The Urusei Yatsura Viewing Project, part 33: “Mr. Hanawa Arrives! It’s the Springtime of Youth!”

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Episode 33: “Mr. Hanawa Arrives! It’s the Springtime of Youth!”

Original airdate: June 23, 1982

Corresponding manga chapters: “Private Tutor”/”No Crybabies”/”No Love on the Court”, volume 4, chapters 1-3 (Viz release)/volume 6, chapters 1-3/overall chapters 48-50 (Japanese release)

Major characters introduced: Mr. Hanawa, the principal

Minor characters introduced: Natsuko

Summary: A man stands in the courtyard of Tomobiki High, overcome with emotion that he’ll finally be starting as a teacher.  A crowd of students gathers to stare at him, and he effuses to them that he’ll be teaching them soon.  He skips down the hallway to the principal’s office, only to be brought up short by the sight of an enormous horned man in a white suit.

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The principal coaxes Mr. Hanawa over to the couch and introduces the new transfer student, Lum, who’s wearing a school uniform.  Mr. Hanawa is taken aback by her horns, which he thinks might be the result of a bone disease, and bursts out that he mustn’t hurt his students’ feelings, shattering his water glass in his hand. (The principal says it’s injured but we clearly see it as uninjured, probably because a bleeding palm full of glass shards would be too graphic for this show.) Mr. Invader asks Lum if she wants to reconsider enrolling here, but she won’t hear of it.

Mr. Hanawa and Lum stand outside the door of room 2-4.  He’s about to enter when he hesitates, remembering all the anime and manga where something is poised to fall on the teacher’s head when the door is opened (an eraser, a bucket of water, a desk).  He dithers until Lum complains that everyone is waiting for them, and thinking that he’s wronged the class, boldly steps on in…to step on a skateboard, nearly fall out the window, do a backflip past a stack of chairs, and land neatly only to have the stack of chairs collapse on him and a wastebasket fall on his head.  The students enthusiastically gather around him and cheer for him being the first to clear all the obstacles, shouting “Banzai!” (As a GTO fan I was vaguely hoping the screen would freeze with the legend “SENSEI BANZAI”, but no such luck.)

Homeroom begins with Mr. Hanawa introducing Lum.  This catches Ataru offguard, and since he was stealthily eating something behind a book at the time, he begins to choke.  Mendou suggests that Lum came to be with him but is shouted down, and only pleading and eventually bribery by Megane prevents Shinobu from chucking her desk.  Ataru is still choking as Lum embraces him, and his attempts to get water are misread by Mr. Hanawa as giving the cold shoulder to the new girl.

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Ataru collapses, which Mr. Hanawa interprets as playing dead; Perm verifies that it’s not real by poking him in the scalp with a pencil.

Out in the schoolyard, Mr. Hanawa asks Ataru (who he’s calling “Darling”) about Lum, then points to a thunderhead and proclaims it the springtime of their youths.  Ataru is completely unable to follow the metaphor that is not so much mixed as flung together with great force, so he clarifies that he wants Ataru to be someone Lum can turn to, since she’s doubtless tormented by her horns.

Back in the classroom, all the students proclaim that Lum is an alien, but Mr. Hanawa points out that Earth is part of space, so aren’t we all aliens?  Ataru asks Lum to produce a shock (and afterwards clarifies that he meant on the teacher, not him) but Mr. Hanawa scolds her for acting violent.  She summons her UFO, but Mr. Hanawa points out that since they know it belongs to Lum, it doesn’t qualify as Unidentified.  Lum asks Ataru to give it a rest and says she really doesn’t mind, but Ataru is determined and flings her into the air, where she hovers.  Mr. Hanawa appears overcome and leaves the classroom, but then returns and give Lum a pair of gym shorts to wear to protect her modesty.

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Following the eyecatch, we’re outside in the schoolyard, where Mr. Hanawa explains that he’s the new volleyball club advisor.  He thinks that joining a club would be a good way for Lum to meet people, and she says that she’ll join if Ataru will.  (“Can’t you do anything that doesn’t involve me?” “I can but I won’t.”) Mr. Hanawa gives an inspirational speech in which he uses the phrase “springtime of youth” ten times, and Ataru is appalled until the girls’ volleyball team jogs by, which is all the incentive he needs.

Ataru enters the ramshackle boys’ volleyball club room, where he is greeted with a banner, streamers, and a wreath.  The captain turns out to be Perm, who swears that with Ataru there things will turn around.  Cut to the girls’ team captain splitting a log with her bare hand, and explaining that their team is really tough.  She says she despises those who use phrases like “springtime of youth” or “Winning and losing aren’t what’s important”, and demonstrates by beating the covering off a volley-ball headed practice dummy.

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Mr. Hanawa stammers that he doesn’t know who would use those phrases, but that’s immediately demonstrated by the boys’ team, who jog up to them.  Perm proclaims that he’s tired of Natsuko (the captain) calling them “scum”, and that things will turn out to be different now…which after tremendous buildup, turns out to be because having Ataru means they now have the required six members.

In the gym, Natsuko is unimpressed by the boys’ newfound ability to have three pairs practice passes, and calls Lum over for her tryout.  When Lum waves to Ataru, Natsuko chews her out, proclaiming that men are scum and turning to fling a nearby pole into the air, nearly impaling Mr. Hanawa.  He asks why she hates men so much, and she launches into her story of woe, explaining that she once had a boyfriend (apparently Jay Sherman from The Critic) who asked her to give up volleyball for him

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She couldn’t give it up, so he left her.  Returning to the present, she proclaims that all men should be smashed like the wooden block with the kanji for “Men” that they happened to have lying around for just such an occasion.  The boys (and Lum) all proclaim that it was the fault of her boyfriend, not all men, and Mr. Hanawa encourages her that athletic pursuit can be beautiful (with much more flowery language, of course).  Heartened, she agrees to begin a game, and Ataru muses that she’s beautiful, until she gets her game face on and starts smashing the ball into the boys’ faces.

