The Rules of Brotherhood, According to Osomatsu-san

Six reasons you need to get off your butt and watch the hit comedy series, Osomatsu-san - the story of six brothers who refuse to get off theirs.
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  1. The Rules of Brotherhood, According to Osomatsu-san
    Poster says it all, really... Okay, maybe not.
    Osomatsu-san is the sequel that was never supposed to happen. Everything about the show’s premise should be a red flag for most viewers, because geez – who else isn’t sick of updated reboots of obscure franchises in this day and age?

    A homage to original creator Fujio Akatsuka, Osomatsu-san is the not-really-but-kinda-long-awaited sequel to the ’66-’67 sketch series, Osomatsu-kun. Like its predecessor, this series stars the same mischievous Matsuno sextuplets. Unlike its predecessor, this series is no longer as innocent or squeaky-clean as its Showa roots imply. The Showa Era – you know, when things were so much simpler before the US decided it liked winning wars, so it dropped the nuclear bomb on Japan?

    Gritty jokes for everybody!
    Articles online are helpful somewhat, as you’ll never run out of analyses attempting to explain how this show became such a runaway hit in Japan. It doesn’t seem to have gained the same traction overseas, but take my word for it: Osomatsu-san is a series that needs to be seen and fully experienced to be believed.

    What you’ll find below are some perfectly legitimate reasons to give this show a shot. Read more closely, and maybe you’ll find some sense in these iron-clad rules of brotherhood I totally didn’t make up.

    Meta jokes for everybody!

    Rule #1: You’re never truly alone.
    This reboot series finds the brothers at an interesting point in their lives. No longer the mischievous children they used to be in the original show, the Matsuno brothers are now unapologetic NEETs – that is, Not in Education, Employment, or Training. In other words, it’s that funky state between your school graduation and your first job, where you’re not only unemployed, you’re also completely unmotivated to fix the situation.

    Not that there’s anything bad about the status. Do a quick Google search, and you’ll find that the reasons for becoming a NEET vary. As the differing reasons imply, it takes more than mere laziness to become a true professional NEET. Maybe you want to make a statement against society. Maybe you’re not sure there’s anything for you on the job market. Maybe you don’t want to lose the individuality you worked so hard to achieve when you were still in school.

    Or maybe – just maybe – you really don’t want to get off your ass.

    Maybe you're better off getting out of your ass.

    Osomatsu-san takes place ten years after the original series, where the sextuplets have graduated from trouble-making kids to full-fledged trouble-making bums. Unlike before, where their primary concern was to wreak havoc on the neighbors, the Matsuno brothers are now concerned with real-life issues. How are they supposed to get jobs? How long can they continue mooching off their parents? Will someone like them enough to deflower them?

    Always remember to ask the right questions.

    It’s a timely sequel with real-life questions that must have crossed our minds at some point in our lives. Of course, given the nature of the series, we don’t get any real answers, but sometimes, it’s best to wallow in the free nature of things for a while. Considering the near-toxic conditions of Japanese workaholics these days, it’s easy to see why this series would strike a chord in anyone.

    Rule #2: Anything is fair game.

    Osomatsu-san is, first and foremost, a gag show. There are many rules in comedy, but the most important one of all is to never take anything seriously. This series lives and dies by that rule, and loves to pull jokes on the audience. The moment you take it seriously is the moment you get caught in its trap, so it’s often best to just ride with the flow and enjoy the ride until the finish line.

    You can chalk up the goofiness to a lot of factors. Maybe it’s director Yoichi Fujita’s influence, who many will recognize as the comedic genius behind Gintama. Maybe it’s how well the characters bounce off each other. Maybe it’s in the number of gags and comedic styles the show uses to get maximum laughs.

    It doesn’t matter what the answer is in the end, because they’re all the correct one. Another important rule in comedy is that anything goes, so if you have to think too hard about a joke, then maybe it’s not worth telling in the first place. The gags in Osomatsu-san are relentless, and they come towards you at breakneck speed. You’ll never be able to guess the punchline, because just when you think you’ve had it, the show jerks off into a completely different direction.

    In other words, nothing – not even the viewer’s sanity – is safe.

    Not even old men are spared.

    Given the series’ sketch format, you’d be right to expect a wide variety of humor styles and gags to keep you company. In the mood to go non-sequitur and be as realistically absurd as possible? There’s already one character here in charge of that. Itching to watch someone embarrass themselves in public? There’s another character in charge of that too. Want to see the straight man/funny guy dynamic played out in its full glory? All six brothers have your back. R-rated humor? Parodies? Check and check. Want to go existential and meta? Watch this show break down the fourth wall and put up a fifth one.

    There's also the old reliable "let's take a crap on someone's perpetual virginity" gag.

    Rule #3: You can be as weird as you like.

    One of the reasons the series pulls off its gags so well is because of how cute the art is. Put this together with the show’s adult themes, and it gets instant leeway to do whatever it wants. Thanks to this, Osomatsu-san is able to get away with a lot of punchlines that would be downright creepy with a more realistic art style.

