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Manga / Osomatsu-kun

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Osomatsu-kun (おそ松くん) is a classic 1960s Shōnen gag comedy written and illustrated by Fujio Akatsuka. The manga originally ran from 1962 to 1969 in Weekly Shonen Sunday but continued well into 1990, amassing an impressive 34 volumes by the end of its run overall.

Though the stories tended to be self-contained, the basic premise centers around the mischievous Matsuno brothers— a group of sextuplets who cause more trouble than they solve around their small hometown. Accompanying them is the gaudy, occupation-switching Iyami, their collective sweetheart Totoko, their eternal Sitcom Arch-Nemesis and local oden fanatic, Chibita, and a host of other colorful townsfolk that come along for the ride.

As the years went on, this quirky little story about the Matsunos and their colleagues became sort of a cultural icon in Japan, and remains one of Akatsuka's most beloved works alongside Himitsu no Akko-chan, Moretsu Ataro, and Tensai Bakabon. The series proceeded to have two anime made for it; one by Children's Corner and Studio Zero in 1966, and one done by Studio Pierrot in 1988 that focused instead on the adventures of the wildly popular Iyami and Chibita, while the brothers took on a more secondary role. It also had several reprints in other manga magazines and showed up on a couple of ad campaigns alongside other Akatsuka characters, including an ad campaign called "Osomatsu-kun Grows Up", which detailed what would happen to the sextuplets once they all became adults and moved into the working world.

27 years after the 80s anime ended, a revival series titled Osomatsu-san was created as a Milestone Celebration for Akatsuka's (post-mortem) 80th birthday.

In 2018, the 1988 anime’s 30th anniversary coincided with an English release thanks to Discotek Media. Crunchyroll, Prime Video, and RetroCrush all host this specific adaptation.

Sheeeh! Here are the Osomatsu-kun tropes!

