Episode 6a: “Black Hole Love Triangle”
Original airdate: 11/25/1981
Corresponding manga chapter: “Dire Straits”, volume 1, chapter 5 (Viz release)
Minor character introduced: Gossipy lady
Summary: Ataru is phoning Shinobu, keeping his voice low to avoid alerting Lum, who’s asleep upstairs. However, Ten is hiding behind him, and rats him out. Lum grabs the phone and beings shouting about her plans to make a baby with Darling that night. When Ataru grabs the phone back, Shinobu reaches through it and claws his face.
Upstairs, Ataru insists that he wants to see Shinobu, and throws Lum out. In tears, she flies away; Ten follows after blasting out a huge gout of flame. Ataru is momentarily sorry to lose her hot bod, but he must revel in his freedom, which he celebrates by crawling downstairs in a weird headfirst creep toward the phone. Shinobu is initially pleased to hear about Lum’s departure, until Lum’s voice comes on the line and starts saying that they slept together last night. Shinobu loses her temper at Ataru, and then it goes into a really weird splitscreen.
Ataru’s mother has a visitor, a woman in traditional Japanese dress, who laughs and says she wishes she had an amusing son like Ataru. We immediately cut to Ataru’s mother chewing him out for being stupid, since the woman is a huge gossip and everyone will know how stupid her son is. The argument is interrupted by the TV news announcing the nearby disappearance of a fighter jet, which excites Mr. Moroboshi, prompting his wife to shout “Ataru’s stupidity won’t be cured just because a plane disappears!”
Walking outside, Ataru is struck by the realization that he can just walk to Shinobu’s, until he’s struck by lightning from the clear sky. He begins shouting at Lum in her UFO as the gossipy woman looks on, pointing him out to some other women who clearly aren’t based on Takahashi designs. Ataru calls Shinobu from a pay phone, telling her that Lum has been interfering. Lum listens in from her UFO, then gets mad and jams the signal. Ataru shouts that he has a pocket full of 10 yen coins, as a helicopter disappears from the sky behind him. The TV news comes on again, showing the disappearance of the helicopter with Ataru in the foreground. At a sumo match, they go to a stablemaster, who explains that the EM waves between the phone and the UFO have created a black hole that will suck anything that flies into it into another dimension.
Ataru dons a disguise to head to see Shinobu. As he leaves, his father gives him a rubber raincoat that will protect him from lightning. He runs toward Shinobu as lightning strikes all around him, followed by Cherry. As Shinobu runs toward him, Ataru is struck by a falling telephone pole, apparently pushed there by Cherry. Ataru rises, attacks Cherry with a pipe, and then he and Shinobu embrace amongst a background of ruined buildings.
Lum shouts that she’ll end this through lover’s suicide and launches her UFO directly at Ataru, but misses and crashes. Ataru and Shinobu seek each other amongst the smoke, but finds Lum again. Shinobu, seeing them together, attacks them with a pipe. When she leaves, local businessmen show up and demand the 3 billion yen price of rebuilding the town, which they decide to take out of his hide. Cherry proclaims that this is fate.
Changes from the manga version: The only change of note is the presence of Ten.
Thoughts: After 5 episodes introducing characters, we’re going back and picking up earlier chapters that were skipped. As a result, we hit the first segment that’s really skippable if you’re not a completist. Every character is at their shallowest and least likable at this point, and without a fourth character for the triangle to bounce off of, it’s hard to find anyone to root for. The bit with the disappearing aircraft isn’t particularly funny and doesn’t pay off or resolve beyond Ataru getting pounded again.
Shinobu still hasn’t bought another outfit. (I realize that the same is true of Ataru as well, but his casual outfit is just a T-shirt and jeans, while hers looks like some thought went into it.) She also has a weird blue phone covered in flowers, a design that originated in the manga.
There are amusing moments in this episode, such as consulting the sumo stablemaster to explain the disappearances, but all in all it’s the sort of episode that it’ll be good to get away from.
