The Way of the Househusband: Great Manga, Worst Anime of the Century

The Way of the Househusband is one of the funniest manga comedies out there right now. Unfortunately, its anime adaptation on Netflix is utterly awful. This doesn’t happen often. In fact, it shouldn’t happen at all, but it might be the worst anime series of this century.

“The Way of the Househusband” still, Netflix

The Way of the Househusband manga, currently published in English by Viz Media, earned a cult reputation amongst comics fans and fans of Japanese pop culture. Its reputation is deserved, a comedy centered around one joke: a legendary Yakuza gives up the gangster life for a life married domesticity, staying home cook and clean while his office executive wife works as the breadwinner. He approaches everything with the same scary, menacing intensity he had as a gangster, so hilarity often ensued. And when he runs into his former gangster associates and rivals who wondered where he disappeared to, even more hilarity ensues, especially since they’re terrified of him.

All of this should be a no-brainer for a funny anime series with a pre-sold audience. Instead, the short anime series is an utter disaster. It is not animated at all. There is no movement in any of the drawings. Any movement is stiff with a totally still drawing of a character clumsily moved across the screen. There have been the occasional anime series in the last few years where the studio cut corners with the animation, but none has been this bad. It is actually shocking how bad The Way of the Househusband anime is.

How this anime adaptation became so awful is a mystery. The director is a seasoned anime director who’s been active since the late 1990s. J.C. Staff, the animation studio that made it, has been around since 1986 and has over 150 high-profile and popular shows and movies under its belt. It doesn’t have the greatest reputation amongst anime studios, but this adaptation of The Way of the Househusband is the worst possible production any studio could have put its name to. One reason an anime is bad, script notwithstanding, is the lack of a proper budget. The lower the budget, the fewer frames, and less movement a show can have during its runtime. The problem with The Way of the Househusband here is there is no animation at all! The drawings don’t move one bit. The production depends entirely on the actors’ voice work, music, and sound effects to create the illusion of motion, but even they can’t cover up how nonexistent this anime is. This was apparently a web-only series in Japan. That’s no excuse. Cheap animations made with Flash in the 1990s were better than this. Why did the studio make this at all if they didn’t have the money or resources to actually animate it? Honestly, why bother?

The biggest mystery here is why Netflix bought this mess of an anime. Was the asking price incredibly cheap? Netflix has been on a roll producing original anime series, either adapted from popular manga or from original concepts by acclaimed animators. The Way of the Househusband already had a 10-episode live-action series adaptation in Japan that was a hit that they could have licensed. Or they could have paid to have a new, high-quality anime series made that they could have owned exclusive worldwide rights to. Sometimes, why Netflix buys a show they didn’t make can be a total mystery. We might assume they did market research based on their algorithms to pick shows and movies they believe their subscribers want to see. Granted, that means there’s a fair number of terrible shows and movies on the streamer, either made by them or just bought up to fill the library. Why they picked up this turkey might be the biggest Netflix mystery of them all.

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