In 1962, Akatsuka was given the request to come up with a new, month-long feature for Weekly Shonen Sunday that would span four chapters. Having been inspired by the American film "Cheaper by the Dozen", the initial proposal of his manga revolved around a set of twelve children and their parents. As it would be difficult to fit twelve children into panels, this number was quickly cut in half for the actual story and Akatsuka went with the idea of the all-identical Sextuplets as the protagonists.
The resulting feature, "Osomatsu-kun", debuted in the 16th issue for 1962 on April 15th, and quickly gained an explosive popularity which resulted in Akatsuka having to draw a fifth chapter and more, spinning it into a regular series for the magazine.
At first, Akatsuka only had two assistants in his wife Tomoko, and Takao Yokoyama. Kenichiro Takai would request for Akatsuka to let him help out, when Akatsuka was faced with the challenge of blank manuscripts and Yokoyama had momentarily departed for another job. Takai quickly became a strong partner in the creation of the manga, and was given the order to create good supporting cast members. In particular, he designed the characters of Iyami, Dekapan, Dayōn, and Hatabō. In 1965, Fujio Pro would be established, with more assistants joining.
The original run of the manga would span from 1962 to 1969 in Shonen Sunday, with simultaneous features happening in the other Shogakukan publications of Boys' Life and their elementary school magazines (Kindergarten, 1st Grade, 2nd Grade, 4th Grade) in 1966 and 1967. By the time its run wrapped, Iyami and Chibita had become the breakout characters and advanced to being the protagonists.
The manga would be revived two major times through its history, appearing in Shonen Gahosha's Weekly Shonen King through 1972 to 1973, and Kodansha's Comic BomBom and TV Magazine from 1987 to 1990. The characters would also appear in a 1976 one-shot for Shueisha's Monthly Shonen Jump ("The Return of Osomatsu-kun"), and a 1989 special feature for Shonen Sunday titled "Where Are These Famous Characters Now?".
See also: List of minor characters in Osomatsu-kun
The main and recurring characters in the series include:
See also: Osomatsu-kun (Manga)/Chapter List
First Run (Weekly Shonen Sunday and special issues, Boys' Life, Grade School Magazines)
The early premise revolved around the sextuplets, their parents, and a girl named Totoko, with stories centered around the situation that the sextuplets would get into. Chibita was also a fixture in the early period, although unnamed at first and without a set design or gimmick.
As the supporting cast members created by Takai were added into the manga, Akatsuka began finding them more interesting to write for, and the phenomena of them "eating the lead role" would happen. The manga would become more unpredictable and slapstick, with the main content focusing around the situations of Iyami, Chibita, and the sextuplets.
Middle and Late Term
In 1967, Akatsuka would become busy with The Genius Bakabon in Kodansha's Weekly Shonen Magazine. Osomatsu-kun would halt its weekly feature in Shonen Sunday, instead now appearing once a month with a longer page-count. The "star system" style treatment of the characters increased, with there now being stories patterned after movies and more dramatic-based scenarios happening.
At a point before this stage, the credits changed to "Fujio Akatsuka and Fujio Pro", indicating the presence of more of Akatsuka's assistants helping draw out the manga (including Takai). The chapters seen in Boys' Life, the elementary school magazines, and some parts of Shonen Sunday show signs of this, with the character designs appearing much differently; though it may be debated on whether this is due to the assistant that drew the finished artwork, or if Akatsuka's rough sketching (name/atari) drafts had altered proportions to start with.
By the final story in 1969 issue #21, Iyami was cemented as more of a lead character and a crossover with Bakabon and Extraordinary Ataro happened, with Bakabon's Papa being the co-star. The sextuplets are noted to have barely appeared, showing just how much of a shift had happened in the character roles.
Second Run (Weekly Shonen King)
The revival titled New Osomatsu-kun began as a preview in 1972's issue #5, with a rewritten version of the popular story "Chibita the Safe-Cracker". The regular feature would then start in issue #13, and would run until the 53rd issue of the following year. The "New" branding would be dropped for the actual run, although it is often used to distinguish it from the previous Shonen Sunday version.
