Skull-Face Bookseller Honda-san is a tanpen slice-of-life gag anime (I wonder why that sounds familiar). Anyway, the story follows the daily life of one Honda-san: a shy awkward bookshop employee who HATES confrontation.
The series has a — how do I put this? — peculiar visual style. The art is beautiful and surprisingly detailed, with a unique colour palette that’s pleasing on the eye and perfectly suited to the upbeat, comedic nature of the show. The animation is simplistic Flash animation, which I would have normally hated. But honestly, it works well here, and elevated this show, coupling well with the storytelling, the comedy, and the art style of the show.
The audio was great as well, with one of the better OPs I’ve ever heard, but it was the voice acting that was A-mAy-Jing! I really loved Honda-san’s VA, who felt very real and like he was seriously into the character. Other VAs did a great job too; special mention to Pestmask-san and Kamibukuro-san, who were very funny and realistic.
It probably helps to know what to expect here. Each episode consists of two five-minute-long stories which show random encounters or events in Honda-san’s life at the bookstore. The tone of the stories is upbeat, and VERY funny. They generally show what bookstore employees have to go through on a semi-daily basis.
The character designs may throw you off at first, what with people enquiring, yelling at, or even asking for help from a skeleton like it’s just another Tuesday. It may be weird at first, but soon you realize the characters are just humans drawn as these weird things to hide their identity by exaggerating their defining trait: like Honda-san being a skeleton, because he’s dead inside, or Armour-san being a tough section leader (on the outside) and a soft otaku (on the inside), and so on. Details like these are really enjoyable in a short format anime like this, as you can infer character traits just by looking at the character.
The show is largely focused on the manga department of the bookstore, aka the home of everything otaku. The employees often have to reference companies or mangas or other intellectual properties protected by copyright by name, and therefore the show has to do a very good job of strategic censorship. And by a very good job, I mean a really funny half-assed attempt by just censoring or changing a couple of the middle letters in the name, making it super hard (read: really easy) to know what they are talking about.
The series is a treat to weebs with multiple references (like Gintama, but different) that WILL make you laugh, all the while knowledgeably nodding your head. But you need a basic knowledge of the manga and the overall otaku culture scene to enjoy the show to its fullest. And like the other tanpen slice-of-life gag anime we reviewed this one is also best enjoyed slowly: one or two episodes a day. Please don’t binge this.
If you are still uncertain if you should watch the show, know this: the series has immense, untapped meme potential with each scene a possible template. Memers, get ‘em now before they go mainstream.
Everything compliments each other.
Such beauty VA
The cast is a fun mix of people that Honda-san has met in his career and felt real and interesting.
No overarching stories, just day-to-day stuff, but still fun and realistic.
Watch this you weeb!