Director: Chiaki Kon
One season, 5 episodes (15-19 mins)
‘The Way of the Househusband’ is a Japanese anime based on a manga of the same name which has been published as a serial by artist Kousuke Oono since 2018. It follows an ex-Yakuza gangster who gives up his life of crime to become a stay-at-home husband while his ambitious wife works as a designer. This is a very promising concept which is rarely explored in animation and films and is a great springboard for discussing gender roles.
However, the show mostly remains surface-level, extracting the comedy from hilarious situations that the househusband finds himself in. One funny scene is when he and an ex-rival settle a feud by having a cookoff. It ends with them quietly taking snapshots of their dishes and posting them on Instagram, and faces filled with concentration as they wait for the likes to pour in. This will ultimately decide which man has won the battle.
The anime differs a bit from other conventional animes by not having a lot of smooth movement, being very much like a web series instead. Perhaps the animators did not have enough time to smoothen the movements, or not enough budget, or both. Or perhaps it was an artistic choice. Whatever the reason may be, the choice to make it mostly still images can be a bit distracting. However, one may get used to it after watching 2 episodes.
The show is in no way deep or emotional. But it is occasionally funny, simple and saccharine sweet. The jokes are often on the more ridiculous side of things. This is especially highlighted when the Japanese characters speak English words with very thick Japanese accents and very serious facial expressions. But this is just Japanese humour in general. The jokes are concerned with modern culture and fashion trends. But more often than anything, the punchline is that a rough-looking man with a threatening aura and a dark past (who could beat up an entire gang of goons if he wanted to) would rather spend his time happily preparing a meal for his wife or religiously cleaning the floors. This gap between what we expect and what we see instead is where much of the humour is scavenged from by the writers and animators. There is surprisingly a lack of explicit violence or gratuity for a show that has quite a handful of swear words in the English subtitles and is revolving around an ex-gangster who regularly runs into people from his past. The character designs are well done too, especially that of the protagonist Tatsu. The colouring is also pleasant to look at.
There is also a brilliant sequence usually taking place in the end of each episode where we take a break from observing humans and shift our focus onto the main character’s pet cat. The cat goes about his day, interacting with other cats as well as a dog in the neighbourhood. Some hilarious scenes and dialogues arise out of this situation which made the author laugh out loud.
The web series is very short and those who expect it to climax into a grand yakuza showdown may well feel let down. The stakes in Episode 1 are just as high as that in Episode 5, meaning that the stakes are never actually high. The jury is still out on whether this anime will become a household name in the great pantheon of animes like Baccano and Naruto. The five episodes are not enough to decide this, unfortunately.
The series is streaming now on Netflix.