I’ve already talked about Honda-san a little bit on my first podcast episode that you can find here, but I want to talk more about it with this little blog post. Is it me or was 2018 a more unique year then usual because it also included some entertaining, educational shows in it? I mean, let’s talk about how Cells at Work was a show that took the anime scene by storm for little while with it’s unique concept of explaining how the body works through making the cells as characters and the things that attack the bodies as monsters. Then there is Book Seller Honda-San that used people in Halloween masks to explore the book selling industry. While I can’t say that this show was unpopular, I can definitely say that it didn’t get the same attention as Cells did. I mean, I didn’t watch it until now and that was an error on my part. Could it be because the episode length was too short?
I don’t feel like I need to explain too much about what Book Seller Honda-san is about. Do I need to say how Book Seller Honda-san is about Honda-San, selling books. That’s it. There, done. Still, there are some more intricacies to all of that from the relatable comedy. This is a short series with all the episodes ten minutes in length about a normal person who might be dead inside, because he’s a skeleton, dealing with what comes from working at a book store. Admittedly, these would be the wacky highlights, but normal stories don’t make for good anime usually. Over the course of the series, Honda-san has to deal with foreign costumers that want BL novels, possible yakuza bosses, customers that obsess over shonen, questions he doesn’t know how to answer from strange costumers, business meetings, etc. All from the point of this of this loveable skeleton guy. There are some meta comedy moments, but they didn’t work for me some times.
Book Seller Honda-San is made out of characters wearing different sorts of masks manning the book store against normal anime looking characters. The masks not only help to differentiate the book store employees from the customers, which is a fantastic design concept. Especially when they are easy to spot and possibly figure how their masks fit with their personalities. Fantastic for such a short anime to even do. And then to relate all of these normal looking anime characters in combination with the masked characters, Honda-san is a human skeleton character. He relates to the costumers because he’s still an adorable skeleton, but he fits with the masked characters because of how strange they are. The show doesn’t need to have the greatest art and animation to get to know these characters as well and that’s the genius for this little short.
This series is also educational, because it shares some knowledge on how the book store industry in Japan or anywhere works. Do you want to know more about what happens to books that don’t fit on shelves? What about whole sellers? Maybe what hellish training meetings are like? Proper customer etiquette? Also it covers questions about what happens to a piece of manga or a book that isn’t in stock and possibly sold out. All of those and more about what part of the store book employees cover are brought up in this anime. Book Seller Honda-san has a lot of context to it that makes it so much more interesting to me then other slice of life series. That’s why I loved it as much as I did. Also, since this is an anime about people selling manga, there are some good references to certain popular manga. Those are quite a lot of fun as well.
Once again, the visuals of Honda-San are the weakest part and that is ok. This is a slice of life comedy series that is also a short. I don’t think the visuals are the things you should watch this series more. It’s easy to talk about stock footage, simple movements from characters just sliding off the screen, still frames, lack of detail in the show’s backgrounds, and so on, but I don’t want to here. Just sit back and watch the fun relatable times on screen that hurt in a positive and negative sort of way. That’s it. It’s a fantastic show just to watch when you have a short amount of free time here and there. Kind of similar to Aggretsuko that also came out this year with it’s cute animals, but not. Book Seller Honda-san is funny, relatable, and context heavy.