Hey there, wonderful boys and girls! Gooood morning! It's 8:00 AM, and you know what that means!
That's right! Time for another fun filled episode of Together with Maman, with your favorite Singing Instructors Utano and Iketeru, and Exercise Instructor Uramichi! Get ready for learning the joys of fighting evil germs, funny sing-alongs, and Uramichi's famous existential crises!
...Don't worry, that last part won't make it in the final cut.
The truth is, like many good adults, our instructors and actors get stressed sometimes. They're not always ready to take on the day, much less to perform at their best in front of the kids. And no one knows that feeling better than Omota Uramichi, a failed gymnast who at his 31 years of life is on the brink of snapping. He drinks, smokes, and takes his frustrations out on his ever suffering juniors along with balancing his stressful children's television job. Thankfully (for us, not for him), he's not the only one suffering through the motions. There's Tobikichi Usahara and Mitsuo Kumatani, Uramichi's long-suffering former college underclassmen turned suit actors, and Iketeru Daga and Utano Tadano, music industry has-beens eking out a living in the show.
Life Lessons with Uramichi-oniisan (うらみちお兄さん, "Uramichi-oniisan") began as a Pixiv comic series written and illustrated by Kuze Gaku before being serialized in Ichijinsha's digital magazine Comic POOL starting in 2017. A few voice commercials were put out to promote volume releases, followed with an anime adaptation, directed by Nobuyoshi Nagayama for Studio Blanc, which started airing in July 6, 2021, with the aforementioned videos' voice cast reprising their roles. Kodansha Comics USA announced an English localization of the manga in 2019, released in onmibus format.
Tropes present in the series include:
- Ambiguous Gender Identity: The choreographer of Together with Maman Capellini is consistently referred to and treated as a woman, however it's unclear whether or not she's transgender, simply a masculine looking woman, or a camp gay man who is One of the Girls. The Funimation anime subtitles muddles this more by using male pronouns while the official manga translation uses female ones.
- Armor-Piercing Question: Sometimes the kids take some good shots, unintentionally:Miki: Onii-san, how old are you?
Uramichi: I'm 31!
Miki: Well my dad is 29, so why aren't you married or have any kids?
Uramichi: Just...give me a second to breathe...
- Beach Episode: Like many things in Uramichi's life, this plot doesn't go well. Sure, they get to go to the beach and take part in typical summer activities under a blue sky, but they're freezing their butts off in the middle of the biggest cold front of the winter. It's also strictly for work.
- Blonde, Brunette, Redhead: Usahara, Kumatani, and their former college roommate Nekota fit into this sort of trio.
- Boke and Tsukkomi Routine: Most of Usahara's jokes come acting as the tsukkomi to other characters — usually Uramichi's— boke. It gets lampshaded when Uramichi tells him to knock it off in response to his comebacks.
- Utano's boyfriend is also part of a manzai comedy duo that does this sort of routine.
- Cast Full of Pretty Boys: The main cast (sans Utano) is exclusively made up of pretty boys, although Iketeru is the only one whose looks are commented on in-universe.
- Casting Gag:
- This isn't the first time Hiroshi Kamiya (Uramichi) plays a chronically depressed man for whom existential crisis is his daily bread and butter.
- Usahara and Kumatani, Uramichi's kouhai and Vitriolic Best Buds, are respectively played by real-life friends Tomokazu Sugita and Yūichi Nakamura.
- Tadano, the washed-up ex-idol turned singer at Together with Maman, is voiced by Nana Mizuki, herself a real-life Idol Singer. On top of that, one of her famous characters is Hoshino Utau ("singing of the stars"), compared to Tadano Utano ("just a song").
- Yūichi Nakamura has played a bear character before in an anime also featuring Hiroshi Kamiya and Tomokazu Sugita.
- Children Are Innocent: Despite all the stuff Uramichi tells them, the kids remain regular, pure minded children to the end. They do spout off some unusual things sometimes, but ultimately they're alright. Uramichi himself values this in the kids, hoping they get to stay as kind and sweet as they are now before the world overtakes them.
- Consummate Professional: The "Together With Maman" cast is this. They will put on a fake smile, do inane stunts, and even film in terrible weather as part of their job. Part of this is traditional Japanese work attitude, part of this is desperation as they couldn't get better opportunities.
- Cringe Comedy: Uramichi's baldfaced mental issues combined with the cheeriness of the rest of Together with Maman can throw audiences in for a loop. This aspect is lessened over the next few volumes in place of a more eccentric work comedy atmosphere.
- Digital Piracy Is Evil: A special comic has Uramichi rant about people who pirate manga or rip them to host on their own unofficial websites. He also uses his puppet to be a strawman for the website hosts, painting them as greedy jerks who skirt around Japanese law to make money off of illegal sharing.
- Double Standard: Abuse, Female on Male: The female choreographer is constantly sexually harassing Usahara, and is always played for laughs. What makes this even more questionable is that the choreographer is implied to be a trans woman, which perpetuates harmful stereotypes about members of the LGBT community.
