Skeptic?  I certainly was one where this season of Osomatsu-san is concerned.  I questioned whether it really needed to happen, and whether the hearts of Fujita and Matsubara were likely to be in it (since the end of S2 seemed almost like a plea to escape).  But – while not every sketch has hit the mark by any means – I’m a believer.  In many respects I think this is the most daring and challenging season of Osomatsu-san, despite (or perhaps as a result of) being the least outrageous.

It also strikes me that this is very much a seiyuu-driven show, perhaps more than any other on the schedule.  Ono Daisuke was astoundingly good in the “Restaurant Full of Mysteries” sketch last week, and here he takes the spotlight again in the first of two parts to this movie-parody episodes.  Though he shares it with the incomparable Inoue Kazuhiko, who’s a big player in both chapters this week.  “Sanecop” makes no secrets about what it’s satirizing, and it’s the first appearance of the ill-fated Sanematsu this season.

All in all this is the lesser of the two halves this week, though it has its moments.  I actually think the best part of this sketch was the closing credits sequence, a full-on Hollywood action scroll (in English), culminating with Sanematsu seemingly getting a happy ending.  Of sorts – I mean, Sanematsu did die and get turned into a robot, but he actually got the girl.

Fewer people have seen John Carpenter’s They Live than Robocop, I imagine, though in the end I think it’s the better film.  Casting Iyami in the Roddy Piper role is genius, because they’re far more alike than it might seem when you really think about it.  While it was a blip when released They Live became an influential cult hit and a stable of counterculture, and its easy to see why – if you’re a believer that the system is rigged against you by the rich and powerful this is the story that plays that out to its logical endpoint.

This piece is really stylish and clever, more serious than overtly comic, and it’s a showcase not just for Inoue but another great seiyuu, Suzumura Kenichi.  As good as this season has been it has radically underdeployed the traditional supporting cast, and Iyami is foremost among that group to be sure.  He’s been sorely missed, but it was worth the wait – he takes command of this episode and never lets go, and he and Matsuzou make a great pair.  In the original series (and remake) Iyami played an almost Nezumi-otoko-like role, instigating the plot and saying uncomfortable things no one else could say.  He’s largely been a comic relief character in Osomatsu-san, but he can still carry an episode like no one else in the entire cast.

The thing with Osomatsu-san is that is really has a huge comic arsenal.  That was already the case before this season, but the addition of the musubi and harder-edged take on the NEET lifestyle have only added firepower.  In an era when comedy is on the decline in anime, I probably don’t appreciate this series nearly enough – but I’m starting to more than ever.

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Guardian Enzo

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