Being an otaku is no walk in the park, especially when talking with neighbours, friends and family, or even just normal society. To people unaware of the fandom, you can come across as weird on a good day. So what’s the best to be expected when an otaku and a non-otaku have a long-term relationship? This is the main topic addressed in I Can’t Understand What my Husband is Saying, and with hilarious consequences.
Based on the four-panel manga by Coll-kyo Shinja, the story focuses on Kaoru Tsunashi, a hard-working woman who sits in an office all day, and her hardcore otaku husband Hajime, who spends all his time on the internet and watching anime. Every episode we see their attempts to communicate with one another and reach a level of mutual understanding.
Kaoru is a very down-to-earth normal person who simply cannot fathom why her husband is so wrapped up in world of anime characters, fandom and cosplay. Hajime is almost a shut-in, a NEET who struggles to make money in the real world due to his all-consuming hobbies.
The references to anime, manga and general otaku culture come thick and fast here, completely immersing you in the otaku lifestyle whilst contrasting it against the realities of the working world. And the characters are typical tropes themselves. Hajime is a stereotypical deadpan-serious otaku and Kaoru works all hours, smoking and drinking too much to cope with the stress.
The anime is based on situational comedy, in which we see humorous snapshots of the couple’s life together. When they go to the cinema together, and Kaoru asks Hajime if he enjoyed it, he responds with over-the-top rhetoric akin to overlong anime reviews (the kind that take their anime so seriously that they suck all the fun out of actually watching it).
There’s also a cast of characters that put the couple’s life into context, such as Kaoru’s father – a professional chef who disapproves of his daughter’s marriage to an otaku – who is also a nod to the currently popular cooking and food anime genre. Hajime’s younger brother is not only an otaku as well, but he’s a cross-dressing BL (boys love) manga-ka, to top it all off.
Every episode highlights just how little Kaoru and Hajime have in common, and it makes you wonder why they are still together. However, you see occasional short scenes which depict just how in love they are with one another, and their everyday awkwardness adds charm to their relationship. In the midst of all the crazy antics, these tender moments show both husband and wife’s vulnerability and how they never fail to lovingly support one another. It’s almost a comical exaggeration of everyday life scenes, but it’s surprisingly sweet and you can’t help but root for them as you follow their life together.
Not every gag and punchline hits the mark, however, as it’s difficult for those living outside of Japan to understand every reference and comment, but the constant is how convincing the main relationship is and how well the characters are shown to connect in such a small space of time
This anime is short and sharp with almost frantic pacing due to its foundations as a 4-panel manga. Each episode is about three and a half minutes long and manages to fit an awful lot of fun in considering the short duration. It’s a great little show and would appeal to a wide audience – for both fanatical anime fans as well as those who have ever watched them and thought: What is so fascinating?! (like my boyfriend, for example).
I Can’t Understand What my Husband is Saying is truly amusing to watch. It not only highlights elements of hardcore fan culture as well as mundane, everyday life but doesn’t take itself too seriously. It points out social quirks and reactions that everyone has. As good pieces of comedy always do, it also highlights the power of love within human nature and how it can overcome any amount of personality differences.