Review/discussion about: I Can’t Understand What My Husband Is Saying: 2nd Thread
There are friends and there is family, both of which are important relationships to have and to maintain. But there is arguably one that is even greater, or at the minimum is incredibly unique when compared to the previous two: the connection to a lover. The wife or husband, the companion, the darling; the relationship that is made between two people who love each other, more so than anyone else, is a special bond that is extremely valuable. After all, they do not include the phrase “’till death do you part” because it sounds cool. I Can’t Understand What My Husband Is Saying: 2nd Thread hones in on this very bond, providing an anime that does not really know what it wants to do.
Danna ga Nani 2 (the Japanese, shortened name of choice) heads back to the happily married couple that is Hajime and Kaoru, giving the audience various glimpses into the everyday life the two lead.
The anime begins with a rather peculiar narrative decision by foregoing a direct continuation of the previous season. Instead, the show opts to regress, expounding on events that occurred at intermittent times throughout its prequel. This might be where the qualification of the title comes from; just as computers use threading to execute their processes simultaneously, Danna ga Nani 2 happens “concurrently” with its predecessor. Considering that Hajime works as a web designer and partakes in “nerdy” hobbies, this interpretation gains more weight.
Regardless of the cleverness of the title, the decision to not push forward plot-wise is weird. On the one hand, the show doing this kind of threading introduces a sense of missing progression, with the audience feeling as if “this has already happened.” The events themselves are new and never-before-seen, but through the overlapping of their timelines, this faux repetition is generated. Such repetition is not necessarily intentional, yet it causes the audience to potentially perceive the anime as misguided in its own ventures, that it has nothing else to say other than what it “already has.” On the other hand, this gives the anime the opportunity to reinforce the ideas it had worked with in the past, namely the difficulties faced by newlyweds. Having the events take place throughout the first season’s offerings keeps the focus on its original intentions, rather than introducing a new motif to explore, thereby giving the anime an established and stronger foundation in terms of the theme presented.
As a result, the theme remains the same as it did in the previous season – what it means to be husband and wife. The events depict this readily enough. One instance has Kaoru questioning her compatibility with Hajime. Another has her visiting his parents where she finds the togetherness giving her more happiness than she can put into words. Yet another has Hajime learning of his wife’s past by visiting her childhood city. In short, each episode serves as a way to demonstrate the relationship that is shared between the couple, be it through questioning, understanding, or comparing. At the same time, the repetition pronounces itself further; there is an “out-of-place” tale, pop-culture nods, and hilarity of the sexual variety, all of which are found in the first season. This is not technically a detriment to the anime, since this season simply wanted to echo the original, which on that basis it accomplished.
However, the repetition and the reinforcement is called into question when the second season nears its conclusion, since the final three episodes choose to move beyond the first season’s timeline. There, the scenarios more so than usual focus on introspection. This heightened drama might seem slightly uncharacteristic, but in fact the first season and indeed much of the second season had this same tone. For example, the episode involving Youta’s background took on this vibe, the one concerning Hajime’s initial “love triangle” did as well, and so did many of the conversations with Destiny Fucker. Now, the exploration of the theme remains intact; Hajime and Kaoru are shown to be having their first ever fight (admittedly, over something rather important) and the two of them question their lives and themselves, both as individuals and together. The reason, though, why the ending comes off as different is because it almost completely ditches the referential and reactionary joking it would use in unison with the more serious moments. The show tries to morph itself into something that it did not set out to be, which serves to confuse the audience. It is these last few set of moments, which ignore the direction and the comedy, that leave an unfortunate sour taste in the viewer’s mouth as the season ends.
Ultimately, the plot mirrors its predecessor while simultaneously trying to be a standalone offering, failing on the latter of these two fronts.
Danna ga Nani 2 adopts a simple style, to make it more visually soothing on the eye. The art is not extravagant or detailed, with many of the locations using soft colors and “realistic” environments. Hajime and Kaoru’s home and living room are commonly shown, but the show does take time to showcase different backgrounds to spice up the dullness they get. Parks, subway stations, bowling alleys, an outdoor bath, and restaurants are examples of the anime’s foray into diversity.
The character designs are consistent with the first season’s designs, being funny or caricature in nature. Hajime has his overly-round glasses and simple clothing, Kaoru’s mismatched blonde hair and pink shirt return, and Destiny Fucker wears his coat, hat, and shades that make him look less like someone who fights fate and more like a shady businessman. Also noteworthy are everyone’s heads, which seem too big for their bodies, but find solace among the other off-kilter designs like Rino’s extreme shortness and Tobe’s super-magenta hair color.
Actual animation is somewhere slightly below average, however, in this instance, the choppiness works in the show’s favor due to the quick pacing of the comedy and events. Scenes barely last for extended periods of time, meaning animation is barely even around when it has the chance to be, but this keeps everything moving despite nothing moving.
What is interesting about Danna ga Nani 2’s characters is how much emphasis is placed on the sides rather than the mains, Hajime and Kaoru.
