Gokushufudo: The Way of the House Husband by Oono Kousuke

Interior page from Gokushufudou: The Way of the House HusbandThe only way Gokushufudo: The Way of the House Husband  could get any better was if our eponymous house husband were gay–but, I mean: yakuza! house husband!  battles with roombas! kawaii bento!!

And tattoos….

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The summary reads like this:

The Immortal Tatsu is an ex-yakuza who’s given up violence for making an honest man of himself – but is it still possible for a devoted stay-at-home husband to get into a few scrapes?

An amazing premise for a fairly amazing manga.

 

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The comedy in Gokushufudo: The Way of the House Husband sometimes is a near-miss for me.  Don’t get me wrong. I find it hilarious nine out of ten times. But, sometimes, I feel like the mangaka stops short for a gag, rather than going fully into how absurd and humorous a situation Tatsu has made for himself.

Like, the very first chapter sets up the whole schtick is fairly hilarious as a study in contrasts, right? Here’s this terrifying-looking guy working his a$$ off to make breakfast for a wife who runs off without even remembering her bento.  That’s funny all by itself, but then we cut to a scene where some cops have stopped Tatsu on his way to deliver his wife’s lunch. He freaks them out for reaching for something–a coupon, it turns out–and the curtain falls.

I actually wanted MORE. I wanted to see him make his getaway AND his wife’s office reaction to him bursting in with her bento.

That being said, when what I’m complaining about is wanting MORE, that’s  good sign that the whole manga (of which, at the time of this review there were only six chapters scanlated,) is pretty dang awesome.

The taking on of the roomba is really fairly amazing.

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The best part? He’s talking TO the roomba, which he does all day long… until it finally defeats him before the Women’s Association arrives.

I highly recommend this one.  I’m going to have to figure out how to keep track of it so that I can keep following.

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我成为了BL漫画家的助理 / I Love BL Comics by Li Zhiheng and Mei Dajiong

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How could I resist a title like this?  I Love BL Comics.  It seems sort of made for me, doesn’t it?

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Our somewhat hapless hero, Ly Chee, is an unemployed artist, who is desperately seeking work as an assistant in the manhua business.

In the opening chapters, he tries a number of places and gets results that are very familiar to any freelancer in the creative arts.  Well, I mean, I’ve never been asked to wear a maid’s outfit as part of the job, but I have been asked to work for free:

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Still funny, even though the translation is VERY rough.

Finally, Ly Chee ends up finding what seems to be the perfect job.  He finds it a little odd at first that all of his potential bosses are women, until they reveal that they write BL/Boys’ Love.

Then the tables are turned, they wonder if he can handle the subject matter.

He stares at the sketches of naked men for a long time, looking stricken, and they become more and more convinced he’s far too disgusted to work there.  Until this moment:

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He makes a huge, impassioned speech about the purity of the relationships in BL (he must be reading different things than I am,) which causes the ladies to make an obvious assumption about our passionate Ly Chee.

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Perhaps…. the boy doth protest too much.

Ly Chee insists that he’s straight as an arrow, which is an assertion that is put to the test in the following chapters. I suspect, in fact, it will be the main drama going forward.

There are, to-date, only 6 chapters available.  Buka Manga, which for some reason shares authorial credit on most sites, is the only translator of this manhua… which, is a bummer.  Their grasp of English grammatical construction is tenuous at best.  The words are all there, but, obviously, “I am for job here,” is not how a native English-speaker would that they are here for a job.

Yet, I’m not entirely convinced that this detracts from the story. It might make it unintentionally funnier in some cases, and this is meant to be comedy.  More importantly, it’s not IMPOSSIBLE to parse what’s being said.  It just takes me a second or two to mentally correct it, which, should they ever take a dramatic turn, might lose me as a reader.

The art styles are, as you see, also vary wildly.  Normally, where there are two mangaka listed, I tend to assume that one is the writer and the other is the artist.  My guess is, in this case, we actually have two writer/artists.

On the other hand, I think that helps them pull off scene like this one, where Ly Chee is showing off his artistic talent to his bosses:

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My artistic talent in a nutshell.

