Saturday, April 13, 2019

The Delinquent Housewife comes to a very quick and disappointing ending in Volume 4 (Manga Review)

Nemu Yoko
Volume 4 - 5/10

The Delinquent Housewife (Vertical Comics) has been a series that is a bit unique - in its art style, its plot (sorta), and its overall tone (it's light and serious, and funny and sorta romantic, and a bit servicey). It comes to its conclusion in Volume 4 and a quick and unsatisfying conclusion it is. That's too bad, because the series had potential - or more importantly, the story had potential. Potential that ultimately goes unfulfilled.

In the final volume, Dai's mom finds out about Komugi's (his sister-in-law's) past as a delinquent. Ultimately it looks like the mom doesn't really care (so much for that plot line) and Komugi gets slack and stops hiding her delinquent streaks (so much for that tension).

Things are going more or less okay and then they get the call that Komugi's husband, Dai's brother, Tohru is coming home. At the same time, Komugi comes to believe that her mother in law still thinks she's a terrible housewife and she leaves one night to cool her head. Dai comes with her and finally confesses his love for her. Things get awkward, then they resolve them (very quickly).

But I can't really get into what I think of this volume without spoiling the ending. So if you don't want spoilers, look away now and skip to the last paragraph...you still have time...okay, so the volume ends with Dai and Komugi resolving to be siblings and the final panel has Tohru knocking on the door about to come home and everything is fine and resolved. Yup, absolutely nothing meaningful happens to actually spoil.

The whole freaking series, which sets up for Tohru to abandon Komugi, and for Komugi and Dai to fall in love and have to overcome what that means to society/family, or for Komugi to reject Dai and go off to lead her own life without Tohru or Dai, or ANYTHING interesting...well, the series doesn't actually let any of these interesting scenarios happen. Instead, Dai confesses, Komougi turns him down, they work through being awkward in like a chapter (so quick), and then Tohru comes home. Everyone's happy. Nothing and no one is any different than when the series started. The end. Big waste of time!

There are other problems with the series. It had been hinting of PTSD for the mom related to the sound of motorcycle engines the day of her husband's death, but that trigger is only hinted at in this volume and then the mom gets over it and is fine that Komugi was a delinquent. It's totally dropped in a single panel. What? No big reveals about the dad's death? No big having the mom work through her fear and hurt, or for Komugi to have to re-earn her mother-in-law's trust?

And what about the girl who likes Dai? She's all but absent from this volume after some histrionics in the first chapter (unrealistic as they are). It isn't a very funny volume either, it isn't a revealing volume emotionally, it isn't a satisfactory conclusion (no one grows or changes), and it doesn't advance any of the more interesting storylines that could have grown from the setup.

Why did we go through four volumes of Dai pining for Komugi if nothing comes of it? I don't mean they have to get together. In fact, it would be more interesting for him to be rejected and have to work to understand why he fell for his brother's wife and was such a jerk to his brother by confessing. It would be better for him to have to work through what it means to learn to love someone else. It would be better for the jerk Tohru who abandoned his new wife to his family (whom she had never met before) to be made into a real ass who abandons her for real forcing her to strike out on her own. I want character growth, and pathos, and emotional development, and reconciliation of plot points that are left dangling here.

I'm just disappointed because it was sort of cool in the beginning - with its uniquely loose art and sloppy humor and awesome lead heroine - but it never rose anywhere close to its potential. This was just a poor (and fast) ending to a series with promise which makes me sad. This volume gets a 5/10, and at this point, having finished the whole series, I'm not sure you should bother reading it. Sorry to disappoint.

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