The Delinquent Housewife was something I picked up on a whim when I was out picking up some manga that had just come out. It was new, so far there is only one volume published in the US, and the artwork seemed interesting enough, so I thought why not. I had a feeling that the content might not be that great since from the title and the back-cover copy, the story was going to follow a woman learning how to become a housewife, but I was willing to try considering it seemed perfect for the blog. In some ways I was right, and in other ways I found myself strangely enjoying this manga. Nemu Yoko has a great art style that gives the manga a great feel with some traditional shoujo styling and some great work on expressions. The story itself uses some traditional and semi-annoying plot devices and character tropes, but looking at it through the lens of comedy, I did find myself enjoying it as like a fluffy, sit-com read.
The story follows ex-biker gang member Komugi and her husband-to-be Tohru Komukai who have just decided to move back in with his family until they can look for a place of their own. Or that was the plan until Tohru gets called away on a business trip overseas, leaving Komugi stranded at her in-laws place. While Komugi appears to be an ideal housewife, the real truth is that she can’t do anything without Tohru. She doesn’t know how to do her own laundry, fry an egg, or do any sort of housework. The only person to catch on to both her secret past as a biker gang member and her inability to perform housework is her brother-in-law Dai. But it won’t be long until the rest of the family finds out, so Tohru enlists Dai and her biker gang buddies’ help to learn how to be a housewife before that time comes.
The main draw of this comic for me was the art style. As I was standing at the bookstore shelves trying to figure out if I should buy it, one of the main aspects that convinced me was Nemu Yoko’s art. The cover for volume one is pretty interesting, with the main character of Komugi dressed in a traditional wedding outfit trying to juggle all of the things she has to deal with in the manga on her head. We see the bike from her biker gang, the fried egg in a pan she struggles to cook later, and hanging laundry that she has no idea how to do. It becomes a pretty good representation of the manga’s story as a whole.
Inside the cover, Yoko’s art is pretty appealing and simplistic. She mainly sticks to solid backgrounds, usually white or gray, which draws the eye of the reader to her character designs and expressions. In these two areas I think she does a great job and manages to display a fairly loose and interesting style. Her character designs are all clean lines and minimal detailing, but I think she really manages to capture the personalities of each one through their designs. I specifically love the younger sister, Yukari’s, designs. Her dark hair styled in a bob cut frame her face in just the right way and, along with her dark eyelashes, she contrasts repeatedly with the backgrounds and the other characters around her. It’s great for her character because she stands out from the rest of the family, and her neat bob gives her that prim and proper look great for the younger sister rival character.
The story is where I begin to see the manga going downhill a little bit. I wouldn’t necessarily consider this a serious romance manga, but more of a comedy with discussions of romance and what it means to be a family. I think the manga’s main problems stem from the plot devices used to get the story rolling and some stereotypical characters thrown in that turn conversations towards annoying and a little gross areas. For instance, the main plot begins when Komugi’s soon-to-be husband Tohru gets called away on a business trip for what is supposed to be a week, only for us to find out later that it will be an undetermined amount of months as he’s actually going overseas. He never bothered to tell Komugi or anyone he was actually going to Singapore and instead sent them a cassette tape (this is set in the 2010’s by the way) which became a plot device to prolong the story indefinitely when the number of months he said he’d be away gets recorded over by mistake. This doesn’t endear me to the character of Tohru very much even as Komugi completely stands by his loyalty. It makes him seem less than dependable and kind of a jerk.
Then we have the creepiness of the grandfather character and Dai’s classmate. Both of them repeatedly sexualize Komugi even going to far as to fantasize about drinking her bathwater (with the grandfather actually doing it). It’s honestly fairly gross, but is played off for laughs like look at this old horny grandpa and high schooler being creepy, isn’t that so funny? We don’t really need more Master Roshi-esque characters, I’m good with what we have now, thanks. But what these instances do is begin to color Dai in a weird light, and I genuinely like his character. He seems more dependable than his brother and seems like the semi-normal member of his family next to his stalker sister, horny grandfather, and a little bit of a pushover mother.
However, I think the appeal of this manga rests on the comedy and the characters. While I don’t necessarily find the concept of a woman learning to be a good housewife appealing, I think that the story of her finding a place in her new family and becoming independent is. I think that Komugi’s personality and the kinds of problems her past and inability to do certain things will bring could be an interesting way to pit the characters against each other and see what happens. So far, the kinds of situations she finds herself in has been pretty funny and seeing the contrast between her, her biker friends, and her new family has provided a good deal of amusement. I think if the next volume or two goes a bit more into Komugi’s past, her lack of relationship with her own parents, and her relationship with Tohru, the story might become even better.
This manga is probably going to go on the “I’ll buy the next volume if I have extra money, but won’t go out of my way for it” shelf, and I don’t really expect to do any more volume reviews in the future. If you have also had the chance to read this, let me know in the comments below what you thought.
~~Thanks for Reading!~~
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