Skull-face Bookseller Honda-san
by Amy McNulty,
How would you rate episode 7 of
Skull-face Bookseller Honda-san ?
This week's Skull-face Bookseller Honda-san introduces us to more new “faces” as the series' relatively small world continues to expand. The first segment marks the first appearance of Wholesaler-san, whose face is obscured by a piece of paper bearing his name as he works with Honda's store. Impeccably capable, Wholesaler has a knack for tracking down difficult-to-find and in-demand titles. Also, as evidenced by him treating Honda and Armor to a theatrical film based on a male idol anime, Wholesaler is an avid fudanshi. The second segment finds Honda attending a mixer for booksellers with S-san, a sales rep whose face is also obscured by a piece of paper bearing his name. While there, he listens to a wide range of complaints from publishers, marketers, and fellow booksellers. However, things take a turn for the awkward when the complaints shift to the quality of the show's parent manga.
By the end of the first segment, the exact nature of Wholesaler's job and what sets him apart from other publishing contacts isn't 100% clear, but on the plus side, he feels like more of a realized character than certain members of the regular cast. As the show acknowledges, there's some character overlap between Wholesaler and Majutsushi, and hyper-capable semi-regulars are becoming a little too common at this point. However, since the show's humor tends to be more situational than character-driven, this doesn't present a huge issue. As an added bonus, Wholesaler embracing his inner fudanshi brings out a new side of Armor, who hasn't been particularly important since the first episode. Honda claiming to enjoy the movie so much that he almost wet himself also hints that his tastes may be more varied than previously indicated.
Honda-san acknowledging that he's drawing the Skull-face Bookseller Honda-san manga in-universe is a surprising turn that imbues the series with even more of an autobiographical feel. (When Honda met with his editor in the second episode, it wasn't entirely clear whether this segment took place in the show's usual reality.) Honda's new bookseller acquaintance tearing into the manga before realizing he's speaking to its author is the best joke of the episode and arguably one of the show's finest examples of secondhand embarrassment to date. Honda's deflated aura punctuated by the man's shock at the realization is a fantastic moment of cringe comedy in a show that's already jam-packed with awkward moments. Particularly funny is the man doubling down on his critiques and digging his heels in deeper instead of issuing an apology.
This week's Honda-san marks another winner in what's proven to be a string of strong episodes. In addition to providing the audience with even more insight into the surprisingly complex world of bookselling, episode 7 takes Honda out of his usual surroundings and places him into one of his most awkward situations yet.
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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