Urusei Yatsura – 13 – Snack Wars

When the faculty arranges for a blanket crackdown on off-campus snacking, the students are ready to fight back, with Ataru and his boundless charisma leading the charge. Mendou joins the adults as part of the “Covert Civility Patrol”, but allows all the girls (and guys disguised as girls) to pass when they sweet-talk him.

A madcap game of guy in cat mascot costume-and-mouse around the nearby shopping district ensues, complete with dramatic music to punctuate the “snack wars”, with the store owners and employees helping out the students since they give them their business. Unfortunately for Ataru, he’s force-fed a chili-filled okonomiyaki by Lum when she sees him flirting with a server.

The battle ends in a stalemate, and the episode moves on to Lum, Shinobu, Sakura, and Ran at a café, taking turns feeding the adorable Ten while Ataru stews outside. When talk turns to Sakura’s fiance, Ten space mail-orders a “Lovey-Dovey Crystal Ball” which tells each of the girls who they’re destined to marry. A lot of bombshells drop: Ran with…Ataru? Lum with…Rei? Sakura with…Ataru and Mendou??

The kicker is when Shinobu reveals that she saw Sakura’s fiancé. Then the three guys come in and much relationship rancor ensues, as no one is happy with the prospective husband they saw in the crystal ball (except for Ataru and Mendou, of course). Ten learns that the ball actually shows you your worst match you should avoid at all costs, but gets the real Lovey-Dovey Crystal Ball too late to stem the chaos the first ball wrought.

Urusei Yatsura – 12 – Little Trouble

With Urusei Yatsura’s second half comes a new OP and ED (neither quite the equal of their earworm predecessors) and another new character: Lum’s tiny cousin, Ten. He’s discovered stuffed into the mailslot by Ataru, who is fleeing his parents fawning over having a girl in the house. Ten is a sweetie-pie to everyone but Ataru, on whom he breathes fire with regularity.

Ten accompanies Ataru and Lum to a formalwear get-together at Sakura’s place; her uncle, Ran, and Shinobu are also in attendance. Ataru is predictably jealous by all the attention Ten gets from the ladies, while Ten burns Ataru’s hand when he abuses the ensuing game of karuta as an excuse to caress the girls’ hands.

Ataru then loses his temper and grabs some cookware with which to attack and defend, but everyone is uniformly embarrassed on his behalf for fighting so seriously with a tiny little kid. Sakura judo-tosses him into the zen pond to cool his jets. It’s gotta be hard to keep your cool when Ten is literally burning him!

In the second half, Ten is writing a love letter to Sakura, who like many a man finds that she has stolen his heart. Ataru decides to offer him some advice as a self-professed casanova, and Ten, while weary of his cousin’s lame human husband, is also just young and naive enough to buy into Ataru’s experience.

Ataru ends up ghostwriting the love letter, which is full of words that can’t be said during normal broadcast hours. Sakura is furious, and waits at the agreed-upon meeting place just so she can slug the author. When it turns out to be Ten, she kinda just goes with it, knowing she can’t very well beat on a little kid.

That said, when Ten tries to take her to a seedy club, goes to see a raunchy film full of double entendres, and intends to end their evening at a love hotel, Sakura starts to get suspicious. Lum gets overexcited by the film, which confirms to Sakura that Ataru was behind this questionable date.

When the evening ends, Ten goes for broke and asks Sakura to marry her. She turns him down gently but firmly, which isn’t anything Ten didn’t expect, considering, ya know, he’s still just a little kid. But also Ataru and Lum are surprised that Sakura is wearing what looks like an engagement ring. Ten then consoles himself by flambéing Ataru once more.

Urusei Yatsura – 11 – The Trickster Ojou

When another slow-moving oxcart escorted by ninja rolled through town, I assumed it was Mendou’s mom again. It turns out to be someone who speaks loudly enough to be heard, and who makes the effort to throw a handkerchief out of the cart so it happens to land on Ataru’s face. He uses his lecher’s sense of smell to track down the owner, and is rewarded with a damn skeleton arm.

The next day, the girl arrives at school resplendent in her kimono and wowing boys and girls alike. She initially introduces herself as Mendou’s fiancée, which gets all the girls fuming and weeping. But she’s really Mendou’s little sister, Ryouko, who loves playing elaborate tricks on people for her own amusement.

She’s come to deliver her dear brother his lunch that he forgot, but he tells her he forgot that lunch five days ago. As the lunch is composed entirely of raw seafood, it is now essentially toxic waste, but that doesn’t stop Ataru, eager to get into Ryouko’s good graces, to try to eat it. When Ryouko sees how lovey-dovey Lum is, she ups the flirtation, and locks Mendou away in a dark cabinet.

