The Urusei Yatsura Viewing Project, part 58: “Steal the Kiss of Miss Snow Queen!”

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Episode 58: “Steal the Kiss of Miss Snow Queen!”

Original airdate: February 2, 1983

Corresponding manga chapter:  “Miss Snow Queen”, volume 5, chapter 8 (Viz release)/volume 7, chapter 10 (Japanese tankobon release)/overall chapter 58

Minor characters introduced: Very tall skier (#55), resort employee

Summary: In classroom 2-4, the end of a test is announced, and Ataru sneakily tries to read the tests as they’re passed up and copy the answers.  Mendou snatches his paper, and Onsen-Mark announces that he’ll post the names of those who do the worst and possibly hold makeup classes.  Lum whispers something in his ear, and when the Stormtroopers invite him to a post-exam Beef Bowl celebration, he pleads a prior engagement.  After Ataru shiftily leaves class, Megane dispatches Chibi to follow him.  He trails Ataru to an okonomiyaki restuarant, and takes the booth behind Lum and Ataru, disguised with a center part that makes him look like Richie Rich.

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Chibi looks at the menu and realizes that the prices run from 400-600 yes ($1.70-$2.55), and he can’t afford that.  He runs out of the restaurant, afraid to return to Megane with nothing, and catches sight of Shinobu on the way.  He accosts her, and takes several briefcase blows before managing to explain.  The two sneak back in time to hear that Lum wants to go skiing, but Ataru couldn’t be arsed.  He changes his mind when he sees a brochure advertising Miss Snow Queen, and agrees to go to that specific one.

Shinobu and Chibi pop their heads up to read the brochure; she ducks in time to avoid being seen, but Chibi’s swollen face get caught on the top of the divider.  Fortunately Ataru doesn’t recognize him, and Lum begins rhapsodizing about the two of them going on a trip by themselves.  Shinobu grabs Chibi and splits, while Ataru fantasizes about the two of them going by themselves, getting separated, him meeting a beautful woman and scoring.  He agrees, and she flies back to the UFO to make reservations, only to figure out why Ataru had his change of heart.

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Chibi has regrouped with the Stormtroopers, and Megane goes onto a rant about what’s bound to happen between the two in a snow-bound chalet, and announces that they’re going too.  At her house, Shinobu dials the strange red-with-white-polka-dots phone and calls up Mendou.  We see a family helicopter take off, and Mendou thanks Shinobu for the tip.  His thoughts are with Lum, while she has other plans…The Stormtroopers, meanwhile, are on a bus, and Megane muses on the moon and Lum in a manner that’s worthy of Pyramus and Thisbe.  On Lum and Ataru’s train, they nap; Ataru mumbles in his sleep about “Your Highness”, and Lum schemes to herself. (The train then goes into a tunnel, but I’m sure that’s not symbolic of anything.)

On the mountain, Lum and Ataru enter the crowded chalet.  Lum goes off to register, while Ataru puts down his duffel to discover an annoyed Ten inside.  Ataru assures him it was Lum’s idea to leave him behind, not his, but he’s then distracted by seeing both the Stormtroopers and the Mendou-Shinobu faction.  Ten is even more annoyed at being ignored and scorches Ataru back (and his face somehow, even though he was facing away).

The characters take their separate routes to the top of the mountain, where an employee explains the rules of the Treasure Hunt, which involves finding a chest by the giant “X”. (For those thinking of It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World, they do touch on the possibility of it being two trees.) The second prize is a free dinner, while the first prize is a kiss from Miss Snow Queen!  Ataru’s interest is instantly engaged, but he can’t see who Miss Snow Queen is because a very tall person is in the way.

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(You may now place your bets on who Miss Snow Queen is.) The Stormtroopers’ and Mendou’s interest is engaged, and Shinobu vows to win as well.  Everyone makes their way to the starting line, as Ataru and Ten accuse each other of only being in it for the Snow Queen.  Megane brags that he’s on an even level with Ataru for once, and Mendou compares the kiss to a fairy tale prince waking up a princess.  Shinobu compares herself to the witch in this scenario.  Ataru (#13, of course) winds up next to the very tall guy in the red coat (#55), whose fixation on the Snow Queen causes him to miss the starting gun, until someone breaks him out of it and he takes off like a bullet on rails.

Megane distracts Ataru by pointing to a nonexistent beautiful woman, and after the ensuing crash he’s passed by everyone (including a car) and #55, who doesn’t let his coat briefly turning blue stop him from bouncing off the top of a tree and knocking snow down on Ataru and Ten.  Ataru is ready to take off when Lum (not wearing a number) swishes up to him and gives him a good luck charm, which she says has three capsules that will protect him.

Mendou and Shinobu are making good time when they pull to an abrupt stop at a very steep cliff.  The Stormtroopers recklessly jump past them, and wind up rolled into an enormous snowball/katamari.  Ataru follows, Ten clinging to his pole.  Ataru is making very good speed at the loss of control, and possibly his future love life as his legs get further and further apart.  He manages to jump over the snowball, and lands safely.

