Osomatsu-san – 06

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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.

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  1. S

    The Back to the Future horse was probably the episode's highlight as far as pure comedic value goes (the centaur was hilarious too), but there was plenty of funny moments in either story. The one and only constant in this series is how everybody sucks, and when it comes to the job market, they suck even more. Relentless interviews, black factories, flags stuck in one's head, suicidally dedicated butlers… this series is actually mixing in a lot of proper satire with its gag-based comedy. I think that's something we can plenty relate with in the West as well, but yeah, oddball humour is a bit of a hit and miss, and this series was penalized by its first episode – which many probably found a turn off, and those who liked were then disappointed by finding that balls to the walls crazy reference humour almost entirely gone and replaced by bitter dark comedy.

  2. E

    Gintama is not that popular in the west too and i'm glad that it is getting the recognition it deserved since in december 2 they are going to animate the greatest arc of all time. The Shogun Assasination Arc . Hope this anime gets popular in the west too

  3. R


    But regarding this series, maybe it's just the groups I hang around online, but I've actually seen a surprising amount of fan work for the series. I was honestly expecting almost non considering how off the radar the series was.

  4. C

    I dare say Osomatsu-san is generating more pixiv fanart than even Haikyuu at this moment. Gundam IBO wanted to cash in the fujo bucks with its characters being all shirtless and sweaty while they pilot, yet it was the Japanese "South Park" that has fujos buying it in hordes. First BD is more or less expected to sell 20k. Did anyone expect this? I sure didn't.

    Good episode by the way, though not one of my favorites. The Hatabou part was my favorite.

  5. e

    Seems like my comment got lost in web anti-matter after posting.
    – good point in noting the generational malaise
    – the sequence in which he loses in final(not) tooth was a great mix of Looney Tunes, LotR and almost-James Bond music theme
    – dem flags
    – Fawlty Towers affinity. Been years since I watched it hence fuzzy memories but I can see your point
    – seconding the love for the TV hostess's preposterous hairdo (wig?). Georgian geisha mushroom!
    – not really surprised by Osomatsu-san's homeland success. They have been a national cultural stapes for decades + memetic power (even John Lennon went SHEEE! It must have been big enough for him to catch on it or bein told about it there :,D) it seems. And as you mentioned we recently got Hoozuki as case of black-ish comedy and satire with rather quirky art style.
    Personally I love the clever update of Osomatsu's Showa designs and the LSD palette, OP and ED included. If that also ends up shaking the current mainstream content+aesthetics mold that's only a good thing in my book. Content-wise as well what's not to pine moar for 😀

  6. f

    I think part of the appeal is how absurd and surreal everything is. While I can't say I know Japanese humor that well, a lot of popular things seem to arise from non-sequitur (or maybe I just think it's non-sequitur because I'm missing the references). There's a lot of comedy based on random things happening for no reason, like the flags in this episode or some things in Hoozuki no Reitetsu or some of the popular TV ads in Japan – although again it might be just a lack of cultural understanding.

    Anyways, even if I don't get all of the references, I'm still enjoying it a lot for instant gratification humor. Wouldn't say it's the best show of the season, but it's definitely the one I look forward to most every week.

  7. m

    Ironic how Izami was on the giving end of the slave labour back in episode 2, and now he is on the receiving end of it. This was one of the more consistently funny episode, though I still prefer last week's. I thought the horse race was ridiculously silly and funny.
    After seeing how the other "-Matsus "bully" Karamatsu (even in this episode, his jokes were ignored), I am starting to feel a lack of empathy for the other characters. Damn this show is grim.

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