  • Adaptational Nice Guy: In the 1966 version of the story she appears in (episode 19b), Hanako laughs with Osomatsu and Choromatsu after Chibita finds out that she's a pig while out on a date with her. She's also more active in the fight that ensues later in the episode, fighting and mocking Chibita. In the 1988 version (episode 5), she feels bad about tricking Chibita and is barely involved with the fight, only getting trampled by a bunch of cats.
  • Adaptation Personality Change: In Moretsu Ataro, Nyarome is a talking cat who constantly tries to get with human women and believes himself to be on the level of an adult human, despite having arithmetic and literacy skills of a kindergartener. When he appears in the 1988 Osomatsu-kun anime, he's... a talking cat.
  • Artifact Title: Osomatsu-kun stopped being about Osomatsu and his adventures around halfway into the manga. Though he's still the front-most and center of his brothers, they're all collectively pushed to side character position. It's essentially Iyami Time for the whole second run.
  • Art Evolution: Also the result of the manga being done over the course of decades, but the designs start out similar to Akatsuka's Nama-chan/shoujo art (The brothers even had buck teeth and freckles in their earliest incarnation), then got angular when the series started picking up speed, and then moves to more round and cartoony artwork reminiscent of Bakabon's later art style near the end of its run.
  • Attack of the 50-Foot Whatever: When Mom and Dad have had it with the boys' fooling around, they decide to take them to Dekapan's laboratory and throw them unto a Merging Machine to fuse them into one manageable child. What they ended up getting was a giant "Mutsumatsu", who immediately decided to wreak havoc on Akatsuka Ward.
  • Ballet Episode: Chibita and Osomatsu become dancers in one episode, and they compete with Totoko for the lead role in the performance.
  • Beach Episode: "Iyami's Beach House Scam" had the sextuplets and someone go to a beach where Iyami's working another one of his schemes. In one version, it was just the boys and Chibita combing for shells, but in the '88 anime it was them and Matsuzo, but they end up with a beach experience where every little thing needed to be paid for, courtesy of Iyami and Chibita.
  • Bragging Theme Tune: "Osomatsu-kun no Uta" and "Osomatsu-kun no Uta 2" both have this as the brothers talk about how they can do anything if they work together. The second half of the first opening also has Chibita brag about his feats and rivalry with the Matsunos.
  • Chained Heat: Episode 11 of the '88 series had Iyami and Chibita escape from jail stuck together by a chain on their bellies. The catch is, Chibita was convicted of a crime he didn't commit, and it was mainly Iyami who planned to escape (and using Chibita as a weight to get over the jail wall).
  • Characterization Marches On: Chibita could be seen with his parents sometimes in the early chapters, which contrasts with his homeless, parentless character later on.
  • Character Overlap: With the rest of Akatsuka's works, since a majority of them take place in Akatsuka Ward. Characters from Tensai Bakabon and Moretsu Ataro for example would cameo frequently in Osomatsu stories, and vice versa for the Osomatsu cast, too. The '88 anime even had the policeman from Bakabon as a recurring character! References to Himitsu no Akko-chan more frequently fall into the Shout-Out category (despite the physical resemblance between Totoko and Akko), although Akko's friend, Moko, made an appearance as a friend of Totoko's in an early manga chapter.
  • Chuck Cunningham Syndrome: Done with Totoko's older brother, a young prizefighter who went under the name "Fighting Yowai". He appears in a couple of early chapters, but disappears from the series later on and doesn't even show up at all in the anime.
  • Creator Cameo: Akatsuka himself shows up sometimes, and six of his editors are given a cameo in the Mutsumatsu chapter. Notice that the six extra brothers are named after them.
  • Denser and Wackier: The Comic Bonbon run was this, with some of the jokes centering more on gross out humor and the art style becoming more cartoonish than it started out as.
  • Determinator: When the boys couldn't get to school using their usual shortcut due to construction, and they were sick and tired of using the pass-only shortcut that Iyami set up, they decided to pave the whole damn road themselves to make the shortcut again. They want their shortcut, dammit, and they'e going to get it.
  • Diegetic Soundtrack Usage:
    • In the 80's series, some of the characters will sing their specific part of the "Osomatsu-kun Ondo" while they're walking down the street. Iyami will sometimes sing the opening of the 1988 series, as will Mom and Dad.
    • The 1988 adaptation's episode 32 featured a cameo of "Seichou Osomatsu Bushi" being sung by Choromatsu.
  • Disguised in Drag: Osomatsu himself is prone to dressing up in ladies' clothing, whether as a disguise or trick, or simply just because he feels like wearing it.
  • Dismotivation: A young man named Yagi tries to impose this mentality on the sextuplets when he's called in to help them with their studies. He discourages them from achieving anything by pointing out that more successful people have had miserable or tragic lives afterwards. In the end, it doesn't completely work, and they gain a "go with the flow" mentality.
  • Distressed Dude: Osomatsu, Ichimatsu, and Choromatsu were kidnapped for an episode, and it was up to Karamatsu and his remaining brothers to get them back.
  • "Do It Yourself" Theme Tune: The first intro for the 60s series, "Osomatsu-kun no Uta" (Both the OP and ED), is performed by the brothers, Chibita, and Iyami.
  • Dragged into Drag: Osomatsu is a victim of this in the Beach Episode when Totoko forces him into one of her swimsuits.
    • Occasionally averted in the manga, mostly around the early volumes, as Osomatsu can be seen in drag to foil an enemy or simply just because he feels like putting something girly on.
  • "Everybody Dies" Ending: At the very end of "The Shinigami Salesman", Chibita accidentally kills everyone by opening a window and the wind turning off the candles that represents everyone's lives, thus making everyone, including the shinigami salesman, go to the afterlife.
