The Way of the Househusband is a silly, hilarious, wonderful comedy series that any anime or manga fan would benefit immensely from reading. Its main character, Tatsu “The Immortal Dragon” formerly of the Yakuza, is now happily married and functions as a prodigious househusband. Despite his intense outward behavior, everything he does is with love and passion. But through The Way of the Househusband: The Gangster’s Guide to Housekeeping, a new guidebook by Laurie Ulster and Victoria Rosenthal, you could learn a thing or two. I was fortunate enough to interview these two authors and was graciously provided a complimentary copy of the book by VIZ Media.
In our interview, I went over our mutual passions for fandoms, favorite manga and anime, and just how well The Way of the Househusband works as a guide to better home living. The Gangster’s Guide to Housekeeping was released on July 25, 2023, and was written by two talented industry veterans. Laurie Ulster, co-writer of The Gangster’s Guide to Housekeeping, writes guides like these across multiple established bylines about TV and other entertainment. Victoria Rosenthal covers fandom and gaming with cuisine as her focus.
A Book for the Fans, Both Returning and New
The Way of the Househusband is an approachable, fun way to introduce readers to manga and anime. For readers, it’s light, easy to pick up, and hilarious. It’s loaded with Japanese pop culture references, and puts a former Yakuza thug in the spotlight, rapidly deflating the tension his intense persona creates with how absurd and funny his antics truly are.
Getting Into a Guidebook Writer Mentality
Looking into how other creators have immersed fandoms into their favorite franchises, there are some pretty great examples. My mind quickly went to Brian David Gilbert and Adam Moussa making the recipes, however crudely but strictly adhering to techniques from Breath of the Wild to the amusement of viewers.
Victoria did wonderful work presenting recipes in a far more elegant light with this guidebook, while Laurie adopted the written voice and perspective of Tatsu for this work. I asked about their processes to achieve this harmony.
Victoria Rosenthal: So this one was pretty easy, I just went through the chapters and wrote any food that Tatsu made, any mention of anything. I was just like, okay, these are the list of options we currently have based on what’s currently out.
R: I reread and watched the Netflix series at the same time, to get the colors and the ingredients. The nice little extra shots and any mention of specific ingredients that were used were super helpful. That’s similar to any of my books in general. I delve into the franchise, and I go “Okay, what’s there, what stuff is used? Now how do I make these recipes that are approachable for people who might not be comfortable in the kitchen?”
R: Now I’m not gonna just give you easy recipes. There’s a range of recipes in there because I want to push my readers, so there’s always a place to start and build up. The big thing was just really getting into this series and figuring out what’s there and what information they have.
J: I love that. As an (at best) amateur cook, learning to make braciole in the kitchen was one of my favorite achievements in life, but seeing recipe books like this, I go “I get to learn how to make milk tea here, I’m down.”
R: One of the biggest things with these cookbooks and why I started my blog back in the day, was that I wanted to convince people that the kitchen is not too scary. It gets you a little more comfortable, and connecting it to a game or a manga series, why not?
Laurie Ulster: I just had a similar experience. My next project [unable to disclose] is a cookbook, where I go through the entire show and pull every mention which is so much fun. For this one [Househusband] I’d just keep reading his adventures so that I could immerse myself in who he is.
U: Then it was so much research, like looking for backups, other people who tried the same thing, occasionally trying some of those things, and making sure everything in there is accurate. There was also putting everything in his voice and tone, getting into his head on how he’d approach a task.
The Gangster’s Guide to Housekeeping Will Bamboozle You Into Good Homemaking Habits
We talked about how this shows itself in the book. Beyond cooking, Tatsu is a virtuoso housekeeper with sage advice for keeping a clean and tidy living space, but not without a disarmingly funny hook due to his former Yakuza persona, which Laurie can embody quite well. On page 32, discussing how to prepare for a storm, it suggests gathering all important documents so they’re not lost or damaged, including travel documents, real IDs, and fake IDs, all in one breath to make readers do a double-take.
Most advice is genuinely helpful but with enough of a humorous twist to remind fans of what they’re reading. It’s a fan product, but as you read, you’ll find that The Gangster’s Guide to Housekeeping will bamboozle you into good homemaking habits. The series is a comedy, but it’s loaded with valuable, insightful advice, and turning it into a guide is a natural idea. I asked each of the writers whether they foresee this for other manga or other series:
U: I am a TV junkie, and there are several excellent Star Trek cookbooks. There are lots of things you could do for that franchise including guides to jobs, career paths, and other tasks. But I love this kind of work, to pretend the fiction is real and live in it for a while, a great use of my brain space.