This version of the manga had Iyami continue his leading role, with many stories centered around him as well as Chibita. The sextuplets' role was lessened even more, with them tending to pop up to react to Iyami. The content became more experimental and brutal, with the "Graphic Novel" technique employed that would depict characters in a more hyper-realistic or detailed style. Characters from Bakabon and Ataro would be even more integrated into the plots or in cameo roles.
Because of this run's harsher and off-putting content, some chapters tend to be omitted from reprints; the Kodansha Comics reprints from 1988 cut 3 chapters, and the Takeshobo volumes excluded many more (basically the bulk of the run).
Third Run (Monthly Comic BomBom, TV Magazine)
To precede the upcoming new anime adaptation as part of the media-mix directive, a new manga began in BomBom in November 1987. The sextuplets would be put back in the lead role, although Iyami and Chibita were still prominent in plots. However, the content of this manga would sharply diverge from the eventual anime, becoming even more surreal and slapstick than before and having much cruder gags.
A simultaneous feature ran in TV Magazine starting in February 1988, operating among a similar formula in having its stories be shorter and simplistic, as well as having many gag strips done in a 4koma format. As many of the previous staff had left for their own careers, the art for both features was the responsibility of the new assistant Takayoshi Minematsu among others, including Makoto Iwasaki (who would continue duties at Fujio Pro to 1999).
Both features would wrap up in 1990 after the anime finished, with the TV Magazine version ending in January while BomBom's ended in March. Early chapters of BomBom were collected under the 2-volume branding of The Latest Version of Osomatsu-kun, although other chapters and the TV Magazine run remained unseen in reprints until the recent eBookJapan re-release of the manga.
During the broadcast of the anime, the Kodansha magazines Fun Kindergarten and Otomodachi also ran monthly tie-in manga of Osomatsu-kun, but these were simply reprints of older material.
- Blue Hayashido: 5 volumes (1963)
- Toho: 4 volumes (1964), series "Leave it to Chota" published as an extra 5th "Osomatsu-kun" volume
- Shogakukan: "Golden Comics: Osomatsu-kun" (1966), "Fujio Akatsuka Masterpiece Selection: Osomatsu-kun" (2005).
- Akebono: "Osomatsu-kun Complete Works", 31 volumes (1968-1975). This collection was originally 24 volumes, but the serialization of the Shonen King run inspired a re-release with added volumes to cover the stories. 2 volumes collecting "Hatabō and Wanpei" were also included with the re-release, as extra content. The first editions of the original 24 volumes had varying colored covers, while the re-release presents all the books as having pink covers to be more uniform.
- Shiobun: "Osomatsu-kun Masterpiece Collection", 5 volumes (1976)
- Asahi Sonorama: "Sun Comics: Osomatsu-kun Masterpieces", 10 volumes (1979)
- Kodansha: "Osomatsu-kun", 34 volumes (1988), "Fujio Akatsuka's Laughter Land: Osomatsu-kun", 7 volumes (1988), "The Latest Version of Osomatsu-kun", 2 volumes (1988). The 34-volume release by Kodansha was based upon the Akebono edition, but with the removal of all the extra content and essays. The "Laughter Land" volumes reprinted selected classic chapters, alongside chapters of other Akatsuka works and official artwork and setting materials of the Pierrot anime.
- Takeshobo: "Osomatsu-kun", 7 volumes (cancelled first edition, 1995), 22 volumes (re-release, 2004). The first edition featured newly-colored versions of some chapters, including the very first story. The later edition includes setting materials for the Pierrot anime, as well as other extra content including interviews, "Keketaro the Ghost", a town map, and the short "Where are These Famous Characters Now?". Cover art for 2004 edition provided by Minematsu.
- Shogakukan: "Fujio Akatsuka Complete Works: Osomatsu-kun", 34 volumes (DVD-ROM reprint of the Kodansha edition), and the two volumes of "The Latest Version of Osomatsu-kun". Also available on Comic Park's print-on-demand service.
- eBookJapan: "Osomatsu-kun", 34 volumes (2009). Cover art by Minematsu.
Although the Akebono, Kodansha, and Takeshobo editions mostly reprint the Shonen Sunday run in a near-full state, some other stories present in other simultaneous magazines or in later publications like Shonen King and Comic BomBom/TV Magazine have been excluded.
