by Amy McNulty,
How would you rate episode 9 of
Mr. Osomatsu ?
Community score: 4.5
This week's Mr. Osomatsu is arguably the series' most grounded episode to date. Sure, the slapstick wackiness and shock humor are still abundant, but episode 9 marks the show's first attempt to slow things down and let the characters breathe since "ESP Kitty."
The episode begins on a cold open that finds Osomatsu and Ichimatsu putting their own twisted spin on The Crane Wife. Provided you're familiar with this classic Japanese folktale—or similar stories like The Snake Wife and The Carp Wife—you'll have a good chuckle. (If you're not, Folktales from Japan can bring you up to speed.) In the Mr. Osomatsu version, the man who saved the crane-turned-human-woman's life doesn't think she owes him a thing in return for his heroism, whereas the original tale's male lead was all too happy to make her his doting wife. Although this is the episode's least compelling offering, it manages to pack a lot of laughs into its brief runtime. (Why the brothers needed to pop out of snowmen in order to perform their reenactment for a totally uninterested Hatabou is never made clear.)
Episode 9's first segment finds Chibita taking Karamatsu (who's apparently forgiven him for the whole "kidnapping and attempted murder" thing a few weeks back) under his wing and training him in the fine art of oden-making. After misinterpreting Karamatsu's dream for the future, Chibita wastes no time in trying to mold the wannabe player in his image, outfitting him in traditional oden stand proprietor garb and shaving his head. It isn't long before Karamatsu learns that Chibita gives a whole new meaning to "putting your all" into something and puts as much distance between himself and his pint-sized mentor as possible.
This segment marks the first time Chibita's taken center stage. Even though the tightly-wound chrome-dome typically serves as a no-nonsense counterpart to the decidedly more laidback Matsuno brothers, it's clear that he's not really playing with a full deck. (I hope Karamatsu made the local health inspector aware of Chibita's "personal touches.") While he works better as a comic foil than the focus of an episode, his humorously-inflated ego, consistent energy, and disturbing approach to oden-making carry this segment well enough. The grotesque grand finale—Chibita jumping into his oden broth buck naked—is the funniest part because it's so out of character (at least based on what we've seen so far). However, Chibita misunderstanding Karamatsu's intentions and never giving him a chance to explain the miscommunication is an underwhelming sitcom stock gag.
The second segment, which accounts for the bulk of the episode, is the show's first Jyushimatsu-centric story. When the rest of the Matsunos discover that the relentlessly hyperactive, perpetually pun-spouting space-case has a girlfriend, they're predictably floored. Compounding their confusion is the fact that this unassuming young woman is endlessly amused by their zany brother's stupid jokes. Although they appear to be jealous, the Matsunos (surprisingly) are actually happy for Jyushimatsu. Even after discovering that his brother's new squeeze is an adult film actress, Osomatsu chooses to keep quiet, reasoning that it isn't his secret to tell. Based on their behavior in previous episodes, it's natural to expect the boys to sabotage Jyushimatsu's romance out of jealousy (and they definitely consider it), so their supportive attitude toward their brother is surprising. (I never saw Osomatsu not telling Jyushimatsu his crush is in a porno; I just assumed Jyushimatsu wouldn't care.)
We soon learn that Jyushimatsu isn't actually dating the unnamed woman, although he does have feelings for her. As it turns out, the woman was preparing to throw herself off a seaside cliff when the ever-energetic Jyushimatsu caught her attention with his usual antics. After the wily ball of energy was swept up in the high tide, the suicidal A.V. actress came to his rescue, eventually saving his life and kicking off their friendship. When Jyushimatsu finally works up the courage to confess his feelings, the object of his affection reveals that she'll be leaving Tokyo and returning to her hometown. In true rom-com fashion, Jyushimatsu runs alongside the departing bullet train and entertains the woman with a colorful assortment of sight gags. The episode closes on an image of the woman weeping, revealing the number 14 (jyuu-shi) scrawled on her blouse. Presumably, keeping this number close by will help deter future suicide attempts.
Since Jyushimatsu is the least selfish Matsuno sibling, giving him the starring role in the second segment made the story all the more poignant. Mr. Osomatsu has attempted drama before (see "ESP Kitty"), but it never lost sight of its comedic identity in the process. Jyushimatsu's love story is the show's first attempt at a serious, heart-wrenching story that isn't chock-full of rapid-fire gags. The featured romance isn't terribly original, but there is something unique about the way the story comes together. For example, there are a number of little details viewers will need to take note of in order to make sense of everything, such as the 14 on the woman's blouse and the implication behind why she was contemplating suicide. (It's never explicitly stated, but she probably appeared in an adult video.)
From gag-laden skits to moving melodrama, this episode goes to show that you never know exactly what to expect from Mr. Osomatsu. I commend the staff for waiting until the characters were comfortably developed to try something like this. Laughs are always a given with this series, but Mr. Osomatsu is still able to shake things up from time to time with finesse.
Mr. Osomatsu is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.
Amy is a YA fantasy author who has loved anime for two decades.
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