Hajime Tsunashi is an otaku shut-in that runs a blog, attends anime conventions with his cross-dressing younger brother, and is a surprisingly good cook. Kaoru Tsunashi is a hard-working, smoking, socially-drinking office lady with an overprotective father. Despite coming from two completely different worlds, these two couldn't be more in love with one another… even if she has trouble understanding the vast and complicated world of anime and manga that her husband is deeply entrenched within.
Danna ga Nani wo Itteiru ka Wakaranai Ken is a slice of life anime that explores the life and times of a newly married couple, filled with heartwarming scenes that showcase how the two of them grow as people through their relationships and their friends.
It can be quite easy to let your prejudices get the better of you. Opening your arms to something new, only to encounter the same things time and time again. Your expectations become lower and lower, until they become so low they no longer justify the effort of trying anything new in the first place. The reliance on the same old ideas and lack of creativity becomes so frustrating that even reading descriptions of new things annoys you. You have become a cynic.
If there were ever an anime to be cynical about, Danna ga Nani wo Itteiru ka Wakaranai Ken would be it. The series is about an office lady married to an otaku, and explores the conflict between these lifestyles in a light hearted and humorous way. There are quite literally no stories about otaku which do not deal with this conflict; it is the only thing which distinguishes them as a group from the rest of society. In practice it amounts to little more than perpetuating stereotypes now so sharply defined that any variation from them would subtract from their authenticity. There is nothing more that can be done in Otaku parody, and nothing about it that has been left unsaid. If that were not reason enough to be cynical about Denna, this isn't even the largest obstacle that it faces. Denna is not a full length tv series, or even an OVA: it is a series of thirteen five minute shorts. The limitations this creates are rather more intrinsic than the subject matter; producing something genuinely worthwhile in this format is an exceptionally difficult task, as is evident from previous examples. Most abandon all hope of telling any overarching story, and focus instead either on single scenes or random batches of gags. Productions in this format never amount to anything more than a minor distraction.
Who'd have thought that being proven wrong could ever feel this gratifying?
Denna ga Nani wo Itteiru ka Wakaranai Ken achieves more in its short running time than many full length series do across their entire run. It begins with an introduction to our leading characters, office lady Kaoru and her otaku husband Hajime. We expect that much will be made of their imagined lack of compatibility, and while not entirely wrong about this, there is evidence that there is more between them than meets the eye. That they are not paired for the sake of comic effect but there is a real connection between them.
The next episode introduces Tadashi, Hijeme's ambiguously gendered sibling. He has an incestuous attraction to his brother which brings the series a significant step closer to the dreaded otaku parody genre. His character appears again throughout the show, primarily as (unwanted) comic relief but also as a source of character development, providing an important link to Hajime's past and an overseer of their entire relationship.
As the series progresses, more and more time is focused on developing the relationship between Hijeme and Kaoru, which is interesting for a number of reasons. Romance stories about established couples are somewhat uncommon, as are those concerned with people in their late twenties and early thirties. Melodrama is sidestepped and instead we can examine the less often discussed process of two formerly independent people living together and eventually becoming a family, where far more is at stake and so much more can go wrong.
This isn't the only sign of a more mature romantic outlook in Denna. It would be incredibly temping for an anime like this, featuring a relationship between an 'otaku' and an ordinary person, to depict it as one sided. There is no shortage of anime which depict relationships as 'long suffering woman takes pity on unappealing male' or Hijeme as 'Almost unbearable man with a heart of gold'. While perhaps these scenarios provide some potential for comedy, they are completely removed from reality. Few people would consider marrying someone unless they believed they were in love with them. Denna recognises this and takes the time not only to explain what Kaoru sees in Hijeme, but the equally important question of what he sees in her. Because Kaoru has faults too. She smokes a lot. She drinks too much. She experiences loneliness. This focus on the emotional bond between Kaoru and Hijeme continues as the series edges toward its conclusion.
Then something completely absurd happens. Something so unbelievable, I find myself struggling to even write it down. What happens at that point is basically this: a thirteen episode series of three minute long anime shorts taking a humorous and light-hearted take on the relationship between a hardworking office lady married to an otaku, caused a fully grown man to start trying to fight back the tears in his eyes.
Though Denna's brilliance was not something I would ever have expected, fortunately it is something which can be explained rather easily: it treats its characters like people, and its audience like adults. The more these principles are followed, the more we shall get to enjoy those blissful moments. The human ones.read more
The plot of "I can't understand what my husband is saying" is about Kauro, an office lady, and her husband Hajime, an otaku who makes money as a blogger, and their lives as a married couple. The show has decent humor in it making it very enjoyable. Not only that, it's kind of interesting how the show tells their lives as a couple in only about three to four minutes.
