Skull-face Bookseller Honda-san
by Amy McNulty,
How would you rate episode 10 of
Skull-face Bookseller Honda-san ?
Featuring some of the sincerest co-worker interactions in the entire show, this week's Skull-face Bookseller Honda-san shines a light on stock room conversations and provides viewers with the usual dose of behind-the-counter insight. Episode 10's first segment explores the best qualities for a bookstore employee to posses. Although each character has their own unique answers to this question, everyone agrees that the perpetually hardworking Fullface is the ideal bookseller. The episode's second half takes us on a trip to the not-too-distant past and reveals how Honda came to be in charge of the American comics section. Honda is initially hesitant to take on the job, but Houkai, who'd previously headed up this section, is able to make him see the inherent perks in overseeing such an obscure section. As she puts it, “It's perfect for half-assers like you and me!”
In addition to acting as a vehicle for the usual comedy, the conversation at the center of the first segment is one that actual retail workers would have—especially at specialty shops. For the most part, each character's answers fit with their established personality, with Honda's being the most depressing. (His remark about controlling one's expressive muscles when dealing with customers is both hilarious and scarily accurate.) Interestingly, “needs to love books” doesn't even come up until Pestmask mentions it as an afterthought. By the same token, the second segment illustrates that none of the employees are particularly passionate about the merchandise in their respective sections. Sure, everyone at the store seems reasonably interested in popular manga and light novels, but with the exception of Armor, the staff is essentially bereft of super-fans.
Aside from the presence of cartoony sparkles, there aren't many visual cues that distinguish Fullface's section from those of his coworkers'. (Granted, this is likely a consequence of the show's simplistic aesthetic style.) None of the characters have been shown to have comparatively sloppier shelves, though Honda's recently-revealed inclination to overstuff his shelves may be an indication of how his section stacks up. Nonetheless, while the show manages to get the point across—being in awe of a diligent coworker who takes tremendous pride in his work—it would have helped to see more concrete examples of the rest of the staff's apparent sloppiness, as well as some of the consequences that arise from it.
With an increased focus on employee interactions, Skull-face Bookseller Honda-san once again demonstrates that life behind the counter is dramatically different from life in front of it, educating viewers on the trials faced by booksellers. (The detailed rundown of every major publisher is particularly informative.) An entire episode consisting of extended interactions between Honda and his coworkers helps make this zany series feel more like an ensemble comedy. Since numerous members of the sizable supporting cast have largely been treated as props in episodes past, it's refreshing to see them receive some development before the season comes to an end.
Skull-face Bookseller Honda-san is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.
Amy is an author who has loved anime for over two decades.
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