DENKI-GAI – Anime Review
Synopsis: A blush-inducing, coming-of-age comedy about manga-loving book store employees!! The unique cast of characters — all hard-core manga fans and maniacs of some sort — work at comic shop “Uma no Hone.” On a daily basis, they display new releases, shrink-wrap comics, shudder at their lack of feminine qualities, question their love for porn literature…and basically have fun while working hard (?). Girls and guys call each other by nicknames and some begin to develop close relationships! It’s non-stop humor and romance in this book store rom-com! (Official Crunchyroll Synopsis)
Review (Warning: Minor Spoilers to Follow):
Tom: DENKI-GAI is uneven right from the get go. One minute the show is wall to wall gags with incredible hilarity. It’s full oddball humor. But in the next moment it’s more of a slow comedy, with a bit of drama thrown in, focused more on the love and heart of its characters. While it’s clear DENKI-GAI is servicing both its comedy and romance genre tags, this uneven approach can be hard to get used to, especially as the series opens with such hard hitting comedy that it can feel disappointing when it so thoroughly switches gears.
Linny: The uneven tone only grows more evident as the show continues. Some episodes are peppered with gut busting jokes while others will barely elicit a chuckle. And even in the episodes with the jokes, there’s usually a story line or part where the show tries to go with a more sombre tone that ends up making it feel boring when juxtaposed against its more lively humour. Do be aware that the comedy in DENKI-GAI can be very outrageous and most likely not for anyone who dislikes the more naughty side of anime. There are plenty of jokes that will have you asking if the show really did/showed/said what it just did because of how over the top it can get.
Tom: In contrast, I actually think the jokes that do cross the line really make DENKI-GAI what it is, an anime with no regard for the dark, dark territory it can stray right into. That said, the series’ focus on romance can feel a tad overbearing, with a third of the show’s screen time devoted to shipping its cast together, something that often isn’t nearly as spot on as the series’ more outrageous humor.
Linny: One of the reasons for that, in my opinion, is that the 12 episode run DENKI-GAI got was simply not enough for all the content it tries to jam in. In between jokes about running an anime lovers’ haven store, showcasing not only its numerous characters but also some budding romances between most of them, a lot of the content feels cramped. The romances in particular feel rushed and forced. It was more enjoyable and endearing to watch the platonic and friendly interactions between the characters than the romantic ones. And even though there’s only a microscopic amount of realism, it’s fun to see the minutia of employment at a manga-doujinshi store in Japan. Also, even though the show tries to shift the spotlight between its cast, it’s clear that some of them are the true leads and are easier to grow fond of. Thus, when the focus shifts to a minor character or one you don’t care about as much, it can feel frustrating having to sit through it. But that’s a minor complaint, one that’s entirely subjective as some viewers might prefer the minor characters and would be happy to have the focus on them.
Tom: All in all, uneven or not, DENKI-GAI is a decent comedy from 2014 and one of the few that dares to go ‘too far’ with its humor. For everything it does right, it continually undermines itself with, by comparison, tame plot lines, overused romance, and a cast just a bit too large for its meager episode run. I think DENKI-GAI is best summed up as a series trying to do too much, with too little time. That said, when it nails it, it really nails it, and I think that makes it worth the look in.
Linny: Despite its uneven run, DENKI-GAI proves its merit as an outrageous comedy with an ending that will have its audience wide eyed and doubling over with laughter. This isn’t a comedy for the innocent and pure, but a pretty fun watch for anyone seeking anime humour that isn’t afraid to cross the line with jokes you wouldn’t dare describe out loud in public. If you go in bracing for the uneven tone, with the determination to sit through the slower story lines, DENKI-GAI could prove to be a fun day’s worth of binging.
DENKI-GAI is available for streaming via Crunchyroll.