The Urusei Yatsura Viewing Project, part 63: “Introducing Ryuunosuke! ‘We Love the Sea!'”

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Episode 63: “Introducing Ryuunosuke! ‘We Love the Sea!'”

Original airdate: March 16, 1983

Corresponding manga chapters: “Fierce Fighting Family” and “Hello Sailor Suit [Fetish]”, volume 15, chapters 1-2 (Japanese tankobon release)/overall chapters 147-148

Major characters introduced: Ryuunosuke Fujinami, Mr. Fujinami

Summary: Lum stands on the beach, at the edge of the sea.  Whispering “Darling”, she walks into the surf.  Ataru calls out after her, and catches up with her just as she realizes it’s too cold to go in.  She explains that it would be a waste to go to the sea without going in, just as Shinobu and Mendou join them and say that there aren’t any tea shops nearby.  Ataru is about to scream in frustration when the group sees a teenage boy (Ryuunosuke) and his father taunt the sea, then turn and outrun the crashing wave.

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They make it the first time, but fail the second time, and the pair violently exchange blows while arguing about which of them screwed up the timing.  The quartet asks what’s going, with some trepidation, and the father invites them back to their shop, the “Hamajaya” Beachside Cafe (a very literal name, since that’s what “hamajaya” means).

Mr. Fujinami explains that the cafe’s been in the family for three generations, and that Ryuunosuke will be the fourth.  Ryuunosuke angrily replies that he never agreed to that, and smashes a case of beer on his father’s head.  Lum asks about the “sea, you’re an idiot” business, and Mr. Fujinami explains that Hamajaya’s fate is tied to the sea, but for half the year the sea makes it impossible for them to earn money.

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Ryuunosuke mutters that he’s going to find another job, but his father yells that it’s his destiny, and charges at him.  Shinobu interposes himself between the two, defusing the situation for the moment.  Ryuunosuke launches into a reverie about staying open all year around, and his father clobbering him for crying while waist-deep in snow.

Mendou and Ataru decide to go.  Lum asks how they can abandon the situation, but Ataru says it’s none of his business, and Mendou agrees.  Mr. Fujinami takes this as a vote for Ryuunosuke taking over the business, but Ryuunosuke disagrees.  His father seizes him, asking if he can understand the father who named him “Ryuunosuke” so he would be a man stronger than the sea, and Ryuunosuke drops a bombshell:

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Mendou and Ataru instantly about-face and ask to see Ryuunosuke’s face.  She turns to them, suddenly becoming backlit and acquiring more eyelashes than she had a moment ago.  The boys insist (in unison) that they can’t leave at a time like this, and assure her that they’re here for her.  She clobbers them, complaining that her father messed her up, and tells the girls that she envies them for being able to wear girly clothes and skirts.

Her father comes up behind her, and shouts “Go cool your head!” while bodily throwing her toward the ocean.  Ataru runs out to try to catch her, but she does an aerial somersault and kicks the back of his head on the way down, knocking him for a loop.  She starts to apologize when he’s suddenly up with his arm around her, and she clobbers him again.  Her father tries to inspire her with the manliness of the surf, but she turns and pounds him while shouting her catchphrase, “I’M A GIRL!” (in a very manly way).  He goes flying, then rises to his feet, asking what good it does to beat up her poor father.

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The others turn to go; Mr. Fujinami appeals to them to stay, but they aren’t interested until he throws in a free meal.  While they eat, he tries to convince them to persuade Ryuunosuke again.  Another fight begins, and the Fujinamis KO each other with counter-cross-punches, a la Ashita no Joe.  The group agrees that they need to stop them fighting.

Ryuunosuke wakes up, to discover that she’s shackled to the support posts of the cafe.  Her father is in the same situation, and not pleased.  Lum and Ataru try to get them to talk it out, but they instead strain so hard to get at each other that they pull down the pillars, collapsing the cafe.  They leap out of the rubble and begin dueling with their shackles, while Ataru and Mendou philosophically agree that they never should have come to the sea.

With the eyecatch comes a new setting, as Mr. Fujinami runs through the streets of Tomobiki, pulling a large bundle on a cart.  Ryuunosuke is riding rather than pushing, and her father stops suddenly and drops her to the street with the contents of the cart.  Lum and Ataru come to see what’s going on, and Mr. Fujinami explains that they need money to re-open Hamajaya, so they’ll be running a shop at the school.  They’ve been tussling while carrying on this conversation, and Mr. Fujinami tells Ryuunosuke that the day she can beat him definitively, she’ll be a man.  She protests, and Ataru assures her that she’s all woman in his eyes, earning him slugs from both Ryuunosuke and Lum.

Standing at the gates of Tomobiki High, Ryuunosuke demands to know what her father circled on the transfer application, and he pulls out a marker and circles the male figure.  She attacks, but he nimbly avoids all her blows, then jumps to the cart and pulls something out, causing Ryuunosuke’s eyes to go wide.

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He taunts her with it, saying that he’s keeping it until she can defeat him, while she stares intently.  Onsen-Mark tries to break things up, taking Ryuunosuke’s shoulder, and gets clobbered into next week.  She goes into a reverie about how she’s wanted a seifuku since she was a kid.  Breaking out of it, she rips off her T-shirt (revealing her chest bindings) and launches herself at her father, but Ataru interferes.

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While she tries to beat drive him off, her father sees his chance and sends her flying with a kick to the face.  Tears come to her eyes as her father taunts her.  Ataru tries to console her, and gets a really thorough pounding.

