Skull-face bookseller Honda-san’ is without a doubt one of the best short shows of 2018, and perhaps even the best comedy I’ve ever watched. Seriously.
It revolves around our main character, a skeleton called Honda, as we watch him work through his job as a bookstore employee; within the bookstore, we meet his fellow co-workers, who each have very expressive personalities, and the daily shoppers who visit the store. This whole entire show is comedy gold – especially if you get the references – filled with BL jokes and western tourists along with the relatable struggles at work that Honda and his co-workers go through that just make you laugh; this all makes for an absolute one of a kind experience. It’s astonishing how they humanised these characters with the expressive voice acting and dialogue despite the fact that all the bookstore employee’s don’t even have faces; in Honda-san’s short run time of 2 hours, I’ve come to love these characters and care for them. The art style is minimalistic, there’s not a lot of animation most of the time but it doesn’t really matter at all (in fact the lack of animation and minimalistic style is perfect for this show) – it’s the story and characters that really keep you watching.
This show puts you at ease: I’ll never forget the amazing cast and how the episode’s used to just fade into the ending song, and me just sitting there in awe after each episode. If you ever have time to spare, I seriously recommend you to binge-watch this show, sit back and just have an absolute blast watching it.
I'm gonna give this an outstanding score just because. Can I (or we) call this the SOTY (Short of the Year) for 2018? Because this short-form 10 minute series, as simple as its premise goes, drives home perfectly about more than just being a fun and educational series. Heck, anime like this really are once-in-a-blue-moon novelty! And...this is brought to you by director (not Shouto) Todoroki Owl (his very first directorial work). (Aw, Shouto almost had his own anime...)
Originally a Pixiv web comic, Gaikotsu Shotenin Honda-san is an accurate depiction of Japan's culture of bookstore staff handling day-to-day bookstore work measures. For the sake of adaptation, the writer himself Honda-san phased himself as a (not so Ainz-sama like) skeleton which is voiced by the ever popular Soma Saito, and honestly, he fits the role of the skeletonized human Honda-san very well. So now, imagine with me on this. If you decide to journey to Japan one day, enter into a random bookstore to see how and the behind-the-scenes look alike, and of course, after watching this series, more often than not, I'd bet that you will have a more appreciative sense of both the bookstore as well as the staff themselves, which is the selling point of the series.
Not to mention, while MC (Momonga) Honda-san constantly wrestles with his own thoughts and opinions against the people in the bookstore, ranging from young to old people with perfectly normal to obscenely random choices of purchase (e.g. erotic, BL etc.) , he does not just go alone. Together with his other staff like Okitsune, Kamibukuro, Gas Mask, Section Chiefs Pestmask and Armour whom deals different sections and catalogues of books of which are handled by the ever-so-flctuating involvement of media companies like Shueisha and even Kadokawa themselves (since Kadokawa censors out popular and obscure titles for research, and is always laughing puns), and even these companies themselves, negotiating for usual stuff like shipping, packaging and receiving stock. Even more so, being a SoL comedic series, I find myself sympathizing with Honda-san and his colleagues for the insane random situations they face, and of course, the laughs, there is always the endless randomizing customer-staff expressional bickering that is worth many damn chockful of laughs. So if you want to upgrade your list of anime memes and endless references, this is the go-to source.
Being a primarily kids-centric studio, DLE's simple art aesthetics are really just for show, and do deliver on the depictions of how Honda-san's actions and expressions are laid out, and that is transferred onto Azarashi-san, which is Honda-san's writer for this series. And for what it is, it showcases greatly and fondly.
But to me, the music is what drives my love for this show sky-high.
"Do you know us? We are natural born “Best Book-Beller”!
Yes! We want to look for your want, that’s precious for you!
Technoboys Pulcraft Green-Fund, which did the OST composition, which features Honda-san for the fun, creepy yet bombastic head-banging OP and indie artist Hiroshi Takano for the calm and happy ED. If you haven't heard the full OST, I'd recommend you to take a good listen coz it'll serve you good that this is music of substance that's worth an endless repeat.
What a handsome old man!" - Honda-san
If there's any takeaway of substance, I would recommend this short wholeheartedly. I mean, come on, take at least 2 hours off your time to binge-watch this series (which is definitely the way to go), and you'd have a very hard time putting this one down. I almost regretted leaving this series to dust before its end, and I'm very glad and happy to pick this underrated gem up again that is fun, educational, hilarious, and a blast to watch.
I'm gonna miss this short with my whole heart, so memorable!