(Warning, the following article contains spoilers for Mr. Osomatsu. Read at your own responsibility)
Osomatsu-kun was an insanely popular manga and anime franchise from the latter half of the Showa period, about a set of trouble-making sextuplets called the Matsuno brothers. These perpetually 10 year old kids would get into various whacky adventures and it was good fun for the audience. While the original anime ran from 1966 to 1967, it was given a revival series in 1988 that lasted until the end of 1989. Beyond that, the series has been rather quiet ever since.
That would change this year, as a new series was created to celebrate the 80th birthday of the series’ late mangaka Fujio Akatsuka. But the show’s heyday has long passed. The last people to remember watching a new episode of Osomatsu-kun are in their 30s at the very least. So how do you go about making a show that can connect with a newer, younger audience 26 years later? Apparently you tap the guy who directed the majority of the Gintama anime to direct it and age up the characters. But not before having an episode where they desperately try to copy all the current popular series in an attempt to adapt to the modern anime scene.
Yes, we must first pour one out to the now dead first episode to Mr. Osomatsu, that was pulled from all legal sources, both in Japan and in the rest of the world, because people got a little overprotective of their copyrights. I would hazard a guess that Yoichi Fujita was too accustomed to the longer leash he was given when it came to referencing copyrighted material in Gintama, that he forgot it probably wouldn’t fly in Mr. Osomatsu, but still! That episode was awesome! And now it can only be pirated. It won’t even be in any of the official releases of the show because they are going to use a new first episode!
Unfortunately that wasn’t the only change made to Mr. Osomatsu so far, as one of the other episodes had some of its imagery edited to remove “offensive” jokes, and thereby killing the jokes entirely.
Anyways, moving on, the show still follows the Sextuplets, but now they are adult NEETs still living at home. On top of that, they are all better developed characters than before. Whereas in the older entries in the series, the brothers were almost indistinguishable from one another aside from their signature catchphrases and routine gags, they are much, much easier to tell apart now. Not only are they all now color-coded, they each have unique aspects to them. For some examples; Ichimatsu is a depressed introvert now who is almost constantly slumping, Karamatsu is trying to act “cool” all the time, with his eyes almost permanently locked into a “cool” manner, Todomatsu has a playful and flirtatious nature and usually has a stylized cat mouth (I mean his mouth usually looks like :3), and Jyuushimatsu is always staring off into space with a dumb look on his face and he loves doing athletic things.
At the heart of the show, we have six young adults trying to adjust to the adult life style; getting jobs, finding romance, maybe, possibly move out of their parents’ house, all while given a comedic spin. It actually reminds me a lot of the recent Netflix series, Master of None, as that show also deals with some of the same topics, while also filtering them through a comedic lens. Though that show is overall much more dramatic than Mr. Osomatsu.
Each episode in Mr. Osomatsu after the first one is actually a series of segments. Some episodes will only have 2 or 3 long ones, while other episodes will have several smaller ones. This does lead to some segments being hit or miss, but I managed to get some good laughs out of every episode so far. Mainly because of one thing; the Sextuplets are petty as all hell. If one of them gets something the others lack, they will go out of their way to sabotage the one who does have it, so they lose it.
This is best exemplified in the most recent episode where Todomatsu gets a steady job as a barista and hits it off well enough with his hot coworkers to get invited to a mixer. When the other five arrive at his coffee shop and hear about the mixer and false persona he made for himself, they all start acting like fools, with many of them intentionally spilling their coffee on the floor, or just flopping around all over the place, and one of them even attempts to take a shit in another customer’s cup of coffee.
My favorite segment of the show so far, though, has to be the one where their parents get into a fight and threaten divorce, and realizing that the Sextuplets are helpless NEETs, their mother holds an interview session to see which of them she’ll take with her and which ones she’ll leave with their dad.
Ultimately, Mr. Osomatsu is an adult comedy series about adult characters often in adult situations. It honestly wouldn’t really feel out of place on American television, as it leans heavily on the style of humor often found in the adult-aimed animated sitcoms like Family Guy or South Park. It is easily the biggest surprise of the Fall season for me, and one of the funniest comedies I’ve seen in a long time. I am glad it was granted a second cour in the Winter 2015 season and I hope it will continue for many seasons to come. Lord knows it has to be easy for Studio Pierrot to animate it.
Mr. Osomatsu can be watched on the Crunchyroll streaming service. Mr. Osomatsu is based on the manga Osomatsu-kun by Fujio Akatsuka.