The Urusei Yatsura Viewing Project, part 57: “Domestic Quarrel–To Eat or To Be Eaten?!”

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Episode 57: “Domestic Quarrel–To Eat or To Be Eaten?!”

Original airdate: January 26, 1983

Corresponding manga chapter: “Husband and Wife Fundamental Management”, volume 13, chapter 9 (Japanese tankobon release)/overall chapter 133

Summary: Mr. Moroboshi struggles home from work at dusk when he is lured by the aroma of cooking kebabs.  It comes from a restaurant, out of which staggers a drunk Dappya alien.  Mr. Moroboshi sneezes, wondering if he has a cold.  (This does turn out to be relevant, but not very.)

At Moroboshi Haus, dinner is cooking, and Mrs. Moroboshi (wearing a Maison Ikkkoku “Piyo Piyo” apron) calls Ataru down to ask him if “that person” is staying for dinner.  Ataru asks what they’re having, and his mother tells him that it’s prawns; with a strange intensity, and gesturing with a large knife, she explains that if they have an extra person, each of them gets fewer.

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Ataru gets the point (so to speak) but isn’t eager to send that person away.  We find out why when Mr. Invader comes down the stairs and invites himself to dinner.  At the table, the Moroboshis intently wait for the clock to strike seven, as only the fastest will get a third prawn, but as the hand moves and the three of them leap, Mr. Invader scoops up the entire platter and swallows the contents in one blow.  Lum points out to her father that the Moroboshis aren’t pleased, but when confronted none of them are willing to challenge him, and visions of fried prawns dance through Ataru’s head like sugar plums.

To change the subject, Mr. Moroboshi asks if Mr. Invader is there to visit Lum, but she explains that her father ran away from home.  He spins a tale of being at dinner and not getting enough food, a Flintstones-scale steak apparently not being enough for one of his stature. (As an aside, the Invaders are eating steaks with chopsticks and no knives, which is kind of impressive.) His wife insisted it was enough, so when he was done he ate her food as well.  His words tell of him leaving the house to teach her a lesson, while the screen shows her blasting a hole in the ceiling, walloping him with a broom and literally kicking him out the hatch.

Mr. Moroboshi expresses sympathy (while Ataru expresses sympathy with Lum’s mother, but not too loudly). (There’s a funny background bit where Mr. Invader chugs Mr. Moroboshi’s beer, and Mr. Moroboshi tries to squeeze a few paltry drops out of it.)  Mr. Invader says he’s not going back until she apologizes, and fairly directly imposes himself on Ataru’s parents.

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In Ataru’s room, Mr. Invader sits on the floor and reads manga (I think it’s Maison Ikkoku, since there’s a character that looks like Mrs. Ichinose, but I’m not sure) until Lum says it’s time for bed.  Mr. Invader gets up to put out the futon, saying that he won’t get in their way.  Lum explains that they sleep separately, but Ataru says he’ll sleep downstairs.

In the night kitchen, Ataru comes upon his father making Cup-o-noodle.  Ataru asks for a place to sleep, but his father deflects by talking about the spirit of the noodle.  Ataru tries to grab the noodles for himself, and it’s finally settled by a Jan Ken Pon game in which Ataru discovers that nothing beats rock.  He sneaks into his parents’ room and crawls into his father’s futon, only to discover why his parents have separate futons when his mother rolls over and pounds him senseless (she may not be as asleep as she appears).  He winds up huddled under the coffee table feeling sorry for himself.  Lum comes down and asks if he wants to sleep in the UFO with her.  When he refuses, she leaves him a tiger-striped blanket, which soothes him.

The eyecatch marks a new day, and Mr. Moroboshi is on a bike, grousing that the day he stays home sick from work would be the day that Ataru forgets his lunch.  In classroom 2-4, Onsen-Mark writes on the blackboard under high stress, caused by Mr. Invader sitting in the back of the room. (Kotatsu Neko and Ten are also there.) Onsen-Mark asks Ataru to tell him to leave, and in an ironic inversion of the previous episode, Mr. Invader bellows at them not to whisper during class, the force of his voice sending everything flying.

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Onsen-Mark, Ataru and Lum have a whispered conversation about whether he’s really in the way, until Ten overhears and flies over to tattle.  Onsen-Mark reassures him, but Mr. Invader charges forward to demand who they’re calling obese.  Ataru yells at Ten, Lum yells at him, Ataru yells back, and Mr. Invader yells at him (Janet! Dr. Scott!), until Mendou steps up to demand that they resume class.  Mr. Invader steps up to teach his own lesson.

