Episode 46: “Lunchtime Eat-out’ers, Gather Around!”
[Note: I much prefer Tomobiki-cho’s translation, “Lunch is a Battlefield”]
Original airdate: October 27, 1982
Corresponding manga chapter: “Food Fight”, volume 9, chapter 4 (Viz release)/volume 11, chapter 4 (Japanese tankobon release)/overall chapter 106
Minor characters introduced: Various eatery proprietors and teachers, Tami, Tomobiki Shopping District Man
Summary: In a conference room at Tomobiki High, Onsen-Mark presents a slideshow of students (well, Ataru) sneaking out to various local eateries during school hours. He directs half the teachers to lay in ambush for the students, and the other half to prepare for frontal assault. Chibi, who’s been listening at the keyhole, runs to tell the other students that “Lunchtime Eat-out’ers Control Week” is real. Ataru takes charge, rallying all the other students except Mendou to the cause.
In the conference room, the principal and a female teacher (Tami) stand over a strategic map of the town.
Fourth period ends, and a horde of oddly-drawn students stampedes out the front of the school. At the front gate, some students are caught in a net, while three of the Stormtroopers stumble into a pit dug by Mendou. He’s wearing a red armband and says he represents the Shadow Scholastic Life Leaders, the good kids who are standing with the teachers. As Mendou pontificates, the rest of the students are pouring out around them. A SSLL tells him that it’s okay because they have two secret weapons: wits and courage.
Ten, flying above a narrow street, sees Lum, Perm and Ataru running along, and goes down to investigate. As Ataru explains that they’re fighting for great justice, a woman at a public phone calls their location in to the school, and the battle map is updated. They sneak into the Neko Cafe and ask if any of their teachers are here; she nervously says “no” and heads into the back. In the back, we see the reason for her nervousness.
(I’m not sure what this guy teaches–judging from the getup, probably either baseball or Bruce Springsteen.) The waitress brings out a tray of water glasses and spills one, holding onto Ataru’s hand momentarily before leaving. Lum and Ten are scandalized, but Ataru looks into his hand and sees the note she slipped him: “Run”. As they head out the door, the giant lucky cat statue on a shelf is revealed to be Onsen-Mark in disguise.
They leg it down the street (Ataru still eating), the waitress restraining Bruce. Ataru and company run into Kakugari and Chibi, who warn them that the route to a bakery is now guarded by armored teachers. They change their route, but run into Shinobu and two other girls, who tell them that way is blocked as well. They make another direction change, but the SSLL move in to block them, while Onsen-Mark and some cats pursue from behind. Mendou is taken aback to see Shinobu in their company, but she appeals to his chivalric nature, and the rest of the group charge over him as well. Onsen-Cat trips over them, and Mendou calls their location in to HQ. Mr. Hanawa is called and told to expect incoming targets. He’d rather try open and rational discussion than force, but winds up being pushed to the end of the line while the others buy taiyaki.
The principal’s aide-de-camp removes a number of captured students from the map, but the principal urges against complacency, and sure enough they receive word that Megane has been seen leading a group on the bus to Butsumetsu High School, across the street from the infamous House of Mach stand-up noodle joint. The principal orders the mobile squad to be dispatched. At the House of Mach, Megane, Kakugari and someone who looks like Chibi but has black hair, wait nervously for their noodles, but just as the first order is coming up, Megane catches a familiar smell and tells everyone to bolt, just ahead of a burly teacher, who pursues them in his car. They wind up sandwiched between two cars, and Megane valiantly sacrifices black-haired-Chibi so the other two can escape.
Megane regroups with Ataru, Lum and a large group of other students. Lum offers him a taiyaki, but he showily restrains himself, saying that the thought of his fallen comrade stops him from eating alone. They review the situation, which looks grim, but Megane steps up to rally the troops, pointing out that their strength is their intimate knowledge of the Tomobiki Shopping District.
