Episode 48: “Princess Kurama–A New Challenge!”
Original airdate: November 10, 1982
Corresponding manga chapters: “Kurama Again!!”/”Seal it With a Kiss”/”Goodbye Rules!!”, volume 14, chapters 1-3 (Japanese tankobon release)/overall chapters 136-138
Minor characters introduced: Predecessor Tengu elders
Summary: Mendou and Shinobu are playing doubles tennis against Ataru and Lum, who has an unfair advantage in that the rules don’t forbid flying. On a nearby hillside, a group of Tengu are carrying a cold sleep coffin. One of them is struck by a wild tennis ball, and the coffin gets loose, launching itself over the next hill and landing on Mendou. Ataru recognizes Kurama inside the coffin and leaps onto it, rubbing it in a disturbingly erotic manner.
Lum and Mendou both yell at Ataru, until Ataru shows Mendou what’s inside. Mendou knocks Ataru inside, stares at Kurama, and refuses to believe Ataru’s explanation that she’s his commitment-kiss girl. The girls are rolling their eyes at this behavior when the Tengu arrive over the hill. Lum demands to know why they’re there, and they get a sinking feeling when they realize that where Lum is, that idiot Ataru is usually nearby.
While the other Tengu take a break, the Elder is bemoaning running into them again. He explains that as a side effect of cold sleep, Kurama gets sleepy when it’s at all cold, so they’ve been spending their time in hot springs. Kurama finally got fed up, since she didn’t want to stay on Earth just so she could mate with Ataru, and demanded that the Elder give her a do-over. After some manhandling, he agreed to let her break the first-kiss rule, but only once. She was put back into cold sleep, in the hope that she could find anyone better than Ataru.
Coming out of the flashback, the others see that Ataru has the coffin open and is about to kiss Kurama. Lum wraps him up in the tennis net and restrains him while Shinobu and Mendou berate him. The Tengu fly up, and agree that Mendou will do, since the Princess likes handsome men. They push him over to the coffin and lean him over it, but he’s overcome with propriety and refuses to kiss her in public. He allows himself to be talked into it, and is leaning in when Shinobu intervenes.
Shinobu hauls him away by the head, while he protests that he’s just trying to help the poor girl out. Ataru squirms, launches himself forward and lands lips-first on Kurama. The Tengu are appalled, Lum zaps him, and Mendou staggers forward in disbelief. He leans over the coffin, just as Kurama opens her eyes to see him. She leaps up in triumph at having scored a hottie, and the Tengu agree among themselves that it’s better not to break it to her.
Back in their UFO, Kurama is taking a hot bath and crowing (sorry) about her triumph. The other Tengu confer, and decide that they’re fine with her mating with Mendou, but the Elder won’t shut up about the rule. They take care of this by tying him to the smokestack of their factory, and go off to convince Mendou to have a one-night stand with a beautiful woman. Outside the high school, Lum is welding B.A. Baracus style, and soon a giant pink sphere stands in the Tomobiki HS front yard.
Kurama explains that it’s their love nest, and they need to go ahead and mate, already. Mendou objects, because it’s in public and the mood isn’t right. She hauls him up to the doorway (while Shinobu bemoans her lack of fighting spirit) and into the sphere, only to find Ataru sitting on the bed and waving. He explains that he’s there to mate with her, since he’s really the one who woke her up. Mendou isn’t able to deny it, and she uses her leaf fan to blow them both at the door, fuming. The Tengu try to talk her down, and she calmly turns around, closes the door, and has a tantrum in private.
After the eyecatch, Kurama awakens like Arthur Dent on prehistoric Earth, with her daily morning scream. The Tengu coax her out of bed to eat for the first time in three days, and she goes about her daily routine (ear-cleaning, 1950’s-style-vibrating-belt-exercise-device) while pointedly ignoring the Elder’s demand that she follow the rule and mate. She finally pulls out a pistol and rounds on the Elder, announcing that though whale mate with pig, she’ll never mate with that idiot, and fires it into a cardboard target of Ataru that’s on the wall. The Elder demands that she stop being so selfish:
The Elder realizes he doesn’t actually know, and Kurama asks where the rule came from in the first place. The Elder says that he was told by the previous elder not to break the rule, and goes to the past elder data bank to check. The previous Elder says that his predecessor told him that the rule couldn’t be broken, and so on until Kurama loses patience and asks how long this will take. When the Elder says that the answer will be somewhere in the previous 120 elders, she walks out and the other Tengu follow her.
Ten is flying above Tomobiki High when he’s suddenly sucked in by a rapidly traveling vortex. It turns out to be Kurama, who apparently travels like the Tasmanian Devil, and who sets down in front of Mendou. Ataru tries to interpose, but Lum pulls him away and administers ECT. Mendou starts to put on the moves, only to discover Ten clinging to her arm. Ten wakes up and asks her to marry him. Ataru interposes again, insisting that he’s the designated mate, and that if Mendou really loved her he’d have been able to do it under any circumstances. Mendou asks her to just name the time and place.
Shinobu arrives with a group of other girls, her dander up, and is appalled when Kurama matter-of-factly says that they’re going to mate. Mendou is embarrassed, and when Ten realizes what’s going on, he does his best to stop it.
It winds up with Lum restraining Ataru, Shinobu and the other girls restraining Mendou, and one of the Tengu noting that they’re both acting the same way. Kurama says that she can put up with it if the packaging is good, admits that she has a thing for handsome guys, and designates Mendou the mate. They’re stopped by the appearance of a giant projected image of the First Elder, who tells the story of the rule’s origin:
When he was a young man (bird), he was walking in the forest when he saw a beautiful sleeping Tengu, and kissed her (no mean feat with a beak). That evening he suggested they get married.
Kurama demands to that he get on with explaining the origin of the rule, but the First Elder says no, that’s it, and starts to reminisce until Kurama smashes the projector with a rock. The Elder admits that he didn’t expect that, and the other Tengu head home in disgust. Mendou points out that they can now mate freely, but Ataru isn’t having it, and drops a giant temple bell over him, setting off his claustrophobia.
Shinobu is there for him, but Kurama can’t accept pathetic men, and says that next time she’ll find someone better, all strong and sexy and tuff. Ataru volunteers, but gets his third electric shock of the episode. Kurama says something that I’ll point out the irony of when she next shows up:
There’s a bit of business with pebbles, and we fade out.
Changes from the manga version: With three chapters compressed into one episode, and two in the first half, there’s no new material, and the middle chapter is elided. Instead of Kurama showing up in the schoolyard, she arrives in class 2-4 instead, and there’s a lot more arguing before she gets Mendou out to the mating pod.
Thoughts: This is a classic personality-driven humor story, which it’s nice to get back to after some of the odd ones we’ve had recently. It’s been a long time since we last saw Kurama, if you don’t count her cameo in the class reunion story–the gap in the manga was twelve volumes. That’s about right, since her shtick works best if, as we see here, it’s changed up by adding a new character to the mix. (Sadly, she doesn’t have a chance to be rude to Lum, which amused me last time she turned up.)
The image of Mendou trapped under the temple bell as a way of setting off his claustrophobia is an iconic one–for example, him breaking out of one was used for a set of blind box models about 10 years ago.
Next episode: Ten gets contagious cavities!