear if this is Hio's fever dream or something that actually happens. Kantoku is a perfect gentleman, carrying her to the hospital on foot and putting up with Hio's verbal barbs while calmly cooking her rice porridge. Meanwhile, the Kantoku of the erotic scene murmured lines (“It's not my fault if I finally lose control”) reminiscent of the boys' love manga that we know Hio loves reading.

Hio gives Kantoku her cold, and then she gets sick again. Could it have been from nursing Kantoku back to health? After all, she warned her colleagues not to visit Kantoku while he was sick since it would just spread the illness around, so perhaps she went on a covert visit alone. Either way, she gets sick quite a bit, and this time Sensei and Sommelier-kun come to take care of her. Sensei is still on a mission to figure out how to be more like a girl, but even visiting the home of her cutest girl-friend isn't helping. A glimpse into Hio's laundry basket just makes Sensei feel like less of a woman for not putting ladylike effort into her underclothes. Sensei's determination to find out where girl power comes from is an important lesson for both male and female viewers—it shows the pressure put on women to be more womanly than they feel, and indicates just how much hard work goes into creating an effortless illusion of femininity. Tsumorin's revelation to Sensei, however, may put a stop to Sensei's struggle, and remind her that even when she doesn't feel like it, she's been a cute girl all along.

The finale was a Christmas vignette, our second in nine episodes. Time moves fast for Denki-Gai, but it makes sense that there'd be a lot to say about the most important time of the year for a store that specializes in eroge. Since Christmas is a romantic holiday, the store caters more to singles who plan to curl up with a sexy book in lieu of a special somebody. We saw the return of the eroge book G-man, or lady rather, who is a great character though admittedly pretty terrible at her job. When she makes everyone's wishes come true with free erotic manga for all—from an elderly couple to a family with a small child—I couldn't stop laughing at the rapidfire, off-color gags. This frank and funny look into manga readers' sexuality was Denki-Gai at its best.

This episode of Denki-Gai illustrated the times when single people are most vulnerable to their emotions with scenarios that were both sexy and silly. It's a spot-on wish fulfillment fantasy for anyone who's feeling a little lonely this holiday season.

Rating: A

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

Lauren writes about anime and journalism at Otaku Journalist.


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