Osomatsu-san the top-ranked series of the Fall? SHEEEH!
Anime is a funny old thing, sometimes. Here I was thinking Osomatsu-san was going to be a niche title at best, maybe not even subtitled or streamed, and now it seems a lock to be the biggest surprise hit of the season. In fact it currently holds the two two slots in the Stalker rankings for Fall series, seemingly certain to hit five-figure sales. In a way it reminds me of Hoozuki no Reitetsu, in that both are dark comedies with an exceedingly weird sense of humor which I expected to tank – and both became big hits (in Japan if not the West).
Osomatsu-san is mostly being ignored by Western fans, but it’s sure making a splash in its homeland. It’s even been the the news several times, as a ridiculous controversy has arisen over some of the parodies in the first and third episodes (we can only hope the Tolkien estate wasn’t tuned in tonight – as if), forcing changes to the Blu-ray releases and an apology from the director. Some people can’t take a joke, apparently – but if you can’t take a joke, this really isn’t the sort of show you should be watching.
Jokes this episode had in plenty, and good ones – it may have had the most LPMs (laughs-per-minute) of any so far, some of them big ones. But that doesn’t mean it wasn’t incredibly grim at times, too – this show is absolutely pitiless towards its characters. It opens this week be introducing us to another oddball from the old cast, Hatabou, who invites the sextuplets to his birthday party. Hatabou appears not to have changed from when he was in fifth-grade, except he’s now a billionaire (and that’s Dollars, not Yen), a result of dispensing advice to the rich and powerful worldwide (Barack Obama makes a memorable cameo here).
Let’s not kid ourselves about what happens when Todomatsu suggests Hatabou hire the brothers rather than just taking his money as Osomatsu was happy to do – the requirement for hiring is to have a Japanese flag stuck into their heads. Chickening out at that prospect, Osomatsu suggests using the ass instead – and the seemingly innocent Hatabou has a terrifying response. You know the malaise of the current young adult generation is getting intense when we see the kind of satire Osomatsu-san and One Punch Man are bringing to the table take off the way it has – and I suspect you’re going to see that theme become a more and more common one in anime over the next few years,
Iyami-san finally gets his turn in the spotlight next, and this is another one of those simultaneously hilarious and tragic skits Osomatsu-san specializes in, -zansu. Poor Iyami can’t even win when he picks the fastest horse (“Iyami, you baka – you can’t pick horses that exceed time and space!”). Iyami reminds me of an anime Basil Fawlty – unbelievably pretentious, preposterous and full of himself, doomed forever to fail. But you can’t help but root for him despite his abrasiveness, and it can be really hard to watch life torture him.
But you know, Fawlty Towers was also one of the funniest series in TV history, and there’s some hilarious stuff here – like Iyami finally winning and his horse getting disqualified for being a Centaur, And when he hits his low ebb and Dekapan takes him in, he gets an I.V. of “Hope”. The whole Iyametal thing is utterly ridiculous (I loved the hair on the blowhard TV hostess who interviews Iyami) , building up to Iyami’s last tooth being knocked out and eventually dropped into Mt. Doom by one of the eagles from Return of the King. But the ending is yet again incredibly grim, and again ties in the long-forgotten first chapter of the episode. Make no mistake, this is really goof stuff – smart, fearless comedy in cleverly structured form. I’m just surprised it’s so popular, to be honest.