There are also cases where some extra stories, like "Sanzan Iyami Strategy", appear to have gone missing despite their adaptation to the 1966 anime. Even more unusually, there is the case where a chapter like "The Story of the Sextuplets' Sea Bath" never got reprinted despite having originally been part of a triple feature of -kun in its original magazine printing.
In the opposite scenario, 7 of the chapters that were serialized in Shogakukan's grade school magazines are visibly included in Akebono's "Complete Works" and the "Osomatsu-kun" Kodansha reprints but are entirely absent in the Takeshobo and eBookJapan releases for unknown reasons. Furthermore, the Takeshobo edition is known to edit some comics due to outdated and discriminatory terms being used, as well as having other modifications made to the text. eBookJapan in turn uses these versions of the chapters, although it includes stories of the Shonen King and Kodansha runs that had previously been excluded.
Since the release of Osomatsu-san and a resurgence in interest for the original manga, there have been newer anthologies published that collect particular chapters, and some of the previously-reprinted Shogakukan grade school stories have been reflected. However, it is still difficult to truly have a reprint of the manga that is all the way "Complete" or even wholly accurate in regards to the publication dates (as eBookJapan has such mistakes in its afterword section at times).
- Chikuma: "Osomatsu-kun Best Selection" (おそ松くん ベスト・セレクション)
- Takeshobo: "Completely Osomatsu-kun: Osomatsu, Ichimatsu,Karamatsu, Choromatsu, Jyushimatsu, Todomatsu " (まるまるおそ松くん―おそ松、一松、カラ松、チョロ松、十四松、トド松がそ)
- Akita Shoten: "Cute Osomatsu-kun", 2 volumes. Contains selected Shonen Sunday, Comic BomBom, and TV Magazine stories, as well as the 7 grade school magazine chapters spread across both books. Volume 2 also contains the Akko-chan chapter "Kankichi and Ghosts", two chapters of Hatabō and Wanpei, two chapters of Extraordinary Ataro featuring the -kun cast, and a chapter of Fujio's Waru Waru World.
Asahi Sonorama Flexidisk Dramas
Main article: Osomatsu-kun (Sonosheet)
Four Sonosheet albums were released from March 1965 to August 1966. While the first two albums had different actors voicing the characters (with the exception of Kyoji Kobayashi as Iyami), the third aligned with the casting of the then-recent anime. The artwork for these albums was provided by Kunio Nagatani.
Main article: Osomatsu-kun (1966)
A black-and-white animated adaptation aired on NET from February 5, 1966 to March 25, 1967. It was produced by the Mainichi Broadcasting System, with Childrens Corner handling animation for the first 25 episodes and Studio Zero for the remainder.
1985 TV Drama
Main article: Osomatsu-kun: Iyami and Chibita's Cooking Showdown
A TV special aired on Fuji TV's Monday Dramaland on December 16, 1985. It featured significant liberties with the source material, and aside from scant information available, it has yet to be rebroadcast or receive a re-release.
Main article: Osomatsu-kun (1988)
A second animated adaptation by Studio Pierrot aired on Fuji TV from February 13, 1988 to December 30, 1989.
This version focused more on Iyami and Chibita, to fit the later tone of the manga, and each episode was a self-contained story with the exception of the "Journey to the West" two-parter (in 64 and 65). The popularity of this anime lead to a theatrical film short, as well as specials and an OVA.
Main article: Osomatsu-san (2015)
A new spinoff and re-imagining, which fell in line with what would have been Fujio Akatsuka's 80th birthday as part of the "80th Anniversary" Fujio Pro media in 2015. In this series, the sextuplets and the other characters have aged over a decade and the sextuplets are now adult NEETs.
Although it can be seen as a loose sequel to -kun, it stands on its own and occasionally adapts and homages its material, but otherwise remains unconnected and rarely if ever comments on the characters' past or previous states.
Pachinko and Pachislot Games
CR Osomatsu-kun (2004)
In October 2004, Daiichi released their very first pachinko game. It was patterned after the 1988 version of the anime, and contained off-vocal versions of the opening and ending as its theme music. The voice cast for the game was very limited, with only Kaneta Kimotsuki, Mayumi Tanaka, Toru Ohira, Mari Mashiba, and Takuzo Kamiyama reprising their roles.
