My Home Hero: Episodes 1 to 3

Do you have a family you’re close with? What about a beloved spouse or partner? Any children? Most of us humans are blessed with loved ones. There is a deep, ingrained instinct within us to protect those loved ones. But how far would you go to for them?

My Home Hero is a spring 2023 drama/crime anime that jumps to address the above quandary right off the bat. Tetsuo is a middle-aged salaryman who loves his wife and daughter. When push comes to shove, the run-of-the-mill man becomes a killer to save his family.

Episode 1: Starting Today, I am a Killer

After he finds out his daughter is being abused by her boyfriend, Tetsuo Tosu is horrified. He also stumbles upon the information that the boyfriend, Nobuto, is involved with a yakuza organization. Just for finding out that much alone, Tetsuo gets beaten to a pulp by a yakuza member. The next day, he visits the apartment belonging to his daughter, Reika. At first, nobody is there, but Nobuto suddenly barges in. Tetsuo hides in the closet and listens to Nobuto blabbering on the phone about how he has killed two girlfriends in the past. He plans to kill Reika, too, after using her for money.

Tetsuo makes a snap decision. He knocks Nobuto down, grabs a heavy rice cooker, and bashes the young man’s head in. The ordinary salaryman and doting father is now a killer. His wife, Kasen, happens to visit the apartment that day, too. Though she’s shocked at what her husband did, she supports him because he was protecting their daughter. The middle-aged couple hides Nobuto’s corpse in the bathtub temporarily as Reika returns to the apartment. Kasen convinces her daughter to go home with her to avoid being hit anymore by her boyfriend.

With his wife and daughter safely away, only Tetsuo is left to deal with the body in the bathtub. However, other members from the yakuza are already aware that Nobuto is missing. One of the members picks the lock to the apartment and enters. To be continued.

Although the story concept is promising and the pilot episode was fairly engaging, some aspects of it felt awkward and/or poorly executed. In addition to an overall amateurish vibe, there were three main issues that I could identify. 1) The story progressed too quickly, without sufficient thematic buildup for the climax of the episode. 2) Certain elements were slightly difficult to believe, such as the over-the-top violent and stupid behavior of Nobuto. Also, look at how quickly the wife, Kasen, accepted the fact that her husband had killed someone. She stayed perfectly calm. 3) None of the characters are presented in a way that makes them seem interesting upfront.

In addition to those issues with narrative and characters, there were also some odd choices for music and visual effects, in particular during the scene where Tetsuo killed Nobuto. However, despite the problems outlined, I’m willing to keep watching this anime for a bit longer. It’s possible that it gets better as it goes on. And looking at things on the positive side, the animation and songs are not half bad. Plus, Tetsuo is voiced by Junichi Suwabe, a veteran voice-actor who I have admired for a long time. Maybe this anime will turn out pretty good. We’ll see.

Episode 2: Cutting the Cake

Tetsuo disguises as a cleaning service employee and succeeds in fooling the yakuza agent, who then leaves the apartment. Now, Tetsuo must figure out how to deal with Nobuto’s corpse. For the entire episode, he and his family are being monitored by the yakuza, making the task much more difficult. Tetsuo cooks the body down to mere meat and bones in the bathtub, thus reducing the mass of the corpse and the space it will take up. The cooked remains fit into a suitcase. The next day, at home, Tetsuo puts the body scraps in a large pot with moist dirt and a powerful chemical decomposer used for composting. Within a few days, the meat and bones will dissolve and become soil.

The yazuka spy (named Kyouichi) installed some listening devices in the Tosu home. The observant Kasen found them, but before disabling them, she and her husband made one more calculated move. They purposely talked so they would be overheard, inventing a lie that Reika had a stalker. This fictional stalker will hopefully confuse the yakuza and take their eyes of the Tosu family for a while.

Grateful that everyone in his family is alive, Testuo returns to work. However, he must have overlooked something significant, because the yakuza attacks the family. On his way home from work at night, Tetsuo was tasered unconscious by Kyouichi and some other men. Meanwhile, more members of the organization attacked and subdued Kasen in the family home. I can’t tell if they are killing are or just rendering her unconscious. To be continued.

The methods Tetsuo uses to get rid of the dead body are mostly believable; at least, these ideas would work in theory, according to what I know about decomposition. In execution, I’m not sure if things would go off without a hitch. One problem that would definitely occur would be issues with smells. Anyone could have smelled the flesh cooking in the tub that night. It would also be extremely difficult to maintain the heat level high enough for the cooking process. As for the compost chemicals, that part checks out pretty well. You’d be surprised what kind of weird and powerful chemicals are available at large home-and-garden depots.

This second episode did somewhat better than the first with portraying the emotions Tetsuo and Kasen are feeling. Tetsuo, for example, is already experiencing nightmares related to the incident. At one point, Kasen shakily asks her husband if this is his first murder. That makes it clear that she feels some level of doubt and fear. However, after Tetsuo reassures her, Kasen renews her commitment to support him, saying he is not alone in protecting their family. Tetsuo then breaks down, crying from the stress and guilt. It was good to see some believable emotionality.

Based on the first two episodes, My Home Hero seems thematically weak. I could think of quite a few ways to make the narrative more thought-provoking and intense. The characters also seriously need better development. Nevertheless, this episode kept me interested and entertained, so I’ll keep watching.

Episode 3: The Correct Path

Tetsuo and Kasen are both captured and separately interrogated. The one in charge of the interrogations is Kyouchi, who went against the orders of his boss, Kubo, to orchestrate it. The yakuza are aware that the stalker was a lie – or at least, if there was a stalker, then Reika didn’t know about it. But Tetsuo and Kasen were prepared for this possibility. They lied again and said that they hired a P.I. named Suzuki last year to investigate Reika’s stalker without her knowing.

Kyouichi and company bought the lie because Tetsuo and Kasen were so well-prepared. He also asked them if they knew where Nobuto was, but received no satisfactory answer. The men in the Tosu house release Kasen and leave early because they are aware that Kyouichi is breaking orders and not having any success. Kubo calls Kyouichi and tells him he’s off the job and in big trouble. It’s likely that Kubo will have his disobedient subordinate killed off. To avoid that, Kyouichi decides he should kill Tetsuo rather than release him. He can then pin the blame for Nobuto’s murder on Tetsuo, and offer that information to save his own skin.

Just before Kyouichi’s knife reaches him, Tetsuo blurts out the only idea he can think of to save his life. He proposes that they work together to find Nobuto and redeem Kyouichi to the yakuza. That’s where the episode leaves off.

Once again, this episode succeeded in holding my attention. It was fairly intense to see Tetsuo bound and essentially tortured (though it was only moderate torture). I’ll probably watch this series through to the end. That being said, I still have some complaints. With regards to this episode in particular, the main thing that bothered me was that Kasen should be dead. The men were keeping plastic wrap over her face. She should have suffocated and died. She also wouldn’t have been able to speak so clearly. The anime should have shown the yakuza removing the plastic at key times so she could breath. It was really unrealistic and jarring.

As for more general complaints, I don’t like the music very much in this anime. It’s too over-the-top and melodramatic. Secondly, the character development is notably weak. And thirdly, as I mentioned in the last episode, the narrative is thematically lacking. If you compare it to something more psychological and classic like Death Note, you’ll clearly see that My Home Hero is failing to weave a truly profound story. But I guess a story doesn’t always need to be masterpiece-level to be enjoyable. In this case, the suspense is sufficient to keep me satisfied.

Thank you for reading~

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