When I came across The Way of the Househusband on Netflix, I was initially skeptical of the premise. As someone who did not return to the workforce after the birth of my first child, I quickly became acquainted with the scrutiny that often surrounds this decision. But what do you do all day? Sometimes, no matter what proof of productivity I might provide, it’s not enough to just raise my children. Proving my value to society at large remains a struggle and sore spot two children later, and I worried this show was in some way belittling the stay-at-home role. While Tatsu, the titular househusband, does not have to worry about the parenting angle for now, he is very familiar with his appearance/aura evoking strong reactions and initial judgements about his status as stay-at-home partner. And once I gave the show a shot, I was pleasantly surprised with the overall positivity of the portrayal.
At first glance the show seems almost too transparent or predictable: when a former yakuza legend trades a life of danger for one of domestication, what could go right? But Tatsu attacks his new role with the same fervor and focus as his old one. His drive, dedication, and attention to detail demonstrate how hard it can be to wear the apron well. And when his past leaks into his present, he seamlessly blends both worlds: sales shopping, stain removal, and surprise party planning are all no-holds-barred battlefields. True hilarity ensues as this ex-yakuza boss shows former colleagues and rivals how to use the skills he’s gained as a househusband to help them overcome newfound dilemmas. As the show often states, being a househusband is no joke. Although there are many humorous antics and scenarios, this show isn’t a joke either. It is a delightful depiction of the universal unique—we all have our own quirks and histories we bring to relationships and our roles within them.
If you happen to need some practical tips for housework presented in a more palatable fashion, look no further than The Ingenuity of the Househusband (the live action counterpart). It might not be as fun or funny as the anime, but it maintains a similar lighthearted and upbeat undercurrent. It offers excellent perspective on a character who is meticulous and how this precise approach to mundane checklists can be a pleasing thing. Some of the tasks might be outside your general purview, but the action it is still very relatable for those with perfectionist tendencies or aspirations, for those dedicated souls who feel the relentless call of duty (from whatever realm) even when trying to take a day off. While I will continue to ignore my haphazard stash of spare cords and cables, I have been inspired to update the way I clean my mirrors, pots, and pans. I’m also very tempted to channel Tatsu’s love of white (cleaning) powders and proper knife sharpening methods when my next validate-yourself-to-this-complete-stranger conversation goes sour.
Melissa Nunez is a writer and homeschooling mother from South Texas. When not in the classroom or behind her computer, she is most likely to be found attempting to identify a local species of bird or plant or watching a really cool show (not always, but very probably, anime). She is contributor for The Daily Drunk Mag and Yellow Arrow, and staff writer for Alebrijes Review. Twitter: @MelissaKNunez