“How do we make ourselves relevant once again?” asked Osomatsu-kun, the titular protagonist and the eldest of the Showa’s most beloved sextuplets. A perfect beginning for a reboot to one of Japan’s earliest anime. Osomatsu-kun was a Showa-era primetime anime series created by Bakabon’s author, Fujio Akatsuka. At its core, Osomatsu-kun focuses on the day-to-day mischief and adventure of Osomatsu, Karamatsu, Choromatsu, Ichimatsu, Jyushimatsu, and Todomatsu or better known as the Matsu-sextuplets.
Now, fully colored and supported by an arsenal of the anime industry’s most esteemed voice actors, the Osomatsu-kun reboot, Osomatsu-san (おそ松さん) has successfully captivated the heart of Japanese society. With its recent inclusion in Animage, it has destroyed the existing sales record of the ever-popular anime magazine. Osomatsu-san’s current position in Japanese pop-culture is nonetheless deserving due to these reasons.
Episode 1 starts with the brothers arguing about how to make the show relevant to today’s society. The 5-minute scene was cleverly made to resemble a Showa era anime. Then the rest of the episode is what one could call utter chaos. It was the creator’s answer to the question discussed prior. In a nutshell, Osomatsu-san basically shoved in every single pop culture and popular anime reference there is. The show receives an immediate red flag due to copyright issue. Nevertheless, just from episode 1 itself, Osomatsu-san managed to captivate its viewers and undoubtedly launched itself into the Heisei-era.
In all honesty, there is no distinct plot to Osomatsu-san. Most of its episodes are divided into two to four segments. Each segment follows the now grown up sextuplets living their daily life as the infamous Japanese term NEET (Not in Employment, Education or Training). From time to time, the brothers perform absurd skits and parodies of popular movies, anime or tv shows. Most of the comedy comes from the bizarre situations the brothers have gotten themselves into, the interaction between the sextuplets, the brothers’ over the top performance and the show’s very own self-awareness.
Creative storytelling alone was not the sole key to Osomatsu-san’s phenomenal success. The Matsu-sextuplets are unarguably where the spotlight shines. At its core, these brothers embody the over the top archetypical anime personalities. Osomatsu is the eldest yet the most ignorant of all. Karamatsu is the wannabe cool guy. Choromatsu is the sensible one. Ichimatsu is socially awkward, Jyushimatsu is weirdly hyperactive, and lastly Todomatsu is sociable yet sadistic at times. The twist comes from the interaction between these extremely polar personalities, making them hilariously lovable misfits.
These characters are personified further by the excellent voice works of the anime industry’s most renowned voice actors. These actors brought the sextuplets to life through some clever and funny dialogue. Some anime fans would also consider Osomatsu-san as an all-star collaboration of popular voice actors. The inclusion of these voice actors and generally appealing characterization of the sextuplets have resulted in the success of Osomatsu-san’s various types of merchandise.
Osomatsu-san celebrates Japanese culture to the fullest. It is probably one of the most ‘Japanese’ anime series ever created. Osomatsu-san is fully aware of weird aspects that surround Japanese culture and its society.
What do they do with it? Simply make hilarious skits about it. Although from time to time Osomatsu-san also does jokes with regard to western culture such as when they did a parody on Saw while satirizing Hollywood’s tendency to make sequels. However, at times, Osomatsu-san may be too ‘Japanese’ for some people. Nevertheless, for those who are willing to learn more about Japanese culture and society, Osomatsu-san is a good place to start from. Unlike most anime, Osomatsu-san gives a grounded depiction of Japan. Not only does it focuse on numerous pop-culture aspects, the show also focuses on the dark sides of Japanese society such as unemployment, loneliness, lack of identity, and lack of acceptance.
Osomatsu-san is recommended for anyone who likes anime and to those who have the incentive to learn more about the land of the rising sun and its culture. So give the sextuplets a chance. The show will undoubtedly make you laugh.