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 – 08 – A Ran for Her Money

After seven episodes of floating around class causing a commotion, Lum officially enrolls at the school, surprising Ataru so much he nearly chokes to death. He insists Lum attending school will “cramp his style” but I know not of what style he speaks.

Lum isn’t the only transfer student either: the other is the newest addition to this boisterous and chaotic bunch: Ran, Lum’s childhood friend. Ataru starts hitting on her immediately, which is when Lum recognizes her and asks for a talk behind the school.

Once there, Lum and Ran greet each other like the old friends they are, and Ran says she’s disguised herself as a human so she could see Lum. But when reminiscing about old times brings up the boy they both fell for—Rei. who looks like a complete bore—Ran’s personality suddenly curdles into that of an enraged ogre.

Ran hasn’t forgotten how Lum stole Rei from her, and has come to earth to take revenge on her. Specifically, she intends to use her succubus-like ability to suck the life out of people with her mouth on an unwitting, two-timing Ataru who will be all too eager to kiss.

Lum tries her best to stick close to Ataru, committed to protecting her darling despite the fact he’d still cheat on her in front of her face without batting an eye. This episode does not show Ataru at his best, but I suppose it shows him at his most libido-first Ataru-ness.

Ran manages to get Ataru alone under a tree, but is unable to apply a smooch due to Lum flattening Ataru at the last minute with a tatami mat. I guess the injuries he receives as she keeps him away from Ran’s mouth aren’t as bad as what would happen if she kissed him.

During the cavalry clash, Ataru gets the chance to witness what happens as Ran accidentally kisses another boy, who ends up transforming into a feeble old bansai-watering fogey. And yet, Ataru doesn’t care in the slightest. He’s always been about the hunt. If capturing the hot babe of his dreams will result in his death, it will have been worth it.

Yet the day passes with Lum successfully defending her baka-darling from Ran’s lips. Ran slips back into her more mild-mannered mode, only to get all worked up again when she remembers the wedge that split the two of them apart: her would-be darling Rei—whom I must point out chose Lum over her.

The second segment involves Ran saying, Poochie-style, that she’ll be returning to her home planet shortly, but wants to spend one more day of tea and cookies with her best friend and her darling. Why she chooses to relay this message via self-destructing Ran doll is a mystery I fear we’ll never solve.

Ditto Ran’s insistence on passing as human while her house is very clearly an alien spacecraft. Ran makes sure she looks her cutest and most innocent, as she tries to convince Lum that 1.) she’s really leaving and 2.) she’s given up on stealing Ataru from her. That fiction evaporates when Lum feeds her drugged cookies to a sentient vase that then falls fast asleep.

But Ran has more than one trick up her lavender sleeve, as she’s preparing a copy of Ataru in her oven, identical in every way except for an apostrophe near his head (looking like a kind of floating ahoge). That apostrophe is actually one of the first things the real Ataru notices, and he snatches it just as Ran grabs him and returns him to Lum, thinking he’s the copy.

Ataru doesn’t know it, but he accidentally saved his ass by grabbing that little thingy. As Lum forces him to leave with her, Ran storms out holding a wholly deflated Ataru clone, madder than ever. That night, Lum, ever the optimist, wishes she’d tried to get along better with Ran before she returned to her home planet.

Of course, Ran doesn’t return to her home planet, but back to Ataru and Lum’s school the next morning, still maniacally determined to steal Ataru from Lum and suck the vitality out of him. So for all intents and purposes, she’s here to stay … and I’m fine with that! The more intensely-haired shiny alien beauties, the better, I say. I’m simple like that!

Ran is, you’d probably guessed voiced by the incomparable Hanazawa Kana, and I’m glad Urusei Yatsura saved one of the biggest guns in its massive seiyuu arsenal for a character with a split personality; the better to utilize Hanazawa’s fantastic vocal range. She has the ability to jump from syrupy-sweet to pure venom on a dime.

She also makes Ran, for all her flaws, a lot more likable than if someone else voiced her. The episode also wisely kept Shinobu, Mendou, and all the other characters out to the periphery so it could focus on the Ran-Ataru-Lum triangle at hand. I’m sure it won’t be long before Rei arrives on Earth to try to reclaim Lum’s heart. His efforts are sure to be met with failure, since Lum only has eyes for Darling now.

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

Love Flops Dropped

The third and final episode of Love Flops I watched focused on Amelia Irving, who starts the episode under Asahi’s covers trying to put his toeprints on a wedding license. Why yes, she’s not wearing pants. Her obsessively hypercompetitive personality hits a snag when a kanji test looms. She starts to learn, but only the symbols she finds in pornographic literature. Asahi helps tutor her, and her test scores improve drastically.

