Episode 39: “Thrilling Summer Date”
[The DVD title screen has this in ALL CAPS but that’s clearly not intended. Also, 20% of the way through the TV series!]
Original airdate: August 11, 1982
Corresponding manga chapter: Original story.
Minor character introduced: Miki
Summary: It’s a hot summer day, and Lum is watching the final game of the high school baseball tournament on TV. (Probably Koshien; it kind of feels like a crossover with the final episode of a very different series.) Lum can’t help but notice the difference between these dedicated ballplayers and Ataru, and we cut to him downstairs, in his underwear and phoning girls for dates. Back upstairs, a love expert lists the symptoms of love, and Ataru doesn’t fit any of those either.
He doesn’t even get a dry throat or sweaty palms, and for a couple to live together without dating first is downright ABNORMAL. She explains this to Ataru when he comes in, and his defense that he’s sweaty all over doesn’t help much.
She tells him she wants them to go on a date, which he doesn’t take seriously, putting on headphones to ignore her. Lum turns the “Volome” all the way up, but at that point the phone rings, and he runs downstairs to take it. It’s one of the girls from earlier, who’s changed her mind and wants to go on a date with him. Lum cuts off the phone call, and when Ataru pulls out his little black book to call her back, snatches it away from him. She finally announces that if he doesn’t go on a date with her, she won’t help with his homework, share her lunch, and worst of all will tear up the book. This gets through at last, and he agrees but on three conditions: she hides her horns and dresses normally, doesn’t use any super powers, and does what he asks her to do.
They prepare for their date in their separate rooms, Lum excited and Ataru resigned. The Moroboshis’ phone rings, and Ataru is excited that it might be the girl who called earlier, but it’s Lum, asking him to meet her at the phone booth so they can go to the pool.
Ataru realizes that this doesn’t seem so bad, and he’s starting to get excited.
At the pool, Ataru is waiting on the sidelines when an excited crowd of teen boys forms a circle around a hot girl. Ataru tries to edge his way in and resorts to going under legs, only to discover that the girl in question is Lum, who hugs him for rescuing her. He realizes that having the boys jealous of him isn’t so bad. They watch someone do a high dive, and Ataru suggests they try it too. Ataru stops at a middle height, but Lum suggests they go to the high board, and a couple of boys (Chibi and someone we’ve never seen before) announces to everyone that he’ll be diving off the top, and impugn his manhood if he doesn’t.
Ataru makes it to the top, then realizes how far up it is and panics, clinging to the board. Lum eggs him on, bounces up and down on it and winds up bouncing him in, causing him to do the mother of all bellyflops. Lum dives in to save him, and all the boys follow her, asking for dates and surrounding them. Lum lightnings up to drive them off, with predictable results.
Ataru explains that he’s used to this treatment and it just woke him up, and the two flee for the safety of the eyecatch.
Outside, Ataru buys Cokes for the two of them, and looking at Lum from a distance, muses that the guys had a good reason for going nuts over her. He brings the drinks over, and Lum points out a girl sitting alone on a bench, saying that she’s probably on a date too, as her dry throat suggests. Her boyfriend leaps out of the bushes and startles her, and it turns out to be Perm. Lum explains why they’re there, and Perm expresses his jealousy. Ataru pulls him aside and asks what he thinks he’s saying, and Perm gives a convoluted response that seems to suggest that he’d shove his date (Miki) off a cliff in favor of Lum.
Ataru asks if it’s okay for a Stormtrooper to date outside of Lum, and Perm protests that he’s a healthy boy with needs. Ataru asks what Megane would say, but that he has no good reason to squeal. They start slanging off each others’ looks while the girls look on with that Dot Warner “Boys…” look, until Miki finally cuts in. Perm asks if they have any plans, and pushes them into a double date.
There’s a montage of Lum expertly skating to the song “Moonlight Coaster” (which I think is the first insert song that isn’t also an opening or closing theme) while the others look on in wonder. Ataru calls Perm on his obvious attempt to impress Lum with his skating, adding that it shows he doesn’t know much about Lum. Lum asks Ataru to skate with her, but he refuses, while Miki asks Perm to teach her. While helping her, Perm attempts to explain what’s going on with those too, and kind of gives up.
A couple of guys start hitting on Lum, and Ataru gets up in annoyance. Seeing his poor skating and Miki clinging to Perm, she concludes that Ataru is annoyed because she’s being inconsiderate, and skates over and grabs him. He flails and collapses in annoyance, and Lum is pleased to see that his hands are sweaty.
Cut to the exterior of the Ikakuchoo restaurant, which the AnimEigo notes explain can be read as “gastric dilation”. Miki checks that Perm is paying, and Ataru tells Lum to apply the proper etiquette and protocol by copying Miki. When the food arrives, this proves to have been a mistake.
Miki and Lum messily devour an array of bizarre food, and a crowd gathers, much to the boys’ consternation.
Outside, it’s sunset, and Ataru and Lum are walking home alone. Lum tells Ataru that she had a really good time, and returns his little black book, which he’d forgotten about. She takes off, saying it’s not right to end a date and go home to the same place. Back at home, Ataru starts to dial the phone, but his heart isn’t in it. In his bedroom, he reflects that her behavior seems deliberate, and she didn’t have to go back to her UFO. He steps out onto the balcony and calls out to her. She leans over the edge of the roof and says that she’s going to stay in the UFO until they’ve had a few more dates. Cut to black.
Thoughts: The contrast between this episode and the previous one shows what will become an increasing divergence in style between the anime and the manga. The previous episode was a silly romp with the Atarus chasing everyone but Lum; this one shows the two of them experiencing real feelings, with Ataru showing tender thoughts toward Lum for the second time (the previous time being the Christmas episode, which was largely original but did mirror the manga to that extent).
This sort of story will be increasingly common as the series goes on and Mamoru Oshii puts more of his stamp on it. (There’s an episode coming up where I’ll give a more detailed overview of his influence on the show.) There are times when I think it leans too far into the serious and forgets it’s supposed to be a humor series, but this episode strikes a good balance; it has feels but still has funny moments. Ataru and Lum are more likeable in this mode, as well (although everyone has mellowed by this point, unless they’re adapting an early story). As an original episode, it’s paced better than some of the single-chapter-extended episodes–slower sequences, like the TV in the beginning, feel deliberate rather than stretched. The difference between adapted, original, and adapted-with-a-lot-of-original-material chapters can feel kind of schizophrenic at times.
It’s interesting that Perm seems to be the second Stormtrooper (after Megane) who’s developing a life of his own. His role as captain of the boy’s volleyball team was largely a matter of dropping a named character in place of a generic one from the manga, but here we’re getting a glimpse of his personal life, even if it is still pretty Lum-centric. Chibi has a small role in this episode, and we’ve yet to see Kakugari do very much.
Next episode: Watermelons! Goblin!