- Dramatic Unmask: Chapter 8 finally sees "Usao" and "Kumao" unmasked after spending most of their unmasked appearances faced away from the camera or obscured by panels.
- Dysfunction Junction: Nobody on Together with Maman, with the exception of Kumatani, is a functioning adult. Utano's a washed up singer who's rapidly approaching Old Maid mentality, Iketeru is unable to do most actions without prompting, Usahara keeps putting his own foot in his mouth, and Uramichi's an entirely different bag of stress.
- Everyone Went to School Together: Usahara, Kumatani, and Uramichi all used to be roommates in college, while Iketeru was unrelated to them but still attended a high school nearby. The only one of the main five who didn't know them was Utano, and that was because she was still doing idol work at the time.
- Exposed to the Elements: The director, at one point, wanted to shoot a summertime music video for a future segment... in the middle of January, during one of the coldest days of the year. He ends up doing the opposite just after the summer special aired, doing a winter video in the blazing heat, but Kumatani wouldn't let him.
- Fictional Counterpart: Together with Maman is one for the NHK children's program Okaasan to Issho. Its Japanese name even swaps out the words in the real show's title for their French and English equivalents (Maman to Together).
- Freudian Trio: Uramichi is the ego, Usahara is the id, an Kumatani is the superego.
- Hot Springs Episode: Much to Uramichi's displeasure, his planned two day vacation ends up being a mandatory company retreat to an onsen. A good chunk of it is spent on a Mundane Made Awesome ping pong fight.
- Mr. Fanservice: Uramichi. Being a former gymnast and a current exercise freak, the manga and show give many opportunities to show off his physique. He's also the cast member who gets most of the skimpier (and dorkier) form fitting special costumes.
- Parental Bonus: In-universe. The songs Utano and Iketeru sing are rather somber and more oriented towards adult life if you really listen to it (i.e. "Why Does It Rain When I Don't Have an Umbrella" being clearly about anxiety/depression, or "I Raised My Hand and Called a Cab" talking about mixers). Not to mention all the junk the director makes Uramichi wear for special segments.
- Punny Name: Befitting their children's show roots, All the hosts have one. In Japanese order:
- Omota Uramichi = "Depressing + Back Alley/Shady Means", indicating his gloomy demeanor on and off the set as well as how off-putting he appears to others.
- Tadano Utano = "So-so Singer", reflecting her unsuccessful singing career.
- Daga Iketeru = "...But I'm hot", implying his looks are the only thing he can show off of himself unprompted.
- Usahara and Kumatani are the only two characters with surnames that reflect their characters, being Usao and Kumao respectively.
- Their former college room mate is named Nekota (neko meaning cat) keeping with their animal theme naming.
- The rest of the staff has more straightforwardly punny names, like Heame Ikuko (the stylist), Derekida (the director), and Edi (the Assistant Director).
- Right in Front of Me: The hilariously awful Spice Ninja segment eventually inspires a little girl to try out shiso, a bitter leaf. When the mother asks why she would want to do so, the girl replies that the bitterness would be nothing compared to the bitterness of the guy who had to wear the "God of Shiso's" costume. Uramichi, who played the "God" and is walking right behind them, is in equal parts shock and agreement.
- Rummage Sale Reject: A lot of the special costumes are like this. The God of Shiso outfit is a fishnet top with leaf pasties and booty shorts, for example.
- Running Gag:
- Iketeru has quite a few: cracking up at any words that starts with chin, being horrible with an activity only to show unnatural amounts of talent at it once he tries it, and being clueless.
- Usahara pissing off Uramichi.
- Stepford Smiler: Uramichi is a Depressed type. He seems like a friendly and cheerful guy on the show he works on. When he’s off the clock, he’s melancholic and struggles to get through his normal daily life.
- Subverted Kids' Show: With all of the antics that happen on the set of Together with Maman, you'd think it would be an In-Universe example, but it's actually a subversion. From all outward appearances it's a perfectly normal kids' program, and at least one chapter shows that they cut particularly ill-fitting shots out of filming.
- Switching P.O.V.: While the manga is normally told from Uramichi's perspective, during the flashback chapters it switches to either Usahara or Kumatani's perspective.
- Those Two Guys: Quickly subverted with Usahara and Kumatani, despite the former's attempt on using this trope to save face with Uramichi. The two get individually developed and even get separate chapters from their point of views.
- Vitriolic Best Buds: Usahara with both Kumatani and Uramichi, he is often pissing the two off with his blunt and needy behavior, but despite that the three have been close for almost ten years.
- When He Smiles: Uramichi has one of two smiles for the public—his painted kids' show smile, and an exhausted smile when he's feeling up to the challenge. One day, however, he smiles for real; when one of the kids expressed excitement at going to one of their big stage shows, Uramichi uncharacteristically shoots him a genuine smile of happiness, much to the shock of Iketeru and Utano.
- Whole Episode Flashback: Volumes 2, 3, and 4 feature chapters depicting Uramichi's college years and Kumatani's backstory, respectively.
- Work Com: Complete with the Director as the "clueless boss" stand-in.