Kirishima is a name that is both known and feared in Japon’s underworld. The first lieutenant of the Sakuragi Yakuza Family has well earned his nickname of The Demon of Sakuragi. He might not be great at remembering names or faces or running simple errands, but if you need someone to keep your rivals in check, with brutal and unnecessary roughness, then Kirishima’s your guy. Who better to take care of the boss’ young daughter? She’s sure to be safe with him, right? And with her mother in the hospital and her father getting busier with…business, the young lady could really use someone to take care of her. And maybe she could take care of them in return.
Some of you might remember that I read the first volume of The Yakuza’s Guide to Babysitting (link) and I was looking forward to seeing it made into anime. I thought the story could be particularly sweet in anime form and I actually put the manga aside in favour of waiting for the show.
There’s nothing fancy going on in the Yakuza’s Guide to Babysitting. It’s unfortunate that the production didn’t do anything to add interest to the source material. Mind you I don’t blame them for it. Many productions just aim for a faithful rendering of the manga and that’s what happened here.
Fortunately, or maybe they had a great casting director, the voice acting is actually really good. Yoshimasa Hosoya as Tooru Kirishima really does a stellar job at making the character both more charming and more rounded, through his performance. And I can’t really find fault with the rest of the cast either. They were just fun to listen to. Except maybe for Yaeka.
I’m not saying that Yaeka’s voice actress did a bad job, but she decided to go all in on the cute/shy performance and I don’t think it did the characters any favours. It also isn’t my particular preference, but you might feel otherwise. The voice acting in isolation was good, I just think she would have been better in a different show.
Story & Characters
From the synopsis, you probably have a pretty good idea of the story. A very violent Yakuza is suddenly put on babysitting duty and he has to readjust the way he lives and thinks. As you probably all figured out by now, he slowly mellows out and discovers the pleasures of a simple life, ultimately finding happiness along the way.
I’m making it sound all touching, it’s mostly a silly comedy but it does have some touching elements.
And you know what, I liked it. I like these types of sweet stories that include a lot of jokes. I liked the characters in the manga already and they were just as good in the anime. The only real reproach I can give the show is that it really didn’t elevate the source material in any way. But it didn’t make it worse. You win some, you lose some.
However, I think that The Yakuza’s Guide to Babysitting has one big thing going against it. Something that’s bound to sway audience opinion against it. Technically you could say two things. And that is, The Way of the Househusband and to a lesser degree Spy x Family.
It’s almost impossible to watch The Yakuza’s Guide to Babysitting and not be reminded of The Way of the Househusband. Even if you disliked what Netflix did with the interpretation, The Way of the Househusband manga is a massive success and most people have at least read a bit of it.
Not only do the plot lines have a lot of similarities but Tatsu (the main character of Househusband) and Kirishima are more or less the same character. They have similar pasts, nearly identical ways of thinking, and even sound the same. And in both cases, the story is largely a comedic character study of their leading men. So having the two of them be so similar makes it feel like the two shows are interchangeable. And the cold hard fact is that Househusband is better.
It’s better written, the jokes are funnier and the characters are more fleshed out. It’s rough competition, The Way of the Househusband is one of the most beloved manga to come out in recent years and I actually don’t know anyone who didn’t like it.
The only thing that sets Yazuka’s Guide apart is Yaeka, the boss’ daughter. The inclusion of a little girl and the odd couple relationship between a rough professional and an innocent child is something that Househusband doesn’t offer. But you know what does have that exact storyline, Spy x Family. And if Househusband is one of the most beloved new manga that have come out recently, Spy x Family might be the most beloved. And the anime adaptation is phenomenal.
Yaeka is a perfectly fine little girl but when you compare her to Anya, let’s face it, she is a bit dull. The growing friendship between Kirishima and Yaeka is both sweet and funny but it’s shallow and boring compared to the evolution of the Forger family.
And it’s not fair to judge one anime based on others. However, we all do it. It’s sort of difficult not to. I really think that the Yakuza’s Guide to Babysitting would have made much more of an impression and have been more generally appreciated if it hadn’t come out so soon after two other shows with similar material and better execution.
So here is what I have to say. I enjoyed watching The Yakuza’s Guide to Babysitting. With the exception of an episode and a half that took itself a little too seriously for my tastes, I was left happy and looking forward to the next episode whenever I finished one. However, both the shows I mentioned do tell a very similar story better so if you only have time for one, I would say go for Spy x Family.
If like me you never met an anime you didn’t have time for, then The Yakuza’s Guide to Babysitting is a pleasant little pastime.
You might like this anime if:
You can’t get enough of sweet yakuza slice of llife comedies
My favourite character:
Kei – he tries so hard!
- Every time Yaeka is in class – take a sip
- Every time Kirishima messes with Kei – meanie
- Every time Yaeka gets embarrassed – cute!
- Every time we see Yaeka’s mother – take a sip
- Every time we zoom in on that chain wrist tattoo – take a sip
- Every time the boss is being sarcastic – take a sip
- Every time anyone has food – get a snack
- Every time anyone says “civilians” – take a sip
- Every time we see the younger Kirishima – take a sip
- Every time Kirishima runs into someone from his past – take a sip
- Every time Yaeka has a ponytail – extra cute!
- Every time Kirishima forgets someone’s name – take a sip
- Every time we see Kirishima’s mom – pour some out
I save all my screencaps on my Pinterest and you can find more there if you are interested. But I still like to show you a few in the post. If you’re like me, screencaps are something that really helps you decide to watch an anime or not.