Episode 10: “Pitter Patter Christmas Eve”
Original airdate: December 23, 1982
Corresponding manga chapters: “Even Though I Wait For You…”, volume 2, chapter 5 (Viz release)/volume 3, chapter 9 (Japanese tankobon release)/overall chapter 26, with material from “Since You Went Away”, volume 2, chapter 12 (Viz release)/volume 4, chapter 8 (Japanese tankobon release)/overall chapter 34
Minor characters introduced: Mr. Hippopotamus, #3 Babe, reporter, unnamed extras
Summary: It’s X’mas Eve Eve, and Lum, Ataru and Ten are chilling outside in the shopping district. Lum is knitting while Ataru practices tricks on the yo-yo. Ten is impressed despite himself, but catches himself and accuses Ataru of being immature. The Stormtroopers, accompanied by two girls we’ve never seen before,”coincidentally” run into the group, and Megane makes an elaborate show of greeting Ataru before “noticing” Lum. The girls ask Lum about her knitting, and she explains that she’s knitting a present for Darling. Ataru mourns that his age he already has a wife making him clothes, which does not impress the Stormtroopers.
The girls catch his eye, and he demonstrates his favorite yo-yo trick, the “Flip-up-the-skirt maneuver”, earning himself another accusation of immaturity. The Stormtroopers excitedly anticipate an electrocution, but instead Lum calmly explains that she’s worried because he does dumb things when she’s not around. (He does them when you are around, too, Lum.) Ataru explains why he does these things now, waxing poetic for a moment before revealing that soon girls will be wearing heavy clothes and these pleasures will be lost to him. The Stormtroopers encourage Lum to dump him, but wind up being electrocuted themselves. Ataru demands that Lum go home (so he can practice the skirt trick some more). She agrees, but tenderly zips up his vest so he won’t catch cold and asks him to come home soon.
Ataru grumbles about her ordering around all the time, and the Stormtroopers warn him that Lum will leave if he pushes too far. He says that he wants to spend time with Lum on Christmas Eve, and also that if anyone wants to take his place they’re welcome…except that Lum has the right to choose her man as well. This is the last straw for Megane, and he and the Stormtroopers engage on a spree of rage-eating, while bemoaning that Lum wants to be with someone who has no redeeming features like Ataru. They decide that this justifies any dirty tricks, and compose a love letter to Ataru from “Kumino Otoko” (“Men of the classroom”). Megane applies lipstick to SWAK the letter and laughs madly, disturbing everyone, possibly because he looks like the Joker.
At the Moroboshi residence, Megane gives Ataru the letter (fortunately having wiped off the lipstick first). Ataru demands to know if the writer is a beauty, as Lum and Ten listen in from the bedroom. Megane says that she’s an “11”, suggesting that she’s actually Nigel Tufnel. Ataru reads the letter, which asks him to meet at Cafe Pigmon (probably an Ultraman reference, according to AnimEigo’s notes) the next day at 4:00. Ataru thanks Megane effusively, and Megane suggests that he tear up the letter to spare Lum’s feelings. Ataru says he would never throw this chance away, because who cares about Lum’s feelings anyway? He doesn’t actually say “She’s standing behind me, isn’t she?” before turning and seeing an angry Lum. Refusing to back down, he gets a well-deserved electrocution, but continues to stand his ground.
Cut to the group sitting very awkwardly in Ataru’s room as he applies lotion. Lum asks him not to go, then tearfully begs him, but he remains adamant. She asks if he hates her, and he explains that he loves her…but he also loves all the other women he knows, because he’s like the wind, man, and if she’s done she can go back to her UFO now. She flies into the sky in a flash of lightning and a cry of “DARLING NO BAKA!” (“Darling, you idiot!”). Atop her UFO, Lum asks herself who could cause Ataru to behave like this way. Ten suggests they go back to their homeworld, but Lum’s in too deep.
Meanwhile, Ataru prepares his hair while his father goes into convulsions outside the door. Also meanwhile, the Stormtroopers toast their success with cans of Coke, until Kakugari points out that they don’t actually have a girl to be Otoko. Megane says he has a plan, and will crush Ataru on the morrow as he crushes the Coke can in his fist (which, given how strong Japanese cans are, is pretty impressive).
At the Maglomall Coffee Shop, Megane offers the #3 Babe of Butsumetsu Girls’ School 5000 yen for an hour’s work–go on a date with Ataru, elbow him in the jaw when he inevitably loses control and jumps her, and publicly embarrass and shame him.
Kakugari arrives with Mr. Hippopotamus, a member of the Senshoo High Wrestling Club and another admirer of Lum. He agrees to clobber Ataru after #3 Babe fights him off. Parm arrives with an old chum, the head of the Shakkoo High School newspaper and yet another FOOL (Fan Of Ol’ Lum), who will smear Ataru’s good name with the story. A phone call arrives for the “Lord Chairman of the Supreme Council of Lum’s Stormtroopers” (Megane, of course) and the head of the Assault Team (Chibi) tells him that Lum has disappeared, but Ten has volunteered to find her by 4. (Or “4:00 PM”, as they keep saying, since apparently they have to specify.) Megane goes all J. Jonah Jameson and bellows that they must show this to Lum or the whole operation is ruined! Ruined! and sends Parm to fetch Ataru.
