Osomatsu-san Season 3 – 25 (End) and Series Review
I don’t know if two seasons is really long enough to establish a tradition. But to the extent that it is, Osomatsu-san Season 3 certainly broke with it here. After two wham-bang epic multi-part finales that flirted with seriousness before going completely batshit insane, we got the most low-key one imaginable. One could muse at great length about the implications of that (and I will muse on it, though not at great length). But on its own terms, it certainly represents an interesting change. And sort of fits with the season.
In point of fact this season featured some of the most thoughtful material of the entire series, though mostly in its first cour. As such I thought that was really where we were headed here, but there were only a couple of moments where that cracked through (especially with Choromatsu and Totty). Mostly it was comedy, neither the most zany or the most cerebral of the run, but safely in the middle. The implication being, seemingly, that the boys are OK living life the way they do. That’s always been the elephant in the room with Osomatsu-san, because they really aren’t (just considering the impact on their parents). But the life they’ve rejected has a lot of things about it worth rejecting.
Ultimately, I think that’s the most interesting aspect of Osomatsu-san for me, along with the characters themselves (who are way more interesting and complex than given credit for). They’re the butt of the series jokes, to be sure. But implicit in the writing is a condemnation of the “Japanese dream” – a dream which the lost decades have already made largely decrepit, anyway. Conformity, marrying someone you don’t love, working a mind-numbingly dull job until you die – Osomatsu-san the series abjectly rejects those life choices. But is never shies away from showing is the often pathetic nature of how the Katsudō 活動tuplets live. There are no easy answers to be found here – and that, I suppose, is the point.
The theme of the finale, fittingly enough, is boredom. This is the crisis the boys face – their parents have effectively chased them out of the house, the konbini has banned them, the pachinko palace is closed. “I want to do something… but I kind of don’t.” You could hardly do better to sum up this series than that. Eventually they settle on a hanami party – this being a fictional world where such things can actually still happen – and each are assigned to a task of preparation before meeting back up at the park at 6:00.
To be sure, there are wacky hijinks here. Jyuushimatsu gets sucked into Chibita’s crypto fantasy, while Ichimatsu is caught up in Dayon and Dekapan’s alien-summoning and Todomatsu has a very surreal interaction with Hatabou. Karamatsu sees why Totoko should never be allowed to drive a car but doesn’t get it. Most interestingly, Osomatsu runs into Iyami pushing a vaccine cart satsumaimo-style. As current as it tends to be I’m a bit surprised Osomatsu-san hasn’t really written the pandemic into the script before this – indeed, the hanami situation shows that it’s pretending it doesn’t exist.
More compelling to me, though, were those introspective moments sneaked into the montage. Ichimatsu’s social anxiety has never felt more tragic, and it’s all done so quietly. Totty has a moment where he admits he’s capable of more than he’s actually doing (he has those). And Choromatsu is for all his faults probably the most self-aware of the brothers when it comes to how they’re viewed. He lives in a fantasy world more than any of them (unless you count Jyuushi’s worldview), yet he’s also uneasily conscious of that fact.
In the end, even having a hanami party is too much effort, and all the boys end up at the sento instead. No question about it, that’s really goddam sad. But this last scene has an oddly upbeat feel to it in spite of that, as if the Katsudō 活動tuplets are more at peace with who they are than usual (whether they should be or not). Is this expressive of Fujita and Matsubara more at peace being tethered to Osomatsu-san than they have been in the past? Who knows – but there have been times this season when it really has felt that way.
I guess the time for musing has come, then. I don’t know whether Osomatsu-san will return for a 4th season, and the final “Hope we see you again someday” is hardly definitive. But I feel more positive about the chances than I did after the second season finale, which had the feeling of going out with a bang. Osomatsu-san may not be the monster it was after the first season, but I think it remains popular enough that the only determining factor will be whether the key players (to wit, Matsubara and Fujita) want to make more. And coming up with new original comedy season after season is really, really hard – so I think that’s always an open question. But this season really did have the feel of one where the creators were more at ease with the material.
Looking back on it, I have a curiously positive feeling about this season. There weren’t many standout chapters (though “Restaurant Full of Mysteries” may have been the funniest sketch in Osomatsu-san history), but for whatever reason I feel more emotionally connected to the series than ever before. Whether it’s the show itself or me I don’t know, but I don’t suppose it really matters. I definitely feel as if I want to see more closure for the boys than we got here, and I get the sense that the writer and director do too. I was pretty indifferent about the future of Osomatsu-san after the second season, but that’s definitely not the case now. At least the decision is likely in the hands of the people that really matter, not the production committee, and that makes it a lot easier to accept whatever happens.
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