What’s It About?: Dead inside 31-year-old millennial Omota Uramichi has two sides to his personality. In public, he’s a young man who heads up the physical exercise segments on edutainment program “Together with Maman.” In private, he’s an uncomfortably, intensely relatable hot mess of a man who’s one bad day away from shattering like a cheap glass… but hey, at least he’s not alone in his feelings.
Episode 1 introduces the titular Uramichi, a man who initially seems like your everyday children’s TV personality … until his voice goes hoarse from last night’s bought of binge drinking.
Post-opening, Uramichi’s slapped back on the polite, happy face… until his facade cracks again, betraying his utter exhaustion. This is, for the most part, the gag for Life Lessons with Uramichi Oniisan. It’s the dissonance between his persona as a man who’s actually quite energetic with the actual person he is: a mild misanthrope who’s hella tired and super done with the world. I believe the kids would call him… “relatable.”
Now, rinse, wash, and repeat. That’s pretty much how episode 1 progresses, as Uramichi and his fellow twenty and thirty-somethings fake it ‘til they make it on set. It feels like a hit piece on the entirety of Japan’s poor work-life balance. It also feels like a hit piece against the internal unhappiness we all suffer with inside because you know… capitalism and an unjust society.
A part of me loves this show. A part of me is like, “Wow, this guy sucks.” I wonder what both say about my own world view, and how I might subconsciously view the world—though I tend to be an optimist, and at times, have been called an altruist. That said, this is not going to be for everyone, and if a show with a deeply depressed thirty-something who is five seconds away from ending up on the 5 o’clock news for having a public meltdown isn’t your thing, then Uramichi Oniisan is going to read as a deeply upsetting show that’s completely unfunny.
There’s this lingering sense that the show is going to push the envelope too hard in order to get laughs. I couldn’t shake it during my watch, though I did ultimately enjoy what I saw. So far, it hasn’t: most of Uramichi’s jokes are centered on the dissonance between how he’s supposed to be behaving and how he actually feels. In fact, this just feels like a peek into one very tired thirty-something’s life, and oftentimes, it’s hilarious. However, I’m not sure how it can maintain the almost Parks & Recreation-esque humor for an entire cour.
Truth be told, this feels like something that definitely should have been a series of shorts, rather than twelve twenty-four minute episodes. And of course, humor is subjective: I get the feeling that there will definitely be folks who watch this, find it deeply unfunny, and bounce off it hard. I actually kind of expected to not like this because the joke that being thirty means life sucks… kinda sucks. Instead, I found myself sympathizing with Uramichi while also wanting to kindly recommend an online therapist for him as well.
In the end, I actually ended up really liking Life Lessons with Uramichi Oniisan, if only because it squeezed a few guffaws out of me like a tube of toothpaste. Uramichi is slightly too relatable as a fellow tired adult, though as an educator, I genuinely love working with kids, and I (hopefully) have a much more optimistic outlook on life as I approach my thirties. All in all, I’m almost 100% sure that I’ll be watching this series to the very end, if only for a weekly dose of Uramichi’s ennui, which is just… altogether too relatable and completely foreign all at once. Hopefully, the jokes will grow past “Uramichi hates his life” into something a bit more.