The Delinquent Housewife!
ふつつかなヨメですが! (Futsutsuka na Yome Desu ga!)
Seinen – Comedy, slice-of-life
4 Volumes (complete)
Dai’s older brother, Tohru, suddenly shows up at home with his fiancée, Komugi. Komugi seems like a lovely young woman, but she is extremely rattled when Tohru leaves for a business trip. Then Dai learn’s Komugi’s secret: not only does she not have any basic household skills, but she was a delinquent!
At first, you may think The Delinquent Housewife! is a reverse Way of the Househusband in both gender and skill level, as they both feature spouses with a rebel past. But that’s about where the similarities end.
The Delinquent Housewife! opens with Komugi and Tohru planning on staying for a short while at his family home, but younger brother Dai can’t figure out why he’s on edge with his seemingly sweet future sister-in-law. But it all becomes clear why when he finds out Komugi has been putting on an act to impress his mother, as she’s not a career woman nor a stay-at-home type! Still, Komugi wants to be accepted as Tohru’s wife, and Dai agrees to keep her girl gangster past a secret (as well as her current joblessness and lack of household skills). It’s a comedic, exaggerated take on typical family tension when a new family member is brought into the picture, but The Delinquent Housewife! is an example of an interesting manga that ultimately doesn’t do much with its own premise and developments.
Much of this manga’s story lies in the Japanese culture. First, you got the concept of an ideal housewife who can cook, clean, and otherwise keep the home running smoothly. It’s a bit different from most Western households where there’s more emphasis on equal partnerships and covering for each other’s weaknesses. For example, the stereotypical “husband takes out the trash”. But since Tohru and Dai’s father passed away, of course, their mother has more responsibilities. Secondly, gang members. In America and elsewhere, gang members are often viewed as rather hard-core criminals that steal, do drugs, and shoot guns. Some young gang members in Japan do commit these acts, but they sometimes just ride around on bikes and fight each other.
Komugi fits in the latter group, and many of her friends have moved on to having their own families. They still are all close, and no one is going around harassing anybody. This is primarily a light slice-of-life story, so don’t expect drama outside of Mom’s dislike of gangsters and romantic tension.
Speaking of romantic tension, one of the main parts of The Delinquent Housewife! is Tohru’s extended absence. He skips town with a message that accidentally gets scrambled, and no one can contact him. Newly-arrived Komugi is unnerved, and it’s because the sweet After Dai discovers Komugi’s true self, he tries to cover for Komugi and just be her ally in this household as she vents her frustrations and relaxes. But as they spend more time together, he starts falling for her. As such, either he is going to end up with a broken heart or end up luring his brother’s fiancée while he’s not looking. Part of Dai’s affection could probably be attributed to a young, beautiful woman suddenly living in his house. However, as his feelings grow for the fun-loving, competitive, and dedicated Komugi, we see him wishing more strongly for Tohru to not return. He clumsily tries to show his affection like attempting to hold her hand.
But the love triangle gets more complicated when a classmate who has a crush on him knows Dai’s eyes are turning toward his would-be sister-in-law. She comes across as a bit immature due to her jealous and manipulative ways, but she’s necessary to help prod the story along. She’s technically an antagonist since she wants to reveal Komugi’s secret, but she’s not an antagonist in the sense of being villainous. In fact, she’s not even the first antagonist in The Delinquent Housewife! The only daughter of the family, Yukari, has a bit of a brother complex, so she dislikes Komugi at first; she’s technically the first hurdle since she also wants to show Komugi’s true self. I will say that, to Komugi’s credit, she does try to tell Mom the truth. She only ends up getting part of it out due to Dai, but she is determined to win Mom’s respect so that even if she learns the truth, she’ll love her daughter-in-law anyway.
While Komugi is the titular character, the manga is more Dai’s story since he’s the one trying to handle these new feelings as they hang out in his room (like playing paper-rock-scissors with a toy hammer) and around town. You can understand why Dai likes her since although Komugi is rough around the edges, she is determined (which also makes her a sore loser.) The Delinquent Housewife! does follow Komugi around as she tries to firmly plant her feet on the ground in regards to getting a job and mastering basic chores. There are a couple of times where their interactions seem unnatural, mostly in regards to the more risqué content. As a seinen series, there is a bit of ecchi-ness. Scenes from Dai’s imagination make sense, as he is a teenage boy after all. Yet one of their interactions in the third volume seems a bit unnatural, but maybe that’s just me looking at it from a Western point of view. More significantly, his grandfather is one of those perverted old men types, and so the manga has humor like him trying to spy on Komugi. This type of comedy felt out-of-place versus Yukari trying to kick Komugi out. Also, Dai’s best friend reminds me of the bespectacled best friend in Nisekoi, as they both know how lucky the protagonist is and wants to punish him for it. That’s a better source of comedy since it’s more balanced with his insight and advice.
I won’t spoil the ending, but it’s one where you can clearly see everyone’s flaws. However, by the end, we know they’re all connected by love and friendship despite the misunderstandings and still somewhat misgivings. That being said, it does kind of cheap out on one of the biggest questions readers have. It’s an ending that’s both sweet and yet unsatisfying, like candy made with a lackluster sugar substitute. It’s not terrible, but you want better. I mean, the manga ends in the middle of the day when everyone’s busy, and it’s not after a time skip so we see how everyone dealt with things. We know they all will and are dealing with these complicated circumstances, but I wish the manga had dived more into of Tohru’s side of the story. I did like seeing Mom’s complicated feelings as she worries about whether she’s been raising her family right and whether she’s overreacting to some discoveries about Komugi. I don’t think even another volume would have made a difference since I think Nemu would have gone with the same ending.
Nemu has a more realistic style than most manga artists. Characters’ eyes aren’t huge, they don’t transform into SD size, and hair colors are normal. (Well, hair is dyed, but no one is walking around with pink or purple hair.) Do expect a lot of pale faces and smirks, which keeps the characters lively and expressive. Nemu’s style also has a hint of old-fashionedness, similar to manga like Princess Jellyfish. If you like Higashimura’s art, you’ll like Nemu’s. The manga includes a few color pages, but I think the real artistic highlight of the manga was the layout, particularly late in the series. One time, Komugi and Dai walk home together, and it’s a two-page spread filled with thought balloons to show their messy thoughts. There’s also a time where the page is divided into half with panels showing Dai and Komugi having the same conversation with their friends but how different their takes are. Things like this make The Delinquent Housewife! fun to read.
As is typical of Vertical, Inc.’s releases, no honorifics are used. I don’t remember any footnotes either even when a few Japanese terms are used (bosozoku). The blurbs often say Komugi “swears like a sailor”, which I believe is partially used to represent the yankee-style speech that gang members are often associated with. I don’t even think “yankee” is used either.
The Delinquent Housewife! is a mostly enjoyable read until you realize that the manga just kind of shrugs off an emotional climax or reader’s curiosities and just goes with a tepid ending. Cultural views may also affect how readers perceive the characters, even though I like how they develop and deal with their changing and/or muddled feelings.