Episode 64: “The Season for Goodbyes”
Original airdate: March 23, 1983
Corresponding manga chapter: “Ataru Calls It Quits!”, volume 5, chapter 1 (Viz release)/volume 7, chapter 3 (Japanese tankobon release)/overall chapter 61
Minor characters introduced: Various high school characters (listed in summary)
Summary: The sakura petals are falling, and Mendou, Ataru, Lum and Shinobu are walking through a cherry grove. Mendou recites a poem, then says that this is the grove he only visits once a year. The mood is abruptly broken when Mendou starts another poem, and Cherry pops up to finish it. A horde of bodyguards appear to haul him away. Lum flies into the air, and Ataru looks thoughtful.
At Tomobiki High, class is ending, and Ataru approaches Megane and asks to talk to him. Megane tries to blow him off, but Ataru grabs his wrist and puts on his serious face, and Megane relents. They go to an open plaza with a Gundam live show and eat takoyaki, As they get down to business, Shinobu arrives nearby in time to hear Megane shout “What?! You’re giving up?!” Ataru goes on to explain that while fate has brought him here, he’s finding his situation too much of a burden. Megane wonders whether he’s seriously going to give up on Lum, and Ataru adds that while a lot of people envy his situations and its benefits, the time has come to consider a successor.
Ataru goes on that Mendou is the obvious choice, but there’s no way he’s picking him. Likewise, the other Stormtroopers aren’t an option, and the other guys are similarly hopeless. He asks if Mendou would consider taking over…he knows he’s springing it on him with short notice, but would he be his successor?
Shinobu drops her ice cream cone in shock, and we cut to Megane treating Ataru to a string of meals, while Shinobu lurks nearby. Eventually Ataru says that while tomorrow is Sunday, they have study group in the afternoon, and he’ll announce it after that. After Ataru leaves, Megane lets out a barbaric yawp that shatters most of the restaurant they’re in, and generally loses his mind over the prospect of having Lum at last. At a nearby table, Shinobu draws a relationship chart (that includes characters from Maison Ikkoku) and realizes to her horror that with Ataru out of the way, the most likely trajectory is for Mendou to hook up with Lum.
That night, Ataru and Lum are in his bedrrom with the lights out (just being contemplative, mind). He muses about how long they’ve been together (about a year and a half). He says he’s wanted to talk to her about something, but she falls asleep and dreams about him eating something messily. He gently puts his jacket over her and sits down beside her.
Meanwhile, Megane is in his bedroom, completely losing his mind. He’s got hold of the Lum doll that she made for him back in episode 44, and is ranting to it about how she’ll finally be his. This gives way to a two-part conversation with Megane taking both their roles.
He eats his pillow,breaks through the ceiling, and sounds his triumph over the rooftops of Tomobiki, going into a rant that mixes up Shakespeare, a classic song, and the opening of The Shadow.
The eyecatch brings us to the oddly-named “Dobusalada” (“Sewer Salad”), where a couple of observers are taking stock of the luminaries gathered there: the Mighty Desk-Throwing Shinobu, the #2 babe from Butsumetsu High and the #1 from Shakko High, the new #1 at Sanrinbou High, owner of the hottest tushie in town, and for a change of pace, the thuggish Unbaba Tetsu and Franken 1 and 2. Shinobu proposes, and the other girls agree, that Mendou can’t be allowed to hook up with Lum or they’ll be a collective laughingstock. She agrees to let the other girls do the planning, and watches them leave through the window.
Ataru leaves to go to school. Lum tries to join him, but he tells her to go ahead, since he has something to think about. She tries to convince him, but he’s firm. As she flies off and he walks down the street, an army of girls that looks like something B-ko would assemble appears.
They spread out and tail Ataru, passing his location from point to point to keep him under observation at all times (One of the girls questions whether this is necessary, but another one points out that his ability to slip away is unparalleled, so they need the ideal location.) On a railway bridge, he finds himself trapped between Unbaba and the Frankens. Megane watches this through a telescope, and muses that he’s going to have to use the contents of a mysterious bag at his feet.
Unbaba and co have herded Ataru to a junkyard, surrounding him while the girls stand around on the cars, watching. Unbaba gives a “You might want to reconsider your current course of action or something unfortunate might happen” speech, to which Ataru is initially resistant, but he begins to slip when some knuckles are cracked. They’re interrupted by Megane, wearing a battlesuit.
Ataru scampers up behind him. Megane (who denies being Megane) sends him on to school, and goes to engage the mob, until reality sinks in and he turns and runs as well.
In classsroom 2-4, Onsen-Mark is reading in English (from a book with Betty Boop on the cover). A clearly pummeled Megane is stabbing himself in the leg with a pencil to stay consciousness. Mendou notices that he, Ataru and Shinobu are acting oddly, but isn’t sure why. The clock finally counts down to 5, but before the class can leave, Ataru jumps up front to make an announcement. He says that he’s been thinking for a while, and is going to completely relinquish the position that’s been assigned to him. Before he can name his successor, every boy in a 10-mile radius crowds around Lum.
Megane tries to get them to listen, but Lum breaks things up with several lightning blasts, and flies over to confront Ataru. He tries to defend himself, but can’t finish before she electrocutes him. She bursts into tears while Megane and Mendou try to get her attention. Ataru finally shouts that he never said he was giving up Lum, and reminds them of the position he’s actually talking about.
A fireworks display goes off, until Perm takes the wind out of his sails by asking if he’s really president. Ataru can’t believe that everyone (including Mendou) has forgotten the election, and yells at the class for being so heartless. Perm suggests that if he’s so unhappy he should quit, and the class files out of the room while he threatens to quit, Lum hugs him, and Megane is frozen in mental agony.
Changes from the manga version: The adaptation only really follows the basic concept. In the manga, Ataru announces that he’s retiring at the beginning, and after it’s clear that he’s not leaving Lum, they conclude that he’s retiring as the main character of the comic. Several characters, including Cherry and Sakura, try to campaign for the position.
Thoughts: This is an odd duck of an episode. After a run of faithful adaptations of recent manga chapters, there’s a jump backwards to a strange manga chapter, and the actual adaptation only takes up about 3 minutes of the episode. The change of premise (that Ataru is leaving Lum) is more sensible than the meta concept in the manga, but apart from that it’s largely the animators going nuts, and it’s largely their sense of humor rather than Takahashi’s. There are a lot of humorous touches slipped into the animation, however (and some odd English, such as a menu labeled “MENW”).
One interesting note in this episode is that the characters are in school on Saturday. This practice has largely gone out of fashion, but during this period many schools had classes on Saturday morning. This allows for a useful timeline: events take place over Saturday afternoon and Sunday morning, bookended by classroom scenes.
This is also a good episode for showing how much Ataru has changed since the beginning of the series. He spends most of this episode in Serious Mode. It’s setup for the reversal at the end of the episode, of course, but the very idea of him having this capacity was unthinkable in the early episodes. (Which makes it all the odder that in the manga, this story is two chapters before the one adapted as episode 2.1.)
Next episode: Ran and Ryuunosuke hook up!