Skull-face Bookseller Honda-san
by Amy McNulty,
How would you rate episode 9 of
Skull-face Bookseller Honda-san ?
Following last week's customer service-focused installment, this week's Skull-face Bookseller Honda-san takes us back into the nitty-gritty of operating a successful bookstore. After the store sells its entire stock of a sought-after book in one day, Honda and his coworkers walk the audience through the tribulations of section-stocking. As it turns out, a lot more thought goes into determining floor stock than many people realize. In addition to giving lots of shelf space to hot new releases, Honda and company must determine which old and out-of-print books to keep around and which to send back to their respective publishers. The episode also provides viewers with an informative look at book life cycles and reprint trends. While not as off-the-wall wacky as previous installment, episode 9 aptly plays to one of the show's core strengths: making retail fascinating.
Although some of the show's strongest episodes tell multiple stories, the latest installment is well-served by sticking to a single topic. Episode 9's principal subject provides an abundance of interesting material to fill up the show's brief runtime, and the life cycle of an unpopular book compared to that of a popular book comes together cohesively by episode's end. The plethora of issues each section chief has to consider when stocking their designated shelves makes the staff's stress more palpable than ever. For example, when Honda considers getting rid of poorly-selling volumes of a certain series while keeping the randomly-numbered volumes with favorable sales, it's almost impossible not to feel his pain. Book lovers who are consistently confounded by stores that only stock certain volumes of their favorite series are likely to find this portion of the episode enlightening.
Honda's method of parting with as few books as possible—very tightly stocking his shelves to maximum capacity—gives us some of the episode's funniest moments. A book screaming in pain as Honda unceremoniously crams it onto a jam-packed shelf is a particularly amusing piece of dark humor. Surprisingly, the usually good-natured Honda appears unmoved by the book's plight. Episode 9 also features a handful of hilarious customer interactions, most notably Honda getting yelled at for suggesting a customer purchase the e-book version of an out-of-print title. This exchange left such an impression on Honda that he vowed to never again mention e-books to patrons.
Skull-face Bookseller Honda-san once again demonstrates that you can't please all of the people all of the time. Despite the staggering amount of thought that goes into determining which books are given shelf space and how much stock is ordered, popularity is oftentimes impossible to predict. Interestingly, Honda isn't the only one affected by this issue. Although Skull-face's various misfortunes usually drive the narrative, nearly every bookstore employee experiences stocking-related woes this week. With popular titles selling out in the blink of an eye, forgotten titles experiencing random resurgences, and irate customers requesting obscure titles that are long out-of-print, it's just another day at the office for Honda and the gang.
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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