As Yo Inoue had passed away and there was no interest in acquiring the other actresses for the game, a single uncredited actress performed the role of Osomatsu and his brothers. This game was later released as a software version for Playstation 2 in 2005 under the title "Deadly Pachinko Station V9: Osomatsu-kun".
CR Osomatsu-kun (2012)
A 2012 revamping of the game was released as a tie-in to the manga's 50th anniversary. Though the character designs were more patterned after the original manga, the voice cast of the Pierrot version continued to be used with some exceptions; as Tetsuo Mizutori and Takuzo Kamiyama had passed away, Chafurin now took on their roles. Osomatsu and his brothers continued to be voiced by one actress, Yui Shoji.
Studio Pierrot provided various animated cut-scenes for the game, giving a glimpse at what a modern Osomatsu-kun anime could have looked like. Unlike its predecessor, there is no video game re-release for this version.
Pachislot Osomatsu-kun (2005)
Released in November 2005. Like the CR game released at the time, it is also patterned after the Pierrot version and uses a very limited amount of the voice actors (Kimotsuki, Tanaka, and Mashiba). Osomatsu was played by Chihiro Kusaka in this version.
An emulated version was released as a video game in 2006, under the title "Deadly Pachislot Evolution 2: Osomatsu-kun"
Pachislot Osomatsu-kun (2017)
A new version of the game, with CGI cut-scenes, was released as a revamp of the original as well as to tie into the popularity of Osomatsu-san. The character designs are inspired by the Pierrot version once again, though occasionally some cut-scenes and content from the -san anime can be seen.
As with previous games, the 1988 voice cast were used save for any replacements of deceased actors. Osomatsu was voiced by an uncredited actress, while the game also marked the final time that Kaneta Kimotsuki would voice Iyami (as he had passed away in December 2016, after having recorded the vocals).
Unlike the preceding game, there has yet to be a release that can be enjoyed outside a pachinko parlor.
Crossovers and other appearances
As some of Akatsuka's very own stars in his Star System, the cast can show up in other titles as needed. These are only some of the various notable examples.
Akko-chan's Got a Secret!
The sextuplets first appear in "Kankichi and Ghosts", bullying Kankichi at the beach by stealing his float ring and telling him to go retrieve it at an abandoned house. After Akko uses the powers of her mirror to prank and scare the sextuplets at the house, they wind up apologizing to Kankichi the next day. The six then appear in "The Goddess of a Salesman", where Akko and Moko attempt to sell cosmetics only to become overwhelmed when they see how many children Matsuyo has.
Iyami also makes appearances in the first run, and the third run in Nakayoshi as well. Other "star system" characters are integrated, such as the cast of Otasuke-kun.
In return, Chikako and Ganmo appear at points during -kun, and Moko is seen as Totoko's friend in an early chapter.
The sextuplets and Iyami show up in a cameo in a room full of villains in a chapter in the original 1960s run, though the sextuplets appear in a more prominent enemy role in the 1992 remake.
Dekapan himself is used as a recurring character that travels along with Songo and Sanzo, but as he had no established name at the time the series started he is simply referred to as "The Old Man of the Pants".
Osomatsu and Chibita show up during the second half of the series, as the rest of the Akatsuka Star System becomes more integrated into Ken's weekly adventures.
Chibita is presented as an enemy and rival for Ken, while Osomatsu acts as a trickster "big brother" type of mentor and once attempts to bribe Ken with gifts in hopes that he can look good for the boy's sister. However, when Osomatsu sees that the sister is instead friendly with Chikako's brother, he gets upset and wants the gifts back.
$-chan and Chibita, Chibita-kun
Chibita became the lead character in these two spinoff series that ran during -kun's serialization. The first, titled $-chan and Chibita, featured Chibita at odds or teaming up with a young boy known as "$-chan" in different adventures that ranged from the two re-enacting fairy tales, being in period dramas, or shipwrecked.
The second series, titled Chibita-kun, had mainly solo adventures for Chibita, though Iyami, Dekapan, Hatabō, and Dayōn would also feature in plots when necessary. This series contained some early examples of bizarre endings and brutal dark humor that would come more into play in the Shonen King version of -kun.