Ryouko’s introduction at school is followed by her inviting Ataru to her home for a New Year’s Party, but most of the rest of the cast was invited as well, including Sakura, Oyuki and Benten. Everyone’s in their best New Year’s finery, but I personally think Lum wins for best kimono—the colors are just sublime.

Of course, this is no ordinary party. Not only is the Mendou residence ludicrously huge and complex, but the partygoers are unwitting living game pieces in an elaborate board game being played by Ryouko and her parents. This results in trap doors and hidden passages and various obstacles shifting everyone all over the place and doing all sorts of things.

We get mochi eating contests, badminton, spiked walls, 100,000 and 200,000-kg weights being dropped … it’s a little bit of everything. The chaos all serves one purpose: entertaining Ryouko, a girl with far too much money and far too much time on her hands.

By the time everyone (or most everyone) arrives in the actual party room, they’re all so exhausted from being pushed and prodded around and made to carry out various tasks they can barely sit up. But it’s still not over, as Ryouko presses a red button that sends her brother and Ataru up in a giant bamboo rocket that explodes with fireworks to ring in the new year.

It’s here where I’ll note that now that Lum is back by his side, Ataru is right back to being a lecherous ass, despite being genuinely devastated by her absence which for all he knew was caused by his neglect and constant two-timing.

It wasn’t, and Lum will probably never leave the guy’s side, and maybe I was a fool for thinking any character development would stick around for the next segment, let alone episode. That said, I enjoyed Ryouko as an unapologetic agent of chaos and general shit-stirrer.

Urusei Yatsura – 10 – Autumn Red

Ataru’s mom arrives at school for parents day and just hopes she doesn’t run into anyone she knows. It’s telling that just like Shinobu doesn’t exist if another cutie is in Ataru’s sight, his mom doesn’t remember Shinobu’s mom! The two are flabberghasted by the gaudy arrival of Mendou’s mother via oxcart procession, which is promptly upstaged by the arrival of Lum’s mother, who doesn’t speak Japanese.

It isn’t until Lum arrives to hug her mom that Ataru’s mom can breathe a sigh of relief that Lum’s mom isn’t another one of Ataru’s girlfriends. As for Mendou’s mom, she doesn’t speak loudly enough for anyone to hear her so it falls to Mendou to tell Lum’s mom that his mom is challenging her to a duel. Only because Lum is translating, her mom mistakes it for an offer for her to marry Mendou, which she must bashfully decline!

While it’s fun to meet Lum, Shinobu, and Mendou’s moms, the second segment is the kind of story I’ve been waiting for for some time: something with actual substance and emotional resonance. We see Lum hard at work sewing something throughout the episode, then see how her routine of waking Ataru up ensures he’s not late for class anymore.

She joins Ataru’s family for breakfast and then walks (or rather floats) with Ataru to school. Lum notices the trees are changing color, while Ataru tries flirting with a random girl and gets zapped. All pretty standard Ataru/Lum stuff so far.

While Ataru tries to pick up other girls with his yo-yo skills of all things, Lum is still hard at work sewing something. The bottom line is, Ataru simply isn’t paying any attention to her, and anyone can see he’s taking her for granted as a partner.

That evening at home, he’s short and brusque with her, treating her like a nuisance before going to bed. Lum, apparently out of patience, says a solemn “bye-bye” and flies out the window, shedding a few tears along the way. The next morning he oversleeps, but Lum doesn’t wake him up; his mom has to.

In Lum’s place is a little plush Lum doll that she had been making, which in addition to being extremely well-made also happens to be absolutely adorable. In Lum’s absence, Ataru carries the doll in his breast pocket, close to his heart, and contemplates what it, and Lum’s absence, might mean.

As the maple tree on the way to school turns a bold red in preparation to drop its leaves, Ataru walks to and from school alone, and to Shinobu and other girls’ shock, doesn’t bother flirting with anyone. He’s not in the mood. The dude misses her.

When three days pass and still no Lum, Ataru finally tells the others she’s been missing. Mendou flexes the might of his family’s private police force on a fantastically elaborate and expensive womanhunt, to no avail. Ataru runs to the arena where he first grabbed Lum by the horns, and keeps running to places where they shared fun times.

That night, he cries himself to sleep with the Lum doll in his hands, and we cut to Lum on her parents’ spaceship. Turns out she had to return home to renew her passport so she could stay on earth. When her parents ask if she has any notion about returning home, she says she’s happy by her Darling’s side.

Reinforcing her affection for Ataru and trust that he cares for her too is the fact that the doll has a microphone embedded inside it, which enables her to hear Ataru crying himself to sleep over missing her. She holds the radio tight, no doubt eager to return to her new home.

The next morning, Ataru once again solemnly walks to school alone. By now the maple tree is dropping its brilliant red leaves, but a shadow streaks overhead, and Lum lets out a hearty “Darling!” from behind. Ataru is shocked at first, then so moved that he has to turn his head to avoid letting her see him shed a tear of joy and relief.