    • This is averted in the original manga version of the story, with Osomatsu recovering from his illness and the Salesman retiring from his job. Osomatsu and his brothers are asked to get candles for a birthday cake. The brothers get to the candlemaker's shop but immediately nope out as the shopkeeper turns out to be the Shinigami Salesman.
  • Exact Words:
    • In "The Beggar Robot", one of the sextuplets is told by Dekapan that if he puts a coin in the mouth (of the titular robot), he gets to see something amazing. The sextuplet took it to mean that he needs to put a coin in Dekapan's mouth, and accidentally makes him choke.
    • When Osomatsu and Choromatsu ask Chibita to help them catch a fish in "Iyami's Fishing Hole", Chibita responds by telling them that he'll catch it by himself. The boys string him up and use him as bait.
    • When the sextuplets come home after getting back a test, they tell their mom that they've all gotten a full 100 percent on it. At first, Mom seems elated, until they show her that five of them actually got a 20 and Osomatsu got a 0. They just added the scores together.
  • Expy: Even if only in appearance, Totoko is one of the title character in Himitsu no Akko-chan. The two girls rarely appeared together, but when they did, their physical resemblance was Lampshaded. At one point, some fans posited the theory that Totoko and Akko were one and the same, which Akatsuka angrily denied. Not helping was the fact that the original manga versions of both series ran concurrently, as did the 1988-89 anime remakes of both (and on the same channel no less).
  • Faceship: Damn near everything associated with Iyami resembles his face, from his car to his house to the latest building he runs a scam out of.
  • Fountain of Youth:
    • "Osomatsu-kun in 30 Years" centered on the 40-year old brothers, now researchers, coming up with a de-aging serum that allows them to turn back onto their old mischievous kid selves.
    • In exchange for saving a magical creature's life, Mom and Dad are granted one wish, and both wish to be turned younger. During this, Mom started a brief idol career and rivalry with Totoko.
  • Hated by All: Depends on the episode, but mostly Iyami is used to this, and pretty justified. You can especially see this in the episode "Earning Money with Death", in which almost nobody gave a donation to him at his fake funeral (a lone exception gave him 500 yen out of pity).
  • Hurricane of Puns: The official character page is littered with these in Japanese, describing the boys with words that sound like their names. Choromatsu tends to dart around (chorochoro), Karamatsu's head is empty (karappo), etc.
  • Identical Panel Gag: The very first chapter opens up with one of these, where the sextuplets come up one by one to ask an unwitting Mom if there are any snacks around the house. It takes until the fourth brother for her to notice that she was speaking to four different people.
  • Identical Stranger: Borders on an identical family in one case, where the Matsunos meet a four man family that has the parents look like Mom and Dad, and the children look like the sextuplets. Amusingly, the family only has a set of Always Identical Twins.
  • Identical Twin ID Tag: To tell them apart in one chapter, Mom and Dad decided to shave their heads, only leaving enough hairs in order to order them 1 through 6. Because the brothers don't like that idea, they all decide to go bald in order to keep getting away with mischief.
  • I'll Pretend I Didn't Hear That: In one story, Chibita was being secretly monitored by Iyami in case he ever started up criminal activity again. So when Chibita was reduced to lock picking a safe in order to save whoever was inside and Iyami saw the whole thing, it was somewhat of a surprise when Iyami decided not to arrest Chibita for it.
  • Incredible Shrinking Man: After being picked on by the Matsuno brothers for being short, Chibita takes a shrinking potion from his father's lab in order to shrink down the Matsunos and give them a taste of their own medicine. Iyami discovers them and tries to make a freak show attraction out of them, but they grow back just in time to throw the potion back into the duo's faces.
  • Intoxication Ensues: In the volume 1 chapter "Midsummer Gifts", all the brothers save Osomatsu end up getting drunk on alcoholic cider, and when they have to deliver gifts to the neighbors, disaster unfolds. It doesn't help that they got new shirts (except Osomatsu since there was only 5 a pack), and keep taking them off when they get stressed out.
  • Jekyll & Hyde: Invoked in one episode when the sextuplets were called in for a research project. The professor that oversaw them seemed to switch from a nice, kindly man to having a hair-trigger temper every time he left the room. Turns out, it was just two twin researchers.
  • Late for School: Quite an old version of it, at that. The Matsunos are so late for school one morning that they bring their whole table with them to eat while they run off.
  • Long Runner: If you take its entire run into account, then the manga lasted a good 28 years (1962-1990) before it finally stopped publishing regularly.
  • Loophole Abuse: When Iyami and Chibita force the sextuplets to use a pass to get through their shortcut to school and only one brother was able to get one, they all decided to work around it by running past the gate after being admitted and throwing it all the way to the other side for the next brother to catch.
  • Love Dodecahedron : All of the brothers have a crush on Totoko. So does Chibita. And so do a lot of other kids.
  • Merging Machine: One chapter has Mom and Dad use one to fuse their kids into one manageable child.
  • Mobile Shrubbery: Iyami was followed by the sextuplets this way, with all of them acting as a Matsunote  tree. The disguise boiled down to tree branches.
  • No Ending: The final chapter of volume 34 is a self-contained chapter about weird phenomena happening in town. Akatsuka does leave an afterword, though.
