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Series / Okaasan to Issho

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Okaasan to Issho (roughly translated, "With Mother") is a long-running show on NHK in Japan (since 1959) aimed at preschool children, much like The BBC's Watch with Mother. The show is a collection of sketches, songs and dances, many designed to be interactive with the child's parents (specifically, Mommy, see Housewife below). Actual children are usually part of the show and interact with the hosts.

The show's hosts are four young adults, two dancers/gymnasts and two singers, one of each sex, respectively. New hosts are rotated in roughly every five years to keep the hosts young (and more relatable to children, one would suppose). Many prior hosts have gone on to become pop stars and actors in mainstream Japanese culture. Additionally, there are four full body suited actors playing a series of characters and skits. These, too, are constantly changed out every few years (though it's possible it's the same people in the costumes).

Animated shorts that played in the series include:

  • Konnakoirukana (1986-1991): A series about twelve characters with their own unique personalities. It is the first animated short series made for Okaasan to Issho.
  • Futari wa Nakayoshi: Guu and Sue (1991-1994): A narrated series about two young siblings named Guu and Sue.
  • Fushigina Ano Ko wa Sutekina Kono Ko (1994-1997): Anthropomorphic animals interact with each other.
  • Princess Spoon's Swing Kitchen (1997-1999): A series featuring living tableware about a spoon playing with her cup friend.
  • Yancharu Moncha (1999-2002): A series about a mischievous green tea monkey.
  • Boku no Tomodachi (1999-2004): A series about a rice cooker and several living appliances.
  • Deko Boko Friends (2002-2011): A series about twelve, later eighteen characters with various personalities and appearances. It is the longest running animated short series in Okaasan to Issho, and the only one exported outside of Japan.
  • Pants Pankuro (2004-2008): A series that teaches young children good bathroom habits and hygiene.
  • Tomodachi Hachi Nin (2011-2019): Follows nine characters with their own personalities, one that is the main character of each episode, interact with each other.
  • Yowa Mushi Monsters (2012-2017): An angel-like character teaches viewers how to repel monsters by showing their weakness (such as throwing a kiss, clapping, or making faces). Also known as Yowamon.
  • Mojo Moji Obake Bake Matsu (2014-2019): A ghost wearing a hood transforms an object or animal by changing its name.

The current hosts are:

  • Atsuko Ono: Singer
  • Yuichiro Hanada: Singer (is the lead host most of the time)
  • Risa Uehara: Dancer
  • Yoshihisa Kobayashi: Dancer/Gymnast (does the ending theme, wears brightly colored jumpsuits)

The show can be seen in the United States on the premium Japanese-language channel TV Japan weekday and Saturday mornings. Saturday shows are generally reruns or broadcasts of the show's Family Concert events.

Okaasan to Issho provides examples of the following tropes:

  • Artistic License – Music: One episode contains a skit for a music video called Rock N Roll Dragon that has the hosts pretending to be a rock band. Mitani and Itou are the guitarist and bassist and obviously have no clue how to play, and they don't even fake it (they simply hold the guitars rigidly). Kobayashi behind the skins seems to know what he's doing, though.
  • Commercial Pop-Up: As of November 2023, a QR code pops up in the left corner of the show during "Karada Dandan" that leads to a dance-along video of the same song.
  • Engrish: It's probably a good thing that very few of the target audience can read some of the Engrish shirts that have appeared on the show (a 3-year-old wearing a "Gay Jews for Jesus" shirt immediately comes to mind...).
  • Excited Kids' Show Host: Averted. The hosts are rather subdued and rarely talk down to the kids as much as many shows of this type.
  • Fake Band: See Artistic License – Music above.
  • Food Porn: Seriously, most of the skits and songs seem to be about food. This could just be a cultural thing though.
  • Housewife: Often a criticism of the show is its rather traditional presentation of the family unit. Any mother depicted is always a housewife (and as mentioned, the interactive dances and such are meant to be done With Mother), and Dad is always the guy who leaves every day in a suit with a briefcase.
  • Long-Runners: Been on the air for over 50 years in one incarnation or another.
  • Once an Episode: In every episode, the oneesans and oniisans will dance to the current exercise song, usually with some children.
  • Parental Bonus: The DVD collections of the songs have bonus songs with the current cast singing songs (new and old) with various previous hosts.
  • People in Rubber Suits: Some of the segments feature characters of this type, mainly the costume character segments.
  • Theme Song Power Up: Literally, the ending song is PAWAPAWAPAWA (Power Up!)
  • Writing Around Trademarks: Kobayashi (along with Itou as his assistant) plays a trickster type in one recurring sketch, changing a picture and making kids guess what was changed about it. His costume is awwwwwfully close to the Riddler's outfit from Batman (let's hope no one from Warner Bros. Discovery ever catches Japanese children's programming).
  • Younger and Hipper: The cast is replaced about every five years with fresh new young faces.