The falling leaves add to the drama and beauty of their heartwarming reunion, as the camera rotates lovingly around her and her elegantly falling hair. Ataru lies through his teeth about having almost been free of her, but she knows the truth, thanks to the bug in the doll that he’s kept so close to him.

While I cannot condone secret audio surveillance of one’s partner, in Lum’s case it’s justified due to Ataru’s unapologetic Don Juan-ish nature. But even if she didn’t intend to frighten him with her sudden departure, it’s very telling that for all the indifference towards her he’s shown, the minute she left his life, he was an absolute wreck.

Like Kevin in Home Alone, Ataru’s brief time apart from something with which he thought he was fed up made him understand how much Lum actually meant to him. When given the freedom to pursue any girl, all he could do was pine for her. She’s special, and he’s lucky to have her.

Urusei Yatsura – 09 – Dine and Dash

Cherry senses doom in the air (and in his stew)—and it arrives while Ataru is cleaning his room for Shinobu while Lum is bored out of her mind and simply wants to cuddle. Shinobu is accosted on her way to Ataru’s, and ends up arriving through the window, leaving Lum and Ataru to mistake her as a ghost.

Turns out she’s on the shoulders or Rei, Lum’s fiancé who takes the form of a giant tiger-ox-thing when he’s mad. When he’s not mad, he’s a ridiculously good-looking young man, which is all Shinobu cares about. In this regard, she’s basically a male Ataru!

Love is more than looks for Lum, who won’t give Rei the time of day. Every time she clings to Ataru, Rei gets upset and transforms into the beast. He’s only quelled by the arrival of Ataru’s mom, who is immediately smitten and dolls herself up to bring roasted potatoes for the handsome new guest.

In addition to being a Jekyll-and-Hyde menace who won’t leave Lum alone, he’s also an unrepentant glutton, eating all of the potatoes meant for everyone and at least breifly forgetting that he originally came there for Lum.

When Lum reasserts her prefrence for Ataru, Rei chases them out of the house (blasting a hole in the wall) and into a park full of lovey-dovey couples. Only every time he calls out to Lum to marry him, each on of the women in the park fall for him and accept his proposal.

After running around the park winning the hearts of the gals and the ire of the guys and eating all of the food vendor’s wares, the chase comes back to Ataru’s house, and all the people from the park follow them there. Basically, thanks to being Lum’s main squeeze Ataru now has the most chaotic and troublesome alien yet all up in his space.

It isn’t long until school and free study time is infected by a toxically persistent Rei. Mendou vows to protect Lum and the other girls in the class from Beast!Rei, which Lum is fine with, but then she runs into Ran in the hall.

An enraged Ran demands that Lum help hook her up with Rei, as she’s painfully shy around him. Meanwhile Rei transforms and all the girls flock to him, leaving Mendou with all the other dudes and pathetically trying to flaunt his wealth to get the girls back.

When Lum comes back in the classroom, Rei has already eaten most of the other girls’ lunches, so he prepares to pounce on her. But she’s only a decoy to allow an opening for Ran to swoop in with her lovingly-made bento just for Rei.

He slowly, politely eats the lunch, which makes Ran think her feelings are getting through to him, but then Cherry arrives with an even bigger bento and Rei eats it the exact same way, igniting Ran’s demon mode. Then, just as quickly as he arrived, Rei announces he’s hungry and rockets home.

Rei hopes he’ll come back soon. Lum and Ataru hope he never comes back, something they can share in as a couple. Alas, when Rei said “home”, he didn’t mean the Oni homeworld, but Ataru’s house, where he is eating when Lum and Ataru arrive … and then promptly faceplant in exasperation.

Rei may not technically be a one-note character, but his two notes (raging beast and hunky yet remorseless eating machine) played ad nauseum throughout the episode grew quite exhausting … which I guess is the point! I truly empathized with Ataru and Lum (and Ataru’s dad!) enduring Rei’s foolishness.

Even if I can’t always understand Lum’s love and loyalty to Ataru, I totally get how whatever fleeting feelings she may have once had for Ataru in the past have long since dissipated, and now she wants nothing to do with him. I hate to say it, but really does makes Ataru look like the more desirable man!

Rating: 4/5 Stars

Urusei Yatsura – 07 – Pochi’s Odyssey

This week’s UY further expands its world, though not with more foxy alien chicks. Combining a pool episode with a beach episode, it introduces a lonely little demon living underwater who suddenly has a visitor. He happens to live at the bottom of the pool where Ataru, Lum, Shinobu and Mendou pay a visit. Since Lum’s default outfit is a bikini, it makes sense she’d pick a one-piece, while Shinobu opts for a bolder two-piece.