It’s interesting how often this sort of handicap is shown in comedic manga/manhua about manga/manhua writing.  At least, there are similar gags in Gekkan Shōjo Nozaki-kun/Monthly Girls’ Nozaki-kun.  Apparently, there is hilarity to be found in the idea that artists might not be capable of drawing All The Things (which, as someone who dabbles in art, seems really LEGIT.)

If you read this, be warned that there were moments of “???” that might be lost in translation or ‘humor works differently in different cultures’ kinds of things for me.  As you know, gentle reader, the broader the humor, the less likely *I* am to appreciate it.  So, as always, grain of salt any problems I have with the funny bits.

Would I recommend it?  I’m kind of intrigued by the fact that Baka-Updates gave it a ‘smut’ designation (however, they seem to also assume it’s shoujo ai/Girls’ Love? So, maybe that’s just a mis-tag.)  The cover also seems to imply that there might actually be smut/romance between the two others in the picture, though I will tell you (even though it’s a GIANT spoiler) one of them is decidedly NOT human… which might be a kink for you?

No judging.

So, a hesitant yes.  I do wish the translations were a little smoother, but the chapters are short.

和女儿的日常/Grow Up With My Daughter by Chen Yuanfeng

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In my never ending quest to find things to read that are about absolutely nothing, I have found this charming manhua, Grow Up With My Daughter. This is not just a slice-of-life about a man and his daughter, it’s autobiographical.  Each chapter ends with a picture of the daughter in question.

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Can you spoil something this wonderfully simple?  I’m not sure.  A man hangs out with his daughter, doing family things, often with humorous results.  My biggest caveat would be that it’s possible the humor could bounce off anyone who has not spent sufficient time around toddlers (or who flat-out doesn’t like them.)

You do kind of have to find toddlers innately charming.

Or parenting sort of ridiculous.

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I still indoor too much, thanks.

There are only four chapters of this so far, but it’s well worth checking out. I mean… it’s little vignettes about stupid things parents do to amuse their kids, etc.  But, you are talking to the person who read all of Yotsuba to! /Yotsuba&! and kind of wished there had been more than 13 VOLUMES.

So, yeah. With a grain of salt.

Nigeta Hitsuji no Tsukamaekata by Aoyama Toomi

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I don’t even know where to begin with Nigeta Hitsuji no Tsukamaekata.

Maybe you’re thinking, well, d’uh, look at the cover. Obviously, you’ve got some kind of ram-horned bishie so it must just be some kind of furry thing. Yeah, okay, but, see, I initially thought that the cover was… metaphorical?… because I found this one by searching on the tag “mathematics.”

I’ll bet you didn’t even know that there are at least nineteen entries on Baka-Updates tagged “mathematics.”

Yeah, me either, so I figured I’d better sample at least one. When I saw that there was a combination of “mathematics” and “yaoi,” I was like: SOLD.

Especially since, even though I could see the horns on the cover, the back cover copy reads like this:

Reporter Oikawa Hidemi, Hide for short, chases after the mysterious professor Eli Y. Stafford, the reclusive medical researcher that managed to solve the “Alice conjecture,” the math problem of the century. He is dead set on interviewing the secretive genius. Feigning an illness, Hide infiltrates the soft-hearted professor’s residence and makes himself at home. How will Eli deal with the sudden nuisance?

Zero mention of the professor maybe being some other species or having mutated himself (which actually seems to be the case, btw.) So… I guess I wasn’t expecting the horns to be… really real, like full-time real?

Or for the professor to refer to himself as “an herbivore.”

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I… guess I won’t?

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Now, I should be very clear. I have friends who are furries, so none of my shock about this manga has to do with the fact that I find furries particularly distasteful or anything like that.

It was more that there did not seem to be any explanation of why Professor Eli has ram horns. They’re just presented as fact. Hide, our reporter hero, never really comments on them, except, when they finally meet in-person, to think to himself: “To think he really has horns. So cute!” There’s a little back-and-forth that implies that Professor Eli’s real genius is in genetics, so… maybe, he’s experimented on himself?… (and his younger brother, Cona?) it’s not clear. They may have just been born this way and that’s what drove Eli into genetic research.

