Way of the House Husband is one of those unique series that just captures your attention with its wit, humor, art, characters, coming out with something that truly stands out. I was so excited when I heard that the series was getting an english translation and have been following the volumes since number one. I love how the series takes concepts of masculinity and relationships and flips them on their head in an entertaining way. Combined with Kousuke Oono’s amazingly detailed art, this manga really comes together into one entertaining cohesive whole. So if you’re a fan of yakuza stories, the mundane day-to-day, and wacky comedy, I really encourage you to check this series out and look back at my volume one review.
This volume is much like the first in that I don’t really think it follows any linear story-line, but instead combines a lot of short stories into one volume. Each chapter is pretty one one contained story, following all of the same characters through different parts or aspects of their daily lives, focusing mainly on the former yakuza boss turned house-husband Tatsu. We see stories about him taking up exercise classes, growing herbs, selling used items at a flea market, and buying a new car for his wife. But what Oono does to make it unique is put a comedic yakuza-esque twist on everything Tatsu does. This volume contains nine chapters and was published in English by Viz Media.
I can’t stress enough how much I love Oono’s art style. He adds so much depth and detail to his drawings and seems to pay extra special attention to faces and expressions. I honestly think Tatsu as a character wouldn’t have the same impact he has now without Oono’s specific style. He’s able to bring out Tatsu’s expressions to a T, making us believe that he really is this former Yakuza gang leader who now is just trying to adjust to ordinary life. We see it in his inability to smile normally and his overall intimidating atmosphere even though he doesn’t mean to. Oono’s shading and contrasting values around these expressions really gives weight to this atmosphere. When we contrast his expressions with the very nature of the things that he is trying to do, like take a yoga class, it makes it all the more hilarious. Oono has fairly mastered using his art style to create a sense of comedy through contrast.
Besides expressions, I do think Oono is very good at expressing movement and laying out his pages and panels to get the most out of his stories. He seems to allocate the most spacious panels to those moments that would need the most impact, creating tall panels for characters who need to feel imposing and larger panels for those moments of high action or deep, detailed expression. The yoga chapter was great for this as Oono split poses up into their own panel, allowing Tatsu to comment and make jokes about each one as they related to his Yakuza past. I also really liked the dessert bake-off chapter, as the panels have a lot of dynamic movement and action going on even though it was just two guys making desserts.
I have always been one for yakuza stories, whether it’s because I like tough guy characters or like seeing some of the grittier or darker sides of Japan, so the concept of this manga really pulled me in. Not only is it yakuza focused but it flipped those kinds of stories on their head, showing a yakuza member trying to leave the life and start a normal domestic life instead. But of course, that life of blood and violence isn’t so easy to escape from mentality wise and it all comes out in this really wacky way in a comedy of contrasts. What I mean by a comedy of contrasts is just what it sounds like: putting two opposite or opposing things together and that resulting clash is where you can find the comedy. So Tatsu’s past as a yakuza boss clashes with his wish to be a domestic husband, two life paths that don’t normally go together. Tatsu’s past mannerisms are not so easy to change and he winds up still giving off this imposing air no matter how mundane the thing is that he’s trying to do. You could also say that it’s his overzealous seriousness in everything that he does that produces the comedy. This is also a kind of contrast between the weight that Tatsu attributes to the action versus what a normal person would attribute to it.
I also really enjoy how much it seems like Tatsu loves his wife, and I would love to see more of these kinds of chapters in the future. I feel like we get to see a lot of chapters around Tatsu going out and doing things, but not so many around him and his wife interacting. I understand that’s where most of the comedy lies, but I do think there’s a ton of hilarity in how his wife handles his weirdness and her no-nonsense attitude. I think it’s pretty sweet that she’s able to see and understand these two competing parts of himself, to appreciate his loving side and to see his progress from yakuza member to domestic husband.
I think one of the funniest yet sweetest chapters was when Tatsu gets to interact with his wife’s parents. They come over to visit and he makes them food and tea and then his father in-law asks to pay a round of catch with him. We see this need from his father in-law to have a meaningful relationship with his new son, one I feel like he’s wished for for a long time since he doesn’t have a son of his own, and Tatsu trying to make a good impression on him by going along with it. The whole chapter winds up being both hilarious and sweet as Tatsu takes what is supposed to be a simple round of catch and takes it to the next level and his father in-law really getting into it.
I really encourage you to pick up this series if you haven’t already. I’m finding it to be one of my favorites the more I read and I can’t wait for the next volume to come out. Let me know in the comments what you think of the series so far or just this volume.
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