Even so, Mendou ignores her in favor of Lum’s new look, while both he and Ataru are distracted by Sakura in an even sultrier one-piece. When Ataru lunges at her, she rightfully pops him, and he ends up sinking to the pool’s bottom where the little demon guy lives. While Shinobu asks about Sakura’s fancy parfait, Lum is legit concerned about Ataru, who tags out when she arrives so he can surface for air.

After eating roughly a hundred parfaits, Sakura joins Mendou and Cherry in following Ataru, who swears there’s a freaky demon thing underwater. But when they reach his “home”, he’s surfaced to procure (read: steal) more snacks for his guests. Lum tags everyone to surface.

Eventually, everyone is back above water, studying the weird little guy. After all the commotion he caused making customers flee (his dad owns the pool) Mendou demands that the guy vacate the premises immediately. The others, feeling this was a bit harsh, wish the guy well as he departs, only for Ataru to find him having relocated to his family’s bathtub.

The conundrum of What To Do About The Weird Little Blue Guy continues in the second segment, and that question is answered immediately by Ataru’s mom, who asks him and Lum to take the guy to the beach and leave him there, since he’s been in their tub for a month.

Like the pool, Shinobu’s in a bikini and Lum’s in a one piece, but they’re different prints from the previous swimsuits they wore, which is a nice touch. Sakura also shows off her ability to eat massive quantities of food, but this time she’s with her fiancé Tsubame.

When Ataru tries to take the pool demon somewhere secluded, that happens to be the same spot where Sakura and Tsubame end up to be alone together. This results in Ataru, the pool demon, Mendou, Shinobu, and Lum all watching intently as the couple draw closer into a kiss that’s sadly broken up by the pool demon walking up to point-blank range to stare at them.

He apologizes to Ataru, Lum, Shinobu, and Mendou by throwing a goodbye picnic, offering food he’d procured/stolen from around the beach. Everyone eats, but they can’t be merry with the guy constantly bringing up the fact that they’re leaving him there all alone.

Throughout the background of this segment, there’s a very sweet and wholesome little vignette of a gentle little boy taking his beloved pet Pochi to the beach because he can’t keep it anymore. When all his most treasured moments with Pochi (who is never shown) flash before the boy’s eyes, he suddenly can’t go through with it anymore.

The boy races back to the beach, sees Ataru with a cardboard box, and snatches it up, thinking it’s the cardboard box containing Pochi that he left of the beach when it’s actually a second box into which Ataru put the pool demon.

Shinobu discovers the boy’s box, and opens it to reveal that “Pochi” is just Cherry. The kid had been spending all this time with (and feeding) Sakura’s uncle like he was a pet. That’s a great-ass punchline right there. No sooner do Ataru and Lum return home than they receive a postcard from the pool demon—who now goes by Pochi—saying he’s found a great new home and life with the kind boy. All’s well that ends well!

Rating: 4/5 Stars

Urusei Yatsura – 06 – Earth, Lightning, Fire and Ice

Ataru is a man of simple pleasures. When it’s sukiyaki night at the Moroboshi house, he’s super-pumped. Unfortunately he’s never able to partake in the feast, as Lum grabs him and leaps through an inter-dimensional portal she made in his closet that leads to the Oni homeworld.

Lum is in battle gear, and soon so is Ataru. The lines are drawn between the Oni and the “Lucky Gods”. Ataru feels like some kind of bloody, horrific war is going to start, but the “battle” takes the form of…tower basket ball toss, an even not out of place on school sports days.

This is kinda boring to Ataru, until he spots a major babe in Benten, one of Lum’s old friends (Ishigami Shizuka). Back home, Ataru’s parents wait as long as they can, then eat all the sukiyaki, before hearing their son’s voice and freaking out. Cherry arrives to help them speak to their son, now allegedly dearly departed to the hereafter.

In reality, they can just hear him through the portal as he flirts with Benten. While she’s understandably “who is this guy” at first, once she realizes he’s Lum’s husband she decides to have a little fun at her expense and plays along. This results in Lum and Benten, the two basket minders, ignoring the game completely to fight over Ataru.

Before Cherry summons Ataru’s voice again, he has Ataru’s folks make more sukiyaki, at which point his mom has lost her patience and holds the tiny priest at knifepoint. He does the same nonsensical chanting as his niece Sakura, tuning into Ataru just as he’s facing his “punishment” as the weakest link on the losing team: being pelted with pellets by both sides.

As is typical of Urusei Yatsura, the next morning is a bit of a reset, but Ataru is in bed with a cold. Somewhat surprisingly, Shinobu is by his side tending to him, and Lum is nowhere to be found. Soon Mendou, Ataru’s friends, and Cherry are crowding the room, just as it starts to grow very cold and snowy.

Lum went to Neptune to visit a friend through the portal, so a bit of the icy world seems to be “leaking” into his room, including an avalanche’s worth of snow that buries Ataru. He’s dug up not by Shinobu or his friends, but by a new character who resembles a yuki-onna. She goes back through the portal and then down a deep chasm.

