WARNING: The following contains spoilers for Mr. Osomatsu Season 3, Episode 1, now streaming on Crunchyroll.
Mr. Osomatsu (Osomatsu-San) is a pretty funny show in general, but by far the funniest episodes of its first two seasons were their hyper-meta season premieres. The now-banned Season 1 premiere was perfect at situating how these retro characters would fit in the modern anime industry, while the Season 2 premiere made fun of the show's unexpectedly huge popularity and its various controversies. Season 3 continues the meta trend, but it feels like it's a case of diminishing returns. Aside from a handful of inspired gags, it's just not particularly funny.
The opening scene starts off amusingly, at least. A narrator describes Mr. Osomatsu as "harmless" and "a series in which all of the characters are extremely well-adjusted." Anyone the least bit familiar with the show's messed-up NEET protagonists and raunchy humor obviously know's something's up, and sure enough it turns out the familiar sextuplets have been replaced with all-too-polite substitutes. The jokes lose course, however, when they introduce another set of girl sextuplets for "gender equality" and a set of multiethnic sextuplets for "diversity."It now reads like a more cynical joke accusing the anime industry of "forced diversity," but even that questionable POV is muddled in execution: the first two seasons already had recurring gender-swapped "Girlymatsu" segments, and the "international" crowd includes a... Donald Trump lookalike?
The original Matsus have it explained to them by Iyami and the anime production committee (represented as SEELE-style monoliths) that their crudeness and aimlessness just won't fly in the new Reiwa era of "compliance." Perhaps there are nuances in this commentary on Japan's new era that is lost to Western viewers (has the culture really changed that much since Season 2 concluded in 2018?). The most creative meta moment comes when the characters' voice actors attack them.
Sent to a facility to become compliant, the sextuplets end up transformed into literal poop. We get a long stretch of the episode where the brothers are traveling the sewers becoming accustomed to the feces life (best visual gag: Totty trying to poop as a poop) before they eventually return to their usual selves in time to fight the new Matsus at the premiere of their new movie, Shin Osomatsu (a not-particularly-clever throwaway reference to Shin Godzilla).
The fight scene at the end is the most consistently entertaining stretch of the episode, with Karamatsu stripping, Choromatsu using Demon Slayer-esque attacks and the brothers combining into a giant poop monster. The replacement sextuplets don't engage in retaliatory violence, instead offering love and understanding. The big punchline is it turns out they're all on drugs, which instantly kills their career and leaves the original six brothers to regain control of their own show.
Mr. Osomatsu's Season 3 premiere ultimately ends up feeling a bit purposeless in comparison to the sharper satirical targets of previous season premieres. The digs at social conformity are unfortunately undermined by the lazy "forced diversity" jokes, and while the jokes emphasizing the sextuplets' awfulness are still amusing, a lot of them also feel a little "been there, done that" for the series. We'll still keep up with Season 3 in hopes of fresher and funnier segments (at the very least, the new opening and ending sequences are excellent as always), but if the premiere is really going to be the highlight of the season as in preview years, then the show might just be past its prime.
New episodes of Mr. Osomatsu premiere Mondays at 2:00 pm EDT on Crunchyroll.