In class, a bandaged Onsen-Mark introduces Ryuunosuke to the class.  She’s now wearing a bandage on her cheek and a boy’s uniform jacket open over her T-shirt, and the girls (including Shinobu) collectively swoon over her.  Mendou is appalled, and he, Ataru and the Stormtroopers meet up after class to discuss it.  Most of them agree that this is a disaster, and they need to fix things pronto, but Megane stoically declares that Lum is the only girl for him, and gets up and leaves.

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Back in the room, Ataru says that he doesn’t get it, as even Ryuunosuke in a sailor suit would be cuter than Lum.  Inspiration strikes, and the boys find themselves in the school store, begging Mr. Fujinami to hand over the sailor suit.  He refuses, insisting that Ryuunosuke must defeat him before he’ll hand it over.

The boys begin beating him with mallets as we cut back to the classroom, where Ryuunosuke is surrounded by girls.  She’s thinking about the sailor suit when it appears before her, delivered by Mendou.  He explains that her father was struck by their “sincerity” (that’s one way of putting it) and she takes it and stares at it, possibly wondering why the scarf changed color from red to blue between shots.  She thinks back to times when she almost wanted to be a boy, but no matter how hard she tried to be feminine, she wound up reacting like a man (shown through a flashback where a big guy spits a cigarette at her on the beach, and she knocks him senseless).  The flashback continues to her returning to the cafe and thinking that she needs to resolve this with her father, then further back to her as a child, running into her father’s arms.

Returning to the present, she puts the sailor suit down and runs out of the room.  In the store, Mr. Fujinami answers the phone with “Ryuunosuke, it’s you, isn’t it?” It turns out to be a wrong number, and he slams it down, then returns to watching the phone.  From the hallway, Ryuunosuke makes a call on the public phone, and he answers the same way.  She asks how he knew it was her.

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Ryuunosuke tells him that she’s always wanted a sailor suit, but she won’t wear one until she can defeat him.  She’s interrupted by Ataru and the other boys running down the hallway, carrying the suit (and deafening Mr. Fujinami).  She runs into the school grounds as they pursue her with the suit, telling her that this is for everyone’s happiness, until she stops to tell them to leave her alone.  Ataru pauses, and she turns, shouts “You’re really pissing me off, dudes!” and the chasers become the chased.

Changes from the manga version: Since this is adapted from two chapters of the manga, there’s not as much filler.  The manga version was the end of a long series of summer vacation stories, while the anime episode aired in March, so the opening bit is lampshade hanging for their being on the beach (although why is never explained).  The second chapter doesn’t have Megane’s star turn, of course.  Both segments extend the fight sequences.

Thoughts: We finally have the introduction of the last major character in the core cast, and one of my favorite main characters (Shinobu being the other one).  This episode is another one that’s a bit challenging to summarize, because the description of all the fighting doesn’t really convey the tone.

Ryuunosuke is an interesting creation.  As someone introduced in volume 15, Takahashi is a more accomplished creator and has a better idea of what the series is.  She’s the first of the core cast to have something that she’ll use heavily in Ranma 1/2: the character who fits into a general type but has one twist that drives their character and plots.  (The other members of the core cast are either defined initially by their relationship to the main character or are archetypes turned up to 11, although they’ve mostly developed past that point by now.) She’s also driven by an internal conflict of identity rather than her romantic interests; although romance will still be a big element in her stories, for her it’s as much about who she is as who she loves.

By comparison, her father’s less a rounded character than a plot element, the gatekeeper that keeps standing in her way.  He does care about Ryuunosuke, but in a very strange way, and it can be hard to tell what his motives are (as with the phone call scene in this episode); he’s always willing to pull a bait-and-switch.

Since some of the gender indicators for Ryuunosuke are very Japanese, a few notes of explanation:

  • The name “Ryuunosuke” is extremely masculine.  There are other examples in anime of a female character being given a traditionally masculine name (compare Tohru in Fruits Basket to her namesake in Jackie Chan Adventures) but there’s really no ambiguity about this one.
  • Likewise, Ryuunosuke’s Japanese usage is very masculine; she refers to herself as “ore“, which is a masculine, rough and dominant personal pronoun.
  • Ryuu’s chest binding is a sarashi.  It has been used as a binding under a kimono (the goal of the kimono being to flatten the body into a perfect cylinder) but also as under-armor protection for samurai.  In this form it signifies both girls disguising their figures and as something worn by tough guys, with their shirt worn open to display it.

Unfortunately, Ryuunosuke doesn’t get to shine as much in the anime as she does in the manga, but I’ll cover that when it comes up.

Next episode: Ataru is giving up Lum!

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2 thoughts on “The Urusei Yatsura Viewing Project, part 63: “Introducing Ryuunosuke! ‘We Love the Sea!'”

  1. Hey, I just wanted to let you know I’m finally starting to catch up with this project! Congrats on getting to part 63 already, and the introduction of one of your favorite characters.

  2. I really hate Ryuunosuke’s father. To me he’s more concerned with passing on the Hamajaya than his child’s well being. Denying your daughter’s identity as a woman is a serious issue and no matter how jokingly it is treated I cannot help but feel really sorry for Ryuunosuke and profoundly dislike her father. Worse of it all, that’s not all he does as he continually beats her up, refuses to tell her who her mother is, etc. Truly a hateful being.

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