An intense-looking man with slicked back hair, sunglasses, and a facial scar walks down the street. His expression screams of somebody who’s hidden more than a few bodies in his day. And he is on a mission: to get the best deals from the local supermarket sale and get home in time to make dinner for his wife.
That image is the central joke of The Way of the Househusband, a gag manga about a former yakuza elite who’s settled down into the domestic sphere that’s taken the internet by storm over the last year and is finally officially available in English. If the juxtaposition of serious drama and absurdity in the Yakuza series is your cup of tea, then this is can’t-miss material.
Most of the stories in the first volume proceed from the same joke: the man once known as “The Immortal Dragon” (AKA “Tacchan” to his wife) will set out to do an everyday domestic task with the visual intensity of an enforcer and the language to match — he asks a grocery clerk where to get “the white powder,” meaning flour — while shenanigans ensue. Sometimes that means the cat being taken out by a rampaging Roomba, sometimes it means members of the Yakuza trying and failing to get the old legend back into the fold. Either way, it’s a spectacle.
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An attention to detail is key in what gives Househusband staying power: for all that it centers around bringing hyper-masculine execution to feminine-coded tasks, it values the genuine happiness its protagonist gets out of running a household. Because it’s specifically a gag series rather than a more general comedy, each chapter often ends on the punchline rather than focusing on a character arc; but it still finds time to slip in moments of warmth, whether it’s Tacchan going on an epic quest to get his wife a birthday present or bonding with a neighborhood kid.
Author Kousuke Oono has a skill for the genre mismatch that makes the comedy work, but there’s an equal visual appreciation for the homemade dishes on display. It’s a clever way for the manga to take some sidelong swipes at machismo too, as several characters find themselves touched by the Dragon’s stoic, badass dedication to tasks they initially dismiss as girly and worthless. Tacchan’s unintentionally terrifying aura might be the joke, but the things he loves aren’t.
This isn’t a story about a man who’s “gone soft” or finds himself under the heel of a domineering wife: instead, it focuses on poking fun at its intensely drawn gender roles rather than shaming any supposed transgression. It’s a subtle differentiation but an important one, and it’s what ultimately cements the manga’s inviting appeal. While an eventual anime adaptation seems all but assured by its wild popularity, the manga is already a rewarding experience in its own right.