Story and art: Gaku Kuze
Publisher: Kodansha Comics
Synopsis: Uramichi is a 31-year-old host on a kids’ show who leads exercise routines and teaches life lessons colored by one main theme: Adulthood sucks. Alongside mascots played by a couple of bushy-tailed twentysomethings and a singing duo whose music embodies the notion of being kicked while you’re down, Uramichi wades through the misery of working life, one sardonic comment at a time.
Publication date: 8th December 2020
Thank you to the publisher and NetGalley for a free e-copy of this manga in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.
I’d seen screenshots of panels of Life Lessons with Uramichi Oniisan floating around the internet for a few months prior to getting my hands on this copy via NetGalley, and it instantly resonated with me. Uramichi Omota is a former gymnast who works as a host on a children’s television show, but he is the total antithesis of what you’d expect from someone in his position. He’s pessimistic and sarcastic, and probably one of the most relatable characters I’ve ever encountered.
What I really loved about Uramichi as a character is how matter of fact he is. He really tells it straight, even to the children appearing on his show. The children themselves are also extremely funny, and they’re like the antidote to Uramichi. They’re also very mature, and hearing the children say things which seem much older than their years is also very amusing.
Uramichi seems totally disillusioned with life, and so do his co-stars. I think this is really good to see and makes a great change from endlessly optimistic shounen protagonists, and as an older person (I’m actually the same age as Uramichi!), it makes the manga much more relatable to see someone who is dealing with everyday things but has become fed up with life – haven’t we all, especially in lockdown!
Uramichi manages to simultaneously be depressing and cynical, but at the same time the way he delivers his message and interacts with his co-stars is also whimsical and hilarious, so the tone of the manga manages to remain positive and upbeat despite the outlook of its characters.
Generally speaking, I’m not much of a fan of manga (or anime!) that are a series of skits or vignettes. I much prefer a good story arc, with a continuous plot. Whilst some chapters do reference back to other events, mostly Uramichi Oniisan spends a chapter on a different skit or event which are reasonably standalone. I feel like had it been more of a developing plot it would have given more chance for the comedy to escalate, but as it stands Uramichi Oniisan is still really funny and has plenty of laugh out loud moments.
By the end of the volume, some jokes do feel a bit well worn – things I was laughing heartily at at the beginning of the manga seemed a bit overdone the more things went on. That said, there are plenty of positive things going on to make Life Lessons with Uramichi Oniisan a really fun read.
NetGalley requires users to rate on a star rating of 5, so I have adjusted my star ratings for any reviews for manga reviewed via NetGalley. Non-NetGalley reviews will remain out of 10.