Hello, hello, and welcome to Otaku Thursday! It has been…a hot minute. I’m sure you’ve read Star’s catch-up post so you know that between illness, broken computers, impromptu trips, and birthday celebrations–we haven’t had a ton of time to do posts (or even watch anime). But here I am, trying to get us back on track with some anime reviews! Now, you might’ve noticed that last season I didn’t do any first impressions–partly because so much of it was so/so but mostly because I wanted to save a lot of the anime to do a FULL series review. Which is very rare for me as I tend to dwell in first impressions. So for this, I figured we should start with OUR favorite anime of last season: Buddy Daddies.
Buddy Daddies is a show that could’ve very easily been a flop. It could’ve been generic. It could’ve relied too heavily on action or comedy. It could’ve seemed like a BL carbon copy of Spy x Family. Instead of any of that, Buddy Daddies delivered us a great story about found family, trauma, and–assassins. How does it achieve all three of these things? Surprisingly seamlessly. The story begins with two assassins: Kazuki and Rei. Kazuki is the brains of their assassin operations. He’s an extrovert, pretty smart, good at cleaning, and otherwise acts as a bit of a mother hen towards his partner Rei. Rei is meanwhile…an introvert. He honestly is a hikikomori and is only really good at his job of being the real powerhouse assassin. They make an interesting pair alright and more importantly, they help each other ignore their traumatic pasts as they carry out mission after mission. Everything is thrown for a loop between them when a mission goes wrong and they end up essentially adopting a little girl named Miri who was on her own mission to find her mystery father–a mystery father she believes is Kazuki. Miri brings with her a host of new problems and surprising delights to them. They not only have to pretend even harder to be normal law-abiding citizens but also perfect parents for Miri to attend school with no questions ask. Both Rei and Kazuki learn a lot both from and for Miri on their journey to fatherhood, and together the three create a found family that helps them each settle their past trauma regarding family.
So, I’m going to start off by saying that, as this is a full series review, there are going to be hecka spoilers. So if you haven’t seen Buddy Daddies plan to, and don’t want to be spoiled–look away. Because the next theme we’re going to roll right into — yup. The aforementioned trauma. Let’s tackle Kazuki’s first. So when Kazuki first decides he wants to truly be Miri’s guardian, his feelings are almost immediate compared to Rei is who is certainly hesitant. At first, you could really just brush off Kazuki’s want as him feeling guilty for killing Miri’s real father or for not wanting to leave the little girl with her godawful mother who sent Miri into a dangerous world alone to begin with. Kazuki is shown to be a bit of a mother hen even prior to adopting Miri. He is constantly cooking and cleaning up for Rei–mothering him as much as a ‘coworker’ could. It’s soon revealed in the show though that Kazuki isn’t just doing this out of the goodness of his heart or a dumb desire–no, it turns out that Kazuki had once had a family too. He was married once and his wife was pregnant with their daughter. Was pregnant. The important word being was. Kazuki’s wife and unborn child were both killed due to Kazuki’s line of work. Ever since they’d passed, Kazuki believed their deaths were his fault. This weight followed him everywhere and he never forgave himself for it, nor did he allow himself to move on and love again. Instead, he decided he was better off staying away from the family life and people he truly cared about. Having Miri in his life made Kazuki reevaluate his feelings, and more importantly–a visit from his sister-in-law forces him to confront his past trauma. He feels guilty trying to find another happiness–another family when he was the reason his wife and daughter died in the first place. He doesn’t feel he deserves a family, but he believes Miri deserves one–which means he understands he needs to step up. Because even if he feel he doesn’t deserve it, he wants it all the same. I think Miri shows him that it’s okay for him have a family again–to build a new family even though he will always miss his wife and child. Basically, he didn’t have to be alone.
