The Urusei Yatsura Viewing Project, part 65: “Date: Impossible for Ran!”

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Episode 65: “Date: Impossible for Ran!”

Original airdate: April 13, 1983

Corresponding manga chapter: “Ran, the Scent of a Woman, part 1-2”, volume 15, chapters 4-5 (Japanese tankobon release)/overall chapters 150-151

Summary: Ran has a dream in which she’s floating through an Alice in Wonderland-style mindscape of giant desserts.  Come the morn, she wakes up in her bed next to her stuffed Rei doll.  At Tomobiki High, Ryuunosuke sleeps while her father finishes some work on her jacket.  He wakes her up (taking a fist to the jaw) and, at breakfast, makes sure she takes a bowl of miso soup.  After she takes a spoonful, he shows her the crocheting work he did on her jacket during the night:

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She isn’t pleased, and launches herself at him, but she finds herself unsteady and collapses.  He confirms that he drugged her soup, but their sparring is interrupted by Ran arriving at the store and asking for an eraser.  Mr. Fujinami flies through the wall, sells her an eraser, and leaps back into the fray.  Ryuunosuke stumbles out of the store (wearing the jacket) and Ran, intrigued, follows her.  When she, still groggy, stumbles against the wall, Ran is there for her.

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Ran sees that she’s bleeding and offers her handkerchief, then runs away through the soft-focus sakura to get to class.

In classroom 2-4, Ryuu sniffs the handkerchief and muses on the magical smell of soap.  She knocks an amorous Ataru away, then realizes that she doesn’t know where Ran is to return the handkerchief.  Lum recognizes the monogram and asks where Ryuunosuke got it.  When she explains that Ran is a childhood friend, Ryuunosuke urgently demands to know her contact information, to general shock in the classroom.  Lum offers to take her there, but Ryuunosuke demurs out of embarrassment, even though, as Lum notes, they’re both girls.

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Megane puts his glasses back on and announces that it’s possible that Ryuunosuke’s upbringing has twisted her into liking girls (in a more florid manner and with rose imagery, possibly a Rose of Versailles reference).  Ataru puts Mendou into play, and with his sparkle turned up to full he asks her on a date, receiving in return a fist to the face and a cry of “I have no interest in men whatsoever!” Ataru is unable to accept this.

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Out in the schoolyard, Ryuunosuke leans nonchalantly against the school wall and watches Ran pass a volleyball around with a bunch of girls, then talking to her friends while emitting a shower of shoujo sparkles.  Back in the hallway, Ryuu concludes that Ran is perfectly feminine, and when school ends, Ran finds what appears to be a love letter in her shoe locker.  She’s about to blow it off when she realizes that it’s from someone in Lum’s class, and goes there to ask who Fujinami is.  Ryuunosuke walks by, and Ran recognizes her from that morning, which sends Ryuu running off awkardly.  Ran excitedly mentions that she got a love letter from “him”, but when Lum explains why their going out isn’t a good idea, Ran doesn’t take it well.

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She attributes Lum’s reaction to jealousy, and storms down to the store to tell Ryuunosuke that she’ll go out with her.  Back in her UFO, Ran primps to go out, but takes time before leaving to put out a meal for her giant picture of Rei.

In Ataru’s room, Lum has just finish telling him the situation, and his resolution is fired to save Ryuunosuke from a life of improper dating and dogs and cats living together, or whatever.  And in the school store, Mr. Fujinami is preparing Ryuunosuke for her first date, although she denies that’s what it is.  Ryuunosuke sets out, duded up in her best sweater vest and excited about meeting someone who can teach her to be a girl, although she already has a good shoujo sparkle going.

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Ataru and Lum walk down the street together wearing odd (but very ’80s) matching suspender outfits.  Lum is cheerful, but Ataru reminds there that they’re there to stop Ran and Ryuu, not out on a date.  Lum points out that they don’t know where the date will be.  Ataru tries to turn to run, but Lum grabs him and says they might as well go on a date while they’re out.