Starting with Ataru (who is pushed), everyone follows suit, and lands upside-down on the snow-packed surface of Neptune. There, Ataru reunites with Lum (in a smart tiger-print two-piece combo more appropriate for the climate than her usual bikini), who reveals the yuki-onna is her old friend Oyuki (Hayami Saori, of course).

Neptune is a world full of nothing but women, which makes it a paradise for Mendou, who is all to happy to dig snow for them endlessly. Meanwhile, Oyuki invites Ataru, Lum, Shinobu and Cherry into her futuristic mansion. Ataru can’t help but flirt with Oyuki, incurring the rage of both Shinobu and Lum (as well as Lum’s lightning).

Ataru begs to go somewhere where he’ll be safe from their wrath, praising Oyuki for being a pure, gentle, and above all non-violent maiden. However he soon finds that Oyuki, who ditched her outdoor robes for a revealing ice-blue one-piece, was planning to seduce Ataru all along. Things are about to get racy when the wall crumbles before them and B-Bo, Oyuki’s yeti attendant, takes exception to Ataru’s presence.

B-Bo chases Ataru through the Neptunian wastes and back through the portal to Earth, where news choppers capture the ensuing rooftop spectacle. Once the King Kong style incident is over, Ataru finds himself in a full body cast, tended to by both Shinobu and Lum, who hoped he learned his lesson about chasing every girl with a pulse. Of course, he didn’t learn, and will never learn—otherwise he wouldn’t be Moroboshi Ataru!

The third and final segment is the shortest, and takes place after the credits. At the end of the semester, Ataru has an announcement for everyone: he’s retiring. His teacher thinks this means he’s dropping out due to his upsettingly terrible grades, but it’s Mendou who shatters the fourth wall by assuming Ataru was retiring … as the main character of Urusei Yatsura.

Everyone goes along with this, because everyone wants to be his replacement. It results in a callback to every character large and small we’ve met so far in the first six episodes, each making their case. Finally Ataru has to disappoint them all: he’s not retiring from being the MC, but from the school presidency.

Rating: 4/5 Stars

Urusei Yatsura – 05 – Hand Over Fist

“A man gotta have a code.”—Omar Little

When Ataru spots Cherry parked outside school grilling fish, the little guy explains that he’s on chaperone duty for Sakura, who is the new school nurse. Ataru hears about this too late, as there’s already a long line of boys wanting to her to examine them (including Mendou), but he invokes their envy when she calls him by his name.

Sakura kicks all the lechers out (after hitting them with her shoe) and the gym teachers come in with a job for Sakura the shrine maiden: exorcising a pair of possessed gloves. One of those gloves ends up bopping a flying Lum in the head, and she takes it to Ataru, who promptly puts it on and find he can no longer control his right arm.

After embracing every cute girl in class (and getting slapped for it), the glove takes a liking to Mendou, who whips out his katana. Sakura arrives in maiden garb to take care of the glove, and when she watches Ataru take his own punch to protect Lum from getting hit, she gets an idea.

Ataru may seem like a chaotic lecher, but he has strict rules, and one of them is that he’d never, ever hit a girl. So Sakura puts him in a ring where he’ll float like a butterfly and sting like a bee … on himself, using his own face as Lum’s shield (something that moves Lum to tears). It works: he knocks himself out, and the gloves come off.

While that’s the end of the boxing glove hijinx, hands play an important role in the second segment. Lum witnesses other lovey-dovey couples holding hands, but Ataru gives her the cold shoulder in favor of Shinobu, who gives him the cold shoulder. If she has any feelings left for this guy she’s hiding them extraordinarily well.

When the other guys in class watch a procession of girls delivering love letters to Mendou, then see Lum glomming on Ataru, they see a couple of extremely lucky guys who need to be brought down a peg. So they write a fake love letter to Ataru by “Kumino Otoko”, an invented girl who insists Mendou is an uggo and a loser compared to her dear Ataru.

Ataru jumps on the hastily wrought fiction like stink on a skunk, and Mendou is also troubled, so he issues a challenge: if this Kumino Otoko is real, he’ll pay Ataru 10,000 yen. If she’s fake, Mendou takes over as class president. This is unexpected blowback for the guys, who do not want to live under an oppressive Mendou regime.

That said, the girl they paid 3,000 yen to play the role of Otoko spent all the cash on food and ends up staying home with a stomachache, so Ataru is doomed to be stood up by a girl who never existed. Lum, who has lately felt underappreciated and even claimed to be considering dumping Ataru and going to Mendou (though not really), is initially content to perch on an electrical pole and let the boy learn his lesson.