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On the other side, Ataru tells Ten not to hang onto his pole, and Ten pulls out the “I’m just a child” defense. (Since Ten can fly and breathe fire it’s hard to feel too sorry for him.) Ataru gets him to let go just in time for #55 to jump over him and land right behind Ataru.  Ataru refuses to let him pass, and eventually #55 shoots off in another direction.

The Stormtroopers have righted themselves, but are far behind and don’t know the course.  Megane proposes that they take a shortcut through the woods to the ski lift to the next section, and defends himself against charges of cheating with an incoherent speech on victory.

#55 makes good time by pushing trees out of his way and is catching up on Ataru, while Ten pushes himself along with one pole.  Ataru screeches to a halt in front of a huge wall of snow, and with #55 hot on his heels, very quickly makes up with Ten and uses his flame to launch himself over the snowbank.  He lands against a tree, where he dislodges Mr. Soup and Miss Noodles, who cement their role as the Wayne and Wanda of the series when a scorched and angry #55 stomps on Mr. Soup.

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Shimobu asks Mendou to pause for a moment, and takes the chance to change the direction of a sign, then leads him off in the wrong direction, pleased with herself.  The Stormtroopers make their way out of the woods by the ski lift, and climb the tower to jump on.  They conclude that it might be crossed trees, and head off into the woods to look.  #55 catches up to Ataru and goes flying over him, and from midair Ten spots that the giant “X” is the intersection of two paths.  He flies to the center and melts the snow to uncover a treasure chest, but Ataru zips past and snags it.  Ten grabs onto his pole, #55 takes off in pursuit, and Megane, seeing this, proposes that they take another shortcut.

#55 is closing in on Ataru, and Ten reminds him of Chekhov’s Lum’s amulet, which is activating by making a wish and throwing it.  Ataru wishes for a river, and a trench with a river opens up behind him, but #55 just jumps it.  Ten points out that the capsules aren’t that big.  Ataru wishes for a bunch of fake treasure chests, to throw pursuers off the trail, but Ten reminds him that the one he’s carrying is obviously the correct one.  With #55 breathing down his neck and the goal in sight, Ataru wishes for an avalanche, which ends up about as well as you’d expect.

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#55 snatches it and shoots past.  Ataru crouches to go as fast as possible, but isn’t going to make it.  #55 is about to cross the finish line when a mysterious bolt of lightning destroys one of his bindings.  Ataru makes a great leap and catches the chest in midair, splashing down and crossing the finish line.  Ataru steps up for his kiss from the Snow Queen.

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(Anyone who bet on anyone besides Lum, don’t quit your day job.) Ataru protests, but Lum pulls him in.  Just before she lands the kiss, we cut to Cherry leading the Stormtroopers through the woods, thanking them for joining his spiritual retreat in the mountains.  (As an aside, Kakugari seems to be cosplaying Mario.)

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We cut to a shot of skis and poles on the ground, and Mendou assuring Shinobu that they’ll be found soon.  It looks at first like one of those “how will we keep warm” scenarios, until we pull back and see that they’re completely surrounded by lost skiers.  Shinobu bemoans that it wasn’t supposed to be like this!

Changes from the manga version: The manga story begins as the rules of the treasure hunt are being explained.  The subplots with the Stormtroopers and Shinobu/Mendou are entirely absent; it’s just a showdown between Ataru, Ten and the big guy (#8, here).   The good luck charm has no special powers, and some of the incidents are different (the treasure chest is hanging from a tree, so #8 bulds a snow staircase to reach it, and Ataru passes a Yeti on the way to the finish line.

Thoughts: This episode is a huge jump backwards in the manga, and it shows how much better the animators have become at stretching a fairly thin chapter to full length.  Besides the introductory sequence, there are two entirely new subplots woven in, neither of which are terribly extensive on their own but break up the action nicely. (Part of the reason this is useful is that this is an action-heavy episode, and action sequences can go by very quickly onscreen as opposed to talky ones.) The new subplots are nicely in-character, as well. (Megane does get a lot of chances to chew the scenery in this one.)

I’m guessing the jump backwards was because they wanted a winter story and didn’t want to adapt the one with the talking snowman at this point.  It’s not impossible that they’d already done some development work on it at this point and took the chance to save time while working on the movie, as well.

The kicker to this episode (Lum being the Snow Queen) is the most obvious twist imaginable, and is probably a relic of it being from a relatively early, plot driven manga chapter from the era when Ataru was still avoiding Lum at all costs.  The anime does change it up a bit from the original by having Ataru feel ripped off rather than repelled by Lum showing him affection. (I would have been interested to see what happened if Ten or Shinobu won, however.)

Next episode: It’s Valentine’s Day for Ten!  Before then, though, it’s the first movie, Only You!  I’m not sure how I’m going to handle this one, since it’s three times as long as a regular episode; I may break it into parts or do a less detailed summary.

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