To say Osomatsu has gone through many changes since 1962 would be an understatement. Originally a gag manga by Fujio Akatsuka, Osomatsu-kun has been adapted twice to anime in 1966 and 1988, each with its own take on the series and sense of humor. The manga, as well as both versions of the anime, also shifted from their initial premise of rambunctious identical sextuplet children–Osomatsu, Karamatsu, Choromatsu, Ichimatsu, Jyushimatsu, and Todomatsu–to focus on their neighbors Iyami and Chibita when those characters proved more popular.
In 2015, director Yoichi Fujita and series writer Shu Matsubara of Gintama fame rebooted the series to refocus on the sextuplets and bring them into adulthood. In modern Japanese society, the main characters live as social misfits: the Matsuno sextuplets having aged into NEETs (“Not in Education, Employment, or Training”) and the sole heroine, Totoko, becoming a floundering local idol. The sextuplets have always sought attention from girls, and now they’re horndogs desperate to have sex for the first time. Totoko refuses to date them, even if they’re her only supporters.
Not all characters from Osomatsu-kun carried over, including girls like Chikako. Only Totoko and Matsuyo, mother of the Matsuno family, remained as recurring characters. Besides them, women generally make limited appearances. Try as they might to get girlfriends, women outright reject the sextuplets or a relationship doesn’t last longer than an episode. (To be fair, it makes sense that women don’t want to be around men who objectify and insult them.)
Now in its third season, Osomatsu-san (localized as Mr. Osomatsu) has somewhat shifted its approach to women. Although the season premiere couched any balance between male and female characters going forward as “compliance” to appease the show’s production committee, episodes have sincerely focused on Totoko, Matsuyo, and the reboot-exclusive Nyaa-chan more than ever.
This post contains discussion of misogyny, transmisogyny, and sexual harassment, as well as spoilers for all seasons of Osomatsu-san and Osomatsu-san: The Movie.