Thank You For Your Hard Work
Usually, when お疲れ様です (o-tsukaresama desu) rolls off the Japanese tongue, it can be safely understood as “Thank you for your hard work.”
The “o” part means that this applies to someone else. The “tsukare” part is a direct reference to fatigue.
The “sama” part… in kanji, this is the same “sama” that is used as an honorific, but there is another, highly relevant reading here. This kanji is used in words and idioms relating to situations. Or rather, what something seems to be.
様子 (yousu) = appearance
様式 (youshiki) = pattern
様相 (yousou) = aspect
It is in this sense that 様 marks that someone else (because of the “o” honorific) seems to be tired.
The “desu” is simply a copula adding a verbal punctuation mark affirming the sentence in a polite manner (as it is the polite form, not a plain form like “da”).
So, by idiomatically remarking upon how someone else is tired, this is implicit recognition of that person’s hard work.
An Anime Pun
In the mecha anime television series Godannar, puns are heavily involved in the names of people and machinery. But never mind that. We’re focused on a different pun.
When the leading character of the show, Go (shown above), is done his “work” for the day (he’s a giant robot pilot, that’s his day job…), he gets mobbed by staff who keep going
in different speaking styles. At the end of the ritual, he wearily remarks
“I’m not tired.”
(The writer of this article takes a brief moment to laugh.)
Now, where it really gets funny is… at the start of the show, it’s his wedding day. (So of course some giant monster picks that day to attack. Of course.) And his angry left-at-the-altar wife pursues him all the way onto the battlefield, not being the “nobly waiting” type.
To boot, she calls him by her pet name for him, Go-chin. Rather than -chan, this uses -chin because put together, this is an… impact sound effect. gachin, gochin… it sounds very similar. It’s like the sound made when an anime hero smashes something with his fist, like Go’s personal combat style.
So with all this revealed in front of his co-workers, he is greeted with the following:
“O-tsukaresama desu, Go-chin.”
(The author rolls on the floor, laughing.)
So after that, Go says very wearily,
“I’m not tired…!!”
Perhaps not in a physical sense…
So there you have it. A gag based largely upon a literal response to a figurative expression.
Did you know Japanese had it in it? Did you? Well they know how to do pun gags too. Note it for future reference. – J