- JunCture : 超域的日本文化研究 (ISSN:18844766)
- vol.10, pp.18-32, 2019-03-25
Mr. Osomatsu (Osomatsu-san) is a Japanese anime comedy series (2015–2018) based on Akatsuka Fujio’s manga series, Osomatsu-kun (1962–1969). The anime features more adult-oriented humor compared to the original manga, as it follows the lives of the sextuplet Matsuno brothers, who have fully grown up into lazy NEETs. The anime series attracted young female audiences with its character designs and its comical but delicate portrait of the everyday relationships among the brothers. The purpose of this study is to examine and explain the queer elements apparent in this series, including its bromance and accompanying incestuous connotations, human/non-human romantic relationships, and polyamorist desire between the sextuplets and the heroine, Totoko. We can find similar elements in Akatsuka’s canon, which adopts a “nonsense gag manga” style marked by a fascination with the transgression of rules. However, it is clear these elements take on different meanings in Mr. Osomatsu, with its very satiric description of today’s neoliberal market society, which excludes the Matsuno brothers from any kind of stable social relationship except with their own family. We see these queer relationships are indeed forced options for them in place of a heteronormative romantic love out of the brothers’ reach, but at the same time they make us look at a certain strategy to challenge the neoliberal norm of masculinity, to be an economically independent man capable of living a heteronormative family life. In this regard, Akatsuka’s gag heritage almost merges with the act of queering, and allows us to look into the diversities and the difficulty of masculinity in today’s Japanese society.