U: I’m a huge fan of The Mary Tyler Moore Show, and I always thought it would be fun to do Sue Ann Nivens’ household textbook. The phrasing was so funny, and it was impossible, everything she wanted people to do was completely impossible. I also don’t know if you’ve seen The Office: The Official Party Planning Guide to Planning Parties, but it’s again taking the show and turning into a guide of sorts.
U: It was enlightening to see how much of the process isn’t simply commenting and regurgitating a franchise for its insights. Fully embodying its voice as a writer makes it more entertaining and engaging in equal measures.
Testing Out the Advice and Recipes in This Process Can Be Fun and Often Delicious
I asked the team next about how this guidebook’s words can leap off the page and manifest in some pretty great ways. With Victoria having cookbooks for franchises including Final Fantasy, Pokemon, Halo, Magic: The Gathering, Fallout, and even Street Fighter under her belt, Househusband was an interesting twist. It’s decidedly one of the more grounded series in terms of creating franchise-accurate recipes and done with elegant flair. I just had to ask what recipe was first that she simply had to try for herself.
R: The one that always stands out to me is the Honey Lemon Chicken Sandwich (J: Page 92, thank me later) just because that chapter/episode is one of my favorites. My husband and I were sitting there after the episode, and he was like, “Can you make that…?” Fitting in fried chicken in the house nowadays with all these products, I could finally do it, it’s justified frying time!
J: There’s even hamburger steak (Page 95, you’re welcome) with Tatsu’s particular twist.
R: When he mentions fish I was like, “Is that gonna work?” I threw it in and it worked well!
Meanwhile, I asked Laurie what particular quirks or advice Tatsu gave while she researched the series, that she could impart to the readers in his voice.
U: There were so many different pieces of advice that made me laugh. One of my favorite things to write about was his thing about looking after dogs. I loved his advice, “before you look after the dog, you should go meet the dog and play with the dog.” It’s just such good advice, and you get to hang out (more) with dogs!
Some of the advice is simple but makes good practical sense. Bonding with a dog can be beneficial, especially if you’re going to have to dogsit and want to make sure they feel safe in your company. But unlike fuzzy animals, the guidebook talks about another domestic companion some people might have, such as the robot vacuum.
J: Early on you touched upon the whole robot vacuum scene from the anime/manga. There’s just something about Japanese fiction and Roombas, such as in the Like a Dragon series, there are literal bosses that are giant robot vacuums.
R: That series is the reason that I originally picked up this manga. A lot of the people were telling me, you should check it out if you love the Like a Dragon series! I was like, “Oh my God this [Tatsu] is like if Kiryu was free!
J: I should also ask, do you have any upcoming projects you can talk about, Victoria?
R: The only one I can officially say is coming after this one is the Sonic the Hedgehog cookbook in October. I grew up watching the TV show and was like, “I want to eat those chili dogs, can we get chili dogs?” Now I have official say on what Sonic would eat!
What Are Your Favorite Manga or Anime Series?
Victoria Rosenthal: My favorite anime is Mob Psycho 100, but Way of the Househusband is one of my favorite manga, easily, which is why I was so excited that this project came up. But I keep up with a lot: One Piece, Dragon Ball Super, I could go on forever.
Laurie Ulster: For me, this is new territory. It’s just opening the door to a world I hadn’t explored. This [Househusband] is a new one, and I had so much fun reading every volume to wrap my head around this character and use his voice.
Speaking with these writers, I saw how much fun and insight there was to be had in the guidebook medium. Here at AOTF, we take pride in testing our guides and methods for the reader’s benefit, but this is such a natural and at times tasty evolution of that principle. The Way of the Househusband: The Gangster’s Guide to Housekeeping is out now, and whether you’re a fan of the series, or just looking to pick up some healthy habits while being immensely entertained.
This interview was made possible by VIZ Media, along with a complimentary copy of The Way of the Househusband: The Gangster’s Guide to Housekeeping, available physically and digitally either online or via your local retailer.
- This article was updated on September 7th, 2023