My Home Hero by Naoki Yamakawa & Masashi Asaki is a seinen, psychological crime thriller Japanese manga about a forty-ish year old salaryman that also writes mystery novels in his free time. One day while he’s having lunch with his eighteen-year-old daughter, 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 have very dangerous and sinister consequences as the boyfriend was a member of the Japanese Yakuza (the Japanese mob).
I picked this up at the beginning of the year because the premise just sounded really fucking exciting and thrilling. I hadn’t come across anything quite like it within the medium before, and to make things even better, the artwork looked so spectacular. I’m really happy that I picked this series up because even though it has a few flaws to it, it introduced me to a whole new narrative type that I hadn’t realised I’d been yearning for.
There are quite a few things that I loved about My Home Hero. The psychological implications and impact of extreme do-or-die decisions and the consequences of those decisions, which is one of the core themes of the whole series. This includes the methodical thought-process that go into why specific characters make the choices that they do. Then there’s the dark and morbid humour that borders on the fucked-up (my kind of humour). The action scenes are bitchin’ fun and wonderfully drawn, and of course, the phenomenal artwork in general.
Learning that one’s child is being exposed to terrible domestic violence, especially if they’re the only kid in the family, can kick the protective instincts of parents into supreme overdrive no matter what age they are, especially when it comes to fathers and their daughters. That impulse to protect is as natural as much as it is raw, savage, and animalistic. It can push people to the very edge of reason, forcing them to commit acts that they may otherwise never even consider within their capabilities. Seeing the ripple effects of this theme from the very first chapter until much, much later is wickedly riveting. Plus, it’s so flowing and awesomely non-stop that it’s stirs up a strange addicting sort of anxiety attack in the reader. Watching the atrocious results play out made me so fucking uncomfortable yet it also is what kept my eyes and attention stuck to the pages.
Because the manga contains some extremely heavy subjects such as domestic and sexual abuse, death, torture, and much more, it’s not for squeamish readers at all, and definitely not for folx that don’t care for twisted, macabre humour. While it’s not as disconcerting and severe as the 1970s Texas Chainsaw Massacre type dark humour, it still has its moments of inducing, “Wow, that joke was definitely just made,” type reactions. While I decidedly enjoy that kind of fucked-up mirth, I acknowledge that it’s not for everyone. The humour does, however, help to alleviate the more intense aspects of the plot and it also helps to highlight quite a bit of the character flaws that contribute to the decision-making behaviours of most of the cast.
The psychological elements, the kick-ass action, the dynamics of the family environment and relationships, and even the comedic traits truly come to life with the artwork done via Masashi Asaki. They utilise 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. The 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 in an the 3D manner I mentioned earlier, making the details pop off the pages. It really complements the storytelling excellently.
Even with all of the good stuff, there were a few things that I found frustrating as well. The first and most dominating aspect of my dislike is the daughter. She is a complete and total brat who’s not only supremely entitled but also kind of a ditsy idiot. It was nigh impossible for me to form any kind of emotional connection to her that didn’t stem from a foundation of frustration, and because of her, it made the story feel like it dragged on much longer than it needed to (at least she was one of the big contributors to that feeling), which brings me to the next thing I didn’t care for.
After a while, the plot twists start to become a mild hindrance; something that is overdone for the sake of shock value rather than narrative merit. This becomes stronger and stronger as things become more and more convoluted, which is pretty disappointing considering how fabulously it started. There’s also a constant shift to the duplicity that occurs throughout and this further adds to the unneeded density.
Even with those unfortunate facets, I’d still RECOMMEND My Home Hero to manga readers that like psychological crime thrillers with unique twists to them, particularly ones that really concentrate on the characters and the mind-processes that lead them to behave in certain ways or to make the choices that they do. It embraces the psychological bits superbly and makes My Home Hero amazingly intriguing.
Genre: Psychological Crime Thriller
Total Volumes: 14
Content Warnings: Graphic violence, blood, gore, death. Domestic violence. Strong language. Nudity and sexual content. Attempted sexual assault. Kidnapping and imprisonment. Misogyny and sexism. Alcohol drinking. Drug Use. Smoking.
AniList: My Home Hero