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The boys freeze as they suddenly connect the dots, and Ataru begs her to give up volleyball.

Outside, the disheartened boys are running, led by Mr. Hanawa on a bicycle, who explains that their desination doesn’t matter as long as they keep running on until the setting sun.  Mendou catches up with them and asks Ataru if it’s true that Lum is playing basketball.  Ataru confirms this and encourages him to join, since the captain of the girls’ team is such a babe.  Mr. Hanawa rides onward, pontificating about never giving up.

In the gym, the other three Stormtroopers are cheering Lum on, until Natsuko propels a ball their way.  It rebounds into Mendou’s face as he enters, but when he sees Natsuko he snaps back and launches into full-on Lothario mode.  Natsuko is overcome and runs away in tears.  Outside, Lum asks what’s going on, and Natsuko explains that Mendou is the spitting image of her ex-boyfriend, if you replace all his facial features with Mendou’s.  Ataru pops out of the bushes and remarks that girls are drawn to the image of their first love (prompting Natsuko to flush a bunch of eavesdropping boys out of the bushes with a pole).  Mendou pops up as well and says that he’d like to continue, and Natsuko is overcome, running away again (and splitting a tree in half along the way).  She arrives at a statue of a Dappya alien, and a volleyball appears, which she spikes into the bushes.  Ataru pops out of the bushes and shows her the game face in the mirror, and she realizes that if Mendou sees her, she’ll be jilted again.  She asks if Mendou saw her, and he pops up as well, having been on the receiving end of the spike again.

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He assures her that it’s an honor to be hit by a ball from a woman as beautiful as her, and adds ditto marks to his previous speech.  Back in the gym, he watches the team practice as Natsuko sits on the sidelines, trembling with frustration at not being able to play and at Lum’s lack of skill.  She’s overcome and jumps in a couple of times; the first time she catches herself and Mendou doesn’t see her, but the second time she realizes what’s really important in life and goes full balls-to-the-wall mental.

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Mendou straightens up and remarks that he likes her, since she’s not the kind of girl he usually sees.  Natsuko begins a series of violent spike while shouting “I HATE MEN!” as Lum restrains Ataru from running away so Mendou can join.  Finally, on a darkened beach somewhere, Mr. Hanawa realizes that the students didn’t follow him, running on to the morning light.

Changes from the manga version: None of note, except for two omitted scenes  After Ataru invites Mendou to join, where the team complains that if they have seven members someone will have to be a substitute, and they argue about who should quit.  Before the final practice, Natsuko comes to class to get Lum, and Mendou says he’ll come to watch her practice, prompting an orgy of intense rehearsal on her part before he arrives.

Thoughts: This is a key episode in multiple ways.  It’s the first episode to feature noteworthy school officials who come from the manga rather than being original creations (both Mr. Hanawa and the principal, who doesn’t resemble the one who appeared earlier with the PTA).  More than that, Lum joining school is a long-overdue development.  It happened relatively early in the manga (before the anime even started, in fact) and I don’t know why they waited this long–since they’ve adapted many later chapters, it would have saved them having to do scenes of “Lum bringing Ataru his lunch” and the like.  (The chapter that follows this one became the second half of episode 16, with the parent-teacher conferences, where they had to justify Lum’s presence when she wasn’t a student.)

Since this is an earlier chapter, we’ve jumped back in characterization as well, as seen by Lum’s angry rejoinder when Mendou suggests she’s there to be with him, and Shinobu’s aborted desk-throwing. (Poor girl is only seen from behind.)

This is one of the closest adaptations to the manga they’ve had in a while, and since it’s three chapters they’re even leaving bits out, which makes the second half very busy and fast-moving.  What’s particularly interesting is the number of visual gags they brought over directly from the manga (Natsuko in the spotlight with the microphone, the wooden kanji block, poking the eavesdroppers out of the bushes) rather than tweaking them or adding their own (although they did add the bit with a girl volleyballer bringing Natsuko the microphone).  Even though I didn’t re-read the manga before watching the episode, I could see and recognize Takahashi’s gag style directly on the screen, which isn’t always the case.

I’ve listed Mr. Hanawa as a major character, but I can’t say at this point how often he’ll reappear.  The most prominent teacher, Onsen-Mark, won’t appear for another few episodes yet, so they may use Mr. Hanawa in his place the way they did with Shiriyabashi-sensei.  He’s not the best-rounded character, but his naivety and lack of observance do take things in interesting directions. (I assume that he hasn’t been keeping up with the news in the past year.)

A couple of school notes: I believe this is the first episode to list Ataru’s classroom as 2-4, meaning that he’s a junior.  Since it’s near the beginning of the school year, that’s further evidence for my contention that he’s probably sixteen at the most.  I didn’t comment on it before, but we’re seeing the characters in their summer uniforms (white shirts and blouses, with no jackets for the boys).  Mendou, who has to be different, has reversed the colors with a blue shirt and white trousers.

I have a suspicion that this story may have been intended to take place in the spring, rather than the summer where they’ve placed it.  Since the Japanese school year begins in April, that would have been the logical time for a new teacher and student to start, and for clubs to be recruiting new members. (It would also fit better with the “springtime of youth” cliche, but that one isn’t as much of an issue given Mr. Hanawa’s personality.) Still, the manga chapters apparently ran in autumn, so who knows.

Next episode: There’s a goblin at the bottom of the pool!

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