After the eyecatch (yes, we’re only halfway done–this episode is packed), Ataru and Lum cautiously scout out a Beefbowl restaurant, Oomori. Perm calls back to HQ that preparations are complete and they’re ready to go. Chibi (with brown hair) flushes out a hidden lookout, and the trio charge in. Unfortunately they overlooked the statue by the door, which reveals itself to be Onsen-Mark, who wraps up Ataru and Perm in, um, Spider-Man webbing or something. [The AnimEigo notes indicate that it originates in kabuki.] Ataru dispatches Lum to warn the others, but as Onsen-Mark starts to gloat, a mild-mannered, bespectacled stranger points him out to a policeman, identifying him as the notorious leader astray of the young, the Beckoning Cat. His claims to be a teacher lack credibility due to his getup, and the policeman hauls him away. The stranger reveals himself to be no mere mild-mannered reporter, but Tomobiki Shopping District Man!
TSDM is about to release them when they’re swept up by a passing mob of students, who knock him into a phone booth. As the mob runs, Megane starts to confess his feelings to Lum, but Ataru takes that chance to suggest they split up. Megane returns after the split and keeps rambling on, but Ataru manages to split them into two (much smaller) groups, with Megane on the other branch. The principal calls out a warning to the troops in the field, and dispatches the remaining Mobile Units. A wild chase ensues, including the appearance of some military hardware. Ataru sends Ten to scout on the enemy.
The battle map is updated, with the principal declaring that they have a strong position, but he wonders why they haven’t heard from Beckoning Cat yet. Cut to the police interrogating Onsen-Mark, who they feel can only be a pervert. He makes a speech on behalf of human dignity, then tries to run after some passing students, but can’t because his tail is tied to the table. Ataru, Lum and Perm sneak in through the back door of a restaurant, which has several other students and appears to be a safe zone. Ataru is alarmed to be greeted by Cherry, of all people. It turns out that this was part of Beckoning Cat’s zone, which is now unguarded.
The door is flung open, framing Sakura, who was led there by Ten. She and Cherry face off, and the waitress directs the student out the door (past Sakura, who doesn’t seem to notice), where they fall into the arms of the SSLL. Megane accuses Mendou of hypocrisy, since he eats out himself, and tries to bring them over to the eat-out’ers side. Mendou replies that their goal is to abide by the rules, and Megane seizes him by the lapels, sort of looking like he’s going to kiss him but instead to give a rousing speech about youth, then announce that he’s tired of running and wants to stand and fight. Both sides charge to the final battleground (including Onsen-Mark, who pulls the table with him). The melee begins in a wild free-for-all. The principal collapses, and is trampled by Onsen-Mark.
The teacher with the principal calls out his death on the walkie-talkie, and it gets a bit Pythonesque. The teachers reform and push the attack, Sakura starts cursing men and swinging a huge log, Cherry hides behind Onsen-Mark’s table, Mendou hits people with a stick until Shinobu’s log fells him, and finally the battle ends as the sun sets.
Lum bemoans the futility of war. Mendou invites her to join the Anti-eatout’ers forces tomorrow, but Ataru objects, saying that she’s his–and then cuts off. We pan out on Lum and Ataru standing in a circle of unconscious bodies, as Lum demands that he finish the sentence.
Changes from the manga version: The plot is the same and all the scenes in the manga are in the anime, although some of the roles are different (it’s the school’s oldest teacher who gets trampled at the end rather than the principal). A lot of the chase and planning scenes are new (particularly anything involving Megane).
Thoughts: This is a fun but very strange episode, although the strangeness originates from the manga rather than the animators for once. The concept is easy to expand, so the new scenes don’t feel like filler, although it’s pretty clear that Megane is being let off the leash here to get a chance to shine. The weirdest concepts (Onsen-Cat, Tomobiki Shopping District Man) originated in the manga, so it could be said that this is another example of the new anime material expanding on character stuff, but it’s best to just take it as a whole and marvel at the result. There certainly isn’t a slow moment in the entire episode.
Some of the students in the crowd scenes, especially in the initial rush out of the school, are a throwback to the earlier days in that they don’t look at all like Takahashi’s style. (Tomobiki-cho notes that the animators were busy working on the first movie during this season, so this may be a case of that or just a result of the fast-moving plot requiring a lot of animation.)
I do find the translation of this episode kind of awkward at points–I already noted the missed opportunity in the title, and “eatout’ers” is clearly an attempt to translate a Japanese term that doesn’t have a clear English equivalent. I do recommend checking out AnimEigo’s notes for this episode–apart from explaining all the various foods and restaurants, there are some hidden jokes that are hard to catch.
Next episode: Reporters! Prehistoric bird!