I say “initially”, because for whatever reason, Lum truly does love Ataru, and eventually grows worried about him being hurt and lonely. So, showing she’s the best alien waifu a guy could ask for, she walks into the cafe in disguise as “Kumino Otoko,” shocking all in attendance.

Ataru is the first (and only) guy there to notice Otoko is actually Lum, and almost gives up the ghost like a dope, but she draws near and tells him to play along, and so he does, though later still pines for a girl that never existed while one that does just saved his ass.

As they walk home, Lum isn’t happy with how unappreciative Ataru is, and even when she spots another laughing couple holding hands ahead of them, she prepares to fly off on her own. But Ataru, noticing in the dramatic light of the sunset how beautiful Lum is for the first time, reflexively reaches out and takes her hand.

Lum is surprised, but when Ataru asks if they can walk together a little while longer, her elated beaming face just melts Ataru’s heart, and the two walk along hand-in-hand. Lum laughs just like the other girls laugh, but when Ataru asks why she won’t say. If he doesn’t know why, nothing she says will change that, so she might as well just enjoy this moment. I know I did!

Rating: 4/5 Stars

Urusei Yatsura – 04 – As the Crow Flies

Ataru and Lum are playing Shinobu and Mendou in a spirited game of doubles tennis, and Lum ignores pleas not to cheat by flying. Her resulting point soars so far it smacks one of the tengu crows carrying a capsule containing a slumbering space princess. It slides down the hill and flattens Mendou, and Ataru pounces on it as soon as he sees the face of the occupant.

The crow attendants are impressed not with Ataru, but with Mendou’s “slicked-back” good looks. They believe he’ll be the perfect mate for their Princess Kurama to engage in “amorous congress” with. They urge Mendou to kiss her so she’ll awaken and get down to business.

Naturally, Mendou is a little hesitant, but Ataru isn’t, and steals the kiss. Lum immediately zaps him into the stratosphere, so the first thing Kurama sees is Mendou’s handsome mug, and assumes he’s The Guy.

The four crow attendants are fine with this, but their elder is against it. Tradition dictates that the one who awakened her with a kiss become her mate, and that’s the Ataru clown.

The others want to keep that a secret, and so does Lum, who agrees to help them ensure the princess ends up with Mendou. Kurama then arrives in class and is all over Mendou, causing a huge uproar among his many admirers. Both Ataru and Shinobu try to tell her the truth, but are tied up by the crows and Lum.

Lum and the crows then set to work building an impromptu “love nest” right in the schoolyard, into which Kurama drags a still-hesitant Mendou. While he recognizes her beauty, he still feels things are going way too fast. That’s when Ataru drops in, still tied up, to tell Kurama the truth: he kissed her.

The elder crow backs this up and says tradition must be adhered to. But when Kurama asks specifically why that is and what the consequences are, he has no idea. So the crows set up a device so he can confer with the past elders of the past of their homeworld.

The elder ends up going back to the very first elder, who admits to having created the tradition from whole cloth simply because it was the way he met his own bride after a long and exciting adventure.

At the news of this, Kurama smashes the miraculous device and says to hell with such a sappy, meaningly tradition. She storms back into her nest, and Mendou follows her in to commit himself to her as her groom.

That’s when Ataru puts a big ‘ol record scratch on their moment by dropping a giant temple bell on top of Mendou, sending him into his darkness basketcase raving mode. Kurama is instantly put off by such a pathetic display and leaves.

Freed from what ended up to be a capricious and arbitrary tradition, she’s raised her standards for who should be her husband, and sets out to find someone who “checks all the boxes”, marked by an inspiring postcard memory.

Princess Kurama is another fun new character with a cool, striking design and voiced with exquisite haughtiness by Mizuki Nana. I also enjoyed her crew of adorable doting crow tengu. While I salute her for washing her hands of Mendou and Ataru, the fact she’s just as shallow as they are suggests she won’t enjoy the best luck in her pursuit of the perfect man.

Rating: 4/5 Stars

Urusei Yatsura – 03 – In Flies Another Hassle

It’s just another day in Ataru’s class with Lum hanging off of him and Shinobu throwing chairs and desks at him in, but then the mega-rich transfer student Mendou Shuutarou leaps out of one of his family’s fleet of private helicopters and is hit by one of the desks Shinobu throws. Shinobu approaches him to apologize and is immediately smitten with Mendou … giving a concerned Ataru a foot to the face.

Ataru doesn’t have to worry … much, as the moment Mendou spots Lum floating around class, he loses all interest in Shinobu. Unfortunately for him, Lum only cares about her Darling, Ataru. Mendou arrives on the day of the election for class president, but worried his administration will be too punitive towards his fellow male students, the lads nominate Ataru to run against him.

When the two tie (Ataru getting all the boys’ votes, Mendou getting all the girls’), Mendou challenges Ataru to a traditional Mendou family duel: a William Tell routine, but with cannon instead of pistols. In order to commence the duel Mendou has to throw a glove at Ataru, but finds it impossible due to Ataru’s ninja-like elusiveness. He ends up hitting Lum with his duel glove instead, and she zaps him for his trouble.