But, honestly, I’m thinking about this too hard.

Because, clearly, this manga is not something intended to stand-up to intense scrutiny.  In fact, the cute-meet involves Hide overdosing on pills and alcohol and passing out in the vicinity of the professor’s secret hideout.  He assumes (luckily, correctly,) that the professor is bound by the Hippocratic Oath not to let anyone die. And, once inside the house, Hide just refuses to leave.

He really, really wants this story.  His bosses are sick of waiting, and Hide has been tracking the elusive Professor Eli all over the world.  Now that he’s here, he’ll do ANYTHING for the story.

ANYTHING.

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Yep, even that.

Except the humor here is that, Professor Eli isn’t interested.

I mean, OF COURSE Hide is totally his type and he’s clearly gay af, but, yeah, no–he doesn’t want to give into this nosy reporter, no matter how cute or persistent…. or flexible he is.

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And such a charmer… 

Even though there are only two chapters of this scanlated so far, I think I’m going to enjoy the ending of this when it finally comes out. It’s very clear that the thrust (pardon the pun) of this yaoi is that Hide can throw his body at the professor all he likes–he might get a kiss or two out of it, but that’s going to be it. Eli wants someone who is kind to his younger brother, a good guy.  If Eli relents at all, it’s going to be because the mangaka took the time to show them falling in love.

And–horns aside–that works for me.

I found myself surprised at the fact that I was NOT annoyed by the silliness and humor in this. As you all know, loyal readers, I’m not normally a fan of even the smallest amount of comedy.  Maybe it’s because the whole situation is kind of over the top. I even kind of love the running gag where the younger brother keeps suggesting that they just kill Hide by throwing him in the river.

Ah, but should you bother with it?  I… hmmmm.  Well, there’s hardly enough scanned yet for you to whet your appetite on it, so it might be an exercise in frustration for you. Will it be worth it as a silly one-shot when it’s done (provided the scanlators keep at it)? I think so.  I found it to be kind of weirdly amusing.

But then, I am VERY weird.  There is no accounting for my taste.

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The art is quite good, too, IMHO. When they’re serious, they’re pretty handsome. When it’s silly, they’re silly. Works.

Fushigi Neko no Kyuu-chan / Wonder Cat Kyuu-chan by Nitori Sasami

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In my never-ending quest to read manga about absolutely nothing (and cats!), I have discovered this adorable 4-koma (four panel) manga called Fushigi Neko no Kyuu-chan/ Wonder Cat Kyuu-chan.

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I’m not really sure a person could spoil a story this simple, but let me try.

Some cold-hearted person has abandoned this cat in a box, in the snow, in what looks like public park.

Our unnamed protagonist strolls by and sees the cat:

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I’m not even entirely sure what gender this person is, and I kind of love that.

At first, it looks like our unnamed hero will pass this cat by without picking it up.  Spoiler! Chapter 2, our hero totally comes back for the cat.

In the way of these things, they become fast friends and hilarity ensues in a very cat-like manner:

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Clearly, Nitori-sensei has a cat.

There are, in point of fact, a lot of four panel chapters, like this, with little to no words. Nitori-sensei is also not beyond pure silliness (at one point we discover that our cat doesn’t want to take a bath before removing their ‘mittens,’ which are literal this once, for comedic effect.)

There are currently 30 chapters of this 2018 manga. Would I recommend it? Yeah, absolutely! I mean, cats! Doing nothing but cat things! CAAAAAATTTTS!!!

The thing that makes Fushigi Neko no Kyuu-chan / Wonder Cat Kyuu-chan stand out is that the protagonist occasionally seems heartless.  Like, how initially they walk by Kyuu-chan and seem to leave the cat in the snow, alone.  Normally, this kind of humor can bounce me out, but, for some reason (maybe the shortness of the scenes) it worked for me here.

I honestly don’t know what’s in the air in 2018, but between this and Ojii-sama to Neko, I could potentially die from all teh cute cat stuff.

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So, yeah, two thumbs (mittens?) up for this one.