While Amelia is the most interesting character by dint of having an episode centered around her, and I heart her seiyu Taketatsu Ayana always and forever (and appreciate that she needs to pay the bills), I’m content with just three episodes of this mostly dumb mess and calling it a day. If I need tutoring rom-com, I’ll wait for We Never Learn S3.

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!

Love Flops – 02 – Menage a Cinq

Asahi is so distracted by Aoi’s, er, display, he completely misinterprets her confession to him as a confession to going commando. When she asks him what he thinks and he says he might give it a try and isn’t one to judge others for their preferences, Aoi gets embarrassed and runs off. Not five minutes later Ilya confesses to him, Mongfa runs off and gives him hickeys when two men in black come by, and both Karin and Amelia try to ambush him with a spontaneous wedding.

After a day of absolute madness, Asahi is glad to be home…only to find it full of the mad ones. There they are, all lined up to welcome him home as if they were his five wives. His annoying robot plays a message from his father, who arranged all of this and is hoping Asahi ends up picking one of the girls (or the guy) to marry for real.

The audacity of having his house doubled in size in the few hours he was away from it is weird enough, but now we learn that his dad is undoubtedly someone of considerable means. We also learn that all five of his would-be brides (and one groom) are way too enthusiastic about asserting themselves.

They’re all over him and won’t leave him alone, and while this is clearly a fantasy for some, the episode does a good job heightening the sheer anxiety of dealing with five caffeinated wannabe waifus in a relatively small space. When Asahi escapes to the quiet blue night, it’s as much a relief for me as him!

Aoi ends up finding him at a shrine, and tells him how all of them are simply excited to finally meet their potential future husband, and it resulted in them being a little too overeager to please. With her gentle touch she’s able to convince him to come home and give this thing a try, while she and the others will “do their utmost” to tone it down a bit. Somehow I doubt that!

With that, Asahi’s wacky new home life begins. I’m honestly still not sure what to make of this, and will take at least one more episode to determine if it’s something I’ll watch to the end. So far it’s like train wreck from which I can’t quite look away!

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

Love Flops – 01 (First Impressions) – Five Uneasy Pieces

Kashiwagi Asahi lives in a spacious apartment with an AI assistant Lovelin (Nanachi again), and while listening to the morning news, his birthday of October 8 (just four days ago!) happens to be the luckiest for today. The mysterious fortune teller then lists off a series of “lucky words” that don’t make any sense until he starts his commute to school.

The first word, corner, refers to a rushing girl with purple hair and glasses colliding with  him when they meet at a blind corner. They end up in a risqué position, but he promises he didn’t “see anything” as a result of that position, and they part ways relatively amicably.

Then comes train, when he boards a completely empty car only for a busty green-haired woman in a chinese dress sits right next to him, falls asleep, clings to him, then nearly kicks his head off when he starts her awake.

The next “lucky” word is staircase, when a third beautiful girl stumbles down a flight of steps and she’s launched crotch-first into Asahi’s face. She mistakes the plastic banana holder in his pocket for being happy to see her, and smacks it before running off. So far, Asahi can hardly be blamed for these situations.

Next up is robotic cleaner, when he encounters said robot cleaner in a park trying to dispose of a diminutive redhead’s bra, then the girl herself. This girl accuses Asahi of hacking the robot into stealing her unmentionables. It then chases her away.

Next up is dog, as a silver-haired fellow is being humped by a very big and assertive pooch. To this, Asahi turns about and pretends not to see what is going on, rather than attempt to save the waifish lad and incur the dog’s wrath. It isn’t until he arrives in his newly reorganized class that Asahi learns that everyone he encountered is in his class.

The purple-haired girl with glasses is Izumisawa Aoi (Itou Miku), a transfer student; he short-haired girl is Karin Istel (Kouno Marika), from Germany;  the redhead is Amelia Irving (Taketatsu Ayana) from the USA; the silver-haired boy is Ilya Ilyukhin (Takahashi Rie) from Bulgaria; and the green-haired well-endowed lady from the train is his new teacher, Bai Mongfa, from China (Kanemoto Hisako).

Asahi can’t believe his rotten luck, even as he learns what the last lucky word, letter, referred to a love letter in his locker inviting him to meet after school. His contractually assigned friend Ijuuin Yoshio assures him he’s hit the jackpot; he has the pick of these three beautiful girls, one beautiful woman, and one beautiful guy. I’ll give Yoshio this: he’s refreshingly progressive!

As the rest of the episode unfolds, Asahi has second encounters with each of these potential suitors, in which he attempts to correct the misunderstandings that occurred in their first meetings. He and Aoi almost collide around a corner again, but don’t. Alas, when he fishes through his pockets for what he believed to be her dropped handkerchief, he instead produces Amelia’s bra, scandalizing Aoi and earning him a slap.

