Osomatsu-san – 07

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Nope, not my imagination – it’s definitely getting weirder.

If you’d told me two months ago that Osomatsu-san was going to be a bigger hit than Haikyuu’s second season, I would have laughed almost as hard as I laughed watching this episode.  But impossibly enough that’s exactly what Stalker is telling us going to happen when it comes to disc sales – for the moment, anyway.  I’ll believe that when I see it, but the fact that it’s even on the table is one of the more astonishing developments I’ve seen in all my years watching anime.

I can’t really explain it – maybe there’s a bit of a nostalgia boom effect, or it’s the Gintama connection – but then comedy was always one of the toughest genres to predict when it comes to commercial success.  I mean, Osomatsu-san is certainly very funny – but I’ve seen other very funny comedies tank with extreme prejudice.  I wonder if there isn’t something larger going on here, because I do see an emerging theme in anime these days, and that’s a satirical focus on the angst of Japan’s young adult generations – NEETs, disaffected salarymen and office ladies (sorry, but that’s what they call them in Japan), service workers barely scraping by.  This ennui has been a constant in Japanese society for two decades, but it really seems as if anime and manga have found a niche in speaking to it.

It says something about just how far down the social ladder the NEET sextuplets are that Todomatsu sees getting a job at “Sutaabaa” – for barely minimum wage in most American states, with no tipping – as a step up.  But indeed it is (he says no himself – “one rung higher“), and this first sketch is genius on so many levels.  There’s still a whiff of foreign exoticism to Starbucks in Japan, and it retains a level of cool and sophistication the chain hasn’t held in American for at least 20 years.

Todamatsu (I love it when the great Miyu Irino gets to stretch his comedy chops) naturally wants to keep the fact that he’s working at Sutaabaa a secret from his brothers – especially since he’s lying to his female co-workers, posing as a Keio college student.  “Totty” is the most socially ambitious among his siblings anyway to this is very much in-character, as is his meltdown when they show up at the cafe.  This scene is hilarious on every level, and truly awful – which is pretty much the SOP for Osomatsu-san.

After a brief but very funny link sketch in which the siblings agonize for 36 hours about what to do with four imagawayaki (four is an extremely unlucky number in Japan, and the custard-filled ones are indeed by far the best), we jump right into the second major set piece, which finds Dekapan and Dayon (Dayon!) on Harleys riding (very slowly) on “Route 666”.  This skit is an extremely clever bit of Buster Keaton-esque visual comedy, with only Dayon’s “Dayon!” and Dekapan’s… whatever he says for dialogue.

This chapter was a weird one, and it had me laughing several times just as the sheer strangeness of it.  As so often happens with Osomatsu-san things turned quite semi-serious and then dark, with an even stranger series of flashbacks to explain how the pair got here, then a very grisly turn of events. Eventually Dayon finds himself in Yellowknife, Northwest Territories (Canada), and it’s revealed that the whole point of this trip was seemingly to see the Aurora Borealis (which, by the way, can be seen just fine from Hokkaido) and things end on a highly surreal and more than a little disturbing note.

If you stay tuned after the ED credits you get “Dayon’s Counseling Room” for pudding (which I believe is introduced by Sugita Tomozu) and it’s a fine end to the meal.  I especially liked Osomatsu’s complaint that the series has been labeled a “gag comedy”, because of all the pressure that puts on it.  His suggestion is a new genre – the “Jikousekinin Anime” (Anime at One’s Own Responsibility), and it hits dangerously close to the truth.  With an uncomfortable style of comedy like this one, you almost feel guilty for laughing at some of what’s happening – which I think is exactly the point Osomatsu is making here.  It’s pretty darn clever stuff – but since when does that add up to a hit when it comes to anime?