Despite the principal insisting students aren’t allowed to parachute into school, Mendou arrives the same way as his first day, only this time Lum runs into him instead of a desk, and the two get tangled in his parachute. Lum was searching for her Darling, who slipped away to have a private chat with Shinobu.

To Ataru’s dismay, Shinobu plainly admits she has the hots for Mendou and sees no reason why it’s any of his lecherous, cheating-ass’s business. Just then, the parachute falls, and Mendou ends up on top of Shinobu, who is as elated by the experience as Ataru is mortified.

When the class goes on a team-building trip to the woods, we see Lum in human clothes for the first time, and it’s clear she’s got fine fashion sense. As usual, Ataru would prefer to be alone with Shinobu than her, so when Mendou asks Lum if she’ll accompany him to explore a nearby limestone cave, Ataru invites Shinobu.

All four know that a cave means the potential for scary darkness and clinging to the one you like. The only problem is, everyone likes someone who doesn’t like them: Lum wants Ataru, Ataru wants Shinobu, Shinobu wants Mendou, and Mendou wants Lum. It’s a perfect romantic Ouroboros!

As expected, Ataru never ends up with his preferred clingmate, despite conspiring with Mendou to turn out their flashlights simultaneously. He first ends up with Lum while Shinobu gets Mendou. The next time they try it, the two boys end up with each other.

That’s when Ataru learns that Mendou becomes terrified to the point of tears and raving when he’s in a confined dark space … but only when girls aren’t looking at him. As in, even if Lum and Shinobu are right there with him, he wails like a baby when Ataru covers the girls’ eyes.

If it wasn’t clear from our previous dealings with Mendou, he’s just as much a lady-obsessed chowderhead as Ataru, only richer. He’s also voiced by fellow comedy vet Miyano Mamoru, one of the few seiyuu of his generation who can go toe-to-toe with Kamiya Hiroshi.

When the flashlights crap out for real, Lum is fed up and uses her electrical powers to light the way. But by doing so, she activates some kind of alien spaceship that was embedded in the rock, causing it to launch and create a huge hole in the caverns.

Everyone’s safe and sound, with the boys and girls embracing one another this time, but the ship attains Earth orbit and its passenger looks poised to awaken at any time … let’s hope next week. The more zany characters the merrier!

Rating: 4/5 Stars

Urusei Yatsura – 02 – Ataru’s Girl

You would think that having an alien babe as a wife would be pretty sweet, but lest we forget, Moroboshi Ataru is a pathologically unlucky young feller, while Lum is either ignorant or uncaring of Earther concepts such as personal space, privacy, or not wanting to be electrocuted. Almost every waking moment involves Ataru fighting off Lum’s cuddling, getting daggers from every other girl in his life, and then getting shocked into near-oblivion.

The cold open does a very effective job portraying just how ridiculously stressful and intolerable the situation actually is, rather than it being a case of Ataru being sour despite clearly hitting the jackpot. This is legit not fun for him, so he runs away from home. But it’s not long before Lum, Shinobu, and his parents are on TV begging him to come home.

On his way out he meets Sakura (via accidentally copping a feel), a beautiful but sickly shrine maiden who immediately pegs him as the single most accurséd person she’s ever met. Sakura she invites him to her home/shrine for an exorcism, which her mom (who looks exactly like Cherry’s sister, because she is!) promises she’s very good at.

It certainly doesn’t start off good, as Sakura (Sawashiro Miyuki, clearly having a blast) enters sporting a canker sore the size of a golf ball, and then her chanting (much of it food ingredients and condiments) causes scores of tiny little demons to manifest and surround Ataru. But Sakura persists, and before long, all of the miasma in the room vanishes, and she finds herself feeling healthier than ever.

Ataru and his horrible fortune were no doubt the lure that drew them all out of Sakura, but since they all represent various maladies from which she suffered, she finishes the job and exorcises them, demonstrating that her mom wasn’t lying about her competence. That said, there’s an unexpected visit from the Grim Reaper, who seemingly comes for Ataru.

A distraught Shinobu, Lum, and his parents surround him on his apparent death bed…until a pretty nurse walks in and Ataru sits up in bed and chats her up. A moment ago they were praying for him to wake up, and now they wish he was dead all over again. Lum, one to hold a grudge, continually punishes him with electrocutions, from which there is no escape because she can fly and he can’t.

After witnessing just how bad Ataru has it, Cherry prepares a yelow ribbon for Ataru to tie around Lum’s horns. Once tied, only he can untie it, and Lum’s powers of flight and electricity are nullified. Ataru plays it off as giving her a new accessory so his wife can look her best, but when she leaps out the window and takes a tumble, he knows it really works.

