Started by Kousuke Oono in 2018, The Way Of The Househusband has seen a release in an online manga magazine. In only 2 years, the series is already making huge waves around the world. 2020 has been a huge year for the series, receiving nominations for various Manga Awards and even won Best Humour Publication at the 2020 Will Eisner Comic Book Awards (notably the first Manga to win this in 22 years).
Not only that, it has even been adapted into a live-action drama, currently airing in Japan at the time of writing, and Netflix have announced they are producing an anime adaptation for 2021. It has been localised in the West by Viz Media, recently releasing the 4th Volume in English. Now the semantics are out of the way, let’s break this series down.
The story follows Tatsu, a former Yakuza boss who left the criminal life when he met his wife, making the most of his past life skills in his new life of household chores. Yes, you read that right. Of course, this also meant Tatsu kept his Yakuza look, mannerisms, and even dialect, causing mix-ups as he goes through his day to day life. Even more so when he bumps into people from his past life, in a refreshing take it doesn’t haunt him. Just makes the situation even weirder.
Despite being a gag manga, this is told through the standard manga style over being a 4-panel Koma. Although there is a balance as the chapters are shorter, which works well as each tends to be more of a funny story over a build-up to a punchline most of the time. Even so, each story manages to be utterly bizarre and yet it never gets old. Every time, Kousuke goes in a different direction with the bizarre, drawing on a range of criminal tropes to then apply to various everyday situations. Even in the short bonus chapters at the end of each volume following the side characters in equally strange situations. It never fails to make the reader laugh out loud, even 4 volumes in. A true sign of the amount of talent in the writing.
It must also be noted the translation team at Viz Media have also done a great job. Sure, there is no doubt some parts may have been lost in translation but they managed to apply the Yakuza tropes to Western criminal/mafia ones to ensure the jokes still have the same effect. Of course, the more you know about the Yakuza, it is easier to infer the original meaning but it is accessible even if you don’t so anyone can pick this series up and enjoy it.
The series revolves around a small community of characters, tied together by association with Tatsu. Tatsu himself is an interesting character, bringing his serious nature and intense focus from being a Yakuza boss to household chores, overcomplicating the smallest of tasks. His wife Miku, is quite the opposite and is shown to be more carefree. It is a fun dynamic, particularly as their relationship seems so realistic and relatable. It all feels natural despite making you question how these two opposites met and fell in love in the first place. Beyond this pair, the other characters aren’t focused on in much depth, acting as recurring side-characters. Despite this, they all have a unique energy which they bring into the story. Interestingly, this is achieved through their character designs, as they follow stereotypes to allow the reader to get to grips with their personality without the need for development. Although even then, there are times this is used as part of the joke, playing on your preconceptions. Again, it is just further proof of the incredible writing behind the series.
As with most manga these days, it is drawn digitally but instead of trying to cover this up, they run with it. Compared to other manga series, the art has a higher resolution look, in a way looking closer to an anime than it usually would. The backgrounds are full of intricate details, bringing life in Japan to life on the page. Even the character designs, that follow standard patterns of character types, have a flair of originality. If anything, the art hasn’t got the dynamic feel when there is movement. Although it works well to focus on being an easy-going manga and also emphasise the mundane nature of the household jobs.
Overall, I can’t recommend this manga enough. It is utterly hilarious, keeping it fresh with each chapter and volume. Even more so as it is such a unique and fresh idea, flipping a lot of previous tropes. Viz Media have also done a great job in localising it making it accessible to a Western audience. This is coupled with high-quality art that anyone who enjoys the manga art style will grow to love through the sheer amount of detail. This is not a series to sleep on!
Volumes 1-4 are out now.