Tthe husband’s path to the home that’s how it should be – quirky, funny, unforgettable and most of all, overtly feminist. Based on a Japanese manga written and illustrated by Kousuke Oono, The Way of the Home Husband released in April on Netflix and quickly gained attention for its unconventional styling. Following the story of a former gangster (part of the criminal group commonly known as Yakuza) – Tatsu, The Way of the Home Husband explores his life when he finally becomes a stay-at-home husband. After reading lots of reviews from various sources, I kept watching this manga turned into anime to see what it was about. Many people were in awe of the still manga-style anime while others frowned and blamed Netflix for the budget cuts.
My concerns about The Way of the Home Husband were different: I didn’t mind the still manga-style anime at all, in fact I enjoyed it. However, what initially worried me was: would this show be another redemption story, where women are supposed to offer free therapy to a male gangster to make them more human?
Would that be too judgmental for the younger generation to watch, since most of us have an attention span that is only suitable for TikTok videos? But hey, as soon as I immersed myself in the show, I was pretty sure of one thing: it’s exemplary! The Way of the Home Husband is witty, smart, action packed, and funny with some of the best animation I’ve seen in a long time. Tatsu’s struggle to become a housewife of a yakuza (a Japanese gangster) was approached with such precision that it is sure to amuse while providing a gender role reversal. He does everything a housewife is supposed to do – he cleans, cooks, takes care of the pet, takes care of him by taking yoga classes, babysits the neighbors’ children, basically everything. work generally associated with housewives.
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The Way of the Home Husband, through his sharp portrayal of the characters, almost masters the art of comedic satirical timing that completely denigrates the concepts of masculinity associated with yakuza. In Japanese society, as in most societies around the world, a gangster is a hypermasculine figure, who is only good for one thing: violence. Yet here we have a Yakuza who cooks, cleans, shops and basically tries to redeem himself from his past mistakes by becoming a better husband and therefore a better person.
Tatsu’s relationship with his wife, Miku, is also beautifully illustrated and worth discussing. Usually, women work to make everything good for their husbands, but here Tatsu’s struggle to make his wife happy, his care for everything from his lunch to dinner to his love for Policure (an anime game in the game). (series universe) – Tatsu tries to do everything right without even an ounce of shame that is commonly seen in men who have to play with the idea of being housewives.
Miku is a career-driven woman around whom Tatsu’s world revolves. We also see characters like Tatsu’s friends and former enemies trying to provoke Tatsu, but he’s hardly affected by those hypermasculine yakuza and instead always tries to impress his mentor, an elderly woman, whom he calls ” boss lady ”for helping him become a better housewife. In one of the episodes of The Way of the Home Husband, where Tatsu mistakenly walks into the ladies’ locker room after his yoga class, he begins to punish himself as if he had committed an unforgettable crime.
The ladies’ locker room is usually associated with men’s fantasies and hardly seen for what it is – a private space for women. Tatsu’s repentance after entering the room deconstructs this idea of the ladies’ locker room being a male fantasy object, thus becoming a real space with real women. Another crucial episode is when Tatsu goes to buy a new car with his wife. As they investigate various cars, we see how the creators of this anime actually show that Miku enjoys cars that are mostly associated with men while Tatsu is so involved in being a stay-at-home husband that he may think of how useful the car is for daily work tasks. We also see Tatsu wandering around a mall wearing his apron and as his wife tries to get him to wear something more “charming” and “accessible”. He then chooses an apron with his wife’s favorite – Policure prints on it.
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There are plenty of such incidents throughout this 10-episode series and all of them focus on normalizing the concept of a stay-at-home husband. Excluding most Studio Ghibli movies, Puella Magi Madoka Magica which deconstructs the genre of magical girls in anime, Oreimo which tackles the issue of incest in the funniest way possible and few others – anime, like most popular media TV shows, is generally dominated by the male gaze. But here we have an anime for future generations – a show that redefines masculinities. At the same time, it’s important to understand that deconstructing notions associated with gender binaries doesn’t necessarily mean a role reversal in which women have to act in conventional masculine ways, which Miku is often characterized as doing in The Way of the Home Husband. Yet while people may continue to argue over the show’s format, a group of feminists could sit down and enjoy a truly unique, funny, and sensitive show.
Shambhavi Siddhi completed his MA in French and Francophone Literature from JNU. With a penchant for poetry and fiction writing, she is dedicated to breaking down patriarchy and other systems of oppression, one article at a time. You can follow her on Instagram.