Content Warning: representations of physical domestic abuse, graphic violence, gang violence, blood, dead bodies
What’s it about? Tetsuo Tosu is sick of seeing his daughter Reika be abused by her boyfriend Nobuto, who is involved with the yakuza. One day, after overhearing her boyfriend planning to murder her, Tetsuo kills the man himself. Will he be able to get away with it?
Hoo boy. Where do I even begin with this one.
This really is an anime that I wish I could just talk about how it’s so bad it’s good. Because, really it is. It is such a godawful mess, but I enjoyed every second of it. This is the sort of series that begs for a lengthy twitter thread where you just gawk at the astonishing choices that are being made every second; whether it’s the animators, who seem to not know how to animate a walking sequence if the opening is anything to go by; the storyboarders, whose face game will live on as legend for years I’m sure, or whoever it is who created the hilariously spoopy filter that shines over the most violent sequences–nobody seems to be aware of what kind of show they are making. Or maybe everybody is aware of it? Whoever is responsible for this, I salute you. I deplore you.
I have complicated feelings.
Alas, I also (proudly) write for a feminist anime blog. And that, dear reader, means that I also have to talk about depictions of domestic abuse. This is a show that believes itself to be about domestic abuse. But to believe that to be true is like believing Showgirls is about show business, or that Cats is about our feline friends. That is to say, it seems to have absolutely nothing to say about the subject of any value.
The show centers the perspective not of the survivor of this violence, but of the protector figure: Reika’s father. We are allegedly supposed to see him as a hero, as would be indicated by the title, My Home Hero. But the direction, storyboarding, and voice acting undercuts this in every possible circumstance. Every moment seems ready to present him as a pathetic figure to be laughed at. Early in the episode, he confronts his daughter about her boyfriend Nobuto’s abuse, and she leaves and he yells “Reika!” in a voice that sounds like one of a jilted lover; the framing of everybody in the restaurant staring seems to imply it looks that way to other people too. The waitress then immediately asks him if he wants his food to go.
This is that kind of show.
It gets worse. At one point, the yakuza kidnap him, dump him nude in an alleyway on some trash, and take pictures of him. It happens so quickly that it is hard to even read it as funny. This is in keeping with the rest of the show. I still have no idea whose apartment they were in when they murdered the yakuza guy Nobuto.
Reika herself is a complete cipher. She arrives to meet her father at a restaurant in a mask, barely saying more than a few words over the entire course of the episode–first she lies and says that the bruises from her boyfriend’s abuse are from falling when asked by her father in the restaurant (which is the most stereotypical trope out there); and then when her mother confronts her about it in the safety of their home, tells her flat out “he gets out of control when he’s angry.” (It’s clear her father’s strategy of confronting her in public is not a good one.) Her boyfriend, of course, is cartoonishly violent. He would never lose control, it is very clear; all of his violence is extremely calculated, and read onto the yakuza culture. Way of the Househusband he is not.
This show is truly a funhouse mirrors of campy mess. It is as if its takes on domestic violence had been written by an alien who had film noir movies described to them by somebody who had read the Wikipedia entry on film noir once. I enjoyed every second of it. I will not be watching any more.