Story & Art: Kousuke Oono
Translation: Sheldon Drzka
Adaptation: Jennifer LeBlanc
Touch-up Art & Lettering: Bianca Pistillo
Publisher: VIZ Media
When one thinks of a retired member of the yakuza, pink frilly aprons, grocery store sales, and neighborhood community meetings are probably the farthest thing from their mental image. And yet, that’s what Kousuke Oono’s The Way of the Househusband has on offer: A wacky, no-holds-barred glimpse at the life of a former criminal who has given up on his crime family to focus on a more traditional family. Tatsu, formerly known by the fearsome moniker “the Immortal Dragon,” hasn’t changed too much in his new role as househusband, supporting his career-woman wife. He still wears his slick tailored suits and an intimidating scowl, and is still deadly serious in his mission to uphold his family’s honor.
And it’s Tatsu’s laser focus and dedication to his new role that is the real core of this hilarious manga’s comedy. He has thrown himself so fully into the role of homemaker, but his habits haven’t changed. Viewers are treated to action sequences like Tatsu racing down the street on a stolen bicycle to bring his wife the ultra-cute bento lunch — secreted away in a slick briefcase — that she left at home in her haste to make it to the office. A door-to-door knife salesman is unexpectedly welcomed into Tatsu’s home, terrified by the man’s skill with his cutlery, and fed a delicious meal. And Tatsu, in his efforts to expedite his household chores, powers up the new Roomba and finds that small robots and house cats often do not mix well.
Other yakuza have a hard time accepting the fact that Tatsu is no longer interested in a life of crime. His interactions with former rivals and comrades show how hard it is to shake his old life, especially when he remains capable of defeating large swaths of punks without really trying. Even his wife tells him that he comes off as really intimidating — though it’s worth noting that she seems to be the only person who can best him in combat. A young member of Tatsu’s old gang, initially disturbed by this menacing man’s sudden about-face, decides to take up househusbandry as its own path of rigorous study toward manliness. And Tatsu is no bumbling hubby, either; he’s is good at domestic life, even if some of his methods and mannerisms are a bit unconventional.
Oono’s artwork would be a great fit for a serious yakuza series for a crime fiction-loving audience, and this juxtaposition with the manga’s content only enforces his comedic goals. He is clearly having a great deal of fun posing Tatsu in stereotypical yakuza stances, full of bravado and swagger, but with the addition of his new uniform — a pink apron emblazoned with a cutesy Shiba Inu mascot. There is no real narrative in the first volume, but merely a series of vignettes where viewers glimpse Tatsu’s everyday life as he masters this newest path of study. Basically, The Way of the Househusband is exactly what it promises on the cover: a completely absurd comedy that uses yakuza stereotypes coupled with the stereotypes of maintaining a household and delivers a rollicking good time to its readers.
For those who cannot live without the delightful antics of a homemaking ex-con (and who among us can?), the first volume of The Way of the Househusband is available through VIZ Media, with volume two set to follow in early 2020.