Review: Mr Osomatsu (DVD)

The Matsuno brothers are unemployed sextuplets in their 20s who spend their days mooching off their parents and trying to take advantage of their friends. Any attempts at finding work or getting a girlfriend are quickly ruined by their outlandish personalities and overall resignation at being unemployed NEETs. But despite their shared penchant for wacky antics, the brothers are vastly different from each other and often butt heads over simple problems. With this level of dis-functionality, it’s no surprise that everyday life for the sextuplets is rough and often leads to social and romantic rejection.

Mr Osomatsu is based on the manga and anime series by Fujio Akatsuka, Osomatsu-kun, which revolves around the sextuplets when they are 10 years old. The new series follows the Matsuno brothers as adults, and contains humour that is much more adult-oriented. In this case, adult-oriented means some sex-related jokes, swearing, and lots of butt related imagery. Honestly, I was genuinely surprised by the copious amount of butts. But this is the kind of humour that punctuates the series, and instead of having an overall arc for the characters, Mr Osomatsu focuses instead on their antics with a few character  moments sprinkled between. In this way, the show is more like a collection of skits instead of your usual anime.

It wasn’t all smooth sailing though. Most of the episodes have several scenarios, but there are a few where the jokes drag on and outstay their welcome. The worst ones were the episodes where the brothers turned into stereotypical anime idol lookalikes, as the only joke seemed to be about how ridiculous hot boy anime is without any real variety or commentary to make it interesting. They got a laugh the first few times, but it gets old fast when it’s the only joke available in the span of 10 minutes. Despite this and the sometimes overwhelming zaniness,  Mr Osomatsu hits a comedic sweet spot more often than not. I found that the best episode were those focused on domesticity. They weren’t particularly wacky in premise but made entertaining by the characters and their quick and fierce banter. My personal favourites were the episode where the brothers individually tried to avoid the job of fetching more kerosene for the heater during winter, and the one where the mother of the boys interviews them in order to decide who could continue to live with her. Might sound boring in theory, but trust me, the comedic beats in those episodes in particular are on point.

While the series is named after the elder Matsuno brother, Osomatsu, all six brothers get their fair share of screen time and the series only focuses on just the eldest during the more emotional moments that require a single perspective. Honestly, at first it was difficult to tell the brothers apart. But towards the end of the series they are relatively easy to distinguish not just by the colour of their clothes, but by their distinct character traits which vary from endearing to absurd (usually the latter). There are plenty of side-characters in the mix too, and they add a lot of variety to the series. This includes the oden obsessed Chibita, the down on his luck and semi-antagonist Iyami, and the fish-themed idol Totoko, to name a few.

The animation fits the genre, simple enough to not distract from the humour but zany enough to illustrate the more outrageous moments in the series. The backgrounds looked like they were drawn in crayon, but all the important elements of the foreground and the characters are simple but polished. On top of that, the opening and  closing themes were fantastic and I never skipped them, mostly due to the songs, but also because of some really entertaining and topnotch animation.

Mr Osomatsu follows the same sort of formula throughout the series until the second last episode. Instead of a regular episode with a couple of comedic sketches, the episode creates genuine drama and the framework for a really interesting finale. During this episode the brothers part ways in an attempt to better themselves, something they achieve in different ways. Despite a little mood whiplash compared to the tone of the rest of the show, the episode itself is bittersweet and heartfelt as the brothers go their separate ways. Because of this buildup, I was disappointed when the series finale reverted to business as usual and the setup for the Matsuno brother’s growth had no pay-off. There’s no satisfying conclusion or resolution outside of the fact that the brothers are losers and always will be. It’s not a bittersweet ending, nor is it comedic. It just feels like wasted potential and a return to the formula of previous episodes without addressing what had previously been setup.

I won’t hold anything against the show for being what it is – an odd collection of comedic shorts and strange characters. But the hint of some larger resolution for the brothers was something I eagerly anticipated, and was therefore very disappointed when the last episode didn’t deliver on this promise.

Radness scale:

A review copy was provided by Madman Entertainment to the author for the purpose of this review.