Return to the Shelves
In the previous volume of Skull-face Bookseller Honda-san, we ventured into the romanticized land of working in a bookstore with Honda-san. This volume they actually address that – another character calls Honda-san out on brushing over the bad parts of working in customer service! So strap in, we are in for a less idealized look into Honda-san’s world. Much like the first volume, this one explores some interesting customer interactions, shows exchanges between folks in the industry, and takes a peek at the famous work outings in Japan – like company drinking events!
The Good Customer Service
Skull-face Bookseller Honda-san still plays to its strengths of appealing to most manga fans who have worked some kind of customer service. It’s all the things you love to hate about being in customer service, mixed with topics of a genre you enjoy. As someone who has left typical box store retail, I can now look back fondly on these awful times and laugh about it.
In this volume… they tackle the true evil: the customer phone calls. Never have I cringed and simultaneously related so hard to something in a manga. They cover it all – from the uncomfortable to the irate. Honda-san’s reaction to being freed from a particular call says it all. Unless you’re a master of phone calls and gain your power from stressful interactions, you have probably felt this exact same way at some point.
The industry side cast gets a lot of attention this volume. If you do not know much about the bookselling industry (or like to hear about it anyway), then this is a great volume for you. Between Honda-san’s experiences in the bookstore and the folks complaining at the industry drinking party, you learn a lot about how ordering books works. In the first volume we learned more about the receiving and stocking end, but this one takes you up the chain for a deeper look.
The Bad Customer Service
I enjoy Skull-face Bookseller Honda-san so much that the hardest part of these reviews is finding something to pick at. This volume feels like the cast of other booksellers at Honda-san’s store take a backseat to the sea of new characters that were introduced and focused on. I would love to learn more about the characters, but the ‘screentime’ is shared among them so you only get a little bit at a time before it’s someone else’s turn. This feels particularly noticeable when a large focus of the story is one time interactions with customers. Two coworkers are introduced for the first time in this volume and get what feels like a good deal of focus, but we do still see familiar faces featured throughout. It is this juggle between recurring and new staff, recurring and new industry people, and new customers that sometimes leaves it feeling like a bit much.
Expressive and exaggerated punctuation paired with translator Amanda Haley’s choices for handling slang, accents, and fumbling over words really ties together this fun and high energy reading experience. This volume is so full of life. You can feel and hear each of these characters jumping off the page as they shout to the heavens about their needs for more inventory, or whatever problem may be plaguing the store that day… and boy is there a lot of bolded text.
If you have read the first volume, then you will continue to love what the second volume delivers. The formula is roughly the same, indulging in some more informative but still humorous scenarios in the industry. If you like bookstores, reading, and/or laughing at silly customer service situations, then support Skull-face Bookseller Honda-san and pick up this volume. The bonus comics at the end are a delight and reveal a lot about Honda-san and their process. In the spirit of this series, I leave you with a request: please share with me an outrageous customer service experience you have had.
For more information about Skull-face Bookseller Honda-san, visit Anime-Planet.
Huge thank you to Yen Press for providing us a copy to review!