If want to watch a quick and very enjoyable anime. I recommend "I can't understand what my husband is saying".
To establish a believable story is a difficult feat and yet this show manages to pull it off rather effortlessly. With a mere 3 minutes per episode, Danna ga Nani wo Itteiru ka Wakaranai Ken manages to accomplish what most other slice of life shows do not.
While the premise, at first, seems tired and tedious the palpable chemistry between the contrasting protagonists leads to one of the most sincere representations of modern married life in anime. Their interaction feels real and wholesome, without being forced and unnatural. The characters have a sense of development, which helps give purpose to their lives, resulting in a surprisingly immersive experience.
Now while the majority of the show can be thought of as an episodic endeavor, there are several over-arching narrative themes that are portrayed rather well, with an extremely gratifying conclusion. The show manages to remain comedic, without having to resort too much on tacky slapstick humor.
There are several elements of drama which are presented, without hindering the overall tone, that keep the show interesting. Otaku culture is also a prominent theme and as such there are several references to other real-world shows, which further enhance the experience.
The art-style and soundtrack are about average at best, however, considering the scope of the show it seems appropriate.
The show’s simplistic premise and execution make it extremely enjoyable, and while the comedy might not suit everyone’s tastes, it’s definitely one of the better shows the slice of life genre has to offer.read more
It's funny how compartmentalized life really is. When you get right down to it, it's a bunch of connected events that have a certain amount of significance. Being born, losing that first tooth, passing that big test, graduating college; there are endless but meaningful happenings that occur that shape the course of the life we take. A rather large one is the decision to bind oneself to another person "until death do they part." Otherwise known as marriage, it is a day usually considered the biggest when it comes to a relationship. For I Can't Understand What My Husband Is Saying, marriage is only the beginning.
ICU (need to shorten it at this point!) begins with Hajime and Kaoru's wedding day. After a short honeymoon, the show follows their life on a day-to-day basis.
This one isn't your typical anime; running at about three to four minutes per episode, it's incredibly short. One can sit down for less than an hour and finish the entire season. Sounds trivial, but that's part of its appeal. Not worrying about incredible world-building or intense drama, ICU opts for a healthy dose of comedy and heartfelt moments. And due to the length of the show, it works very well. It adopts referential humor, word-play, and dialogue jokes in very quick succession. The fast-paced comedy is owed to the time-constraint that the anime imposes on itself. It's executed nicely, causing a high amount of potential laughs from start to finish.
What's strange about ICU is its ability to inject rather touching scenes throughout the season. The comedy is done well, and so are the more "real" sections. The show looks at differing aspects of what married life is like: finding a new job to support each other, caring for your loved one when she's sick, and reminiscing about that first date. They're simple "Aww!" moments, but they give Hajime's and Kaoru's relationship more significance than just "otaku" and "hot chick." They're able to joke with one another because of the relationship they share. Simultaneously, they can demonstrate their love with the more sincere and simple actions that they take.
Alluding back to my little preview, life is a series of events. Marriage is a big one, but it's not the last. There are other, rather obvious, developments that take place later on down the road, and ICU explores these as well. Having sex, changing habits, and thinking about having children are acts that take place because of what occurred before. Marriage does this; a person is no longer living for one's self anymore, but is instead living for each other. As a couple who completely "get" one another, they are able to progress through these new events not as individuals, but as one cohesive unit.
ICU literally doesn't have much time to show off. The art style has this weird "clouding" effect on the edges of the scenes, making it appear is if what one is looking at isn't an anime so much as it is a thought taking place in the mind. The show incorporates an okay amount of differing locations, from the married couple's apartment to cities and restaurants. Nothing is too detailed, giving the anime a rather plain look. This doesn't necessarily hurt it, though; in fact, it adds to the already mellow and calm feeling that permeates the show.
The character designs are simple as well. Hajime's frazzled hair, foggy glasses, cat-mouth, and green t-shirt paint him as the every-man. Kaoru's pink sweater, blonde hair, and large bust make her out to be quite the attractive wife. The rest of the cast are given small details as well, such as Destiny Fucker's shades or Youta's ponytail.
The actual animation follows the same routine. With low animation quality, it uses this to its advantage by making the characters move in funny or non-fluid ways, adding to the comedy overall. The quickness of the show itself also allows such minimal animation to work, relying more on viewing or hearing the joke for that particular scene, as opposed to watching it play out.
ICU understandably focuses on Hajime and Kaoru exclusively.