Rei–well, Rei is a little more complicated. At first, Rei is against taking Miri in because he knows the line of work they are in and knows that taking care of a child will be a hassle, but he also warms up relatively quickly to her presence in their life. With Miri around, Rei gains one thing he never had: a childhood. He and Miri play games, getting along in very friendly manner while Kazuki seems to run around trying to mother them both. But the relationship between Rei and Miri evolves from not just helping Rei regain a sense of childhood he never had, but also teaching him how to take care of other people. Which is incredibly impressive considering he never even really knew how to take care of himself. Since his childhood was stolen from him by being born into a mafia family, Rei was pretty much taught how to kill and that alone. He certainly had some love from his mother, but even she was killed by said mafia–and seeing the only person who he loved and who loved him, dead–murdered–pretty much left Rei traumatized. From the beginning, he knew not to get close to anyone as it’d get in the way of assassinations. He lived to be his father’s killing tool. The childhood abuse he went through shaped him into the shell of the person he was at the beginning of Buddy Daddies, but Miri’s unconditional love–her innocence and caring nature helped him not just want to do better for her, but do better for himself. Between Miri and Kazuki, Rei learned what it was like to have an actual family–to have people who cared about him and who he really cared for. By far, Rei’s growth in Buddy Daddies was the largest. For me, the real turning point for Rei was the episode where Miri got sick when Kazuki was away, and Rei had to not only care for Miri–who he had no idea how to take care of at the time–but he also finally realized all the things Kazuki had been doing for not just Miri but also him before the little girl showed up in his life. For Rei, his healing came from not just parenting in a way he was denied of–but also confronting the source of his turmoil–his father. Miri once told Rei that a papa would always come to her aid and rescue her, and Rei never had that from his own father. But he was determined to be that for Miri, even if it meant literally facing the manifestation of his trauma by telling his dad he was leaving the mafia and then actually doing it as a means to protect Miri and Kazuki. 10/10 character growth by this man here.
Aside from the way Rei and Kazuki were handled as characters–and how their trauma helped carry the story to a satisfying and heartwarming conclusion for all, there was one other thing I really appreciated about this show. And that is that it did not fall into the would’ve been too easy, romance storyline. What I mean by that is that it wasn’t a BL and Kazuki and Rei didn’t end up as a couple nor even start as one. Now, don’t get me wrong. I would’ve LOVED a romantic relationship between them if that was where the story’s trajectory was going. But in my opinion, that wasn’t it at all. Buddy Daddies anchored itself heavily into a family theme–leaving out all romance actually. I greatly appreciated this, even being the BL fan that I am. Mainly, I enjoyed this because I liked the positive light of found family being just that–family. Of two best friends parenting together without falling in love, but loving each other in a different light the whole time. It was weirdly nice to see. Especially because again, I figured it would be a lot of bait for us BL fans, but they never baited us–not really. There were jokes about how Miri had two papas, but the shows honestly did a great job of establishing the relationship between Kazuki and Rei as friendly/familial and keeping it moving forward only in those aspects. Props to it for not baiting us. HUGE PROPS actually. I also think had Rei and Kazuki been a couple, this would be a dramatically different story. Which I’m sure would’ve been amazing too, but I liked it all the same as it is.
When it comes to other aspects of the show beyond characters and stories–things such as art, music, editing, and voice acting–Buddy Daddies remains strong in all of them. While the OST wasn’t super memorable, the opening and ending of the show were both really good and extremely well done in my opinion. They fit the theme of the show to a T. As for art, it’s pretty solid in its style. There are some moments where things are animated strangely (in my opinion) but for the most part its seamless, and I really like the action sequences in the show. In terms of editing and framing of scenes, I think its brilliant. It very much feels like an experience–knowing when to make scenes more dramatic with the framing and how to setup shots to for more lighthearted moments. Buddy Daddies is all a precarious balancing act between cute comedy and heavy drama, and it blends its artistic elements together to create that feeling. –Or at least in my opinion it is.
Overall, and if you couldn’t tell, I’m a big fan of Buddy Daddies. Star shares my sentiments too, as we declared it our top anime of the season. It was honestly a really thorough story. Sure there weren’t a ton of twists, but it didn’t need them. It played its cards right to deliver one of the most action-packed and heartwarming stories we’ve seen in a while. The scene at the end of their family in the future absolutely wrecked us and had us sobbing in emotion. Literally not at all what we expected from this show, but super SUPER welcome. 1000/10 would recommend.