The Urusei Yatsura Viewing Project, part 8: “Neptune is Beyond My Closet”/”That Crazy Age of the Dinosaurs”

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Episode 8a: “Neptune is Beyond My Closet”

Original airdate: 12/9/1981

Corresponding manga chapter: “Oyuki”, volume 1, chapter 10 (Viz release)

Major character introduced: Oyuki

Minor characters introduced: Oyuki’s handmaidens, B-bbo

Summary: Lum’s Stormtroopers are taking flowers to Ataru, who has a cold, even though idiots are supposed to be too dumb to catch them.  Cherry notes that they appear to be taking on unlucky features from too much exposure to Ataru.

In Ataru’s room, he bemoans being sick when Lum is visiting a friend and his parents are away.  Shinobu says it’s too bad they can’t take advantage of it, which Ataru promptly tries to do.  She protests that Ten will tell Lum, but Ataru assures her that he’s bought Ten’s silence with chocolate.  He continues to press his suit until the Stormtroopers arrive to find him out cold with a baseball bat bent over his head.  Megane demands to know what Ataru’s done with Lum, and he explains that she’s visiting a friend on Neptune and won’t be back for a week.  He adds that he wouldn’t be sorry if she were gone for a year, which earns him a gout of flame from Ten.

Ten notices that everyone else is shivering, and mist starts coming out of Ataru’s closet.  Megane insists on opening it, saying that he feels something good is behind it, and promptly gets buried by a ridiculous amount of snow.

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Looking into the closet, they see a strange void and a beautiful woman in a kimono giving them a literal come-hither look.  Ataru is all for it, but Shinobu tries to stop him, saying that she’s a yuki-onna, but Ataru insists that beautiful women are always right, and the group plunges through the vortex.

They fall through the vortex long enough to suggest that the episode was running short, and land in a plane of ice and snow.  They are greeted by the woman they saw before, a gracious woman in a white kimono with long, blue hair.  Ten identifies her as Oyuki, and Ataru puts two and two together just in time for Lum to arrive (wrapped in a tiger-skin cloak).  They fly back to Oyuki’s d8-shaped palace in a skimmer, Oyuki saying that she’s glad to finally meet Lum’s husband, and Shinobu, the mistress.  There are a proliferation of beautiful women and no men, which pleases the Stormtroopers greatly.

Inside, Ataru asks about the connection between Neptune and his closet.  Oyuki explains that they deal with their “snow problem” by dumping it into the 4th dimension, and their computer chose his closet as the exit point (which should surprise nobody by now).  One of the handmaidens adds that they now have plenty of saps to shovel the snow, and everyone laughs at the Stormtroopers’ misfortune.  Ataru snaps back to being annoyed, but Oyuki’s handmaidens remove her thermal outer layer and his brain shuts down, earning him punches from both Lum and Shinobu.

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There is a loud noise and the ground shakes, and Oyuki goes to quiet what the handmaidens tell them is B-bo, who thinks of their mistress as a sister.  Fade to Ataru staring into the distance and fantasizing about Oyuki (oddly, in her kimono and not her swimming costume).  Lum and Shinobu see through him at once, but Ataru defends himself poetically:

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The girls start barracking him, which quickly escalates into electrocution.  Ataru runs and finds himself in Oyuki’s bedroom.  She’s mildly surprised when he starts pressing his suit, and points out that he has Lum, but he attempts to defend himself again:

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(Incidentally, that’s a picture of the Dappya alien on the wall behind him.)  At this point the ground begins to shake and B-bo presents himself.

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Outside the Stormtroopers are shoveling (they don’t even have snow shovels, just ordinary dirt shovels) when B-bo chases Ataru and they both leap into the portal.  The others arrive and ask where Ataru went.  Upon finding out, Lum says that she wanted to strangle him with her own hands, while Oyuki muses that things were going so well.

Back on Earth, the Moroboshis are returning home from the first vacation they’ve had since their vacation, but downcast that they have to return to Ataru.  A tank passes them, and they worry that Ataru has done it again, which is instantly confirmed by a passing paperboy.  They turn around to head back to the hot springs as a line of tanks passes to surround the Moroboshi house, where B-bo is playing King Kong on the roof, with Ataru in the Fay Wray role.

Changes from the manga version: The plot is basically the same.  Ten isn’t present, of course, nor are the Stormtroopers per se, although the guy with glasses who was the model from Megane is one of the students who comes along.  Cherry also comes along.  It ends with Ataru and B-bo (“Be Boy” in the manga translation) bursting into his house, where his parents are, then jumps forward to the newspaper headline.  It ends with Ataru in a body cast, lying in bed and complaining that the portal is still open, while Be Boy and Oyuki lean over him amidst a snowdrift.

