The Weird, Wonderful, and Warm Way of the Househusband
Updated: Sep 24, 2021
An anime about chores done on the most outrageously grand scale. By an ex-yakuza. Sounds ridiculous? Well, it is.
My scrolls on LinkedIn have been quite uneventful recently. I have been scrolling for hours and looking at the successes of my batchmates and juniors as I continue to type “Interested” in the comments of jobs that are gathering dust in the corner of the internet. My mother has started to give me a larger chunk of the housework, knowing that I don’t have any excuses for it, now that I have graduated. Lately, however, Tatsu’s words keep ringing in my ears whenever I think of housework as an absolute drag. “Being a househusband, ain’t no joke!”, his gruff voice rings through my brain, and I do the chores with a new sense of self and understanding.
Recently, I watched this anime again and finished it in one sitting. There are only five episodes, so it’s not a brag. One sweep across the episodes is enough for you to keep thinking about this anime and question why does it not have enough attention. Let’s see what this anime offers and why it needs at least one watch from everyone.
Written and illustrated by Kousuke Oono, The Way of the Househusband or Gokushufudo (in Japanese), was first released as a manga in 2018. The stories are small, bite-sized excerpts from the life of our unusual protagonist. They soon caught enough attention for Netflix to turn it into an ONA (Original Net Animation). The anime was released in 2021, and another season is in the works. If you can't wait for the second season, Netflix has also released a live-action mini-series called The Ingenuity of the Househusband starring Tsuda Kenjirou as himself.
The story starts with the fully tattooed, muscular back of Tatsu. The narration tells a tale of Tatsu, alias the Immortal Dragon, an ex-yakuza boss who had quite a reputation. The shot of the back immediately cuts to a gruff Tatsu looking in the mirror, analyzing something, sighing, quickly grabbing a knife out from its sheath, almost like an assassin, and then using the flat of the blade to place some cutely cut vegetables into his wife’s perfect bento. And that is it, that is all you need to know to understand the feel of the rest of the show. This juxtaposition of the scary-looking, gruff-sounding, ex-yakuza boss on the absolutely adorable things he does for his wife and those around her, punctuates the humour of the whole show. But watch the show, because you never see it coming.
The first ten seconds of the show draw you into Tatsu’s raw charm and you immediately want to see more of him and understand why he is, the way he is.
The anime is simple if I have to put it quite plainly. There are no flashy plot points, and it is very to-the-point. It doesn’t delve into an elaborate back story of Tatsu or give long monologues about the yakuza and Tatsu's past life. Comedy needs to be tight, and The Way of the Househusband delivers it perfectly. Three five-minute episodes are strung together to make one whole episode of the anime, all having slightly different themes: mostly relating to the problems that Tatsu faces around the house and how he deals with them, in his confident, unyielding, yakuza style. There are some episodes dedicated to Gin's (Tatsu's adorable cat) adventures around the block too. Those add a little more whimsy to the already ridiculous plot.
In quite a few reviews that I read online, the animation style of The Way of the Househusband was criticized for not being flashy enough, for an anime released in 2021. Also, in comparison to the other big Netflix anime that has been released, like Beastars, which has a seamless, almost unbelievably on-point animation, The Way of the Househusband feels very skeletal, in its animation style. The animation is not an upgrade from the manga. In fact, it feels as if the animation is a slightly paced, coloured version of the manga that is being read to the viewer by the incredible voice actors.
One reason that comes to mind when I think about why this style was chosen, is this: the style imitates Tatsu’s life. Tatsu’s life as a yakuza must have been fast-paced, with constant danger. But ever since he has quit that life and moved in with Miku, his wife, and has adopted the way of the househusband, he has calmed down. His life goes at an easy pace now, as he washes the dishes, takes out the trash, takes cooking classes, shops for groceries, indulges in DIY, and has pretend fights with his hoover.
If I have to give any credit to the stylization and why it still works, it has to be to the voice actors who have done an impeccable job of bringing the rough animation style alive. Tatsu, voiced by the familiar sultry yet rough voice of Tsuda Kenjirou, deserves applause. Tatsu’s character goes from 0 to 100 in less than ten seconds and Tsuda-san has done a great job in that style of dialogue delivery. Even Miku, voiced by Shizuka Ito and Masa, voiced by Kazuyuki Okitsu, come alive in the anime; all thanks to the voice actors. If you don’t like the style of the animation, watch it for the voice acting. Because credit where credit’s due, that is a job superbly done.
Let’s take the anime in today’s context. The release of the anime could not have come at a better time. Everybody is still at home and has had a good training of all the housework during the past year. In doing the chores around the house, people have understood the amount of work that is required to run a household. That understanding has led to respect (I hope) and appreciation of the person/people who does/do all the work around the house. Looking at Tatsu dealing with household chores in the most gangster way possible, allows the viewer to look at housework from a different perspective, and makes it appealing, and a little bit of fun. The next time a cockroach invades your “turf”, and it turns into an all-out war, remember how Tatsu handled it: with aroma oil.
Of course, not all of us can handle chores like a trained ex-yakuza. Most of us lack precision, efficiency and the will to actually do these chores. So worry not, The Ingenuity of the Househusband, the live-action series solves our crisis. Tsuda-san is a delight to watch, as he is very relatable when he fails in his attempts to be a perfect househusband unlike the character Tatsu.
The anime is a bit silly, and the protagonist seems like he needs help, but for an anime in 2021, it does well. The jokes are not at Tatsu’s expense, the viewer doesn’t laugh at Tatsu, but at the total ridiculousness of ordinary life around the house. Anything mundane has the power to turn into something absolutely entertaining. All that matters is how you look at it and how you choose to experience it. So the next time you pick up a mop or get up to do the dishes, remember Tatsu and remember, that “being a househusband (read: house partner), ain’t no joke!”
The author is an average 20-year-old with an above average need to fixate on things and write about them.