Episode 6b: “It’s a Lovesick Little Demon!”
Original airdate: 11/25/1981
Corresponding manga chapter: “Poor Little Devil”, volume 1, chapter 2 (Viz release)
Noteworthy character introduced: Demon
Summary: Ataru is walking home and bemoaning his lot when a black cat walks in front of him, followed by several others that run around him in a circle. When he chases them off, a delivery moped loses control and crashes, hitting him in the back of the head with a loose wheel and leaving a lump. Back at home, we see that it’s just before midnight on Thursday the 12th when Ataru wakes up in pain. He picks up a hand mirror and checks the back of his head in the reflection in the window. As the clock turns to midnight, a small and very Takahashi-esque demon crawls out of the hand mirror and attaches to his face.
He yanks it off, and in a panic it throws itself at the hand mirror and then the window before noticing it’s past midnight (five minutes just flew by, apparently). It demands to be sent home and runs toward the futon closet, which is opened from the inside by Lum, awakened by the noise. She panics on seeing the demon, while it’s smitten and runs toward her with its tail sticking up in a very questionable manner. The chase leads to the roof, while downstairs Ataru’s parents pretend not to hear the commotion. Lum insists she can’t stay around the demon and flies off to her UFO. Ataru realizes the benefits of having it around as Lum repellent and invites it to stay.
The next morning, Mrs. Moroboshi is fixing breakfast when the demon wanders in and tells her that she’s gorgeous. Sadly, she’s flattered by this, to the chagrin of her husband (at least Rei was handsome most of the time). Shinobu arrives and Ataru explains the situation to her. She realizes that putting two mirrors back-to-back on Friday the 13th summons a demon, but is pleased when Ataru explains that it drove Lum off, up until the point that it wanders in and flings itself at her torso. (If this were live-action the actress would be holding a demon doll in place.)
Lum is watching from her UFO and becomes jealous of Shinobu, flying down to the house. Cut to the demon suspended from the ceiling by a rope tied to its tail and Ataru playing tetherball with it. It becomes upset at wanting to go home, causing Shinobu to start to feel sorry for it. Lum appears, and things escalate until Ataru is thrown through the window.
Ataru and his father meet with Cherry in a restaurant, buying him deluxe sukiyaki (there’s a sign saying “Sukiyaki Restaurant” in English in the background) in exchange for his assistance. Ataru points out that this is more of a Christian demon, but Cherry explains that as a high priest he’s studied Western religious texts as well, adding “This is a pen” in English, which is the English equivalent of “la plume de ma tante”, apparently.
In the Moroboshi’s living room, Cherry and the demon stand between eight mirrors as Cherry chants prayers to Amida Buddha and Jesus Christ, explaining that he’ll create an interdimensional space between the mirrors to send it home. The women look on in disappointment. Cherry does a lot of jumping around and bead-twirling, and portals appear behind the demon’s reflections in the mirrors. However, instead of disappearing, long lines of the demon’s reflection appear. Mr. Moroboshi returns home from work to discover that the living room has turned into a scene from “The Trouble With Tribbles”, as Cherry explains that there must have been an error in his chanting.
Changes from the manga version: Lum is not in the original story, and Cherry has an increased role, but the plot is essentially the same.
Thoughts: As noted above, this was the 2nd chapter that was skipped in the original adaptation, and Lum wasn’t in it. The animators found a way to work her in, but it does depend on her having what seems like an uncharacteristically squeamish initial reaction to the demon–she’s seen worse. (Speaking of that, where’s Ten?) Having her freak out after the demon starts macking on her would have been more in character.
This segment does work better than the first one, since the characters are reacting to an outside party rather than just going after each other. It’s still in the early “hijinks ensue” mode, though, so while it’s entertaining enough it’s not essential viewing, either. (The design of the demon is cute, though.)
Next episode: Darling bought horn ribbons for Lum, but now her powers aren’t working correctly!