You Probably Missed The Best Anime of the Season
Several big-name anime got new installments as part of the winter 2023 season. My Hero Academia, TRIGUN STAMPEDE, Vinland Saga, Nier Automata Ver1.1a, and even the first season of Tomo-chan is a Girl! all have formidable followings. But were any of them the best anime of the season? … Okay, maybe My Hero Academia was. But if you take out the series with a six-season head start, there’s a clear winner, in my opinion. And it’s not one of the blockbusters. It’s a little one-shot series called Buddy Daddies.
On the surface, Buddy Daddies’ premise sounds very much sounds like one of last year’s biggest hits, Spy x Family. Crunchyroll’s summary hypes the series up as such: “Two assassin partners who never let their target get away somehow end up taking in a four-year-old girl. The hot and cool buddies start a family life with this cute, innocent girl.” To be fair, Kazuki and Rei are hot and cool. Especially when Rei dons a suit and pulls his hair into that lil’ ponytail. Mmhmm.
But when I actually starting watching Buddy Daddies, it became clear that the series was much, much more than “gay Spy x Family.” It’s a series with real heart. And that heart bleeds. You will laugh, and you will cry. You will cry several times, actually.
Also—I really like saying “buddy daddies” out loud. Say it. “Buddy daddies.” Very satisfying, right? They are buddies. They are also daddies. Buddies—AND daddies?! It’s even the mid-episode stinger, accompanied by jazzy spy film-type music. “Bu-ddy! Da-ddies!” What’s not to love?!
Buddy Daddies is about two male roommates in their mid- to late-twenties, Kazuki and Rei, who end up taking care of a four-year-old girl named Miri after a botched job. The “job” in question is hitman work. The fact that they’re assassins adds anime-level stakes and secrets. But what makes Buddy Daddies so incredible is that the “hitman” aspect could be completely removed, and the show would still be powerful. You’d be left with scenes of two deeply relatable characters figuring out how to be a parent and dealing their own emotional baggage.
Hell, the series even grapples with the “couple’s” home dynamic, with Kazuki taking on too much at once while Rei struggles to embrace responsibility. No one is as perfect as Loid Forger. But almost everyone has some Kazuki and/or Rei in them.
This is the key to Buddy Daddies. It’s not a show about hitmen or some epic overarching scheme. It’s a show about two adults figuring out how they want to live their lives. The series acknowledges how they have to navigate personal histories and organizational minefields to do so. There’s an entire episode where Kazuki and Rei figure out that daycare exists and struggle through bureaucratic BS to get Miri enrolled. I don’t have a kid, but I can relate to annoying bureaucracy. You love to see it.
Buddy Daddies‘ incredible emotional vulnerability
What truly makes Buddy Daddies so relatable, though, is its emotional vulnerability. “Intergenerational trauma” is an idea that looms large over Buddy Daddies, although the word is never said. As Kazuki and Rei become attached to Miri, they each hit a point where ghosts from their past inhibit their ability to be occupied with the present. Furthermore, both men had rough childhoods, with parents who were literally or figuratively MIA. There is an active grappling with that loss, as well as the accompanying need to change and become better for Miri’s sake. This absolutely leads to tear-jerkers. (Who knew a single slip of paper could make me cry, even when I just think about it?!)
The “intergenerational trauma” angle applies to Miri’s mother, Misaki, as well. Misaki is a complicated figure. Without incurring spoilers, you are openly invited to wonder how Miri would grow up if she had stayed with her mother, without Misaki dramatically changing her situation. Both mother’s and daughter’s situation is heartbreaking.
The need and desire to change in order to give the ones you love a better life is a major theme of Buddy Daddies. Things don’t always pan out how you want them to, but the change itself is possible.
Yes, Buddy Daddies even has similar tone to its musical score to Spy x Family. But it distinguishes its own identity by being relatable, vulnerable, and packing emotional punch after emotional punch. There are several scenes which will live rent-free in my brain forever—ferris wheels, anyone? I love it even if the series does leave Kazuki and Rei’s romantic situation up to the viewer’s imagination. (My view? They’re in a committed but open relationship, where Kazuki can flirt with girls while Rei gets some much-desired me-time to stay home and play video games.)
Buddy Daddies seems to have wrapped itself up at the end of its twelve-episode run. I’d love a second season, but it seems like we won’t get it. And that’s okay. I’m elated to have found such a lovely, hearfelt gem of a series. And I want to make sure no one missed it.
(Featured image: KRM’s HOME)
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