I know I don’t usually (ever) do manga reviews. However I recently got a batch in (Bungo Stray Dogs, Noragami and the latest Natsume!) so I wanted to share. I mostly picked up manga of shows I wanted another season of, but nothing was announced. Like a little manga tantrum. You don’t wanna tell me how the story ends? Fine!!! I’ll find out for myself! Showed them, by throwing more money at their industry exactly as I was meant to do…
All these manga are of shows I like, with one exception that is me and I was really excited about it.
I started hearing murmurs about The Way of The Househusband in the past few months and everyone seemed very keen on it. I really haven’t seen this much manga hype in a while. (I remember PunPun making a huge splash). The title and cover art had me intrigued. When I heard that it was a short form comedy, in the shopping basket it went!
You can pretty much figure out the premise from said title and cover art. Tatsu is an ex Yakuza who turned over a new leaf after getting married and is now giving it his all to become the best Househusband he possibly can. An occasionally challenging task that puts a surprising amount of his former skills to good use. Because being a Househusband is no joke!
So is it really that great? In a way it definitely is but in another…
The first volume is the only thing currently available in Canada and it will cost you the usual 13-15$ new. The art style is nice. Although there are some fantastically detailed scenes such as Tatsu’s impressive tattoo collection lovingly stretched over muscles and scars. For the most part it’s what I call average nice. It’s nice, I like it and I have nothing else to say.
You may notice from the various images throughout this post, that it’s surprisingly realistic. Aside from the running gag if making Tatsu as sinister looking as possible in random situations, the visuals remain fairly down to earth. No crazy costumes and impossible hair. Even proportions and attractiveness are generally believable. To me this was a bit of an oddity for a scewball comedy where visual wackiness is often part of the joke.
Fact is, down to earth designs are the perfect complement to the naturalistic an understated comedy of The Way of the Househusband. There are few clear punch lines throughout the manga and you couldn’t easily imagine a laugh track over it. The humour comes from the surreal superimposition of Tatsu’s character and all the tropes he embodies with the completely opposite circumstances in which he exists. I love the tongue in cheek style so this worked perfectly for me.
This said, if you take a step back, there are really only one or two jokes in this first volume that essentially get repeated over and over again. Tatsu uses means straight out of a Yakuza textbook to accomplish everyday domestic tasks, or he comes off as unintentionally threatening and misunderstandings ensue. That’s basically the core of every single chapter. In this first volume the collected stories were short enough and charming enough for it to not matter that much but I can see it getting old if the formula doesn’t change in the future.
On the other hand, I would also be willing to put up with it for a few more volumes just to spend a bit more time with these characters. Because they are fantastic. The character building in this manga is by far it’s greatest strength. Even the more minor players (let’s face it, that’s everyone except Tatsu) are still somehow imbued with personality and independent wit. People in this universe seem very real and very charming. I would gladly watch (read) these folks keep doing common every day tasks for a long time. As it is, the first volume was just a delight to breeze through.
Which brings me to the practical problem I had with The Way of the Househusband. I am by no means a speed reader. On top of that I like to take my time savouring manga. Looking at the panels and going back over some bits. It takes me a while to get through a volume. When I say I breezed through The Way of the Househusband, I read the entire volume in a single bus ride and had some time to kill. I’m guessing roughly 20 minutes cover to cover for a casual, relaxed read. And i8t’s not like I was skimming through it, I carefully read every line. Carefully enough to clearly remember it weeks later and see no point in rereading it yet.
I want to support the manga industry and I’m lucky to be able to afford it. However, I can’t deny that 15$ for 20 minutes of entertainment (if you stretch) is a pretty steep price. That’s less than a single episode, imagine if your streaming subscription was 15$ per episode?
To me, the experience was still worth it. I’m happy I bought this volume and planning on getting the next when it comes out. I enjoy being able to lend it to friends, it looks fun on my shelf. If you would rather get it used, I can completely understand that. Or I can lend you my copy!