It might not be fair to judge a show by its title, but the P.A. Works original anime Buddy Daddies tests that resolve. Along with the flippant and silly name, it was difficult to not be concerned that the show was mining the popularity of series such as Spy x Family which thrived with the odd couple dynamics of two people thrust into parenthood with a quirky child. As one of those aforementioned viewers who believed it was going to be an entertaining enough riff on pre-existing properties, well, we were wrong.
Buddy Daddies isn’t just far removed from the feeling, atmosphere, and style of humor of Spy x Family, it’s its own beast entirely. With only six episodes and a seventh airing February 18, it’s become one of the most anticipated weekly watches as the trio of main characters continue to endear themselves.
What it’s all about
Kazuki Kurusu and Rei Suwa assassins that have golden retriever and black cat energy, respectfully. We meet the two after they’ve already been working together for a while, with Kazuki even taken up a semi-permanent residence at Rei’s home. While on a mission, they meet Miri, a four-year-old girl who was sent to find and meet her father on Christmas Day. Things go sideways, and fast, and the two men are soon taking Miri in to take care of her, becoming her official fathers in the process.
The series, like many shows, definitely needs at least the first two episodes to determine whether or not it will be a weekly watch or not as the first episode rushes through establishing details and character personalities with little to no grace. The premiere is fast-paced as it barrels through all the fundamentals of this narrative so that, by episode two, we’re already getting to what are more interesting stories and developments for this found family.
Continue or call it quits?
After episode two, however, which is entertaining if rough around the edges, the series goes full tilt into wildly entertaining hijinks from the characters. While the two might be deadly assassins and the show has its fair share of bloody violence, differing from Spy x Family in that regard, the heart and laughs are derivative of how the three begin to act around one another. Miri is, refreshingly, depicted as a true four-year-old would be – a little menace who is just as often likely to default to being a brat as she is an agreeable and thoughtful child. She loves her two papas, but that doesn’t negate the nature of children that age who are still curious to the point of destruction, easily distracted, and even more easily bored.
Directed by Yoshiyuki Asai, Buddy Daddies moves as a tireless clip, even when the plotlines deal with daily mundanities such as going over a class itinerary or preparing lunch for a field trip. Nothing is rushed though, despite the pace, and part of this is due to how the series is a welcome mix of heightened drama (dead and abusive parents, assassin lifestyles) and the relatively normal (registering your kid for school.) Both are treated with the same level of gravitas, armed with the keen understanding that, once you’re a parent, every moment can feel like life or death, no matter your occupation.
Written by Vio Shimokura and Yūko Kakihara, it’s worth noting how there are never any jokes made at the expense of Kazuki and Rei being two fathers, something that could’ve become an easy joke for this genre of show. Instead, while there’s nothing that suggests romance, their decision to be Miri’s guardians shows a level of respect from onlooking characters which inherently displays an empathetic gaze from the writers themselves.
Kazuki and Rei are such vibrantly drawn characters too – apart but especially together – and their opposing personalities bring vital humor to each episode as they deal with parenthood in different manners with their own separate baggage. For Kazuki it’s the abundance of worry he holds after losing his wife who was pregnant with his child due to his job, and for Rei, the growth that comes from understanding his style of parenting can be nurturing in comparison to the abuse he grew up with.
Each core character has already maneuvered through tremendous growth so far in the season, making the wait for whatever major stumbling block will slow them down all the more painful. We could easily just watch them be a happy if eccentric family unit for however many episodes.
With dynamic visuals, nuanced storytelling, and engaging characters, Buddy Daddies, silly name and all, is shaping up to be one of the anime highlights of the year. The series writers have taken what might’ve been an obvious concept in the hands of others and given it an unexpected level of depth. These characters aren’t stagnant and because of it, neither is the show, with each episode building on what they’ve learned about the struggles and triumphs of being a parent. The drama is increasingly enriched as we grow to care more and more for our three protagonists at the center.
Watch new episodes of Buddy Daddies Saturdays on Crunchyroll. Watch the trailer below.
Featured Image Courtesy of P.A. Works/Crunchyroll