Totoko and the sextuplets are entirely absent from these series, although $-chan fulfills the sextuplets' role and can be seen as a replacement.
Another series by Kunio Nagatani, titled Chibita Banzai, ran between these two in Shogakukan's 3rd Grade magazine but has never been reprinted.
Dayon-ojisan Trilogy, or "Uncle Dayon"
Main article: Uncle Dayon
A three-chapter Shonen Book feature centering around Dayon, shortly after he was officially introduced as part of the -kun cast.
Gyahaha, the Three Musketeers!
In a parody of "Journey to the West" as well as the name-dropped title, the casts of Osomatsu-kun, Q-taro the Ghost, and the Black Group convene for a special mega-crossover.
The Genius Bakabon
The -kun cast later make various guest spots in this title, Iyami and Chibita being seen the most memorably. Osomatsu also once drops in a cameo during the 1980s run, and the Matsuno parents' heads can be seen captive among other characters in a situation involving stolen heads.
Bakabon's Papa himself sometimes shows up in turn in later -kun stories, as well as Rerere being seen as the street sweeper.
Hatabō and Chibita appear early on in the manga as two of Ataro's fourth grade classmates. A few chapters later, Hatabō and Iyami appear to break up a robbery, and are assisted by the sextuplets in freeing Ataro and Batsugoro, but then attempt to take the money for themselves before they're stopped.
The characters' settings are as flexible as usual, with them appearing in period dramas or other stories as needed. Chibita in particular makes numerous cameos, including one as an angel seen being given oden.
The -kun cast become more notable for appearing in the full-length crossover stories, such as "The Time of Ishimatsu Mori" when Ataro, Dekoppachi, God, and his disciple travel back in time to the past and meet the other characters cast in historical roles.
The 1990 revival of the manga features the character of Momoko, who was made to substitute for Totoko in the new anime at the time. While a milder and more feminine character in the anime, the Momoko in the revival manga is essentially a copy of Totoko in both appearance and personality (and adding a third character to share the design of Akko and Totoko).
A spinoff featuring Hatabō and a talking pet dog named Wanpei. This comic ran in the Communist newspaper Red Flag Sunday under the first title, and then as Wanpei, through the years of 1971 and 1972. Due to the Communist angle, the flag worn by the protagonist was now a solid red one for the Communist Party of Japan instead of the usual Hinomaru.
For the year of 1973, Hatabō was phased out as a main character and the third installment would be titled Wanpei and Mo-chan as it would focus on the dog and his new cow friend Mo-chan.
In this toilet-humored 1974 Shonen Jump gag feature, Akatsuka used his characters to tell the story of a country of golden feces, where the characters worship such a bodily function and wear theirs on their heads as hats.
The Osomatsu-kun cast appear in the "Kusomatsu-kun" section, where a group of sextuplets (Kusomatsu, Birimatsu, Funmatsu, Kusamatsu, Tarematsu, and Hirimatsu) interact with other Unkor Wat-themed versions of characters including their teacher Kusomi, the little boy Bichida, and the king Dekafun.
Unkor Wat itself is based from the Angkor Wat temple in Angkor, Cambodia.
Nyarome's Fun Classroom
Main article: Nyarome's Fun Classroom
The sextuplets, Iyami, Chibita, and others appear in several of these Fujio Pro books, being taught on the subjects by Nyarome and other characters that demonstrate lessons.
The Sexual Education volume notably features Nyarome instructing Osomatsu on what erections are and ways to handle them, as well as depicting the events of the sextuplets' birth and showing Matsuyo and Matsuzo as children.
Akko is the main heroine in these books, in order to cover the Akko-chan series, leaving her acting as a substitute for Totoko in scenes where she interacts with the sextuplets.
Where Are These Famous Characters Now?
In a 30th anniversary celebration for Weekly Shonen Sunday, manga-ka were encouraged to revisit their old works for the magazine. However, in the case of Akatsuka and Osomatsu-kun, a bit of a dark punchline and self-deprecation unfolded in doing so.
