Review: The Way of the House Husband (Vol. 1)

Not long ago, an infamous yazuka roamed the streets, striking fear into friend and foe alike. Nicknamed the “Immortal Dragon,” he gained fame by breaking up ten rival factions in a single night. And then, without warning, he disappeared.

For the thugs and high-end criminals on the city streets, Tatsu’s disappearance is a mystery. But readers of The Way of the House Husband know the truth—Tatsu has found his true calling. He is the ultimate house husband*.

Fish out of water stories are as old as time, and are even common in anime and manga (think Black Lagoon or the similarly-themed Chocolat), but a series can’t thrive on that concept alone. Thankfully, Kousuke Oono has a gift for getting the most of the situation he conjured and keeping the laughs coming. Volume one of The Way of the House Husband is one of the funniest manga I’ve read. When the opening gag has Tatsu taking a photo of his perfectly plated food for social media, I lost it. And then I laughed again and again again—as Tatsu exclaims a curse over a cabbage sale, signs up for a point card at an anime store, and disarms a former enemy while slipping mittens over the gangster’s hands with a warning: “Winter’s…comin’.”

In fact, it’s this pacing that might be the best part of the manga thus far. Oono is relentless in bringing the laughter, but the set up is just as important. He gives the necessary details and paints a slowly developing picture of the underworld (and of Tatsu’s past), but does so in minimal style—we recover from one gag to quickly fall into another. Volume one is continually entertaining.

The question then, is, can Oono sustain this level of comedy? He’s weaving a light tale, bringing in additional characters, including an junior who has made a connection between the “way of the house husband” and the “way of the yazuka,” which seems to be a theme upon which the series is based. Will this add to the quality of the series and keep it from becoming stale? Time will tell whether House Husband becomes a kingpin or goes to sleep with the fishes.

Rating: A

* I was reminded of the similar transformation of Kyoko Honda, and I bet a manga about the first year of her new life would be equal parts entertaining and heart-warming. You’re welcome, Hakusensha—I’ve given you your next hit manga.



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