Episode 9a: “Princess Kurama, Sleeping Beauty”
Original airdate: 12/16/1981
Corresponding manga chapter: “Just Like a Woman”, volume 1, chapter 14 (Viz release)
Major character introduced: Kurama
Minor characters introduced: Kurama’s servants
Summary: Ataru, Shinobu and some of the Stormtroopers are at an observatory. Shinobu waxes rhapsodic about the stars, but Ataru is interested in a different type of heavenly body (drum fill). They see a shooting star, and make wishes on it (Shinobu for Ataru to be faithful, Ataru for a hot babe) when it shoots over their heads and crashes behind the school. They are looking for it near a shrine in the woods when the Stormtroopers’ wish is apparently answered and Lum falls from the sky, knocking Ataru to the ground on top of a small creature.
Lum explains that she was knocked from the sky by the noise. Getting up, they discover the creature Ataru landed on, a humanoid crow in traditional dress who’s attempting to drink something from a small gourd. They identify it as a karasu-tengu, or crow goblin.
The tengu comes to and, seeing Ataru through a haze of sake-goggles, proclaims him a looker suitable for Princess Kurama, and calls for backup on a walkie-talkie. A strong wind arises, and the tengu knocks Ataru off his feet and flies him into a spaceship. There are five other tengu, who are unimpressed with Ataru and confer amongst themselves, concluding that he may not be good-looking enough for the princess and that Drinky Crow has blown it again. Ataru attempts to run for it, but they suck him back it with the wind gun.
The bearded tengu explains that he’s been chosen to mate with the princess, since there are no humanoid males left on their planet. Ataru envisions the princess as looking like traditional depictions of tengu, and is not thrilled.
The tengu restrain him and wheel out the cold sleep coffin holding Princess Kurama, who turns out to be a scantily-clad babe, and tell him to awaken her with a kiss. Thinking his dreams have come true, Ataru is literally drooling as he attempts to comply, which gives the saner tengu second thoughts. The drunk one opens it anyway (using a console that is clearly not scaled for him) and Ataru manages to plant a kiss despite the tengu’s best efforts.
Kurama awakens, sees Ataru, and is not impressed with the latest choice.
Ataru begins to explain, and we cut to Lum arriving at the spaceship just as Kurama shouts “I will NOT mate with this idiot!” The tengu encourage her to lie back and think of Tenguworld, and Ataru launches himself onto her just as Lum arrives and identifies herself as his wife. The head tengu explains that whoever wakes the princess with a kiss will mate with her regardless of marital status, earning Ataru an electrocution. She drags him off as Kurama muses that someone else having things always makes her want them.
Outside, the Stormtroopers tease Ataru when a giant wind arises and Kurama appears, surrounded by the (sober) tengu. Lum and Shinobu both arrive to complain, and Kurama accuses him of being abnormal for hooking up with an oni and jailbait (actually a child-like spirit, according to the notes). She says that his association with these females is warping his personality and that he needs to fix himself to be worthy of her.
Ataru eagerly follows her into the forest, where they put him through a series of exercises. He sits under a waterfall (emerging from the ship) but sneezes on Kurama. He’s unwilling to cross hot coals barefoot until one of the tengu, tired of being on overtime, unlaces Kurama’s bodice, causing him to apparently teleport to her side.
She insists he read from a book in an alien language. Ataru asks for help and kisses her as she leans over, for which she hits him with a blast of wind that knocks the whole shrine over. Finally, he’s wired up to a machine with a screen that will reveal his spiritual makeup. His psyche turns to be entirely filled with images of women (including one that looks alarmingly like Mrs. Ichinose from Maison Ikkoku). He proclaims both Lum and Shinobu as the ones he loves the best, then cycles through a rapid series of images that causes the machine to blow up. Kurama says that she knows the source of his problems, and demands that the tengu bring out the “anima ray”.
Kurama explains that this will fill Ataru with feminine energy to suppress his masculine urges. The other girls object and are blown away by a gust of wind. Ataru is upside-down and being filled with energy when Lum arrives and tries to zap Kurama. Kurama returns the gesture with her leaf-fan, but accidentally empties the anima energy into Ataru instead, making his psyche entirely feminine.
The Stormtroopers recoil at this, but unsurprisingly it turns out that Ataru’s inner woman is a lesbian, and he’s soon throwing himself at Kurama again.
Changes from the manga version: In the manga version, the characters are on a field trip led by Onsen Mark, who hasn’t been properly introduced in the anime yet. Lum disrupts the waterfall cleansing by dropping girly photos on Ataru. Other than that, they’re very close.
Episode 9b: “Athletics in Women’s Hell!”