Ore Monogatari!! / My Love Story by Kawahara Kazune / Aruko

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Remember how I told you that I picked up a bunch of manga volumes at my library sale? Because the price was so good (five for a dollar!), I grabbed ANYTHING with a first volume.

ANYTHING.

Any. THING.

My Love Story!! / Ore Monogatari!! is normally the very last thing I would pick up for myself to read.  As you know, loyal reader, comedy is such a tough sell for me that I bounced out of One-Punch Man (I know!  Look, don’t kill me, I ended up loving the anime.)

Shoujo is also a category I can take or leave–though, mostly, I leave it.

I kind of dug My Love Story!! / Ore Monogatari!!

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The story follows Gouda Takeo, a giant, red oni of a high schooler.  He’s not your typical romance hero in that he kind of looks like a brick wall.  His childhood friend, Sunagawa, is the classic chick-magnet: wispy, floppy-haired, and lanky.  All the girls are into him, but he’s… “meh.”  In fact, he tends to flat-out tell the ladies, “I don’t like you,” and makes them cry.

So, when Takeo ends up saving a girl, Yamato, from a subway groper, he assumes that she’s fallen for Sunagawa, like all the others before her.  Only this time? Cupid’s arrow has struck true and it’s Takeo that Yamato likes.

They actually get together pretty quickly as these things go, because the real conflict of this manga seems to be the odd couple nature of the two of them–actually, three, since it seems kind of obvious to me that Sungawa is ‘meh’ on girls because he’s ‘yatta!’ on Takeo.   Though I could be very wrong about that.  I’m only two volumes in, so Sungawa could get ‘no homo’d at any point.

What I like about this manga (and why I suspect it’s won so many awards*) is because the reader falls for Takeo in the same way the characters do.  His personality really does make him attractive; the more you read of him, the more likable he becomes.  He’s a good-hearted buffoon, but not in an always-the-butt-of-the-joke way, either…

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Except when he is, because this might be the most accurate picture of a cat in the history of all manga:

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But, yeah, maybe I have a type.  I mean, LOOK at those sideburns.

The manga is still being scanlated.  Mangago has five volumes (out of 15 in Japan.) There is not only an anime, available on Crunchyroll, but also, it seems, a live-action film.

Would I recommend it?  Eh, it’s fun and it reads fast, so why not?


 

  •  According to Baka-Updates, My Love Story!! / Ore Monogatari, “Won the award for Best Shōjo Manga at the 37th Kodansha Manga Awards and was nominated for the 6th Manga Taishō in 2013. Was also nominated for the 18th Annual Tezuka Osamu Cultural Prize “Reader Award” in 2014. Won the 61st Shogakukan Manga Award for Shoujo.”

 

Yotsuba&! / Yotsuba to! (Volumes 1 &2) by Kiyohiko Azuma

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I know what you’re thinking.  You’re thinking: “Lyda, where is the porn? We depend on you for all the yaoi porn. Why are you reading this sappy drivel???!!”

I don’t know. My only excuse is that I’ve READ all the yaoi my library has and I had another very sloooooow shift at Maplewood when I picked up Yotsuba&! / Yotsuba to!.

When I hunted around on the shelves, I saw a bunch of other things that I could read–like Hellsing, should I read Hellsing? But, for whatever reason (*cough*Trump*cough*), I have lately gravitated towards simple, sappy, slice-of-life stories about absolutely NOTHING.

Because I’ve read a bunch in a row, I’ve been thinking about slice-of-life for awhile now.

I know why it appeals to me, as a Western reader.  For me, obviously, so much of daily life in Japan is mysterious, foreign.  Just going to the grocery store is kind of an adventure.  I’m not at all familiar with how grocery stores in Japan are laid out, what you can find there, etc., etc.  Because it’s all new to me, all the mundane things have a subtle sort of inherent drama, like the kind of excitement that travel to another country brings.

What do you suppose the appeal is in Japan?

I’ve been wondering how these would read if they were American.  Like, is part of the appeal the ‘wholesomeness’ of these adventures?

