When PA Works first announced Buddy Daddies, the Internet—or at least, my corner of it—exploded with jokes about how it’s essentially Spy x Family, but with a gay couple. Going into it, that was also what I expected. I mean, it’s a story about two assassins who have to raise a kid. But in reality, Buddy Daddies is its own messy and somewhat confusing beast.
Editor’s Note: There will be Buddy Daddies spoilers below.
Buddy Daddies tells the tale of Rei and Kazuki. They are partners in their assassin jobs and roommates as well. In the first episode, they come across a little girl named Miri who is looking for her father. The problem is that her cute little journey just happens to take her to Rei and Kazuki’s workplace. Then it turns out that their target just so happens to be Miri’s dad. Oops! Now they’ve gone and killed her father. Great! Thus begins this unorthodox family’s life together.
For how much the show advertised the whole “assassins taking care of a kid” thing, it really doesn’t focus on that. This is because Kazuki and Rei are essentially unemployed for over half the episodes. We literally only see them work together like two or three times in the entire show. The ramifications of this do come up near the end. So it never forgets this premise.
But the fact that it takes seven out of around twelve episodes for that to happen exemplifies the bad pacing. It wastes way too much time and doesn’t leave enough to focus on its plot or characters. This is reflected in Kazuki’s backstory as well. He only gets a single episode to himself. This is unfortunate because his arc starts and ends so fast that it’s hard to really sympathize with his angst over his dead wife.
Miri is another issue with the show. She ticks off every single “annoying little kid” box you can think of. She starts becoming more tolerable later, but they really botched her introduction. She’s mischievous, disobedient, and completely unapologetic. Naru from Barakamon was similar, actually. But Naru was legitimately funny and in a low-stakes show. Watching Buddy Daddies episode 2 actively twisted my Fallopian tubes into knots. The way she innocently screws up her dads’ work is less endearing than the writers think. To top it all off, the next episode had Miri’s mother go on a rant about how much she hated Miri’s laugh, with Kazuki basically shooting back that it’s heartless of her to think that about a child. It felt judgmental enough to be alienating.
The writing for Miri really fluctuates in terms of her maturity level and the general quality. Some conflicts feel exceedingly contrived. The one in episode 6 when she gets mad at Kazuki for asking her about what happened in daycare seemed like the writers just needed an excuse for setting up why Kazuki was too distracted to remember her lunch. Kazuki and Rei aren’t any better either. Rei’s incompetence actually has plot significance since it’s tied to his character development. But for how much Kazuki is supposed to be the better parent, he doesn’t really come across that way. He does a terrible job at actually disciplining and communicating with Miri. They’re both awful at this, and it stops being funny pretty quickly thanks to Miri’s behavior.
Fortunately, after a few episodes, Miri stops creating messes for her dads and the show can focus on its main themes. Buddy Daddies is (unsurprisingly) ultimately about found family. Rei’s development from a cold and irresponsible deadbeat parent to a dedicated and caring dad to Miri was actually really sweet. Because the show took its time to show us their interactions and Rei’s defrosting attitude towards her, it felt a lot more natural than a lot of the other plot threads. There is also a motif in regards to responsibility. But though the show starts and ends with the notion of letting something go if you don’t plan on taking care of it all the way, it doesn’t come up enough for it to be a coherent theme. Again, it feels like it’s all over the place with its genre, pacing, and characterization.
So the writing for Buddy Daddies is not fantastic. Then how does it feel to watch it? Well, aesthetically, Buddy Daddies is quite the treat. The bright backgrounds remind me a lot of The Great Pretender. Everything feels really well-animated too, and there are rarely any scenes where characters go off-model. Koki Uchiyama, Toshiyuki Toyonoaga, and Hina Kino were all giving their best performances. However, not to sound too sensitive, there are certain shots of Miri that made me side-eye my screen. There’s something about the way they draw her face and her butt that feel very strange for a child character. Like, there are a lot of scenes of her lying flat on her face with her butt in the air, which would be fine except her butt was weirdly big.
Though Buddy Daddies is the latest in the trend of “tough guys taking care of small sassy child,” it is easily one of the weaker entries. While it’s lovely to watch and the characters have their cute moments, it doesn’t feel like it knows what it wants to do. It’s more disorganized than a toddler’s playpen. Despite how simple its premise is, it rarely gives its plot points enough time to organically develop. Rei and Miri’s relationship was the only one that felt actually important, because it was the only one with a somewhat satisfactory payoff. While a fairly decent show to binge on a weekend, it’s probably not going to gracing anyone’s Anime of the Year mugs any time soon.
Buddy Daddies is available on streaming services such as Crunchyroll.