OP Sequence

OP: 「ABC体操」 (ABC Taisou) by (Iketeru Onii-chan (Mamoru Miyano) & Uta no Onee-chan (Nana Mizuki))

「うらみちお兄さん」 (Uramichi Onii-san)

Uramichi (Kamiya Hiroshi) (this name might be a play on “urami”, meaning bitterness or resentment) teaches kids the realities of working adult life-exhaustion, retaliation, and fake smiles. One thing that children’s show hosts apparently have in common with job hunters is smiling like your life depends on it-because it does (well, your livelihood at least). It made me chuckle, seeing the children innocently take at face value his snarky asides about company fights, fake smiles, and drinking habits.

To quote Uramichi’s underlings Usakao/Usahara (Sugita Tomokazu) (the Usa part refers to “usagi”, meaning rabbit) and Kumao/Kumatani (Nakamura Yuuichi) (the Kum part refers to “kumo”, meaning bear)-it looks like Uramichi is in the wrong profession. Generally, when I think of someone who works with kids, I think of someone with energy and enthusiasm. These are qualities Uramichi does not consistently demonstrate and actively seeks to crush with depressing statements.

This begs the question of why the gymnastics-trained Uramichi is even in this line of work, rather than coach or gymnastics. His cynicism hints that he probably tried to aim for being a pro-gymnast but couldn’t quite make it and instead of competitions, was left with life’s consolation (loser’s) prize of children’s TV. There are disappointments that a child’s magic happy “spell” just can’t undo.

The embittered Uramichi takes out his frustrations at his failures on the children who are too young to grasp the sad truths in his comments and on his poor kouhais (underclassmen) who quake in fear at his soulless gaze. It was also funny, seeing Uramichi use the children to fire shots at anyone he has a beef with-having them chase the living daylights out of Usakao and Kumao after the unfortunate animals stepped on his ego. Uramichi is similar to a child, in that he blurts things out when he feels like it, even at inappropriate times. In a child, it is excusable because they don’t know any better. For the adult Uramichi, it is unprofessional and he needs to find a better way to handle his emotions.

One thing I’m wondering is why his director is lenient towards Uramichi’s on camera cynicism. The stuff Uramichi says about his sad life aren’t the upbeat things one would typically want on a children’s show-you’d think the director would call “cut” and have him stick to a happy script. Unless the director is just as terrified of Uramichi as his kouhais are.

Uramichi is not the only one who seems to have “failed” at his life goal. Iketeru (Miyano Mamoru) (I think this handsome character’s name might be a play “ikemen”, meaning hot guy) had completely different career aspirations as a singer. Utano (Mizuki Nana) (I believe this songstress’ name is a play on “uta”, meaning song) went through a range of musical aspirations (they don’t sugarcoat it-directly calling her a “failed pop-singer”) before landing in this job. It seems this children’s show is not a promising talent stable of people whose life calling is to inspire youngsters, but a dead-end street for those whose life callings have already failed.

The humor is enjoyable right now, with the children’s responses to Uramichi’s adult problems and the teasing exchange between Uramichi and Iketeru that leaves Iketeru incapacitated. So long as they keep the humor fresh and don’t fall into a formulaic rut, it should hopefully stay funny. I would recommend this show for anyone who likes comedy grounded in real life or for people who enjoy cynical humor about the sometimes depressing reality of adulthood being a slow walk through a minefield rather than a stroll in the park.


ED Sequence

ED: 「Dream on」by (Mamoru Miyano)


    1. It all depends on whether they get stuck in a rut with Uramichi and his cynical jokes or if they can expand the humor with the other characters. I’m hoping they do the latter, as the show looks like it has good potential!

      Princess Usagi
    1. There certainly are relatable moments to it. If they do it right, can really make the show work by taking relatable life events and putting a humorous spin on it, putting a more light-hearted spin on disheartening aspects of life.

      Princess Usagi
  1. It’s nice to see Hiroshi Kamiya voicing another cynical madman like Itoshiki-sensei.

    I did have a better time with the gags involving the side characters though because I feel like his bitter diatribes are funnier when he has others to play off of.

    It was hilarious when he started to lose his patience with his assistants mocking him for being a killjoy or when he realized he could make Iketeru crack up to no end if he constantly hit his weak spot of low-brow humor.

    1. Hiroshi Kamiya does a great job of voicing Uramichi’s cynicism. I haven’t yet watched the Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei anime, but from what I’ve read of the manga, I could see Kamiya also being a very fitting Itoshiki-sensei.

      I feel the same way about the side characters. When it’s just him, it feels like something that could become old fast. The other characters add more “spice” if you will, intruding on his self-pity sessions or being objects for him to take his frustrations out on.

      Princess Usagi
      1. You absolutely should. SZS is one of the greatest anime comedies of all time. I literally haven’t laughed harder.
        The only hang up that keeps me from recommending it to western viewers is that the comedy is heavily dependent on japanese word play, so if you aren’t at least a little familiar with how the japanese language works, then the jokes could potentially go over your head. I could never recommend it so anyone who’s only ever seen dubs, and doesn’t watch much subtitled anime. Otherwise, I highly recommend.

        1. It sounds like my cup of tea! I greatly enjoy Japanese wordplay-it is usually very creatively funny! That is one frustration I had with reading the manga in English, because like you mentioned with the dubs of the anime, the English translation can’t fully convey the full pun. Although, the translator’s notes were helpful in that in the manga, at least, there were also a lot of jokes that had to do with Japanese pop culture that Westerners wouldn’t understand without either growing up in Japan or heavily researching it.

          Princess Usagi

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