My Home Hero by Naoki Yamakawa & Masashi Asaki: The Unyielding Fortitude of a Father’s Love – Manga First Impressions

My Home Hero (マイホームヒーロー) by Naoki Yamakawa & Masashi Asaki is a seinen, psychological crime thriller manga series about a forty-something year old salaryman that also writes mystery novels during his free time. During lunch with his eighteen-year-old daughter one day he learns that she is being physically abused by her boyfriend. Unable to stand the thought of someone harming his little girl, the salaryman does the unthinkable with the intention of protecting her. Little does he realise that his actions shall place his family into far more danger than he ever thought imaginable as the boyfriend was part of the Japanese Yakuza.

My Home Hero is one of the manga serials that I was hoping to pick up in 2021 as the premise sounded quite fascinating to me. I also liked the style of the illustrations when I flipped through it a short while ago. After reading the first three to four chapters, I can safely say that I’m supremely rivetted by what is going to happen next!

When one is a parent, especially the doting sort that Tetsuo Tosu (the father) is, it can be unfathomable to picture one’s child being treated with any sort of malice or abuse. The desire to protect them and nurture them is vehement, so much so that one would be willing to commit the most heinous of actions in the pursuit of that protection. Witnessing Tetsuo confront the source of his daughter’s suffering and then following along with each chaotic and unexpected step that follows as a result of that confrontation was incredibly consuming. I could feel my own body react with tension and fury and astonishment along with him as he takes immediate action against the asshole; it was like all time had momentarily suspended itself.  

Once the adrenaline from that conflict wears off, we get to watch the psychological implications of Tetsuo’s decisions with respect to his adoration for his only child. While the ambiance is still highly tense with a thrilling sort of anxiety to the uncertainty of what shall happen to him next, it’s also very heart-breaking. There is this good family man that has lived a straight path of going to work, following the rules and laws, and building a warm family-centred life for himself and his loved ones. To see the insidious nature of conscience and paranoia corrupting his good will and wholesome personality felt so devastating.

Beyond the main storyline, some other attributes that I appreciated in My Home Hero’s initial chapters are the morbidly dark humour, the action sequences, the methodical explanation of why the characters are doing certain things, and the amazing illustrations.

There is small bit of dark humour that underlies the serious aspects of the manga. This is done by the way certain character expressions and reactions are drawn. It cuts into the thick tension somewhat making the story far more palatable. I think if things kicked off in high-intensity without this morsel of comedic break then it could feel way too heavy, disturbing, and sombre. Don’t get me wrong, those qualities are still present, but not nearly as potently as they could be, which was a positive for my personal reading experience.

Since the father is an author of mystery crime novels, the way he thinks about the next steps to take is very systematic with a cause-and-effect air to it. Because we get a glimpse into the way his brain is working to resolve the issues he’s now faced with, the major explanation of some of the more technical aspects are woven into the dialogue, monologue, and overall storyline. I loved this because it wasn’t an offering of textual walls and disjointed descriptions. It makes everything feel far more natural and also works to promote Tetsuo’s character development and depth.

I was impressed by the artwork. The artist, Masashi Asaki, utilises a lot of textures in their drawings and it makes everything pop off the pages beautifully in a somewhat three-dimensional manner. It also helps in accentuating the grislier scenes, supporting the robustness of the suspense. There’s also a lot of white spaces in the backgrounds and areas surrounding the panels making it softer on the eyes and much more accessible to absorb the little details of those panels and overall scene that’s unfolding page by page. The sound effect texts also don’t disrupt the events and assist in enhancing the actions taking place by contributing to the 3D traits I mentioned earlier. Their style really fits the type of narrative that Yamakawa has crafted. It’s really cool to see the two different creators having such a symbiotic storytelling cohesion.

Overall, My Home Hero feels super promising and I’m looking forward to foraying deeper into Tetsuo’s story as the consequences of what has been done begin to take root and effect. I’m gripping the edges of my seat because I know in my heart that things are about to get wilder and darker and more dangerous for him and his family, but I take comfort in the hope that they will conquer whatever comes their way together. While I’m not foreseeing a traditionally happy ending, I am keeping my fingers crossed it shall be bittersweet at the very least.

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