Did that episode really just happen? I mean – damn. Osomatsu-san had already stamped itself as a dark comedy, but holy crap, that ep just grabbed the audience by the back of the head and shoved our faces into the maw of the great yawning darkness of existential despair. It almost felt like a violation of the characters’ privacy at times – and it almost felt wrong to laugh even more times. But that didn’t stop me from doing so.
I thought the bar was set pretty high for with the first part, a sketch featuring the thus-far rarely used Chibita. After the boys skip out on yet another huge beer and oden tab, he decides to kidnap Karamatsu and ransom him to the others for the amount of the tab (a million Yen, about $8,500). But this sets into motion a darkly comic chain of events where the remaining sextuplets systematically show no concern for their brother, culminating in throwing him over for a plate of sliced pears. Chibita feels so bad for Karamatsu that he takes him to an izakaya for sashimi, but eventually decides to burn him at the stake to force the remaining brothers’ hands. And the ending of the piece… Oy.
And that was the cheerful half of the episode.
The B-part starts off looking like a fairly typical Osomatsu-san farce – outrageous and in bad taste, but not nearly as grim as it ended up. Dekapan as a mad scientist and Dayon as his beautiful assistant is pretty random stuff, but it turns out the point here is a ruthless and savage character deconstruction of the fourth brother, Ichimatsu. This comes in the form of an injection that allows the recipient to discern the full truth of whatever is said to him – originally it was Ichimatsu who was supposed to get the injection so he could talk to the cat (Juushimatsu’s brilliant idea to help his antisocial brother) but the cat ends up getting the shot, and hilarity follows. Except it doesn’t.
There’s some history here – apparently the original Ichimatsu-kun was also the loner of the group, but got along well with cats. And there’s some quite moving stuff here, actually – the simpleton Jushimatsu’s sincere desire to help his brother for starters, and then the fact that the cat lets slip Ichimatsu’s secret that one of the reasons he felt OK about not having friends is because he has his brothers. And the cat (why is he wearing glasses, exactly?) is really funny. But this is bleak stuff, boy. All of Ichimatsu’s insecurities – and they’re truly staggering – are laid bare like a gaping wound. And he eventually chases the cat off for its trouble.
This all works way better than one might think it would. For one thing Fukuyama Jun does a really nice job bringing Ichimatsu’s inner darkness to life – he can be quite good at this sort of role and rarely gets to play it. And the discovery one makes is that there’s a layer of sincerely to Osomatsu-san san underneath the snark and the gross-out comedy, and it’s strong enough to make the show believable in moments like the one that ends this chapter. And it must also be pointed out, the episode closes with a very funny bit of black comedy when we see Karamatsu – who’s been conspicuously absent for the entire B-part.