Osomatsu is the eldest sextuplet in the Matsuno family. His younger brothers Karamatsu, Choromatsu, Ichimatsu, Jyushimatsu and Todomatsu, who are all adults, live at home with their parents as NEETs. All six of them have a crush on Totoko, who is aspiring to become a mega-famous fish idol but continually fails to gain any positive attention from anyone other than the Matsunos. Iyami is a con artist who randomly switches from being helpful to being antagonistic towards the brothers, and is often helped by oden chef Chibita. Dekapan is a scientific genius who keeps his incredible concoctions in his pants, and is often seen with Dayon, a person who is simply bizarre. Each of these characters are capable of demonstrating the positive aspects of humanity, but they usually just try to annoy each other and/or kill each other as violently as possible.
The first thing to do before watching this series is to throw reality out the window. Then, you need to be prepared to ignore common sense, the laws of physics and human decency for about 10 hours. If you can do that, you may find yourself having an excellent time watching this wonderfully bizarre comedy. On many occasions, one or more of the brothers will come up with some ludicrous plan that should never be put into action, or say something utterly ridiculous that really needs to be questioned. Then, one of them will be the voice of reason. This ‘normal’ person is annoyingly common in anime series, and exists mostly to say ‘no’ to everyone else and tell them that they are crazy. Having someone play this role in Mr. Osomatsu is surprisingly effective, and somewhat necessary in this particular case. Some of the ideas that the brothers have really do defy logic and reason, yet much of the humour in this series comes from witnessing them following through with their dangerous plans. That is assuming, however, that we are told their plans beforehand. There are times when something insane just starts happening for no apparent reason, and it is very entertaining to see just how messed up situations can become in the shortest possible amount of time.
Some situations can last for a few minutes before being resolved. This show does not let a joke go and move onto the next one as soon as the first joke has achieved its intended purpose. Instead, some jokes are repeated in increasingly ridiculous ways in an attempt to see how far the writers can take a joke while still being funny, and it works every time. These writers commit to a joke once they begin telling it like few others do.
Despite them all having more or less the same appearance, the Matsuno brothers all have different characteristics. Osomatsu gambles his or his brothers’ money away. Karamatsu acts cool and pretends to be a ‘ladies’ man’. Choromatsu tends to be the butt of many jokes. Ichimatsu always looks disinterested and is shy around humans, resulting in him making friends with cats. Jyushimatsu is hyper-energetic and is obsessed with baseball, yet actually has no idea how baseball works. Todomatsu is the most normal of the Matsuno brothers; he is shown to have a job and be able to talk to women, unlike each of his brothers. Jyushimatsu is the most consistently hilarious of the six. Odd situations occasionally just happen to the brothers, but Jyushimatsu is one of the most active characters in the entire show. Despite his appearance, he is capable of having emotions and developing relationships with other people. Those occasions are few and far between, but they still happen. He is extremely unpredictable and random, and that characteristic works very well in this series. One would probably not predict, for example, that he would pull down his pants and shove his behind in his interviewer’s face at a job interview, nor that he would pick up one of his brothers, throw him in the air and ride him like a surfboard. As a result of all his hyper-energetic randomness, the episode devoted entirely to him immediately becomes one of the highlights of the series. Every Matsuno gets a moment in the spotlight, and they never cease causing and getting into as much trouble as they possibly can.
One of the many impressive things about this series is that the minor characters can actually hold up an episode on their own. For example, Chibita becomes a compelling protagonist in one story. In it, he waters a plant that seems out of place, only to be greeted later by a Flower Fairy who reciprocates Chibita’s kindness. That such a one-note character who ends every sentence with ‘you idjit’ (he mispronounces the word for ‘idiot’) can be a part of a sweet story of fantastical romance without completely ruining it demonstrates the potential that this show has. Even Iyami can be entertaining when thrown into the spotlight, although his antagonistic nature renders him as little more than an occasionally effective gag. Dekapan and Dayon are without a doubt the most hilarious minor characters. Dayon’s mostly incomprehensible behaviour and tendency to say his own name is inexplicably entertaining. The only character who is genuinely annoying is Totoko, mostly due to her constant physical abuse of the Matsuno brothers. Fujio Akatsuka does not seem to know how to write female characters properly, and the writers of this adaptation did not seem to have any interest in writing female characters properly either. The only female characters that are not particularly annoying are the ‘Girlymatsus’, the gender-flipped versions of the Matsuno brothers. They tend to be petty, focused on gaining the attention of boys and are generally mean to each other, but they at least somewhat entertaining. Overall, there are some average minor characters and some hilarious ones, but they all contribute to a crazy viewing experience.
The animation is solid throughout the series. There is a clip show episode, but aside from that and the minimal use of flashbacks, it never suffers from a drop in quality. The artwork is where this adaptation really succeeds. The Matsuno brothers are distinct enough in appearance that it is possible to identify each of them visually, and the minor characters are all unique and not updated to reflect modern character design standards. The faces that many characters make are some of the best elements of the visuals. Characters will often make a menacing face towards another, and at other times will look pleadingly at a person who just does not care. Some of these faces can be truly hideous, but it is hilarious seeing just how badly they can distort their own faces. There is a significant amount of slapstick comedy, and watching characters spontaneously catch fire or bash their heads into a wall or the ground is more funny than horrific. Characters can often be seen bleeding from their heads, and they die from anything ranging from oxygen deprivation to nothing whatsoever. There is a lot of male nudity, although all genitalia are censored. There are also certain episodes that feature bishounen versions of the Matsunos, which typically play out like a bizarre reverse harem.
The music is effective, but the most memorable aspect of the music is the opening and ending songs. They are quite catchy, and the accompanying visuals are cool too. Unfortunately, presumably due to licensing issues, they are not subtitled, nor are textless versions included as extras. The voice acting is excellent throughout, and this is no surprise given that some of the biggest names in Japanese voice acting are present.
Mr. Osomatsu is brilliant in an insane kind of way. If you had one or more brothers growing up or went to a co-educational school, you can probably recognise some of the characteristics and behaviour that the Matsunos demonstrate. If not, this series might function as a good advertisement for all-girls schools. Its sheer ridiculousness and constant barrage of jokes, as well as the slapstick violence that sometimes even results in seemingly reversible death, combine to make this an absolutely hilarious series that stands out as one of the funniest anime ever produced.
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