It took me a couple of episodes to catch on to this series, but once I did – and that really started with the brilliant episode three – I was fully hooked. The Kool-aid had been drunk and I was ready to do anything the Marui sisters commanded.
This series ranks with Seitokai no Ichizon and Baka-Test as the funniest comedies of the last year. And it came as a real surprise – Mitsudomoe ended up being much smarter, darker and more layered than I expected. As a sketch comedy, there were bound to be ups and downs – and there were – but after some missteps early, the batting average was truly astonishing. There were so many highlights it would take too long to recount them all – the barrel “silent movie” sketch and “Shin-chan, you gotta nail me in the butt again sometime – it felt great!” from episode 9 spring to mind immediately. But there were so many more, and what’s really remarkable is how versatile the humor was. The specialty of the house of course was misunderstandings – and no one did them better. But we also had sight gags, double entendres, character humor, slapstick, parody – and almost all of it totally worked. Of course the mind of the series was firmly in the gutter, but it (almost) always seemed to know just when to pull back. One of the great secrets of dark comedy is to know just how close to the edge you can go without falling off.
My initial trepidation was that this would be too relentlessly mean-spirited to really be enjoyable. Fortunately, we were shown all sides of the characters – not just their ugliness, but also their vulnerability. While all three sisters were wonderful, Futaba was my favorite – a human disaster film of a girl, wreaking havoc all around with her superhuman strength and super-baka denseness. Hitoha was adorable, bookish and awkward but a pushover for a hamster, pussycat or color-coded superhero. And Mitsuba, for all her bluster, was an incredibly softie at heart – looking out for her sisters and even her classmates while doing her best to hide it. Like Minami-ke – with whom this series shares a director – Mitsudomoe offered a spectacular roster of supporting characters. Papa Soujirou, so slovenly and scary-looking he’s constantly hassled by cops, is actually a sensitive and savvy father who adores his daughters. The honor student/pervert Shin-chan (Futaba’s future boyfriend), his hapless squad of admirers, ero-boy Chiba… The entire class was a vital part of the alchemy. And then there’s poor Yabechi, whose panicked humiliation could only be brought to life by Hiro Shimono. But at least he has Hitoha crushing on him…
I know a lot of viewers gave up on this after the mixed bag of the first two episodes – or even based on the premise and art. That’s a shame, and I hope those people will give it a chance. This is really smart and fearless comedy, and that’s something to be celebrated. Mitsudmoe wasn’t a big success commercially and I can’t say that shocks me, because you really have to think about most of the humor to appreciate just how hilarious it is. But for those of us that joined the club and came over to the dark side, it’s been a fantastic ride and we’re counting the hours until January and Season 2.