Original airdate: 12/16/1981
Corresponding manga chapter: “Dream Lover”, volume 1, chapter 15 (Viz release)
Summary: At a train station, a (thinly) disguised Cherry and Lum are tracking Ataru.
They arrive in the countryside. (Ataru proves himself to be amazingly unobservant, as the other two are about 30 feet behind him on a country road and talking in normal voices.) Lum says that he says he’s going to cram school, but he actually goes into a water tower. Lum flies in to discover Ataru with Kurama, learning lessons of an entirely different sort!
Specifically, she’s writing complicated equations on a blackboard. Spotting the intruders, she knocks them down with a wind blast. Sitting down to drink tea, Kurama explains that her goal is to shape Ataru into a decent human being. Kurama explains that she fears for the future of her race if she has to mate with HIM.
Back at Ataru’s house, Lum still can’t believe that Ataru is still interested in Kurama, and he explains it’s the one-night stand aspect that interests him. Downstairs, Mrs. Moroboshi is trying to attack what she thinks is a bat with a broom, but it’s actually a tengu with a scroll, and Lum and Ten hustle him onto the roof. She takes the message, which is written in alien language that Ataru couldn’t read anyway, and finds that it’s directions to a different location for tomorrow’s meeting. At school, Ataru’s classmates tackle him to make sure he takes his turn at cleaning the classroom. Shinobu arrives and he asks her for help, but she accuses him of wanting to run off to the crow woman. Lum corroborates this when she arrives with the message, which she translates.
In the countryside, Kurama, Cherry and the tengu wait by a Ditkoesque Pop Art doorway, but Ataru hasn’t shown up yet. They wonder if he’s skipped out on them, but Cherry points out that he would never ditch a one-night stand. A tengu arrives to tell them that Ataru is headed in a completely different direction. We cut to Ataru being followed by Lum and Shinobu. Attaru tries to make a break for it and Lum tries to catch him with her UFO, but they’re both blown to where Kurama is by a high wind, and Ataru pitches through the doorway.
Kurama explains that behind the door is “Psychological-Athletics Land” (“athletics” in English), where he will be remolded into a woman hater. Cherry notes that remolding Ataru’s personality can never be a sin. Behind the door, Ataru is in a featureless void until he sees a bunny-woman (as in Playboy) run past carrying a huge clock/watch. (This imagery will reoccur much, much later in one of the OVAs.) He chases her and falls through an Alice in Wonderland style hole to land in an stormy, icy wasteland. He sees Oyuki as she takes down the sign for a small inn, but she doesn’t recognize him.
A few cups of sake later, it’s closing time and she still doesn’t recognize him. He discovers that he doesn’t have his wallet, and Sakura bursts in wearing a police uniform and carrying a machine gun, to arrest him. Running outside, he’s greeted by giant versions of Shinobu, Lum, Oyuki, and Sakura, who variously attack him until he collapses on the ground, sobbing for his mother. Kurama lets him out, and he’s terrified of the girls until he realizes that it was all a dream, and he finds an aspect of reality worth focusing on.
This snaps him back to reality and his old self. Kurama realizes that he’s rotten to the core, and moans that “I don’t want to do it with him!”
Changes from the manga version: The visions beyond the door include Benten, who hasn’t appeared yet in the anime, and concludes with Ataru being put on trial. Other than that they’re essentially the same.
Thoughts: Again, I’m covering this in one section since they follow closely on each other. (The two chapters are back-to-back in the manga as well.)
We saw it in the last episode, but we’ve now achieved full lechery on Ataru’s part. He took a chance to go after Oyuki, but this episode affirms that he’ll go after other women even in front of Lum, and that his mind is fully occupied by women. At the same time, while there’s a continuation of the Japanese-myth-as-alien theme, Kurama isn’t just drawn to Ataru for no obvious reason, like Oyuki. The “I want what I can’t have” explanation makes a certain amount of sense early on, but she’s stuck with him by the laws of her species. Her future goal is primarily to find someone, anyone, else to mate with.
While Kurama has negative aspects to her personality, they’re partially the result of her circumstances, and she’s not particularly out to get anyone. (I do enjoy her petty snarkiness toward “the Oni girl”.) The combination of these factors means that Ataru is more engaged with the plot, rather than trying to run away from it as in earlier episodes. We still aren’t seeing a lot positive growth from the core triangle, but Ataru is at least reacting in more varied ways, and things will take another step forward next episode.
I think this is the first time we see Lum in a different outfit, not counting the cloak in the Oyuki episode. The animation is notably better at this point than in the first couple of episodes, with Ataru being more expressive and everyone generally proportioned better (this particularly stands out when looking at the eyecatches).
Next episode: A Christmas-time love trap for Ataru!