Youta is not afraid to express his love for men and, more specifically, his older brother Hajime. But as is shown through the “special” episode, Youta had not always been the happy-go-lucky, boys-love drawing “mangaka” he is today. The disparity between his former and current self is striking, based on both his appearance and, more importantly, the way in which he carried himself. He was portrayed as brooding, wanting to be accepted but unable to accept others. It becomes quite evident how true this is when a group of bullies attack his gender and when Youta does not see the value of understanding the passions that Hajime had. It is not until these two worlds collide that he determines that being a “winner” means having a heart, both towards others and one’s self.
Rino and Nozomu also have the spotlight aimed at them, in the same manner as Youta, through the use of flashback. Rino is normally characterized as a child based on her stature alone but her past reveals that she has earned her status in more ways than one. She was shown whining, needing, and losing her temper quickly, making her a very difficult person to tolerate. In contrast, Nozomu is almost too mature for his own good. He often acts completely nonchalant; it is not that he does not care for the people around him but that he does not seem to care enough. The contrast between the two is what brought them together in the first place, but also represents the adage “opposites attract” wonderfully. While strictly for each other, Rino learns to act a bit more seriously, whereas Nozomu learns to appreciate others, establishing the loving relationship they now share to this day.
Danna ga Nani 2 also introduces a sampling of new characters, although their purposes are often singular and indirect, meaning they are not given the same “respect” as side characters like Tanaka or Destiny Fucker. For example, Denji, Hajime’s father, is astonished to find that Kaoru was not a fake wife of his son’s. Yuzu is another; she is Youta’s mentor, but her inclusion was there to highlight Kaoru’s shift in mindset from her earlier days of not getting married. There is also Tobe, Kaoru’s coworker, who is there to provide the premises of cheating in relationships and valuing one’s self-worth. While one-offs, it is a boon that Denji, Yuzu, Tobe, and the other newcomers are used exclusively for setting up scenarios for the main and side characters to interact in because the anime constructed itself to be a copycat of the first season. Furthermore, each of the newer characters are at the same, minimal level focus-wise; one person does not receive more screen-time than another, and considering that the more important characters get and deserve more attention, this is simply wise to do.
Denji and the new cast members all coincidentally deal with Kaoru for a reason: they, by proxy, develop her (and Hajime). As has been mentioned, the prominent husband and wife question themselves and their partner, wondering if the life they have now is right for them. Hajime at one point determines that doubting his elation makes it easier to handle, after listening to Destiny Fucker’s wisdom; Kaoru similarly ponders if their relationship should change with a baby on the way, after conversing with Tanaka. But calling what Hajime and Kaoru go through “development” may be too generous, since they do not necessarily change as people. Instead, it is more reconfirmation. Indeed, marriage is the act of accepting one’s partner fully, “for better for worse,” to love him or her for who they are and not what they can become. It is this conclusion that Hajime and Kaoru almost always come to; Hajime might worry about being a good husband or Kaoru might be concerned with Hajime’s feelings, but the two, whether they know it or not, love each other for being nobody else but themselves.
The ending theme is quite short, but that is due to the reduced length of the episodes and series overall. The happy couple sings the duet, and combined with the slow and romantic arrangement, creates a piece that finds comfortability between these two love birds.
The rest of the soundtrack is filled with lame background pieces which fit the occasion but do not stand out on their own. None are particularly memorable besides the acoustic guitar accompanied by a dainty flute which captures the simple life Hajime and Kaoru share. However, it is worth it to note the various sound effects the show likes to use. They are often of the whirly, wiggly, and wonky kind, but aid the comedy by being silly in their usage.
Voice acting for the anime is somewhere around average. Special shout-outs are deserved for Sayaka Horino as Youta for her androgynous voice and Rie Kugimiya as Rino for her childish tone when speaking.
One reason why this series is entertaining is due to the actual age and demographic. Hajime and Kaoru being adults, married, and partaking in mature ventures gives the show a certain sense of uniqueness when compared to the majority of other anime. It can also be funny when it wants to, like with Youta’s infatuation with Destiny Fucker (which, looking at his name on its own, is hilarious; this is also why I tried to include it wherever I could in my review), Hajime’s fetishes, and Rino’s entire episode dedicated to her. The show was not comedic the whole way through, and the dramatic moments were not too endearing. However, the length of the whole season – just about forty minutes – it makes it easy to sit down and watch in a single session, making these faults not overly bothersome.
I Can’t Understand What My Husband Is Saying: 2nd Thread attempts to “continue” the story started by the original, but unfortunately meets some bumps in the road. It never knows what it wants to be, the music is lacking, and the spouts of boredom throughout are apparent. Hopefully the next iteration understands where it went wrong because the series definitely has the potential to be something more.
Story: Fine, nearly identical to the prequel in terms of comedy and themes, but when it tries to venture out on its own it falls flat
Animation: Fine, simple art style, appropriate character designs, below average actual animation that works in its favor
Characters: Good, Youta and the other side characters are interesting, the newcomers like Denji and Tobe serve their purpose, and Hajime and Kaoru are a nice example of a married couple
Sound: Fine, okay ED, bad soundtrack, silly sound effects, average VA work
Enjoyment: Fine, Youta, Hajime, and Rino were funny at times, and while not much else was, the shortness of the season alleviates this problem slightly
Final Score: 5/10
Thanks for taking the time to read my review. If you want, take part in the discussion below! :3