Osomatsu-san – 24

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Man – talk about a whiplash turn, that episode was it.

Osomatsu-san - 24 -1We’ve reached the penultimate episode of Osomatsu-san, not just the hit of 2015-16 so far but one of the biggest hits of the 21st Century in anime.  And while it was the usual double-chapter ep, it’s obviously the second that’s going to spark almost all of the discussion.  As well it should – I kind of regret now that my travel schedule forced me to push viewing it back by a couple of days, because it was certainly a monumental chapter – maybe the most monumental so far.

Osomatsu-san - 24 -2But in getting there, Osomatsu-san definitely throws a feint in, first giving us a pretty arch-typical Osomatsu chapter – absurd, extremely dark – about Totoko.  She offers a reminder that she may just be the shallowest and most unpleasant person in this cast (and that’s a high bar).  She continually faces frustration in her quest to be perceived as better than everyone and constantly be praised, and takes out her frustrations on defenseless maguro. Eventually the story turns to her hilarious quest for an oil magnate, which ends with her finding one but throwing him off the Burj Khalifa in Dubai on their wedding night after he says she reeks of fish and barfs.  It’s funny and deeply disturbed – right in Osomatsu-san’s wheelhouse.  But not especially noteworthy.

Osomatsu-san - 24 -3That all changes in the B-Part, which is the definition of noteworthy as far as this series is concerned.  The question of what happens next for Osomatsu-san is of course out there – the show nominally ends next week, but series that make this kind of money don’t go away.  It will be back, bank on it, but Fujita and Matsubara do a pretty job of spinning that it might not be with “Letter”.  We’ve seen in the past that Osomatsu can do serious and substantial (hello, “14”), so this chapter is by no means unprecedented – but it’s still a bit of a shock to the system when it happens.

Osomatsu-san - 24 -4Not only can this series do that, it can do it damn well, and “Letter” proves it again.  There are just an awful lot of things that go right here – the tone is spot-on, and mood is perfect, and the story is genuinely powerful.  It makes perfect sense that Choromatsu would be the first brother to land a real job and leave home – it was always he and Todomatsu (and he’s the second to go) who were most equipped to face the world.  And it’s kind of a payoff to Choromatsu’s arc that after being in the shadows for the entire series, he takes the lead here – he earned it by being the most self-aware and conscientious brother even as it was costing him in terms of comedic payoffs.

Osomatsu-san - 24 -5I loved this chapter, all of it.  I loved that Karamatsu stepped up and kicked Osomatsu’s ass after he sucker-kicked Jyuushmatsu (a genuinely scary moment).  I loved that Totty, ever the baby brother, snuck back and took a tear-stained peek at his mom after he’d moved out.  I loved that Ichimatsu was the last of the sextuplets (apart from Osomatsu) to leave, because Ichimatsu is so obviously a social misfit in every way and doing so probably terrified him more than anyone else.  He finally left because he felt like he had no choice – which is obviously very sad, but ultimately maybe not such a bad thing.  Sometimes we have to be forced to do what we have to do by having all other options taken away from us.

Osomatsu-san - 24 -6The crux of all this, of course, is Osomatsu – the eldest and shallowest brother.  He’s left behind, resentful of his brothers leaving him and getting ahead of him (I don’t know which hurts him more), sulking and brooding so much he won’t even go on a date with Totoko (whose latest hare-brained scheme – studying abroad – predictably went nowhere).  As absurd as this series has been for two cours (very), this chapter works because it plays so true to the characters – Osomatsu has the most staked in the status quo.  He’s the biggest fish in this stagnant, brackish pond.  It’ll be very interesting to see how he reacts to the letter Choromatsu finally worked up the courage to send – and where that will leave the series at the close of the season finale.  I suspect the brothers will end up back together, and maybe even in silly fashion that makes light of what happened this week.  But I must say, I kind of hope Osomatsu-san plays it straight here – at least a little.  That would definitely be the most daring way to bring this series to a temporary conclusion.

 

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7 comments

  1. T

    I’ve been waiting for you to post about this episode since it came out. The B-Part just floored me, but before that:

    I’m glad I’m not the only one who finds Totoko unpleasant. Despite that though, this is the episode I was actually able to relate to her. While the oil magnate part was usual Oso-fare, her frustrations about not achieving to being a certain age and unmarried and all those insecurities attached to being female resonated. I’m pretty curious as to who wrote this section.

    Anyway, the B-Part. I began feeling my gut wrenching when Osomatsu asked for the shoyu. The way that line was delivered was just so effective. Then there’s Ichimatsu’s doll (so much angst in this Matsu!) then Karamatsu proving to the world that for all his questionable tastes, he’s probably the kindest Matsu there is then Jyuushimatsu answering the phone normally to…I can go on and on about this B-Part.

    I would love to see them go somewhere unexpected for the final episode. Like you, I think they probably will all get together again in the end, but with something this grave having occurred, I just hope they execute it in a way that doesn’t negate what happened.

  2. See, I think this ep points up what I said earlier about Sakurai – like most of the cast here, he’s very good at comedy or drama but unlike Miyu, not so much both in the same moment. But in a scene like this where he’s basically switched into drama mode, he can offer a line delivery like that. I would argue it’s the difference between a good actor and a great one, but Sakurai is certainly excellent when he’s in his element.

  3. T

    Yes! What you meant by that is a lot clearer to me now. I’ve begun listening more closely to what I watch (not just Osomatsu-san) since you’ve mentioned that.

  4. m

    The Totoko chapter was a really brilliant lead-up, though. The not-so-surprisingly conniving Nyaa-chan retires after getting hitched and that effectively foreshadows the shock it’ll have on Choromatsu–who indeed quits being an idol otaka and finally gets a job.

    The B-part…destroyed me.

    I’m honestly amazed with the creators behind this anime. I think the reason why this episode sparked a huge outcry is it basically screwed with our emotions. On one hand, we know it’s time for the brothers to grow the fuck up and leave their house. On the other hand, we want these guys to stick together. Somehow, the fact that they’re sextuplets makes it even harder for us to see them separate.

    Watching this, I thought of what you said about comedy: it has to be “fearless.” And this episode was it.

  5. Oh, was there an outcry? I guess this story threatens the fantasy more than the Jyuushimatsu romance one did.

    The thing is, as horribly dysfunctional as the sextuplets are, you can sort of imagine how hard it would be to leave a house where you grew up with five identical siblings. I mean, that’s a real sense of belonging and security – it’s a lot to give up.

  6. G

    All the feels… I was half expecting for something serious but of course that did not brace me for impact. I too love the bits where kind-soul Karamatsu and the sane Totty gave Osomatsu the big whack because he was being pouty (for good reason of course, but still bad).

    I think this is very telling about families in general, and being in a close-knit family, I can’t imagine how it feels as I have never really tried to move out (homesick issues). All siblings fight, but there is so much affection here and there is surely a gaping hole of 5 brothers to be filled for each of them.

  7. I think the B-part of this episode showcased the real side of the sextuplets. Osomatsu showing depression due to the sextuplets starting to break up, and especially more so with the brother he is probably the closest with being the first to make the move. Karamatsu letting his caring side shine brighter than his narcissistic side and getting serious in looking for a job. Ichimatsu showing how much of a social misfit he is in not being able to find his way out in the world. Jyushimatsu, always so easy to waive off his problems by staying positive, and Todomatsu, the baby of the brothers, being the one who truly is the baby of the lot even though he is more outgoing than the rest.

    Out of all the brothers, the one that I’ve come to take my hat off, especially after part B of this episode, is Karamatsu. He got serious and started to show responsibility.

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