The Urusei Yatsura Viewing Project, part 45: “Lum’s Class Reunion”

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Episode 45: “Lum’s Class Reunion”

Original airdate: October 20, 1982

Corresponding manga chapter: “That Old Class of Mine”, volume 12, chapter 5 (Japanese tankobon release)/overall chapter 118

Summary: Onsen-Mark is reading to class 2-4 in English, but everyone is watching Ten fly around the room instead.  He tries to get Ataru and Lum to play with him, but they both tell him it’s classtime (although Ataru is busy eating).  Instead, he flies up to the blackboard and draws a caricature of Onsen-Mark, which finally breaks into the reading when everyone starts laughing.  Onsen-Mark demands that Ataru take care of him, even when Ataru points out that Lum is Ten’s guardian.

The rant is interrupted by Cherry, who’s suddenly appeared in the classroom, cooking a fish over a Hibachi.  He calls Ten over and sets him to grating an enormous daikon radish.  Onsen-Mark tells Ataru to take care of this as well, which draws another protest.  Sakura comes in to find Cherry, and Onsen-Mark gets lost in her eyes, stammering and saying it’s nothing.

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She apologizes for her uncle, smacks Cherry around, and leaves.  All the male students gather menacingly around him, pointing out the double standard, and chanting “Discrimination!” as another generation might have chanted “Attica!”.  To save himself, he shouts “Look at the hot babe outside the window!” and sneaks away.  Little does he know that it’s Benten, who flies into the classroom, turns around, and quickly disappears again.

Lum is confused, and insists that she didn’t know Benten was coming, even though Ataru concludes that she’s here for another Setsubun festival.  She flies out the window after Benten; Onsen-Mark calls after her, then gives up and starts class again.  He doesn’t get very far before a chill mist begins to creep along the floor, emerging from the vents in the cleaning supplies cabinet.  The door bursts open, and a pile of snow falls out, followed by Oyuki.  The Stormtroopers immediately have a panicked flashback to their time shoveling snow on Neptune, while Ataru pops in and embraces her.  She’s taken aback to discover that she’s in Lum’s classroom, and ducks back into the cabinet, asking them not to tell Lum that she was there.  Onsen-Mark charges out to tell the principal just as Lum flies in and sees the snow.  Ataru doesn’t try to deny the obvious and explains what happened.  Lum goes to look in the cabinet but sees nothing more interesting than some snow-covered brooms.

In the principal’s office, Onsen-Mark is going on about all the disruptions, which the principal takes as interesting rather than alarming, although he does agree to have a faculty meeting about it (after school).  That’s when the ceiling cracks and falls in, and the two are crushed under a giant tiger-cow.

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Class 2-4 breaks in to see what’s going on, and the sight of Rei sends Mendou into his own flashback of losing their contest of looks.  Ataru covers his eyes, which sets off his fear of the dark instead, but he manages to pull himself together when Shinobu expresses concern.  Rei shrinks to human form and grabs Onsen-Mark to ask where Lum is, then looks over his shoulder and sees her coming down the hallway.  Benten pops out of a hole in the ceiling (which seems to have fixed itself) and tells Rei to come along before Lum sees him.  Oyuki tells them both to hurry up, and they fly in (I’m not sure which one of them can fly unaided?) just as Lum comes in.  Lum tries to follow, but the hole closes and she hits the ceiling face-first.  Ataru comes over to check on her, and she begins crying, upset that everyone is on Earth but avoiding her.

Out in the schoolyard, Ataru reassures Lum that those three were probably there by mistake, which Lum jumps at.  Nearby, Ran is asking a couple of girls from 2-4 about Benten and Oyuki.  Ran does a weak job of protesting ignorance, but Lum accepts it, thanking her for being a real friend.  Ran makes an excuse and leave, and Lum pursues her only to see her conferring with the Space Cabbie, who beams up into his UFO and flies off as Lum stares after him.

Back in class, Onsen-Mark is demanding to know what Ataru’s up to.  Lum appears and accuses him of conspiring with Benten and Oyuki behind her back.  They’re cut short by the arrival through the wall of the Prince of the Underground, who demolishes Onsen-Mark’s desk with his pickax.