Lum wanders the crowds in the mall as “Jingle Bells” plays (be glad it’s not “Little Drummer Boy”, Lum). Perm dashes past without noticing her, and she takes to the air to follow. In a park, the Stormtroopers tell Ataru to cancel the date or Lum will be mad, but Ataru WILL kiss his beloved Otoko.
Megane bets him that he won’t kiss Otoko in front of Lum, and Ataru is down with that action. Having thoroughly proven how well reverse psychology works on Ataru, the Stormtroopers fantasize about how this will go down and laugh uproariously. Megane unwisely kisses a metal post (this is December, remember), where Lum listens in from atop a clock–it’s now 3:30. She realizes that Ataru getting a love letter was highly unlikely after all, and that he needs to be taught a lesson…but then lands on the clock (which is now showing a hand pointing at the 1) and looks back uncertainly.
At “Coffee Pigmon”, as it says on the sign, the various parts of the plan wait around not at all suspiciously. Everyone is nervous, even the waitstaff. As 3:58 comes around, Lum waits on another clock outside the cafe, thinking to herself that this is exactly what Darling deserves–and yet… As the clocks strikes 4, Ten finds Lum, who is crying because she still loves Ataru despite it all and no one gets to make fun of him. She flies off into the sky and vanishes.
Cut to #3 Babe running down the sidewalk, running late, when she’s intercepted by someone wearing tiger-stripe boots. Lightning flashes, and we cut back to the cafe at 4:30, where Ataru says that she seems to be playing hard to get. Cue the arrival of Otoko:
who apologizes for being late. Ataru goes over to her while the Stormtroopers are gobsmacked. It’s not until now that Ataru recognizes her (how many green-haired girls are there in Japan?) but she warns him not to break kayfabe if he doesn’t want to be a laughingstock. She thoroughly kisses him and leads him out of the cafe so they can be alone, which breaks the brains of the conspirators and turns Megane’s hair white.
Under a railway trestle, Ataru swears vengeance, but Lum points out that this all his fault and she pulled his chestnuts from the fire. Ataru mutters that he owes her one yet again, but then is struck by how pretty she is. She gives him his Christmas present, a yellow-and-blue tiger-striped scarf. It begins to snow as “Silent Night” plays. Lum starts to head home to warm the room, but Ataru catches her by the hand and asks if she wants to walk with him instead.
Changes from the manga version: The opening scene (Lum knitting and Ataru flipping a skirt with his yo-yo) is taken from a slightly later manga chapter, whose main plot wasn’t adapted until episode 44. The scene in the manga takes place in the classroom, however. In the main chapter, the story begins with a classroom survey on the most attractive girl in the class, and Mendou gloating over his hoard of love letters. The Stormtrooper-like students conceive a plan to get back at Mendou by forging a love letter to Ataru from “Shinobi Nobade”, in which she says he’s much better than Mendou. Mendou insists that she must be ugly, and makes a ¥100,000 bet against Ataru. Lum is annoyed, and tries to make Ataru jealous by playing to Mendou, but on the day she overhears the schemers saying that their Shinobi is ill. At first she’s inclined to let him stew, but eventually elects to bail him out, disguising herself and pulling Ataru out of the cafe. At first Ataru is annoyed, but he notices how cute Lum is, and they walk home holding hands.
This episode is an anomaly at this point in the series, but not in a bad way. As the airdate shows, it was a Christmas episode, with all that implies. (In Japan, New Year’s is the big family holiday, so Christmas is left for couples, especially in anime and manga.) It’s the first full half-hour episode and the first largely original one. As a result, it winds up as a huge jump forward in Ataru and Lum’s relationship from previous episodes, with Lum being much more devoted to Ataru, Ataru developing his first affection for Lum, and their first kiss. (If you’re showing someone this series and they’re turned off by the squabbling in the early episodes, you could do worse than to show them this episode as a preview of future developments.) The series returns to its original course after the next episode, which is another anomalous one.
Ataru does behave like a jerk throughout most of this episode, but unlike other episodes to this point he actually learns something at the end. The animators didn’t feel the need to crowbar Shinobu in to be jealous, as well, which is a relief. (I like Shinobu, in part because I often like main characters who get sidelined and she takes a lot of crap over the course of the series, but the early love triangle doesn’t show anyone at their best.) Lum is considerably more complex in this episode, although her strong affection for Ataru kind of comes out of nowhere if you’re only following the anime. (The anime did have more episodes that play up their relationship, like this one, than the manga did.) Everyone else is pretty much on form, though we do get a rare tender moment between Lum and Ten.
The references to Xmas (or “X’mas”) started reminding me of Futurama after a while. There’s other good Engrish on the signs in this episode, and what we see of the letter bears little resemblance to what we hear. As the screenshot shows, we can make out “October” and “all night” on it, and while Ataru kind of glosses over the contents, any sentence with “all night” in it would be one Ataru would not ignore. More significantly, it’s signed “O. Kumino”, so how does Ataru know she’s named Otoko?
This is also the first time we see the formulation of an electrocution accompanied by “DARLING NO BAKA” (it won’t be the last), but it had probably been used in the manga by this point.
I would consider this an essential episode, even if it’s kind of out of place in the characters’ arcs. It’s the first glimpse we get of the show’s potential to be more than a funny but shallow romantic comedy with aliens.
Next episode: Oni are invading Heian-era Japan!