This encounter makes him late to order lunch, and there’s nothing left for sale, but he’s not alone; Karin was also too late, and is clearly very hungry. Because Asahi’s a decent guy, he offers her the banana he brought for lunch (this guy really likes bananas, having toasted one for breakfast), while also pointing out that its holder was what she mistook for his manhood. She meekly thanks him for the food.

Asahi then gets another chance to rescue Ilya from becoming unmarriable all over again, albeit not necessarily by choice. Ilya hides behind him, and the randy dog  targets him, even managing to somehow get his pants off. Asahi blacks out, but when he comes to, it’s looking up at a very grateful Ilya.

The dog also managed to bite him, which would normally mean he should probably get tested and treated for rabies, but since this is a goofy anime some alcohol and spray-on bandage will suffice. He receives this treatment from Mongfa-sensei, who doubles as school nurse, and apologizes for their earlier awkward interaction.

No sooner does she leave than Amelia Irving arrives with a very specific ailment: chafing in the chestal area. Fortunately for her, Asahi saved her bra from the trash robot. He returns it to her, and she apologizes for jumping to the earlier conclusion that he hacked the robot, having later realized that was…unlikely.

Having repaired four of the five new relationships he’s built on this most auspicious day, all that’s left is checking out what the final lucky word letter portends. Responding to the love letter, he arrives at a giant blossoming cherry tree he doesn’t remember being there (he has several memory gaps in this episode, though it’s never explained).

There, waiting for him, is none other than the first girl he ran into, Aoi. She’s there to confess her love to him, but because it’s so breezy, her skirt flips up and reveals to him that she’s been going commando ever since their first encounter. The item she dropped was not a handkerchief, but side-tying underwear. For once, Asahi is lucky here, as Aoi doesn’t realize what the wind is doing and the moment isn’t spoiled.

Love Flops thus introduces its lead and his harem of potential girlfriends by resorting to all of the shameless, risqué, fanservice-y clichés but the Bluetooth-enabled kitchen sink. While at times it seems like a very over-the-top satire of harem rom-coms, the fact that it may actually be a genuine and un-ironic contribution to the form almost makes it more amazing. It’s pure tasteless trash … and yet I couldn’t look away.

My Senpai is Annoying – 12 (Fin) – All Grow’d Up

The Fall’s cutest, sweetest, most life-affirming series ends on a suitably cute, sweet, life-affirming episode all about Futaba and Takeda. With Sakurai and Nakama’s relationship status in a good place, it made sence to focus on the main couple, who have been a lot more on the fence about where they stand despite their obvious chemistry and mutual affection.

Futaba’s growth as a salesperson, which she largely attributes to her senpai’s care and guidance, results not only in her scoring a good deal, but gives Takeda the confidence to send her off on a solo presentation that she then nails. This allows him to score a company-saving deal, and he’s soon surrounded by impressed ladies who want to throw a drinking party for him.

Not really in a hurry to watch other women fawn over her senpai, Futaba still insists Takeda join them at the party while excusing herself. With everyone else off doing something, Futaba ends up going to the usual izakaya alone. She immediately realizes it’s not nearly as fun there without Takeda, which…girl I’m sure if you asked him out so it was just the two of you, he’d have agreed in a heartbeat!

As the draft beer flows, Futaba reminisces on her first day at the office when she was a green(-haired) rookie. She immediately makes it clear to Sakurai that she’s not some doll to fawn over, while Takeda buys her a can of soup but then mistakes her for a junior high student, making their introduction as senpai and kohai thoroughly awkward.

Still, Futaba marvels at how far the two of them have come. She probably loathed the man who thought she was a little kid, but now that she knows Takeda and he’s helped her so much, that’s not the case anymore. Color me 100% un-shocked that Takeda blew off his own party as soon as he could to join Futaba, and just in time to keep a drunk salaryman from pawing her.

While a pretty dense fellow, Takeda has never been one to mince words or obfuscate about his general feelings towards Futaba. And yet he’s certainly not one to realize his feelings are romantic, nor is he bold enough to come right out and say that. What he can say, and Futaba can easily accept (with no small amount of blushing) is that he knows drinking with her is a lot more fun than drinking with anyone else.

He takes this a step further on their walk to the train station, after both he and Futaba have had a little too much beer. Nevertheless, it’s the perfect amount for him to be able to say that no matter who Futaba “ends up with” (in a general sense), he promises to always be there to protect her “until then”. Mind you, I’m sure both he and Futaba would be just find if that “someone” ends up being him!

After that lovely little nightttime scene and the credits, we get one more cute scenario—the famous Umbrella Walk. Futaba forgot hers, but Takeda’s is more than wide enough to accommodate her beside him. When she gets self-conscious and moseys over to the end, he draws her closer with his beefy hand. She freaks out, and calls her senpai annoying, but in truth there’s no one she’d rather be with under an umbrella.

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