honestly making Fukuyama Jun look like that made me laugh harder than the actual joke of giving him a cameo as himself.

A beloved retro anime is getting a modern remake! The characters are overjoyed and can’t wait to be in action again, but they quickly realize theres a problem. Their last anime was decades ago, and as characters they’re old, they’re dated! Everything from their designs to their mannerisms and senses of humour are completely at odds with what a modern audience wants. If they want to make a popular new anime it has to be bigger, slicker, cooler, sexier, and be full of references to all the hit things anime fans like these days. And so they try everything they can think of, because you either go hard or go home when it comes to wanting to be a hit anime!

Hey moeronpan, you big silly! That was the synopsis of the first episode of  2015’s runaway hit Osomatsu-san! Sure, Tensai Bakabon may also be another property from the same mangaka, Akatsuka Fujio, but that’s no reason to get them mixed up! I mean, come on, it’s not like they’d just do the same thing they did with Osomatsu-san when they revived another of the late Akatsuka’s works? Right? ….right?
…oh? They….literally just did that? okay.

Yes, it really was that blatant.

So anyway, the similarities between the first episode of Osomatsu-san and the first episode of Shinya! Tensai Bakabon are immediately obvious. The show stars a very retro family consisting of the titular Bakabon, his mother and father, and his younger brother Hajime. The protagonist is actually the father- known only as ‘Papa’ – and he is the one who wishes to change the show for a modern audience…in much the same way the Matsuno brothers attempted to in the infamously banned first episode of Osomatsu-san. Since the reason that episode was banned was due to the rampant intentional copyright infringement, Bakabon does has the sense to keep the name-dropping and character cameos to a ‘minimum’ – although Black Jack himself literally appears at one point.

What some people might not know, which actually makes this whole thing more eyebrow-raising than it already was, is that the director and series composer of Tensai Bakabon is Toru Hosokawa, who was also involved with that same Osomatsu-san episode. As the legend goes, it was he who came up with the synopsis of that episode , then left the show for reasons unknown and…apparently seems to hold some grudge against the other main writers for Osomatsu-san, (complete with weird passive-aggressive twitter rant a few days before this show aired) the success of which he seems to think was his doing (although he didnt want credit at the time). I cant help but think that this guy was salty as all get-out that the episode he wrote for Osomatsu-san ended up being purged from existence – while it still floats around in the form of fansubs, you actually can not legally watch it anywhere anymore, and it was never released on DVD or bluray. So…he was apparently so proud of his synopsis and wanted it to exist again so badly that he just did it again.

Here’s the thing, though. Unlike a lot of people online…I kinda thought the first episode of Osomatsu-san really sucked. It’s incredibly different in tone to the rest of the show, and there is basically only one joke in the entire episode that is repeated over and over again forever, and that joke is ‘hey, heres a thing you know! Isnt that funny? You recognize this thing, and therefore its funny, right?’ I’m not a fan of this kind of humour – it can be done well if the reference actually works and is woven into another joke (Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei excelled at this) but that was literally just a slideshow of other IPs. So for the most part, Tensai Bakabon was that same kind of unfunny to me, although this time there’s an extra surreal layer to it, because, and I am not kidding here, it makes multiple references to that Osomatsu-san episode. From having the characters emphatically stress that they had permission to use certain characters to off-handedly mention being censored/banned/etc, it just seems awfully weird to me that someone would need to have knowledge of an episode of something that you cant watch anymore in order to understand a joke. Which means these were jokes explicitly aimed at Osomatsu-san fans and that level of pettiness blows my mind.

I did laugh at a few small things – Papa deciding he wanted to be voiced by Fukuyama Jun from now on, Black Jack’s weird cameo at least made me smile, and the fact that Bakabon (or rather, the Bakabon that was split into sextuplets to be more popular look we get it already) is replaced by a random background character for no reason. Other jokes, like Papa’s decision to have a sex change and become a sexy lady Mama instead, fell more flat and also dragged on way too long. After the real Bakabon Mama gets angry and forces him to stop, the show settles into its ‘actual’ new art style…so I can only hope that the show is different from here on out…just like the second and onwards episodes of the other show.

On a technical level, I honestly vastly kind of prefer the cell-animated (or imitation cell-animated) look the show had until the ‘new’ style appearing at the end, which is also…not a great sign, but then again I haven’t really seen the new look in action much. The ending credits also look nice, and having the lyrics at the bottom use the same typeface you tend to only see in older anime was a nice touch.

It’s just a fact of life that Tensai Bakabon would be compared to Osomatsu-san regardless, and I’d been curious how the remake would go ever since it was announced. But….doing the exact same thing is just not a good idea. Osomatsu-san succeeded beyond anyone’s wildest expectations the way it did precisely because it was so new and different. I’m not saying it isn’t possible to have another surprise hit with a revival of an Akatsuka Fujio manga, but…at least try to use a different approach.

Also, the blue outline thing Osomatsu-san had going on looked really stylish and cool. This fuchsia nonsense….not so much.

Out of 5,