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This is followed by a parody of the Toei logo, and Mr. Invader getting some things off his check (real men don’t talk behind people’s backs or point out their flaws) before yelling at Ataru for mumbling like a woman.  Shinobu gets up to demand what’s so bad about that, and all the class’s girls get up to call him out.  He ineffectually tries to defend himself, and we cut to an Oni spaceship, where Mrs. Invader notes that she’s a woman too.  Back in the classroom the girls are still chewing out her husband, and outside we see Mr. Moroboshi standing on a ladder listening at the window.

Mr. Invader turns on them, asking why can’t women just listen and understand, and he flashes back to his wedding and the days after, when he and his wife were still disgustingly shmoopy and his head was disproportionately huge.

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She sees him with some steak left on his plate, and asks if he doesn’t like her cooking.  He says no, he’s full on love, but she feeds him some more steak (they’re using forks at this point).  Coming out of the flashback, he’s going on about getting enough food, to the bewilderment of everybody but Ataru.  He has the cheek to add that men shouldn’t bitch, which is right up there with Polonius talking up brevity for effrontery.  Shots of Mrs. Invader’s ship intercut with discussions of his wife being an Oni (both literally and as slang for a nagging shrew) and Mr. Invader saying that men need to put their foot down from the start lest they be henpecked and wind up like him, to which Mr. Moroboshi nods.

He’s going on about living like a man when his wife glides in the window.  Lum greets her (she’s still talking in Wingdings when she’s around Earth people).  Ten flies up and whispers in her ear, and in a burst of lightning the scene turns to this:

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Ten says that this time he just told the truth, the students realize that this was a bog-standard domestic dispute, and Lum pretends she’s not related to these people.

That evening, Lum flies back to Ataru’s room and says that her parents went back home.  Ataru firmly insists that he’s going out girl hunting and Lum is to have a bath ready, and she’ll do what she’s told.  Lum shows him what she thinks of that with a really intense lightning blast and a “DARLING NO BAKA!!”.  Downstairs, Mrs. Moroboshi is clearing the table while Mr. Moroboshi flashes back to Mr. Invader’s words (guys, you saw how that ended, why do you think listening to him is a good idea?) and when she tries to take the sake bottle, hangs onto it like a dog with a bone.  She flees, and we go to Mr. Moroboshi on the roof with Cherry, drinking sake out of soup bowls, staring up at a moon that appears to be about ten feet away.

Changes from the manga version: The thread with Mr. Moroboshi listening in isn’t in the manga, and it ends with the scene of Mrs. Invader pounding on her husband. (There’s a run of dialogue that clearly originated in one of those final panel tableaux where everyone stands around giving their punchline.) There isn’t the flashback to his marriage, the standoff with the girls, or the whole sequence with Ataru trying to sleep.

Thoughts: This is the first episode where the additions for the anime have outright annoyed me, at least in part.  The extended scenes in the classroom are fine, and the scene of Ataru trying to push Lum around and getting what he deserves is a fitting capper to the episode, but the scene of Mr. Moroboshi scaring off his wife, less so.  I’ve always liked Mrs. Moroboshi’s bloody-mindedness, but here she goes from randomly waving around a knife at the beginning to timidly running away from her husband at the end.  The henpecked husband theme is already kind of dated, but in the manga it’s clear whose side Takahashi is ultimately on (as witness the image it ends on); as adapted by male animators it’s less clear.  The episode doesn’t present Mrs. Moroboshi as pushing her husband around, unlike some of them–she’s trying to look out for her family but ends up being bullied by Mr. Invader exactly as much as Mr. Moroboshi is–so there’s no particular reason to feel that he needs to assert himself to her.

Leaving that aside and just looking at the bits that originated in the manga, I like some of the character material in this episode.  In the past Mrs. Invader has been shown as relatively demure, but this episode makes it clear which parent Lum takes after. (The manga doesn’t show the energy blasts she uses in the anime, but they’re not inappropriate from what we’ve seen of the Oni.) I realize they had to keep Mr. Invader going until his wife showed up, but I’m kind of sorry we didn’t see Shinobu chuck a desk at him.

As with some of the first season episodes, the art is weirdly inconsistent in this episode.  The animation is quite good on some of the facial closeups of the established characters (especially noticeable on Ataru and his mother in the bedroom scene), but a lot of the background students are back to being strange-looking and crudely drawn, with none of the recurring background characters shown before. (I’d have remembered the guy with the ring in his nose.) This was the season when the animators were working on the first movie, which probably accounts for it.

The title of this episode seems to require idiomatic translation; Tomobiki-cho has it as “Is a Husband & Wife Quarrel Survival of the Fittest?”

Next episode: At a ski resort, the boys race for a kiss from the Snow Queen!

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