I was floored by how ingenious, clever, and funny The Way of the Househusband volume 1 was. It took the ever-present concept of a violent gangster and spun it on his head as he is now retired from killing but is just as intense as he was in the streets. Taking washing dishes and grocery shopping as seriously as life and death is a funny concept that Kousuke Oono has accomplished very well. The idea also works very well in the short, chapter-based manga storytelling method as each of the nine vignettes in this second volume stand alone. At the same time though, there’s a building towards a more complex story, be it meeting the main character’s parents, a fellow retired Yakuza who now has a crepe truck, or how “the immortal dragon” finds ways to get exercise.
This volume is defined by all the physical activity “the immortal dragon” gets in a variety of ways. We see him join a local all-wives volleyball team, take up yoga, and play catch with his father in law. One can guess he’s hiding out as a house husband to avoid being murdered by rival gangs, but you wouldn’t be able to tell from his intensity around chores. He still does more menial tasks outside of exercise, like picking out a new car with his wife or sharing herbs with a friend to make a great pizza. In both those cases, his past life of dodging police or being attacked by random strangers comes back to haunt him even though he’s perfectly safe. It’s a nice way to remind us that his life before being a house husband was stressful and deadly.
This volume begins to show “the immortal dragon” isn’t perfect. More than once he must fall to his knees, begging for forgiveness usually for hilarious results. That includes missing the game-winning shot in volleyball or walking into the women’s bathroom at the local gym by accident. His intensity never waivers, but his ability to mess up and expect to be punished for it remains.
The beauty of this series, in general, is how it shows us all walks of life can have a little fun. We’re not evil, but it’s the jobs that make us do terrible things. We see that with the rival Yakuza who is just as intense making crepes as “the immortal dragon” is with collecting coupons. In another short story, we meet a gang who looks incredibly tough, but truly loves the game of volleyball. The manga is quite good at making the ordinary tasks in life become life or death given those involved. Nothing is easy or safe when you approach it with a high stakes approach.
Even though there’s some development as we learn more about “the immortal dragon” and his family, I’d love to see more of a developing story or development of character. Two volumes in it’s still fun, but it’s wearing thin to see him do new activities with the same intensity as before. It’s one joke that works over and over, but it’s growing a bit stale. Why is he a house husband, is he in danger, and he can’t possibly be satisfied with this life without any goals or change on the horizon, right? Maybe a baby could jazz things up, but right now it’s a fun series whose conceit is being retreaded too much.
This is a great second volume that continues to reveal the intense approach one can take with simple chores. It’s still an instant classic, but it could use a little development of story and character to get back to being really great.