Yotsuba is an odd, enthusiastic five year old girl, who is terrible at drawing and invites herself over to her neighbor’s apartment.  The family in Yotsuba&! do the sorts of things you see a lot of in anime and manga, particularly in these kind of slower paced, slice-of-life oriented stories, like a cicada hunt on the wooded grounds of a local shrine. Bug hunting is a thing, apparently.  But, summer bug hunting seems to be somewhat more associated with “life in the country.” So, then, what would that even be in an American story?  What’s the analog? Going fishing at a creek?

When I think about it that way, it all suddenly seems so very… Mayberry.

Which makes me wonder, are there essential Japanese values that are being promoted in these manga?  Especially since there is a tendency in these stories that involve young kids, to have little life lessons about being polite, expected behavior, etc.

….

WTF. Am I reading Japanese propaganda?

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Despite the sinister specter cast by the fact that I might be captivated by what is probably some kind of “conservative/traditional blueprint for the perfect Japanese lifestyle as determined by The Powers That Be/magazine publishers,” I enjoyed Yotsuba&! / Yotsuba to!.

I mean, maybe I’m overthinking this. Maybe the appeal to the Japanese audience is similar to the stories we have here in America about the young professional who goes to live in New York. That’s very much an equivalent, I think. There are life lessons learned along the way… I mean, outside of the fact that maybe part of why this feels a tiny bit more like propaganda is that Yotsuba is shounen.

That’s right, this story about a young five year old girl was marketed to the same boys who read Bleach and Naruto….

Mmmm, back to my propaganda theory then.

ANYWAY. Even though I picked up the first two volumes on a lark, I went ahead and requested volume 3 because there is a tiny bit of a mystery going on about who Yotsuba is.

Normally, in manga, because of the way they’re drawn, you can’t easily tell the “foreigners” from the natives until someone tells you.  There’s at least one scene, early on, in the first tankōbon, in which one of Yotsuba’s new neighbors see her in the playground, seemingly baffled by how swings work.  The neighbor thinks, “Is she just weird or is she foreign?”

A lot is made of Yotsuba’s “weirdness,” even her own father describes Yotsuba as weird when asked for a description of her when she goes missing.

This, by the way, is a very curious moment, since, despite the fact that they are clearly in an urban space, dad is super not worried that she, a five year-old, has wandered off, and keeps insisting to the worried adults around him that “she’ll turn back up. She always does.” This, and the later cicada hunt, made me think that Yotsuba and her family are from the country. Especially since the urban adults were all ??? about her being missing and a lot more worried about it, and no one in the urban group had ever been bug hunting before.

So, I started to think that Yotsuba was just “not from around here” which is a different kind of foreign.

Until.

Until we find out that Yotsuba is an orphan.  Not just a girl being raised by a widower, but an ORPHAN.  Dad adopted Yotsuba… wait for it…. “on his travels.”  Dad is a translator for a living, so apparently this job takes him to the places where this other language (it’s sort of presumed by everyone around him, though it’s not explicitly stated, to be English) is spoken.

In an omake that is entirely from the point of view of the neighbors (a household of all women, which contrasts Yotsuba’s family which seems to be made of her father and his… best friend?… Jumbo, who is JUMBO, as in super tall), we hear them speculate that maybe Yotsuba was adopted in Hawaii, since all she has revealed about where they lived previously was ‘far away, very, very far….’ and ‘left’ (as in the direction).

It’s kind of amazing to imagine a single, young Japanese man just randomly picking up an American orphan and taking her home. I mean, maybe this happens? A quick Google search tells me that this does happen IRL, though most of the adoptees are black.

So, I’m kind of intrigued. I doubt it’s going to be revealed that Yotsuba’s dad is a kidnapper, but I’m curious about how the story of Yotsuba’s adoption is going to be played out. There’s always this assumption that slice-of-life stories attempt to be as realistic as possible (I mean, there are supranational slice-of-life, so…), but there’s often this blindspot when it comes to Western culture/practices.  If she is American, I’m curious if that’s also why Yotsuba, at five, seems to have a lot more trouble pronouncing things and seems to know fewer words than, say, the young girl of approximately the same age in Sweetness & Lightning….

I might just keep reading this for the amusement of reading about how someone of my “ethnicity” is portrayed in a manga.

Porn soon, I promise.