• JoJo Battsu

Honda-san Ain't No Numbskull

Gaikotsu Shotenin Honda-san is wierdly funny. From the very outset, the titular protagonist, Honda, makes it clear that he wishes to display the world of a bookstore in right earnest.

And yet, you have episodes littered with in-you-face, almost slapstick comedy littered throughout the episodes of the show. The only difference is that, unlike other "comedy" shows in the genre, GSHs actually works.


Chronicling the adventures of one skull-faced bookstore employee and his fellow, equally overwhelmed colleagues, GSHs to me immediately hit the sweet spot when it comes to what I usually look for in a gag anime. The characters were appropriately weird yet approachable, the premise for many of the skits were extremely believable. Of course, paramount was the fact that the gags themselves were actually humourous for a change.

For just $3 a month, you can help this poor man get over Chernobyl

As with other comedic anime of our time, GSHs depends majorly on subversion to achieve its goals, and personally, succeeds spectacularly in doing so.


The very image of a skull-face invokes caution, fear even, due to deeply ingrained imagery in our psyche. Not so with Honda-san. In the very first minute after the opening crawl passes by, Honda very convincingly establishes himself as the polar opposite of anything menacing. In fact, with the gorgeous manner that he is characterized in just the opening episode leads the viewer to know that Honda is likely to be run over by a toddler if they ever had to battle. (To be fair, he would probably let it, he is that eager to please.)


What he looks like to the world

What he looks like to himself

The other bit of subversion actually runs much, much deeper, to the point where it is the most meta of all plot points I've seen in anime. The entire show is based around the extremely real experiences of the eponymous Honda and yet is one of the trippiest viewing experiences I've ever witnessed.


The character designs definitely contribute to this: think Bojack Horseman but on crack.



Going Harder Better Faster Stronger didn't work out too well...

The star cast also deserves generous amounts of praise. Almost none of these characters felt cliched in any sense, beyond the typical anime exclamations and what not. It was most definitely a breath of fresh air. Also very impressive was the extent to which Honda went to make these characters as memorable as possible. He's definitely succeeded, considering I still remember all of their names.

At the end of the day, the most appealing aspect of Gaikotsu Shotenin Honda-san is also the most ironic: its humanity. In a show where all of the characters are nameless and faceless on purpose, I was still massively affected by how much of myself I saw in Honda. Diffident, unsure yet filled with a great sense of pride in doing what he loved, he probably became the closest thing to a friend that I would've liked to have had, had he existed in the real world.


And all of this happened within a collective two hours of watchtime.


"Guess there's a Honda-san in all of us."

- One of those blonde American customers (also part time rapper probably) idk.


Scores


Story

Nine. There is no inherent plot progression to speak of - and why would there be? The premise and the way Honda-san goes about narrating it more than carries the anime satisfactorily.


Voice Acting

(Japanese): Decent Eight. Soma Saito (VINEGAR DOPPIO - GOLDEN WIND) as the titular Honda-san is an inspired casting choice, it just is. The other characters are also voiced very professionally.


Characters

Decent Nine. Just the methodology used in creating the characters was a stroke of genius; the unique personalities each of them have and the hilarious way they react with their environment is a bonus.


Art

Nine. Pastels, pastels everywhere, pleasing to the eye. GSHs definitely treads a fine line between looking gorgeous and half-assed, but personally, I most certainly find every art choice, original or borrowed, absolutely incredible.


Animation

Light Six. There isn't really any need for propah animation in a show like GSHs, so a score in itself is a little unfair. Still, there are quite a few noteworthy scenes that were pimarily animation, and that is enough grounds to merit a rating.


Music

Eight. I give the OP high praise, not so much the ED. The musical suites are practically non-existent, but have a very understated, toned down EDM influence when they do make an appearance, which I quite liked.


Overall Weighted Score: 8.65


Gaikotsu Shotenin Honda-san is an anime that rises above its humble premise and truly wows you with how much you begin to empathize with out hero. I cannot think of a better comedic anime that also makes you truly miss watching it after watching a mere 12 episodes.


Binge-worthy? As with Saiki Kusuo Psi-nan, why would you want this beautiful piece of art to get over so quickly?

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