Ryuunosuke waits under the giant tanuki statue while Ran runs toward her in a very girly and inefficient manner, leaving her out of breath by the time she arrives.  Ryuunosuke sheepishly admits that it’s her first time out with a girl, and so Ran needs to teach her everything she knows about girls.  Ran pretends to demur, while musing that Ryuu is “seriously horny”.

In one of Tomobiki’s many odd multi-level cafes, Ataru waits in annoyance while Lum eats a parfait.  He turns to see the waiter seating Ran and Ryuunosuke behind him, and orders a cheap cup of coffee dregs so they can stay there.  At their table, Ryuunosuke is astounding to be so close to be so close to a parfait, her father having told her that only girls eat them.  As Ataru sneaks up behind her chair, Ryuu takes a huge bite of the parfait, then sees that Ran is eating it delicately.  She tries to imitate her, but Ataru pops up behind her, and she tosses him back toward Lum.

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Ran pulls Lum into the “Lady” room to demand to know what’s going on.  She accuses Lum of trying to sabotage her because she (Lum) is in love with Ryuunosuke, and proposes a double date to prove who’s in control.  Cut to an idyllic river, where Ryuunosuke rows Ran in a boat past Mr. Soup and Miss Noodles, followed by Ataru and Lum.  Ryuunosuke has the advantage on the water, but Ataru does his best, shouting to her not to do anything dumb.

Eventually they come to a stop about ten feet apart, an exhausted Ataru collapsed against Lum, while Ran asks if she can try rowing.  She “stumbles” while moving over and lands on Ryuunosuke in a manner that would instantly give the game away if it weren’t for Ryuu’s sarashi.  Ataru madly hand-paddles to stop them, but Lum catches him in mid-leap.

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Ran goes back in to lie on Ryuunosuke’s bosom, while Ataru keeps lunging, yelling and falling back in, and Ryuunosuke muses that she just doesn’t understand girls.  We fade out on a sketch of a naked Ryuunosuke surrounded by flowers and looking kind of like Natsuki from Ranma 1/2.

Changes from the manga version: The stories are quite close (the chapter break comes at the eyecatch) apart from the blatant filler at the start and some of Ryuunosuke’s fantasy sequences.

Thoughts: This episode brings up what could be a touchy area problematic issue with Ryuunosuke, her sexuality, except that here it’s mostly sidestepped due to poor communication. (Overall it’s much easier to imagine her winding up with a girl, one in particular, but dating really isn’t her primary area of concern.) We don’t see how things end, but since Ran’s primary goal is to tick off Lum (who’s most bored throughout), so it’s likely that she loses interest when it fails to get a rise out of her. (It really looks like she’s trying to cop a feel at the end, though.) Ataru’s supposed concern for the morality of the situation is much more likely driven by a combination of prurient interest and jealousy.

That dream at the beginning that takes one sentence to describe takes a full minute of screen time; for an episode that otherwise follows the manga closely, it’s an odd case of really obvious padding that doesn’t add much except establishing that Ran likes desserts. (Random aside: in the manga, Ataru wears a T-shirt that reads “Desert Camping Water Bag”.) Ryuunosuke’s sparkly run toward the date is funny, though.

Much like Ran, Ryuunosuke gets a long series of chapters devoted to her after she first appears; only one chapter in volume 15 doesn’t focus on her.  It appears that she was popular with both the audience and Takahashi, especially since she appeared in the anime fairly quickly after she appeared in the manga (autumn of 1982).  The anime changes it up considerably more.

Next episode: Lum forgets Ataru’s birthday!

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2 thoughts on “The Urusei Yatsura Viewing Project, part 65: “Date: Impossible for Ran!”

  1. Re Mr. Soup and Miss Noodles, I did some googling and found out where that other couple I remembered came from: I was thinking of Ushiko and Umao in Kimagure Orange Road (another worthy candidate for your viewing project, whenever you run out of Takahashi!). They turn up in similarly random places.

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