As the husband, Hajime is always looking out for Kaoru. An anime-watching, 2D-loving, manga-reading "otaku," his description makes one wonder just how he managed to land a girl like Kaoru. But it's evident as to why: he's caring, thoughtful, loving, and willing to be the man that she needs. He loves kids and prefers to enjoy life with his wife rather than with anyone else. Having almost zero friends, outside of his darling and his younger brother, his tendency for anime-related products makes him a bit of an odd-ball. He does what he can to support Kaoru, making it clear just how great of a guy he really is.
As the wife, Kaoru is always listening to Hajime. Lacking confidence, bad at cooking, and a smoker, she also doesn't seem to be the kind of person who could be fallen for. But as the saying goes, "opposites attract." By marrying Hajime, Kaoru receives a boost in her self-esteem, she betters herself by wanting to cook more, and drops her bad habit in order to keep her healthy and Hajime happy. Apologetic at times but a sexual deviant when drunk, she's a sweet woman who is eternally grateful to have the love of her life next to her. Despite the show's fast-paced feel, the audience gets to witness her ascent from a lonely, brooding, in-denial mess into the happy, content, and understanding wife that she is today.
The rest of the cast are technically forgettable, but on purpose. Youta is the "trap" brother used for sexual jokes, Destiny Fucker has a ridiculous name, Rino's shortness is teased, and Hajime's mother and Kaoru's father are overbearing. There are a few more, but they all follow the same trend: a simple quirk that is joked about once or twice. Not utilizing the side characters extensively actually aids the ensuing hilarity, because they never feel overused or old. They show up, make their joke, and leave.
Earlier, the word "understanding" was used in conjunction with Kaoru's development. It's an important word; after all, it's literally in the title. And it's an interesting one at that, too. "I can't understand what my husband is saying" isn't really a famous phrase so much as it is a statement about liking a hobby. Anime, sports, and cars may be examples where the wife utters this. But isn't that bad? The wife not being able to understand what her husband is saying, what her husband enjoys, seems rather rude. And to an extent, it is. But the purpose here isn't that Kaoru can't communicate with him, it's about her trying to. She may think he is speaking gibberish, but she listens, interprets, and reacts to what he says rather than flat out ignoring him. It works the other way as well; Hajime's caring and support for his wife shines through despite him naming off Evangelion character names. For both, the adage "actions speak louder than words" rings true.
There actually isn't an OP for ICU. This is the right choice; an OP would make the episodes too short to even consider it a product worth watching.
The ED is really not that good. It's somewhat cute, with Hajime and Kaoru singing alongside one another and in unison. The beat, unfortunately, is generic and the instruments are loud, making it rather unpleasant to hear.
The soundtrack contains hard guitar segments for the scarier moments, fun little beats for the comedic ones, and chime-filled, violin pieces for those touching scenes. A fine soundtrack for what it is, but nothing worth listening to outside of the show itself.
Voice-acting sees average to above-average performances across the board. Special shout-out to Kenichi Suzumura as Hajime.
This one is actually quite appealing to the adult crowd (myself included). Marriage talks, sex, kids, work, familial issues; it contains an assortment of dilemmas that the older crowd generally have to deal with that the vast majority of anime watchers do not. It's always an interesting gamble when a show decides to forego flashy effects and super sexualized females in favor of having the couple visit the wife's father for cooking lessons. Luckily, in this case, the risk pays off.
I'll admit that I didn't understand every single reference that the show threw out at me, but for the ones that I got, it was quite funny. This, in tandem with the word-play and other gags, usually had me laughing a bit for each episode. Youta's incessant incest, Kaoru's drunken "jackhammer," and Hajime forced to go with "hand over hole" were good comedic moments. Each of these is small and quick, making the experience never a dull one.
As a final note, my favorite episode was number eleven. With the different art style, character exploration, and ultimate message given, it not only sticks out from among the comedy that the show offers, but also is incredibly heartfelt to see.
I Can't Understand What My Husband Is Saying is the start of a family. It's swift, it's cute, and it warms the soul. There really is no reason to not give Hajime and Kaoru just a few minutes of your time.
Story: Good, comedic, touching, mature
Animation: Good, art and animation are simple but work
Characters: Good, Hajime and Kaoru make a cute couple, side cast utilized appropriately
Sound: Fine, no OP, bad ED, okay soundtrack, average VA work
Enjoyment: Good, adult-oriented, quirky, and sometimes profound
When you don't have the time or energy to indulge in a long and complex anime, but still want to watch something, there are a number of fantastic short anime options to choose from. Here are 20 of the best, as chosen by Japanese netizens!