With every season, Mr. Osomatsu shoves countless modern inventions and situations in the sextuplets’ faces as they struggle to keep up. The current third season introduces robots who are determined to help the boys become productive members of society. Surprisingly, the twin robots not-so-affectionately named Shake and Ume by the Matsuno brothers, are permanent minor characters. Despite having their work cut out for them, they don’t give up! And while it is funny to see these robots working hard to make Osomatsu and his brothers upstanding citizens, the anime does in a very tongue-in-cheek way that makes us question the status quo of one’s worth being tied to their productivity.
The Myth of Productivity=Value Through a Critical Lens
There are certain things we take for granted in our society; ‘truths’ we do not think to contest. Things like ‘the most qualified person should get the job’ and ‘if you give money to a homeless person, they might use it for drugs and alcohol.’ These things operate on the idea of scarcity and ego, that the best and most worthy have and SHOULD have. Humans still have needs intrinsic value even if they don’t have the firmest handshake or the best smile. The idea that people don’t deserve handouts and that it is almost shameful to be generous lest that money not be put to great use is also incredible hypocrisy.
How many times have we, over a minor inconvenience, granted ourselves some luxury or excess and felt completely validated in doing so? Yet by possible mere bad luck or circumstance, those who live perpetual days of no school or work should be denied any joy during their hard times? It seems our kindness and value on human life is limited to simply the illusion of maintaining life or on making the person more productive to society.
Offended by their lack of productivity, everyone from Totoko to Mr. and Mrs. Matsuno will loudly proclaim how useless and terrible the Matsuno sextuplets are. The very first episode of season 3 has ‘ideal’ versions of Osomatsu and the others as well as international versions and opposite gender versions as if to say just how bad the Matsuno brothers are on their own. While everyone agrees the anime would be better off without them, they take their rightful place as the unmotivated, problematic heroes of the anime.
Super Successful or Plagues on Society?
The Matsuno brothers have enjoyed 3 seasons of being the worst man-children to befall Japan. It’s because of their incredible aversion to work and unstoppable laziness that they have somehow kept us mesmerized season after season. Their fighting back against a society that wants them to grow up and take responsibility is almost noble. They’ll stop at nothing to do nothing. They are a constant problem for the people around them, causing all manner of inconveniences. But if that were to change, the whole nature of the show would be disrupted. For anything more than a setup to come hilariously crashing down later, adhering to society’s idea of a worthwhile person would ruin the uniqueness of the anime.
Finding Freedom in Episode 12
The twin robots have worked hard to not only aid the Matsuno brothers in their everyday life, but also to understand how humans work. They struggle to understand appropriate lies to keep the peace between humans or the appropriate application of SHEEEEE! With Juushimatsu’s ability to multiply and Ichimatu’s tendency to dote on cats and curse humans, they admittedly don’t have the best role models. After losing yet another battle to get the Matsunos up at a decent hour, Shake and Ume feel despondent when they’re told there’s no need to do anything.
When the two robots fail to convince their company that being NEETs is an ok way of life, they have Special AI Sukeroku replace them as the sextuplets’ guardian. The boss yells at the two for failing to produce results which will give the company more grants. Instead of truly making lives better for humans as is the company’s mission, it comes down to what will make money. Shake and Ume get jobs doing dangerous work to protect humans while Osomatsu and his brothers benefit from Sukeroku’s special service.
Yet they end up being unable to give up on Shake and Ume! In one of the most selfless, hardworking displays ever, the Matsuno brothers risk life and limb to steal them back from the landfill company. Moved by their selflessness, Ume and Shake ask why the brothers would fight so hard for something hopeless. Osomatsu replies that he wants them to think of what they themselves want instead of trying to find a reason for everything. With a new self-awareness born inside them, Shake and Ume burn down whatever is in their path, including the brothers. In the end, the sextuplets decide they don’t like these lawless robot twins and tell them off in favor of Sukeroku. It’s only in this moment where everything was lost and nothing was learned, do Shake and Ume finally understand SHEEEEE!
We seem to readily condemn humans for just doing what they want without a drive for success, yet feel bad for robots forced to work to relieve human suffering. While of course there is merit in fighting for your dreams and hard work being rewarded, Osomatsu-san’s 3rd season shows us that productivity aside, it is the right of people to avoid traditional work ethics and success and still exist. What’s wrong with being a NEET?? With so many funny traits between Osomatsu and his brothers, what are your favorite characteristics that have nothing to do with work? Let us know in the comments!