Thoughts: Now here, we’re getting into a classic UY trope: an alien woman resembling a legendary Japanese figure shows up, Ataru leches over her, and things proceed from there.  We also see Ataru defining himself by his lechery for the first time, and actively going after someone who isn’t Shinobu (or Lum).

Oyuki is arguably the most powerful character in the series (I’ll explain the reasoning down the line when the other contender appears).  She’s usually composed and elegant, but anyone who makes her angry will regret it.  She’s part of Lum’s inner circle of female friends, the rest of whom we will meet in upcoming episodes.

I think this is the first episode where someone refers to Ten as “Jariten” (at least in the subs), which is his full name but can also mean “bratty Ten”, which is why Ataru is the one who uses it most often.

Episode 8b: “That Crazy Age of the Dinosaurs”

Original airdate: 12/9/1981

Corresponding manga chapter: “Ghostly Gliders in the Sky!”, volume 6, chapter 4 (Viz release)

Summary: Ataru has borrowed an autogyro from the Aviation Club at school, and challenges Ten to a race.  He teases Ten (letting him catch up and then pulling ahead, putting one of the wheels on his head) until he is startled by the sudden appearance of a pterodactyl.  It’s carrying Kintaro, who notes that he doesn’t spend all his time riding around on a bear.  They attempt to start another race, but all four collide in an explosion.

They awaken in a strange place, which Ataru thinks is Monsterland but Kintaro identifies as Mesozoic-era Earth.  Lum notices that Ten is missing.  Ataru is all for leaving him in the fourth dimension, leading Lum to electrocute him and, incidentally, the pterodactyl.  After crashing, Lum and Kintaro split up to find Ten, leaving Ataru alone.  He is spotted and chased by a tyrannosaur, but manages to knock a rock into its mouth while scrambling up a hill, then slips and vanishes over a cliff.

Lum flies around calling out for Ten, until she spots a round, tiger-striped shape.  She picks it up, but it turns out to be an egg that hatches out an adorable baby dinosaur, which calls her “Mommy”.  The Dappya alien pops in to explain imprinting, and asks Ms. Takahashi if this is for real.

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Ten flies around looking for the others but is found by an adult dinosaur of the same species, which takes him to its nest, drops him in with the other tiger-striped eggs and tries to incubate them.  It cries when Ten tries to leave.  Lum arrives and tries to make an exchange, but neither dinosaur is having it.  (This dinosaur appears to be of Barney’s species, incidentally.)

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Ataru is complaining that he wants to go home, but changes his mind when he sees what appears to be a sexy cavewoman.  He’s apparently suffering from Mesozoic beer-goggles or something, because it turns out to be a sexy female dinosaur (you can tell because it has breasts).  It is smitten with Ataru, and as it chases him the Dappya alien pops up to explain that creatures sometimes fixate on the first member of the opposite sex they see, which is known as “loveprinting”.  (As a bio major, I must have slept in that day.)

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Ataru scrambles back up the hill and runs past Kintaro, who grumbles about his getting involved with a female dinosaur and follows.  They wind up back at the same place as Lum and Ten.  Ten asks for Kintaro’s help in getting away from the mother dinosaur; Kintaro obliges by trying to mug her.

Ataru appears again, riding the female dinosaur and followed by a stampede of every kind of dinosaur you’d expect in a variety pack of plastic figures, regardless of type or era.  Lum and Kintaro try to get the mother dinosaur moving, but she won’t budge, and they all fall back through a time vortex and reappear at the Moroboshi’s house.

Changes from the manga version: Rather than Kintaro, it’s Mendo who’s using a pterodactyl-shaped hang glider.  The story ends at the point Lum tries to exchange Ten for the baby, while an amorous pterodactyl pursues the glider.

Thoughts: This is a harmless but undistinguished episode, and one of the signs that UY was originally more of a kids’ program.  There isn’t a lot of story in the original because there are a lot of big panels showing Mesozoic Earth, which is why it needs to be padded.  It’s also the furthest jump forward in the manga to date, and involves a character that hasn’t been introduced yet.  Mendo’s role in the original is so minor that replacing him with Kintaro doesn’t affect much, although it does seem more in character for Mendo to recognize the Mesozoic era on sight.  Unfortunately, that’s also an indication of the slightness of the plot.

The manga version of this story doesn’t make any attempt to resolve the situation and just ends on a tableau, which bugged me when I first read it.  That isn’t atypical by itself, but usually the situation doesn’t have them millions of years in the past.  The anime version is more typical of the anime endings, with a situation that will probably result in tanks showing up again. (For those keeping track, that’s four time giant creatures have appeared in this neighborhood, which may be the reason they chose to pair it with the other segment.)

Next episode: Introducing Kurama!

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