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6 comments

  1. m

    I love how the seiyuus are having so much fun here. Miyu Irino definitely shows his vocal chops in the first sketch – jumping from one comedic moment to the next while varying his expression and tone. And Kamiyan, Sakurai Takahiro and Nakamura's whining as the older Matsu brothers rolled on the floor was so much gold.
    I would attribute a significant part of the success to the seiyuu cast (because it is what attracted me and kept me watching), but this show is definitely funny. Sometimes it isn't consistent, but it does get better in these few episodes for me.
    The end sketch is my favourite moment. "Anime at your own responsibility" is a genius idea. Often, audience opinions has been the enemy of creative freedom, and why should anime have to please everyone. You know what, Osomatsu-san you just do what you want. I will watch it to the end.

  2. P

    Don't forget to add that the seiyuu line up might be adding to that popularity.

  3. e

    Mwahahah Osomatsu-san does it again >D
    – Totty (not the Italian soccer Roma captain!) and his faces as his brothers intruded the sacred part-time territory. Almost sorry for the guy. Almost. His state at the end of the goukon sucked all the sorry out either way :p.
    – The blank eyes reaction gag. Classic Garasu No Kamen stuff :,DDD.
    ' sees getting a job at "Sutaabaa" – for barely minimum wage in most American states, with no tipping – as a step up' It would be a seen as a step up in Italy too for a good chunk of the last two generations and half, dahlin'.
    If the Star that brings the bucks can retain a certain exotic je ne sais quoi if/when it opens here is a bit more up in the air. /OT
    – Imagawayaki: so that's their name uh? I ate a lot of them in Singapore, they had both savoury (hmmmm, tuna <3) and sweet flavours. Dang no custard though. But they had green tea ones that were dangerously addictive (and some subway station mall stalls sold the uber tea ones: tea dough + tea filling. Breakfast on the go heaven )… in this sense I can relate to the sextuplets going feral over them XD but I'm pleasantly surprised in their dilemma they spared one for their parents. I mean… they could have just sliced each imagayaki into three and eat two slices each :p. Still would have not solved the sharing of the custard. Draw straws? *I'm totally overthinking this. Nostalgia on an empty stomach is not helping. Boohooo :,>*
    – The second half was… surreal and lovely to look at. No kidding. That deceptively simple background landscape art and the actually detailed starlit sky. Easy rider in striped boxers. Nice bgm. Compared to the vastity of the universe every man and all his/her struggles is just a briefly-echoing 'Da-yoooon' . Shattered human ice lolly ultimately returning our atoms to the twinkling cosmic beyond…
    – Seconding (thirding?) the appreciation for the final sketch and the 'Your Own Responsibility' humour. Talking of twinkling that was brilliant.

  4. R

    As usual, I find my self conflicted about this show. One one hand, some skits do make me laugh. One the other hand, too much of the humour derives from the cast being complete jerks towards each other, which is a turnoff for me.
    I've found that comedy works better when I actually like the cast, even if they are idiots. Jerks are a different story. Maybe this is why I never got on board with Gintama. Sure, they have absolutely hilarious sequences sometimes, but the almost everyone in the cast is someone I wouldn't touch with a ten-foot pole.
    On the other side of the spectrum, I sure would like to hang out with the cast from Jitsu wa Watashi Wa. Maybe that helped making that show much funnier to me.

  5. Thus, Osomatsu's proposal in the omake.

    I like the cast in Jitsu wa as well, but to be fair that's an entirely different sort of comedy. I actually do like some of the cast here – Osomatsu is a tool, but a few of his brothers are likeble enough (like Todomatsu, at least for me). Chibita seems like a nice guy, too.

  6. S

    I actually dropped Jitsu Wa out of boredom, whereas here? Give more meanness and I'll laugh at it – I take full responsibility!

    (though I think the final gag was more of a riff on the high subjectivity of humour: I take it as meaning "we'll just do what WE think is funny because there's no way to predict what YOU will as well")

    I don't think I've seen a comedy built around characters being jerks to this level since Sabagebu.

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