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Anyone who's worked retail will recognize some of this plot

/anime/718915/gaikotsu-shotenin-honda-san
Review of Gaikotsu Shoten'in Honda-san
by Rivka
Posted on February 7th, 2019
Positive 8
Overall Rating
 
+

I was initially leery of watching Skull-faced Bookseller Honda-san. Not because the premise didn't interest me, but rather because I had heard that the main character was originally female in the manga and had been gender-swapped to male in the anime... a pointless change that erases the original intent of the creator and removes a possible heroine.  Thankfully, I did change my mind and give the anime a chance - because the show is worth the time it would take you to binge-watch it (being shorter length episodes, it clocks in around half of a regular cour in length, or a very long movie).

If you ever worked retail - for any length of time, but especially the holidays - you will see some of your experiences here, rendered in comedic style and purposed to fit the realities of the Japanese bookstore. I learned a lot about the latter, incidentally, and I was drawn into the world of the bookstore workers very quickly. Each character (with a few exceptions) has an inhuman and unique head to differentiate them from customers, who are generally plain humans, and soon you move past the lack of facial expressions and buy into the expressiveness of their voices and gestures; it's easy to forget the heads and learn the personalities. As mentioned before, the plot rests on humor, generally at the expense of the characters' happiness, and it's done well. I particularly liked the episode when Honda has to go to mandatory customer service training, and spends the day in corporate hell... all they're doing is smiling and making bland client statements, but the comedy is built up so well and you believe in the characters' suffering. I've seen it compared to Adult Swim's original shows in art style and content, and that feels accurate.

I've heard that some people found it *too* true to their retail experiences, and therefore triggering. Maybe consider that possibility before watching it. Otherwise, I recommend it.

Rivka
My reviewing system for films and shows that are NOT anime:
1-5: I hated it. I also don't think it has redeeming qualities, so you shouldn't watch it either.
6: I didn't like it. It's not my thing, I didn't like the execution, I don't want to see it again. However, I don't think it is a BAD film or show - it has qualities that will recommend it to those who like that kind of thing.
7: It was fine. I didn't love it, and I don't need to see it again. I won't be sad if I never see it again.
8: I liked it. I didn't love it, and while I'd like to see it again, I wouldn't want to see it often.
9: I loved it. I would be sad if I never saw it again. I might want to see it every few years.
10: I loved it beyond description. I wouldn't mind re-watching it every year.

*********************************

Clarifying my Anime rating system:
My number key below is an attempt to parse the small differences between 5 and 6, 7 and 8, & 9 and 10. When I rate, I consider my own enjoyment, the characterization and the plot, the appearance of the animation, and occasionally the soundtrack - in roughly that order. An anime will lose at least 1 point for presence of deal-breaker tropes (for example, comedic pedophilia), and more if the trope(s) ruined my enjoyment. On the other hand, it will gain at least 1 point for artistry in animation or sound.

Never Recommend:
1-4, inclusive. Further clarification: I don't expect to rate anything 1-4, as I would probably never finish watching something in this range of rating. It's likely to have bad plotting, subpar animation, bland characterizations, silly and/or irritating tropes, etc.; I would consider it to be pure excrement.

Cautious Recommending:
5: In this case, it started out with a higher score and slipped over time... because I normally don't watch anything that I would score below 6, except for movies (small time commitment).
6: I may or may not have watched the whole show, but I recognize deal-breaker issues in it, and I'm unlikely to rewatch. It just wasn't enjoyable enough for me to forgive its flaws. There would be huge caveats to any recommendation.

Likely to Recommend:
7: Not my thing, but usually I at least respect it. Generally, I didn't like it enough to think I would rewatch it, but also didn't see huge problems in the plot, characterizations, etc. and thought it was worth finishing. I might suggest it to someone if I know they like the specific sub-genre or other work by the studio.
8: I had a good time watching it, but it didn't move me the way a 9 or a 10 does; it's possible that over time I would upgrade it if I liked it more on reflection. I would be willing to rewatch it. I'd recommend it with the occasional caveat.

Highly Recommend:
9: I enjoyed it very much. It may have had one or two issues, but not enough to diminish enjoyment. It's possible that over time I would downgrade it to an 8 (changing tastes) or upgrade to a 10 (realize it's never left my mind). I'm likely to rewatch, and likely to buy the DVDs. I'd recommend it to most audiences.
10: Virtually flawless. I'd definitely rewatch, and definitely want to buy DVDs. I would shill this to anyone.

EDIT: for 2021, I'm participating in the MAL Anime Challenge. Any anime in the Completed section with a * in the note was watched for the challenge.
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