Marriage is hard. It's even harder when one of you is an otaku and the other is not.
I Can't Understand What My Husband Is Saying is the story of Kaoru and Hajime. Kaoru is an average young woman in her late 20s, employed as a typical office worker. Hajime, on the other hand, is a anime/gaming otaku who would rather blog than work — and in fact only works long enough to build up a nest egg so that he doesn't have to for the following few months.
Yet, somehow, the two awkwardly fall in love and get married, with neither of the pair sure how their life together will work.
Over the course of the series, we are granted short snippets from their married life that help flesh out the characters. Often, the situations are comical in nature as the two's world views clash — such as Kaoru interacting with Hajime's cross-dressing, gay porn-writing brother or Hajime meeting Kaoru's likewise normal friends for the first time... while wearing a horse mask.
Other times, it focuses on the more serious problems that every couple faces. Issues like sickness and each other's bad habits often leave the two unsure how to respond. But the largest continuous theme is that neither is particularly able to visualise the next big step in their relationship — i.e., starting a family.
But while it does often set aside time for exploring personal matters in a serious light, I Can't Understand What My Husband Is Saying's focus is first and foremost on comedy. As an "otaku" and "regular person" respectively, Hajime and Kaoru come from two different worlds. Hajime is an otaku deeply involved in his anime and gaming passions. He lives most of his life online and largely communicates through references and memes even in the real world. Kaoru, like many Japanese, has no interest in anime or manga. She works, goes out drinking, and meets with her friends on the weekend — the standard Japanese business person lifestyle. Thus, when their two worlds collide, comedy is born.
While this could easily turn mean — mocking only Hajime for his nerdiness or only Kaoru for being out of the otaku loop — it does not. Rather, the humorous moments are spread between them equally.
Moreover, the jokes are all in good fun and often build on one another in such a way as to have a lighthearted resolution to the pairs' unique conflicts where both profit — like in the case where Kaoru learns that a simple cat girl pose and meow can get her husband to go shopping with her. It all makes for a cute and hilarious take on two people who love each other and are trying to understand each other despite their different ways of viewing the world.
Since Hajime is a hardcore otaku, I Can't Understand What My Husband Is Saying is laden with terms and references casual anime watchers might not understand. However, while in many anime this would be a sticking point, in I Can't Understand What My Husband Is Saying it proves to be a brilliant storytelling technique.
If you get all the references, you find yourself in the same situation as Hajime (and get an entire extra layer of humour to enjoy). If you don't, you are able to empathise with Kaoru's plight all the more. The anime is titled I Can't Understand What My Husband Is Saying, after all.
I Can't Understand What My Husband Is Saying is a cute tale of an offbeat couple learning about what it really means to share your life with another. It excellently captures the humorous moments that come from their clashing viewpoints and yet, at the same time, deals with many of the serious problems all married couples face when it comes to future and family.
Through clever writing, the anime draws you in and puts you in the position of one or the other main lead, allowing you to better empathise with them. Ultimately, whether you're married or single, otaku or not, there are few romantic anime comedies as funny, poignant, and heartwarming as I Can't Understand What My Husband Is Saying. Because in any relationship, you might not understand what your partner is saying. What matters is that you try to.
I Can't Understand What My Husband Is Saying aired on Tokyo MX in Japan. It can be viewed for free and with English subtitles on Crunchyroll. A second season will be coming out this spring.