REVIEW: The Way of the Househusband Vol. 1 is Cute, But One-Note

Story by
Art by
kousuke oono

Kousuke Oono initially envisioned The Way of the Househusband as a five chapter miniseries for the Kurage Bunch web-magazine. It proved popular enough with readers, however, to be expanded into an ongoing series. The first English-translated volume, published by Viz, collects the first nine chapters of the series as well as three "bonus manga."

The premise of this slice-of-life comedy is simple: the much-feared yakuza boss known as The Immortal Dragon has retired and settled down into the role of the househusband to his workaholic otaku wife Miku (no relation to the Vocaloid idol). With his full body tattoos and hyper-intense expressions, he still strikes fear into others, but his routine is now focused on doing everyday chores rather than committing crimes.

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It's a cute premise, but not one with a ton of variation. Given the story's one joke nature, it's easy to understand why Oono, a young artist working on only his second ever manga, initially saw it as only being enough to sustain a miniseries.

That the series became popular enough to continue further is a testament to the quality of Oono's art. The way he draws comedic expressions and dramatic action poses while applying them to mundane activities like making a bento box or using a Roomba does a lot to sell the humor of the premise.

If The Way of the Househusband is to stay funny and compelling beyond its first volume, however, we'd hope that it does more to build up its supporting characters. For most of the first volume, The Immortal Dragon is basically on his own. Developing strong character dynamics, however, is how comedy manga can gain staying power. Think of how flat One-Punch Man would be if not for the friendship between Saitama and Genos.

For a more direct comparison, look at Hinamatsuri, another "yakuza gone good" comedy, which excels because it has such a wacky and distinctive ensemble for Nitta to play off of and grow with.

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From that perspective, Chapter 5, originally intended as the series' ending, is the most promising. In this chapter, we actually get to see The Immortal Dragon and Miku spending time together. We learn about her quirks (the serious career woman also being an anime nerd is almost as good a twist on stereotypes as the macho yakuza being a househusband), how she responds to her husband's attempts to please her, and just how dramatically he takes any perceived failure.

Also of interest is Masa, The Immortal Dragon's former underling. In Chapter 3, he sees his boss's new domesticity as a betrayal. When he returns in Chapter 8, however, he not only realizes the value of being a househusband, but he wants to be mentored in domestic tasks. His character arc continues in one of the bonus manga. There is also Gin, a cat who is absolutely adorable and whose bonus manga befriending a neighborhood dog might be the best chapter in the whole volume.

If it continues to build up these supporting characters, The Way of the Househusband could be one of those manga that steadily improves and grows both funnier and more interesting as it goes on. If not, it's worth a few laughs, but likely won't stick in one's memory.

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