First Look: Osomatsu-san

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Alternative titles: Mr. Osomatsu
Manga Adaptation/Anime Original by Studio Pierrot
Streaming on Crunchyroll

Premise

Sextuplets Osomatsu, Karamatsu, Choromatsu, Ichimatsu, Jushimatsu, and Todomatsu were grade-schoolers back when they debuted in the Showa period. Now in 2015, the physical and cultural landscape has undergone a dramatic change, and the Matsuno brothers must start living as adults.

Artemis’ verdict: You Should Be Watching This

It’s normally pretty hard for me to find an anime comedy that I can really get behind. Humour is just so subjective, and I don’t mind saying that a lot of anime-brand humour in particular simply doesn’t work for me. That goes doubly so for parodies, which at best often seem like they’re trying way too hard, and at worst can come across as lazy, self-indulgent, fanservice-ridden monstrosities.

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Not so for Osomatsu-san, which made me laugh out loud several times during its first two episodes – something I rarely do these days when watching anime alone. This title is a major bright spot in an otherwise fairly lacklustre season, although had it not been for someone else kindly pointing me in its direction, I probably would have overlooked it completely. Going by the synopsis and screenshot, this is exactly the kind of show that my eyes would have skimmed right over on the seasonal anime chart; it looks and sounds like a remake of some random series from the 60s that I know absolutely nothing about. And in a way, that’s exactly what it is. Trust me when I say that being totally in the dark shouldn’t impede anyone’s enjoyment of Osomatsu-san though, and in fact, I highly recommend that people don’t look it up prior to watching.

Watch you should, however, because this thing is easily the funniest anime I’ve seen since last year’s Nozaki-kun. It’s not a romance mind you, and it’s definitely not a drama either – this is a parody, pure and simple, and it’s funny as hell but without feeling the least bit cynical. I really don’t want to say too much here because I’d rather not give too much away, and explaining a gag is nowhere near as fun as actually watching it. What I will say is that if you’re the kind of person who’s become a little (or a lot) jaded about the anime industry of late, and if you’re sick to death of shows that relentlessly pander to the whims of its fans, then Osomatsu-san should prove doubly entertaining.

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Jel’s verdict: Anime Is Saved

I’m glad we picked this show up late because it serves as the perfect antidote for all the creatively bankrupt light novel series we’ve been plagued with the past two weeks. As Artemis notes it’s best to just watch it cold, so I’ll try and talk in general terms. Osomatsu is hilariously critical of anime, the idol industry, and eventually adult life in general. But rather than whining like an obnoxious teenager who hates everything to feel cool, there’s a knowing maturity about this show’s very unsubtle jabs. It knows a lot of anime sucks, a lot of life sucks, and that sometimes all you can do is laugh about it.

It all runs through a great concept of six brothers who were basically child stars and have grown up to be horrible, useless people. As a result, there’s some deliciously black humor as the boys struggle to find their place in adulthood. You can put this right in the Yatterman Night category of brilliant ways to revive 40+ year old franchises without getting excessively dark or invoking dirty words like “deconstruction”. On a technical note, I also adore the art style with its blue outlines and painted backgrounds that make for a visually stunning update of the old character designs. Put it all together and Osomatsu is probably my favorite new show of the season. I hope they can keep this same level of quality as the show progresses.

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