Osomatsu-san – 13

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What a remarkable story this show is turning out to be.

OP2: Zenryoku Batankyuu” by AŌP

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There’s not much I could say in criticism of this episode of Osomatsu-san, which kicks off the second of what I assume will be many, many cours of anime in spectacularly funny and disturbing fashion.  About the only negative would be that I really miss the old OP and ED, especially the latter (it could just as easily have been written about the Adachi Mitsuru manga library), though the new ones are catchy enough.

Indeed, we have what seems to be yet another home run (Hustle, hustle!  Muscle, muscle!) for Studio Pierrot.  Folks, these guys know what they’re doing – I understand why people sometimes watch Kingdom or Baby Steps and snicker disdainfully about the budgets, but the studio’s batting average in terms of actual content is perhaps unmatched in the last couple of years of anime.  I mentioned that Osomatsu-san kind of struck me as Shirokuma Cafe’s nastier, pervier cousin – and of course that was a Pierrot show too.  I’m glad to see the studio with a massive commercial success like this, because it can only help them keep doing good work.

What does Akatsuka Fujio (the octogenarian creator of Osomatsu-kun) think of this series, I wonder?  I wish I knew the original series better so that I could hazard a guess as to the answer to that question, but it’s hard to imagine a sketch like “Sanematsu-san” would seem familiar to him.  There are very few comedies that have both the chops and the daring to pull of a story like that – not only is it staggeringly dark and disturbing, but it really isn’t even trying to be funny.  But then, like most great comedies this one is totally, utterly ruthless when it needs to be.  There can be no sacred cows if you want to break new ground in comedy.

The life of the salaryman is depressing enough – “I need you to stay late today” is a euphemism for the 70-80 weeks kouhai and anyone looking to get ahead are expected to work, and bullying is rampant.  But add to that the whole fantasy aspect of it, and Sanematsu’s young co-worker and her terrified reaction to what she sees when she gets to his house…  Well, I’m sleeping with the light on tonight.  It’s hard to know just what Matsubara Shuu (the man behind the scripts) was going for here – was this Sanematsu’s fantasy?  Was he so desperately lonely that his flights of fancy were just about having brothers?  Was it means to cast the actual sextuplets in a slightly better light, because at least they have each other?  Whatever the premise was, the whole thing was brilliantly atmospheric and disturbing as hell.

Then you had the “Girlymatsu” interlude, which exemplified what it means to be ruthless in comedy.  In the course of five minutes it eviscerated the female gender in savage fashion, which I suppose is only fair since the better part of 12 episodes had been spent exposing every pathetic and despicable mole on the skin of the male psyche.  I found the way the female avatars of the sextuplets were shown to be utterly calculating – even Jyuushimatsu – to be especially brutal.  I don’t think you can call it misogynistic, though, because Osomatsu-san is an equal opportunity accuser – this is one of the more misanthropic series you’ll ever stumble across.

Finally, we had “Fappymatsu” – a chapter which pretty much speaks for itself.  I mean, this was seriously, seriously funny – one of the most hilarious things I’ve seen in anime in years.  The “Caution – fapping in progress” sign, Jyuushimatsu’s jerk-off material being a bug encyclopedia, the antics at the sento… Exquisite comic timing, beautiful facial animation – it was close to a perfect comedy sketch.  But even here you had some dark stuff, with the brothers systematically tearing at each other’s weak points as things got increasingly petty and juvenile.  The standout for me here was when Totty noted that Jyuushimatsu was probably emotionally darker than any of them (was he really not like that as a kid?  Hmm…), because you got the sense that it was actually true.

This is not a series that falls back on sentimentalism so often that it becomes a crutch, which is what happens to many wannabe dark comedies when they lose their nerve.  No, Osomatsu-san is sincere so rarely that when it is, it has real impact.  Let’s face it, these are incredibly pathetic guys in pretty much every way – you really have to feel for their poor parents.  But there is, somehow, something honest and grudgingly satisfying in the simple fact that they are brothers, and they’re (usually) OK with that.  They do have each other, for better or worse (and it’s often worse), and even after a clusterfuck like Fappymatsu-gate they’re together the next morning at breakfast, and they’ll be together the next night when they crawl into bed.  It’s a small hook to hang your hat on, but it somehow does keep it from falling off the wall…

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ED2: “Osomatsu Type M” by Takahiro Sakurai, Yuichi Nakamura, Hiroshi Kamiya, Jun Fukuyama, Daisuke Ono,Miyu Irino & Aya Endou

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10 comments

  1. m

    It's true, this second ED isn't as catchy as the first one, but I really love the animation sequence in both.

    By the way, I recently finished to watch Hunter x Hunter.( I'm glad I found the time to watch it) Thanks for always recommending it!!

  2. S

    This episode made me think of Panty & Stocking with Garterbelt – it too had an art-shifted sad salaryman episode (though in that one the guy had a family and his dull life was used to contrast to the shiny popularity of the two protagonists'), and the kind of Sex-and-the-City-ish girl talk we see in the second half was pretty common (though overall more sympathetic). Loved the Girlymatsu designs and the way their personalities were adapted XD, and I guess it shows that the Matsus are going to be pretty shitty human beings no matter the gender… where their male personalities are those of losers who can't rise up to the expectations of society, their female ones are those of people who SET those expectations (which is a pretty common feeling in modern Japan in general as I get it).

    And the whole Fappymatsu thing was hilarious, the sign especially. I also liked how it just ended, with no specific punchline or even a proper closure. This show just loves to experiment in every possible way, with genres and narrative conventions even more than with comedy itself.

  3. TBH that was the only P & S episode I really liked.

  4. J

    I think they purposely wanted to start the year with a reality check. As for the variety of the sketches, it's what comes for having a goddamn wide audience (in Japan I assume). I need another voiceactor episode at the end of this season because there's no way this last sketch did not evoke awkwardness.

  5. C

    What a way to start the year… If this is indicative of what we're getting in 2016, then praise the Japanese gods.

    Without a doubt this was my 2015 anime of the year, no contest.

    The female Matsus skit was freaking hilarious, and I really hope it becomes a recurring thing, like the bishounen Matsus.

  6. R

    Out of curiosity Enzo, did you watch the broadcast special with all the seiyuu commenting on the show and their parts? I feel like I laughed just as hard at that as I did that actual anime.

  7. I did! My two favorite parts were when they were ragging on Miyu-kun for laughing during their takes, and when they said "Ever since Ono found out Jyuushimatsu was popular he's started ad-libbing all the time. It's a pain in the ass."

  8. m

    Do you guys have a link to that?

  9. S

    If you have it it's on Crunchyroll, there are two versions of episode 12, regular and commented.

  10. R

    Actually since it's been over a week now it's free for all viewers! Although if you don't have a subscription you do have to deal with ads in between but I think that's not a huge deal.

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