    Because they have so much free time on their hands, the sky really is the limit for all the senseless, sticky situations they get themselves into. You might be giggling at the witty exchanges or holding that snort in at all the R-rated stuff. But once you see how the animation delivers the punchlines, don’t be surprised to find yourself laughing out loud at how silly everyone is being.

    Besides, who can say no to a face like that?

    The rapid animation makes room for all sorts of zany antics, and is also properly able to go all out whenever the situation calls for it. As many of the jokes here are exaggerated to their logical and illogical extremes, having smooth animation to execute them well is not only welcomed – it’s necessary. Osomatsu-san is a cartoon and it knows it, so it makes sure to maximize the medium by testing the limits each and every time.

    Another commendable feat is how well the voice actors bring out the best this series has to offer. They're all veterans in the business, although it'll be hard to recognize them as they're voicing these crazy brothers. It's obvious they all had a blast doing this, and like their animated counterparts, the actors are just as willing to sound silly in the name of good comedy. Thanks to their dedication, effort, and oozing charisma, everyone's able to expertly ride on the offbeat energy Osomatsu-san runs on.

    With a show like this, you won’t need to worry about tame deliveries and execution. As all the main characters are adults, you can be sure that pleasing the censors isn't topping anyone's priority list.

    Pleasing other creators, however, is a whole other matter entirely.

    Rule #4: You'll know the right buttons to push.

    Despite its appearances, Osomatsu-san can get real sometimes, and if you take the time to really look at the characters, it’s easy to see why. They’re NEETs, and it’s a status they’re both ashamed and unapologetic for. The Matsuno brothers are useless sons and they know it – but get them to admit this to each other, and you won’t be getting straight answers out of anybody.

    In this series, there’s a healthy balance of serious, dramatic episodes and fun, light-hearted ones. Whenever the serious stuff comes up, it does so for only a little while, before the show goes right back to its Showa roots.

    Another main theme of the Matsuno brothers’ collective storylines is moving on and growing up, no matter how resistant they are to the change. It’s a late sort of coming-of-age story, which is just fine, because everyone chugs along at their own pace. It’s when you choose not to do anything at all that’s the problem.

    Better to be an idol than be idle, know what I'm saying?

    Seek a job or remain a moocher for life? It’s the eternal war these brothers must wage within themselves, even as their parents start to seriously consider the benefits of making a new set of children. As the gags go on, you’ll be able to sense a real desperation in everyone to either stay put or move on to a social caste higher than theirs. Again, the show doesn’t really give you any real answers, but it’s always fun to see the brothers try.

    Ask a real question, and you may end up with even more questions. Also a brain hemorrhage.

    The series should also be praised for its sympathetic, yet realistic, view towards the NEET. Although it doesn’t praise or glorify the lifestyle, it doesn’t outright condemn it either. Of course, the show takes multiple pot shots at the Matsunos’ expense, but many of their misadventures start because of who they are as people, and not because they don’t have a job. Compared with other shows that might use a character’s NEET status as an excuse to wave away their flaws, or another series that might use the same thing to emphasize someone’s pathetic state, Osomatsu-san does well to strike the perfect balance.

    Rule #5: Nothing really belongs to you.

    Another part of the Matsunos’ story is that they all look the same, even if they’re all so different from each other. Surprisingly, only a few of the series’ jokes rely on this premise – at least, not in the same way its predecessor did. Instead, Osomatsu-san takes this idea a step further and does all it can to highlight each character’s individuality. The gags are no longer limited to people confusing one sibling with another; instead, the viewers are made to see how each Matsuno brother reacts to any given situation.

    You don't need to be hyper-observant when watching the series, because you’ll eventually learn each Matsuno’s name in record time. Give it a few skits, and you’ll soon be able to tell them apart, even if they’re not in their convenient color-coded hoodies.

    After a few more episodes, you'll start to notice a huge-ass trend.

    It’s always amusing to see this many characters in on a single gag, so any scene with all six brothers talking in just one room is immediately memorable. After all, seeing six guys with the same face act so differently in any situation always makes for funny viewing. At the same time, seeing them all react in the same way is just as priceless.

    The Matsunos are a team, for better or for worse, even if their contrasting personalities clash so often. Even if they're all absolute dirtbags to everyone, each other, and themselves, some small hints of redeeming factors manage to peep through in the end. No matter how hard they try to fight it, they’re still brothers, where nothing – not even their own face – is something they can truly call theirs.

    Rule #6: The ride never ends.

    Of course, the best part of all this is that Osomatsu-san has just been confirmed for a sequel. With its phenomenal sales in Japan, getting renewed for a whole new batch of episodes was already a given. The unpredictable nature of the series makes it hard to forecast what to expect exactly – but if the first 25 episodes are any indication, then it should be more of the same old craziness, with that same old random something that’ll threaten to rip the fabric of space and time.

    That is, if you don’t rip your sides open with laughter first.

    A family like any other family who thinks they're just like every other family.

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