If like many avid readers, you spend a lot of time at bookstores, you'll probably find a lot to love about Gaikotsu Shotenin Honda-san. Directly translated as "Skeleton Bookstore Employee Honda," it's a colorful and quirky anime based on a comedy manga series by Honda. Based on the author's real-life experiences, it explores the inner workings of a typical bookseller as well as the quirky personalities that work there.
It also happens to be one of the weirdest, funniest, and most inclusive anime comedy series currently running. What's more, it's bite-sized, so you don't have to invest much time each week if you decide it might not be for you. Whether you like the show's quirk factor or its hilarious parodical look at what it's like stocking and selling books every day, there's plenty to enjoy here.
You may have seen a few out-of-context scenes from the bizarre series here and there on social media thanks to its copious use of English in the Japanese version (used to hilarious effect), but it's well worth exploring on your own if you haven't done so already.
Yes, Honda-san is a skeleton. It appears his mother and father are too, as revealed in the first episode, because why wouldn't they be? Otherwise, our intrepid employee is just about as normal as normal can be. Honda-san works with quite the motley crew at the bookstore, from a coworker with a paper bag over their head to one who sports a bunny head. Customers from all walks of life, including those who speak other languages, mosey into the bookstore often looking for recommendations.
One father, speaking English, does his best to find a seemingly explicit yaoi manga his daughter is looking for, which Honda-san tries to explain isn’t easy to find since it’s fan-created doujinshi (and too sexy for his younger daughter) in broken English. Another episode finds Honda-san looking for recommendations for a group of fujoshi, or female BL manga lovers, which he struggles with since he knows little about what they’re looking for, but does his best to offer suggestions anyway.
It's these interactions that color the show and make it such a fun affair to watch, as it makes the mundane things about a particular job feel much more interesting than they actually are. No one would want to watch an anime where the bookstore staff stock shelves for most of an episode, but the way Honda-san has done it feels like a battle in Attack on Titan or a similar epic confrontation in a shonen manga.
Taking an occupation like this one and livening it up for an experience that feels a lot more important than it actually is (the world certainly wouldn't end if the bookstore staff didn't have time to unbox all new stock) gives some leverage to those who work in retail, or have stories to tell about how awful it can actually be. It also makes for some truly interesting interactions, which is what will keep you coming back to this strange anime time and time again.
It's not creepy, or drama-licious; it's just out and out weird and quirky. If that's what you're into, you'll find Honda-san an exciting and tantalizing prospect week after week while it's still airing, and likely an even more delectable treat if it ends up getting dubbed.
Gaikotsu Shotenin Honda-san is currently available to stream via Crunchyroll.