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The Prince demonstrates his ability to tunnel through the very fabric of time and space by burrowing into the floor.  Onsen-Mark pursues and vanishes from sight into a bottomless black abyss.  Shinobu takes that as her opportunity to pack up and leave early before she completely loses her mind.  The appearance of Prim in the window, carrying Space Cabbie, convinces the rest of the girls to follow her.  Prim is taken aback to see Lum, insisting that she doesn’t know anything about Benten, and turns to leave only to have the Prince tunnel out of the ceiling and land on her.  She complains that he disappeared from their honeymoon only to turn up here, and he explains that he’d heard something about Lum’s classroom.  Benten suddenly zips into the room, grabs the Prince, and zips out, followed by Prim and then Lum.

Meanwhile, Onsen-Mark is in a purplish void, confused about why he can’t get back.

In the classroom, Ataru is telling Mendou that he has nothing to do with this when mist tendrils emerge from his desk and yank him and Mendou in.  Lum returns, having lost the others, and upon hearing the explanation of where they went concludes Oyuki is behind it.  Megane and Perm try to console her, only to get shocked for their trouble.

In the Indistinct Purplish Void, Oyuki and Ataru sit in chairs, watching various aliens bring in catering trays.  She explains that they’re holding a surprise class reunion for Lum, since she’s alone here on Earth, but that the interdimensional space they procured is unstable.  Mendou worms in and offers to accomodate them, even as Ataru tries to warn her off.

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A horde of Real Weirdie classmates appear over the horizon (or whatever), freaking out Mendou, who hides in a futon and pretends to be dying. (Benten is unimpressed and offers to kill him for real.) Ataru offers to provide something instead.

In the dusk-lit classroom, Lum sits at her desk alone, feeling sorry for herself.  She stares at the holes in wall and ceiling, then strips down to her bikini and runs, declaring that screw all y’all for abandoning her.  She’s stopped in the hallway by Ataru, who tells her “Happy class reunion”, and the hallway wall sinks away to reveal pretty much every single nonhuman character in the entire series waiting behind it.  Ten and Kintaro pull her in through a line of applauding aliens (including Kurama’s father and two different versions of Red Mantle, suggesting that time travel is involved).  Benten, Oyuki and Ran greet her at the front, and she turns on them, going from accusing them of cruelty to saying that they’re very good friends.

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It turns into a big American-style party, with everyone happily dancing to the end credits theme, including a very confused Onsen-Mark.

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Changes from the manga version: Lum’s emotional conflict is absent in the manga, as are all the returning characters except Oyuki and Benten.  The emphasis is on Onsen-Mark’s attempt to convince the principal that something strange is going on.

Thoughts: This is a very anime episode, in that it uses a huge number of pre-existing characters, while the anime uses a couple of named characters and a horde of random aliens.  Takahashi did bring non-regular characters back, but she also tended to be fairly clear on who was a one-shot character and leave it at that.  The anime was more likely to dip into the back catalog to bring back the supporting cast, which is why Kintaro for one appears more often in the anime than the manga.  (It’s also a logical consequence of being a derivative work that didn’t have complete freedom to break off in its own direction.) It would also take a lot of space to show this many characters for even a brief appearance, while the anime can pan past them quickly.

It’s overall an enjoyable episode.  I don’t feel as strongly for Lum here as I did for Ataru last episode, even though I sympathize with the feeling of abandonment, since a) the viewer can figure out what’s going on (it’s in the title, after all) and b) unlike Ataru, Lum isn’t going through any character growth in the process.  Fortunately, that’s one element in a relatively light episode, so it doesn’t really detract.  It does have two signs that ordinarily indicate filler (dancing to the end theme) but I can’t hold it against this story, since it’s part of an original plot rather than just stretching a manga story for length.  It’s also fun  to see everything come together at the end.

Holy cow, could there be more fanservice in this episode?  (In the form of callbacks to previous episodes, although seeing the scantily-clad teen girls dancing supplies the other sort as well.) The only nonhuman characters in the series that don’t seem to be here at first glance are the characters’ parents, which fits the nature of the gathering. (It’s odder to see characters like Dracula and Red Mantle, but hey, it’s their series.) I enjoyed seeing the characters from the matchmaking episode again, especially the Prince of the Underground, and liked the additional note that he and Prim were married.

The characters of Onsen-Mark and the principal are pretty well defined here; Onsen-Mark is driven to distraction trying to keep his class on track, and the principal is mildly interested but remains level.

(Note: I have sheepishly amended the entry after discovering the original manga chapter.)

Next episode: It’s all-out war between the students and the faculty over breaktime meals1

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