The grounded Lum feels heavy and disoriented, so she grabs the first person she meets on the street—one of Ataru’s horny friends—to test her elecrocution power, only to find that’s not working either. When Shinobu catches her clinging to Ataru once more and hears about the ribbons, she charges Lum to try to get them off, but Ataru comes between her, so she takes the baked treats she made for him, kicks him in the face, and storms off.

That night, Lum wants to sleep together with Ataru, as she’s still out of sorts and wants to be close to her darling. Indeed, she wants to be by his side for life! Realizing the ribbon is a double-edged sword, he tries to remove it, but she won’t let him…until Cherry’s note is one of the things she throws at his interfering friends, and one of them reads it, revealing Ataru and Cherry conspired to ground and de-electrify Lum.

Lum proceeds to show that she doesn’t need her powers to kick Ataru’s ass, and when he removes the ribbons, she’s got a whole day of electricity stored up to discharge all at once. How this doesn’t stop Ataru’s heart or burn him to a crisp fifty times over I have no idea, but one thing’s for sure: it hurts like heck!

Ataru isn’t the typical rom-com protagonist you simply envy for lucking out on his situation. He’s a womanizing scumbag, sure, but factoring in how and swiftly and often he receives his just desserts for being said scumbag—and even for simply existing—he strikes the fine balance between loathsome and sympathetic. And he’s about to have company in the form of an ultra-rich parachuting pretty boy!

Urusei Yatsura – 01 (First Impressions) – The Winner Takes It All

In this reboot of a sci-fi/rom-com anime from 1981 (41 years ago) we’re introduced to Moroboshi Ataru (Kamiya Hiroshi), an unrepentant horndog in a Waldo shirt who ogles a comely jogger mere seconds after reaffirming his love for his long-suffering girlfriend, Miyake Shinobu (Uchida Maaya). That status quo is suddenly shattered by an alien invasion of earth by a race called the Oni.

But these aliens are the sporting type, so they give humanity a chance to avoid subjugation: if a randomly selected human can catch the Oni’s leader’s daughter Lum (Uesaka Sumire) by the horns in a game of tag, the invasion will be cancelled. The human they randomly select is Ataru, of course. And Lum? She’s a total babe.

The game of tag is internationally televised and held at a soccer stadium packed to capacity. Unfortunately for Ataru (who is preternaturally unlucky having been born on Friday the 13th), Lum can fly, and proves extremely hard to catch.

He only has ten days to tag her, and those days go by utterly devoid of success. On the evening before the last day before humanity is doomed, Shinobu decides to give Ataru some extra motivation: if he succeeds, she’ll marry him. Ataru genuinely cares for Shinobu, so the next day he’s all vim and vinegar.

Upon finally catching Lum by the leg, he learns she has another power: electricity. But that doesn’t faze him. As his bride-to-be watches and he repeatedly shouts “Marriage!” he intensifies his pursuit of Lum, eventually grabbing her into an embrace and relieving her of her tiger-print bikini top.

Using the top as a lure, for the first time Ataru brings Lum to him, and uses said top as a distraction as he allows her to reclaim it while he reorients himself and grabs her by the horns, thereby winning the game of tag and saving earth from invasion.

Ataru is instantly a global hero, and he’s ready to marry Shinobu right then and there … but there’s one problem: all those times he shouted “Marriage!” while chasing Lum? Lum thought that meant he intended to marry her. And having lost the game fair and square, she agrees.

Neiher Ataru nor Shinobu (especially Shinobu) like this, but Lum is absolutely intent on being Ataru’s wife. When he declares that he only loves Shinobu, he makes Lum cry, and when she calls Shinobu on the phone (this series is very much lodged in the 80s, tech-wise) both girls accuse him of two-timing.

That said, Shinobu is on board with Ataru’s plan to simply ignore Lum when she uses her alien ship’s jamming tech to intrude on their phone calls.When Ataru and Shinobu threaten meet in person, Lum creates massive electrical storms, but the lovebirds still manage to unite, which is when she takes her ship into the atmosphere to intercept them.

Normally, saving the world would afford the saver a life of leisure and ease; not so for the ever-unlucky Ataru. While he loves Shinobu, he also cannot deny his attraction to Lum, even though she has a tendency to electrocute him when she perceives him to be cheating.

It is here where I admit that the premise and the character dynamics are very much stuck in the 20th century, and perhaps that’s for the best. Compare this to the reboot of the even older Dororo, which respected its source while also bringing it into modernity.

Urusei Yatsura isn’t just retro in look (albeit with a 21st century glow-up), but also retro in sensibility. The show is loud, boisterous, and a a bit backwater. But it’s also fantastic-looking, brimming with infectious energy and charm, and is mostly just a big ol’ heap of fun!

Rating: 4/5 Stars

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