If you listened to the most recent RC podcast, you know that one of the far-reaching topics we covered was anime Christmas episodes – and to be honest it was a bit of a struggle for me to think of many examples that rose above cliche and delivered something truly memorable. Well, Osomatsu-san (a new manga starts in January, by the way) does its part to correct that shortfall with a Christmas special that’s every bit as reprehensibly hilarious as you would expect it to be. I think it joins Shirokuma Cafe (an example I cited on the podcast, and a show this one reminds me a bit of) in the annals of excellent satirical Christmas eps – but if that one was a slightly sardonic Santa, I’d say this one was more Krampus.
From the beginning – a zombie-themed pre-open – it’s clear that Osomatsu-san is going to have no more respect for this holiday than it does for anything else establishment (thank goodness). One thing must be said – the obvious fun the seiyuu are having with this material is extremely infectious. The sextuplets doing their undead Engrish starts things off and it extends to all the supporting cast, too – Suzumura Kenichi’s Iyami is my personal favorite, but Tobita Nobuo’s Dayon and Ueda Yuji’s Dekapan are also great – especially when they get together on-screen.
I wasn’t quite sure how to take the Totoko sketch, apart from the fact that it was obviously hilarious. I think it was intended to be a fantasy sequence, which certainly says something about her psyche. My favorite moment here is when Ichimatsu (was it Ichmatsu?) caps a ridiculous romantic sequence by causing a worldwide blackout to paint Totoko’s face in lights. It’s interesting to speculate on what this says about Totoko’s feelings towards the siblings, but one consistent through all of her material is her relentless self-obsession and manic insecurity. This girl has issues.
One of the creepiest moments of the episode is the brothers’ “gift exchange” – which basically consists of them passing their presents around in a circle while chanting “Die, die” in dirge-like fashion. It’s important to remember that in Japan Christmas is primarily a romantic holiday, so being alone is considered a special misery. Chibita (oden is his mistress) isn’t much help. Then we have Iyami as the little match girl, selling “French matches” for ¥1900 (about $15) – one of which he lights by striking against his teeth. There are times when I think Iyami’s primary role in this cast is to give the sextuplets an even more downtrodden and pathetic soul to look down on.
Possibly my favorite chapter was another dialogue-free effort from Dekapan and Dayon – these are especially brilliant, and I could listen to those two and their “Dayon!” “Hoeee!” interplay for hours. We also get another chapter highlighting Jyushimatsu’s special innocence – it figures he’d still believe in Santa – but the ending takes this one more towards comedy than pathos. And the wrap-up is another counseling session with Dayon, with the victim this time being Karamatsu – and apparently both he and the viewers have noticed that he seems to get the worst of it of any of the brothers. Not that it helps him here, Dayon.