Been watching too many dramas lately and want something utterly daft? Look no further than Netflix’s new anime adaptation of the popular Japanese manga series Gokushufudō, or The Way of the Househusband.
The premise is that feared Yakuza mob boss Tatsu (frequently referred to by his fearsome title ‘The Immortal Dragon’) has retired from a life of crime. He wasn’t pushed out in a power struggle or beaten to within an inch of his life. No. Tatsu has a far nobler reason for stepping away from his violent past: he wants to be a househusband in order to support his wife’s career. He cooks. He cleans. He frets about getting bargains at the store. He is always sure to ask for a loyalty card.
Much like Back Street Girls: Gokudols before it, The Way of the Househusband is structured like a collection of vignettes bundled together into TV episodes.
Typically Tatsu will be heavily focused on some mundane housework activity, unaware of the terrifying and looming presence he casts. The camera frequently shows him from low angles and in the sort of poses that would typically result in someone being violently beaten, except here he is genuinely concerned about ensuring he gets a lovely home-cooked lunch to Miku, his wife.
This is pretty much the one and only joke, but as the skits are so short and the juxtaposition so stark it does remain funny throughout. A large reason why is that Tatsu is so earnest and genuine. There is no tussle in his mind between choosing between his home life or his past life.
Even when he bumps into other gangsters he is seemingly oblivious as to how his ingrained threatening nature comes across as he says otherwise perfectly normal things. Tatsu’s low-toned and terrifying growl when singing ‘happy birthday’ is laugh out loud for this reason.
Sadly the show clearly has a very low budget because the animation is poor to the point where it’s a struggle to even call it ‘animation’ at times. Whereas Back Street Girls hid its lack of money by using stock ‘cut away’ shots to static backgrounds to fill up the time, The Way of the Househusband instead resorts to just not bothering to animate its characters.
Instead we are given a ‘cardboard cut out’ approach where the panning camera and jiggling character models suggest movement, whilst comic book onomatopoeia words like ‘crash!’, ‘chop!’ and ‘wham!’ do much heavy lifting. This isn’t all the time, but you certainly won’t come to the show for eye candy.
The Way of the Househusband takes one joke and presents it in enough variety of situations to make for a fun watch when you just want something easy and light to wash over you. The comedy isn’t excessively OTT so you won’t get battered by the Japanese-ness of it all. Indeed, Tetsu in a lovely apron frowning into his baking instructions will be the nice nugget of mental imagery you may need to make your day just that little bit better.
Words by Mike Record