In the story, a man who has been hospitalized for several years awakes from a coma, where he meets Chibita who has also been at the same hospital and reflects and wonders on what became of the rest of the cast in these 27 years:
- March 5, 1970 (Showa year 45): The Matsuno family ate fugu for the first time, but as it was improperly prepared, all died.
- January 8, 1971 (Showa 46): Iyami died of pyorrhea.
- December 8, 1975 (Showa 50): Dayon attempted to challenge a Guinness Book record for swallowing large objects, but choked to death on a tapestry.
- December 9, 1975 (Showa 50): Hatabo was struck to death by lightning as his flag acted as a lightning rod.
- April 1, 1978 (Showa 53): Totoko failed to go on a proper diet and went through anorexia, dying at the weight of just 3kg.
- August 6, 1980 (Showa 55): Dekapan opted to wear memory foam boxers, but contracted tetanus and died after the material wore away and tore open his scrotum.
- January 1, 1988 (Showa 63): Fujio Akatsuka commits suicide after his increasing alcoholism makes it difficult to continue drawing manga.
Chibita then states through tears, "They were all such good people..."
This short can be seen at the end of vol.15 of the Takeshobo paperback release.
Osomatsu-kun Grows Up
A 1993 Sapporo Black beer ad published in Big Comic (June 25, 1993 issue) opted to revisit the Osomatsu-kun cast in an aged context, pondering what they'd been up to 25 years after the setting of their series.
Though their fates are rather varied, all characters visible in the ad show their love for Sapporo Black and get together to have a party over it. Each page of the ad is told in script form through the characters' dialogue, with single illustrations summarizing each part of the story.
Collapse of the Sheeh! Religion
A 1996 adult manga devised by Akatsuka and drawn by his assistants, featuring many of his characters and parodying the then-recent sarin gas attack by the Aum Shinrikyo cult.
The sextuplets take part in the plot when they are made to find money for Iyami's Sheetian cult, but run into a strange old man named Yoshio (Kaoru-chan from Bakabon), who infamously makes out with Choromatsu in a page-long gag.
The chapter "The Garden Guard Sextuplets" was translated into English for GQJapan in 2000, for an article about Akatsuka's life and history. Although bilingual tankobon of Akko-chan and Bakabon would be sold in the following years, this would be the only bit of the -kun manga seen in a language other than Japanese until Tatsumi Comics released a bilingual anthology of the series in 2017.
The series had been listed with the English title "The Young Sextuplets" in some older articles about Akatsuka dating from the 1990s and 2000s, however, it is unknown if it was ever actually offered up for sale underneath this title or if there were any attempts of localizing the 1966 anime under it.
As of 2017, the 1988 adaptation has aired overseas in Hong Kong, Taiwan, Spain, India, and South Korea with dubs produced for each country.
- To save on labor of having to draw out the sextuplets, as well as expressions for them, Akatsuka purchased a photocopier for a time during the first run and would draw sextuplet heads to be copied over, cut out, and attached to the manuscripts. However, this practice was discarded after a while, though it was brought back for a time in the third run (along with entire sextuplet poses/bodies being copy and pasted). Evidence of it can be seen with how sometimes the heads may be awkwardly placed and have white space around them from the manuscript itself being photocopied to print, or the heads may have thicker lineart than the bodies. There were also occasional cases in reprints where Akatsuka would paste new sextuplet heads over the originals, reworking the style of their faces some. This "face bank" treatment would also see use in Akko-chan's Got a Secret!, to save on having to freshly draw Akko and Moko's expressions, or to paste newly redrawn heads of Kankichi on over his original design when it came to some reworked chapters for the second Ribon run and the reprints around that time.
- Outside of its own series, Osomatsu-kun is a bit infamous for being referred to in the "Osomatsu Car" chapter of Kochikame, where Kankichi Ryotsu uses a photocopier to make 3333 sextuplet faces to put all over his golden Rolls-Royce.
- The "Sheeh!" pose by Iyami became its own memetic trend, which can be seen further in the Sheeh! article. The pose was notably performed by Godzilla in the film Great Monster War. In other famous instances, John Lennon of the band The Beatles was instructed to take the pose by the editor of a Japanese music magazine, while the band had been visiting Japan in 1966 on tour.