The Urusei Yatsura Viewing Project, part 32: “Shocking Library–Quiet, Please!”

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Episode 32: “Shocking Library–Quiet, Please!”

Original airdate: June 16, 1982

Corresponding manga chapter: “Oh, Library”, volume 5, chapter 9 (Viz release)

Minor characters introduced: Librarian, Wendy, various book characters

Summary: The Tomobiki High librarian is on guard to prevent noise in the library (even if she overlooks the fact that someone is eating noodles).  Using caution, Ataru and the Stormtroopers duck between the shelves to drool (literally, in Kakugari’s case) over Ataru’s girlie mag. (Distractingly, it’s titled “A-Ko and B-Ko”, which I know is a construction that led to the title of Project A-Ko rather than the other way around, but I’m still picturing it in terms of the abortive Cream Lemon episode.) Mendou comes across them and identifies the magazine in a suspicious amount of detail, and when called on it gets all huffy and indignant before asking Ataru to turn the page.

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In a nice transition, we cut to the librarian organizing the art books.  Her complaints about the amount of work are cut off by the appearance of a member of the Court of Owls stepping out of Chirico’s “Turin Spring”, which she chalks up to exhaustion.

Back in the stacks, Ataru is hit by a rolling ladder, from which falls a blonde girl in a blue dress with a “Librarian” armband.  Ataru manages to catch her while simultaneously shoving Mendou away.  Mendou steps in to make sure she’s safe from the perverted Ataru, although his authority is compromised by the fact that he’s still holding the girlie mag.  The boys volunteer as a collective to help her finish shelving the books.  Back at the librarian’s desk, her faith in her mental state is shaken further by the appearance of a swarm of tiny soldiers.  Lum and Ten arrive at the school to bring Ataru his lunch, and the soldiers (who’ve built a book fort in the doorway) capture Ten in a net.

Lum overhears Ataru discussing the disorganized state of the library with the blonde.  In a very Jasper Ffordian development, the blonde explains that she’s from the Worlds of Books (an alternate dimension, not the bookstore chain) and that if books are kept disorganized for too long, the barriers break down.  Ataru doesn’t follow that, but is still up for flirting, and the girl chooses to demonstrate her power to float.  All Ataru gets out of this demonstration is a look at her panties, and a book upside his fool head from Lum.  Lum pitches a fit and more books, while Ataru runs away with the blonde in his arms–only the lack of an irrelevant pop song stops it from being a Scooby-Doo corridor chase.  Lum eventually manages to bury them under a pile of books just as the Stormtroopers arrive, and imprisons all six of them by closing the shelves on them.  However, the girl manages to slip out, since as a book character she’s two-dimensional, as Lum verifies.

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(The subs actually say that she has “no thickness”, which is about the only way of describing it that doesn’t sound like it’s calling her badly written.) The boys beg Lum to set them free, but the blonde stops her.  Ten arrives at that point and tells them about the barricade at the door, which the blonde says is a sign that the disorder is already very bad.  Lum starts to open the bookcase and the blonde screams to stop her.  This wakes up the librarian, who shushes her before seeing the Court of Owls guy and fainting. (This awake-and-faint routine repeats itself about ninety times in the course of the episode.)  The blonde explains that the soldiers are part of a contingency squad, and that if Lum opens the shelves all the characters will break free.  Lum eventually intimidates her into moving away, and opens the shelves.  Eyecatch!

Inside the shelves are the Stormtroopers and a pile of books surmounted by a dodo.  Lum concludes that the dodo is Ataru and chases after it to undo whatever happened to him.  The blonde explains that more characters will keep coming out of books, and Ataru pops his head out to confirm that this applies to any kind of book.  When she answers in the affirmative, he charges off to find his girlie mag, and another shelf chase ensues, with various book characters popping out and joining them.

.  Meanwhile, Mendou is still shelving books (being the only vaguely responsible one) when a mysterious voice beseeches him to free it, and a hand reaches out toward him.  Ataru is digging madly for the girlie mag when the Stormtroopers grab him, having found something better:

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Ataru is devoted to his swimsuit girl, though, little realizing that at that moment Mendou is pulling her out of the magazine.  Once he’s got her he doesn’t know how to deal with her forwardness, and he’s fighting off her advances when Shinobu catches them in the act.  She runs away in tears and bumps into Ataru, who, classy guy that he is, drops her and takes off as soon as she mentions Mendou being with a girl in a swimsuit.  He runs into Mendou and the girl, or more accurately the bookshelf next to them, and collapses on the floor just as Lum arrives and gives him an electric hug. (That sounds like a slang term for inflicting GBH, like a Glasgow kiss or a Sicilian smile, doesn’t it?)

The blonde arrives and chides them for not helping as things are getting worse.  Shinobu turns up as well, and with a cry of “Men be damned!” turns things completely higgledy-piggledy by throwing a fully loaded bookshelf.  The Worlds of Books break through with a bang, as the library is invaded by everything from tanks to St. George to pornstache Superman, and we see the ultimate sign of chaos in this series: a montage running while “Uchuu wa Taihen da!” plays.

 

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If Twilight Sparkle were here the problem could be solved in a trice, but since she’s not everyone starts madly shelfreading.  The blonde enlists the help of the soldiers, and as the last books are put into place the interlopers fade out.  The blonde fades back into her book, and Ataru grabs it off the shelf to discover who she is: Wendy from Peter Pan (apparently a tie-in edition to the Disney version), still wearing her librarian armband.

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Changes from the manga version: The plot is the same, but with fewer incidents and less emphasis on re-shelving the books (the interlopers vanish and Wendy explains that they got the books back in time, but we don’t actually see many scenes of them being put back.

Thoughts: This episode is a throwback, in more ways than one.  The most obvious way is that it’s jumped 4 volumes back from the previous story (which was fairly recent), with all the implications that has for storytelling. (The manga story is pre-Ten, for example.) We see poor Shinobu for the first time in a while, but her role’s limited to having her feelings hurt and striking out.

More than that, this is one of those episodes where they’re stretching a fairly thin premise, and it shows–the multiple chase scenes and some reused animation in the scrum at the end, for example.  There are a few nice added moments (Lum asking Wendy to move away from the shelves three or four times before finally giving up and yelling at her, say, or the use of real surrealist art) but there isn’t a lot of depth of character to plumb, and repeating jokes like the librarian fainting don’t add much.  The end-theme montage generally means that they’ve run short on plot and need to fill time with various hijinks.  I’d rate this one as skippable.

Next episode: Lum joins the school, a new teacher arrives, and they play volleyball!

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