  • Not Me This Time: One episode of the 1960s show had Matsuzo's bonus going missing. The sextuplets accuse Iyami of stealing it, especially since he was seen buying an expensive stereo set. Chibita had to drag Iyami's banker to their home, who confirmed that he won the money in a contest and could not have come from Matsuzo's missing bonus. Sure enough Matsuzo simply dropped his bonus, which was eventually found in the end.
  • Ondo: The ending theme for the 80's series is done in this style.
  • Our Vampires Are Different: In “Dracula’s Son”, vampires can be defeated through the usual methods: sunlight, garlic, and crosses, but can also be defeated by pulling out their fangs with pliers. No methods can physically kill them, but rather turn them back into sleeping humans.
  • Paper-Thin Disguise: Iyami and Chibita had a habit of putting on these when they start up their shady business deals.
  • Playing Sick: Chibita did this in the first episode of the '66 series, waiting until his father was out to make oden for himself. Coincidentally, Osomatsu and Choromatsu were supposed to be babysitting him then...
  • Quarter Hour Short: The '66 series had this. The '88 series was more prone to making whole episodes.
  • Recursive Fiction: In one episode of the '66 series, a tanuki is seen reading an Osomatsu-kun manga.
  • The Runaway: "Attention Seeking" variant. Totoko's brother runs away from the Yowai household because he wanted to become more independent, but he ends up running back to them after watching Mom interact with her kids.
  • Running Gag:
    • Osomatsu and Todomatsu, at least in the '88 anime, would be constantly mixed up for one another.
    • A popular one for the brothers would be them getting into fights and blaming another one of them for messing up, while they all go in a line to clear up the misunderstanding (ie "That's not Karamatsu, he's Jyushimatsu!" "I'm Jyushimatsu! That's Ichimatsu!" etc.).
  • Satchel Switcheroo: In episode 20 of the 1988 series, Chibita constantly switches up two identical watermelons with Dayoon, which gets them both in trouble— Chibita's watermelon was actually a bomb in the guise of a melon meant to be delivered to the Matsunos, while Dayoon's was actually casing a whole collection of expensive jewelry and gold coins meant to be given to the Yakuza.
  • School Play: One chapter has the children do a Fractured Fairytale for one of these, being a retelling of the tale of Urashima Taro gone incredibly wrong.
  • Sdrawkcab Name: In "The Terrifying Lodger", the person staying at the Matsuno household is named Tougou, which if put in the right order is "Goutou" (robber). He turns out to be a thief later on in the chapter.
  • Self-Deprecation: When one What If? sequence explained how the main cast died, it also revealed Akatsuka ended up killing himself after struggling to balance drawing manga with his rampant alcoholism. The only one to survive? Chibita.
  • Shout-Out:
    • Quite a few to Akatsuka's other series in addition to the frequent Character Overlap. In one chapter of the '80s manga, Totoko skips out on a restaurant bill by using the pseudonym "Himitsuno Akkochan." Akatsuka also always freely admitted the Totoko's character design was copied from Akko's, if not her personality.
    • The 1966 version of "Chibita Walks the Tightrope" (episode 34) has Q-Taro from Little Ghost Q-Taro show up amongst the circus audience.
    • In the 1988 series, Iyami and Chibita transform in the style of Saint Seiya.
    • Darth Vader and a couple of Storm Troopers try to invade Earth in one chapter.
  • Sick Episode: The inciting action in "The Shinigami Salesman" involves Osomatsu, who came down with such a bad cold one day that everyone assumed that he was dying. He actually was!
  • Spotlight-Stealing Squad: Iyami and Chibita over time, to the point where the 1988 series and the second half of the manga is centered around their actions and adventures rather than that of the Matsunos.
  • Tanuki: A couple of these critters get involved with the Matsuno family at one point. After hearing the boys mock him for saying that tanuki weren't real, he disguises himself as one of them, signs them up for a job at a noodle shop, and has them run back and forth delivering noodles to the wrong addresses to work them to the bone.
  • Took a Level in Jerkass: Totoko was rewritten in the '80s anime as a spoiled, selfish, vain girl obsessed with money and fame. This made her a good fit for her seiyuu, Naoko Matsui, who was known for playing similar types of characters.
  • Twin Switch: All of the brothers do this when they figure out that Osomatsu has been hanging out with a girl named Kinko, and take turns impersonating him to talk to her.
  • Uncatty Resemblance: Kinko's dog looks exactly like her father. When the Matsunos get into a skirmish with it, they also tended to confuse one for the other.
  • What If?: Akatsuka liked to make a lot of these for his characters. He made two for how the cast would grow up post-series ("Osomatsu-kun in 30 Years" and the "Osomatsu-kun Grows Up" ad campaign) and a scenario that shows how the cast could die (the Matsunos by food poisoning, Iyami by overbite disease, and Totoko of anorexia).
  • Whole-Plot Reference: One of the episodes is this to The Great Race.
    • One chapter featuring Chibita as a safe-cracker is a retelling of "A Retrieved Reformation" by O. Henry. Interestingly, even with the usual silliness associated with the series, it was faithful to the source material.
    • One of the most famous chapters of the entire comic PERIOD, "Iyami Alone in the Wind", is an edo-period retelling of the Charlie Chaplin film City Lights. It even plays into the fact that one of Iyami's influences is Chaplin's Tramp character (and the whole Iyami/Chibita dynamic is purposefully similar to the Tramp's dynamic with the Kid).
    • Similar to the above chapter, “The Downtown Chibita Kid” is a direct parallel to The Kid with a more Chaplin-like character, Mojamoja-ojichan playing the Tramp role.note 
  • Zany Scheme: Iyami has been the culprit of these one too many times, constantly changing his profession every episode or so in order to make a quick buck. Chibita has been his companion on some of these schemes.

Alternative Title(s): Osomatsu Kun