Episode 67: “Found: The Valley of Peaches in the Camp-From-Hell!”
Original airdate: April 27, 1983
Corresponding manga chapter: “The Strict Camping Trip!!”/”Adventures in Shangri-La!!”, volume 14, chapters 7-8 (Japanese tankobon release)/overall chapters 7-8
Minor characters introduced: The hare, head hermit, sacrifice
Summary: Out in the mountains, Perm, Megane and Mendou play Frisbee, while Ataru sits by, less than thrilled. He’s more interested in food…until Lum bangs a pot to summon them to dinner. He immediately turns and runs at top speed, but Lum throws a pot lid like a boomerang discus and brings him down at her feet, while the others remark that it’s not like Ataru to avoid food. At the table, Ataru eats potato chips while everyone else looks forward to Lum’s cooking, with Megane offering to eat Ataru’s portion. Ataru’s for it, and Megane tells him that if he’s a man he’ll stick to his word–no food for him. Perm takes a good whiff from the bowl:
Ten and Lum eat away happily, but Megane and Mendou take one sip and spontaneously combust, more or less. It turns out to be “Tabasco soup, Indian-style”, and everything else is similarly ridiculously spicy. The boys hustle Ataru into the woods and demand to know why he didn’t warn them, but as Ataru points out, he doesn’t miss food without a reason. Lum calls Megane back for Ataru’s portion, and he nobly throws himself on his sword, to die for love.
Perm remembers that they had emergency rations, but when they return to the tent, they’re nowhere to be found. A trail of hare footprints leading away from the tent point toward the culprit. That night, while Megane lies in agony, the other boys sneak off toward the village at the bottom of the mountain. On the way, they spy the silhouette of a hare, and Ataru brings it down with a well-thrown Mendou (fortunately, rich rivals are legal in this match).
Ataru grabs the hare, and Mendou is ready to go a-swording when it opens its eyes and asks them not to eat it. Ataru is still all for chowing down, but Perm and Mendou are uncomfortable with the idea. It rubs up against Mendou and begs for mercy, and Ataru spots a sausage it’s carrying. It brags that it found the food at a nearby campsite, where he grabbed it while some stupid humans were eating. Ataru asks if they have anything left, but it says it ate the rest, and they all join in a good, hearty laugh.
The hare tells them that it can take them somewhere with food tastier than it is. This turns out to be the village they discussed earlier. The hare says that they need to be careful, and suggests that Perm step on a spot that turns out to be a pit trap full of Punji stakes. Ataru sets off a small shrine that conceals a machine gun, and Mendou is snared with a noose around the ankle. A series of traps go off one after the other, and an angry mob charges out of the village to lynch the obnoxious hare, trampling the boys into the grass.
The hare says that it’s a good thing it was there to guide them, and they show their gratitude by preparing to turn it into a casserole. It begs for one more chance to show them better food, and leads them through an underground tunnel (to Mendou’s detriment)…where they emerge at their own campsite.
The eyecatch comes and goes and finds the boys fishing in the river. Perm and Mendou ask Ataru to gently suggest that if they do catch something, he ask Lum not to eat it. Ten overhears and goes to tattle to Lum, but Ataru catches him with his hook, and punishes him by ducking him in the river. To everyone’s surprise, Ten grabs onto an enormous peach that floats by, and Ataru lands it. A visibly suffering Megane staggers toward it, and Mendou draws his sword to slice it, only to see it deflate and reveal Cherry inside, like some sort of Momotaro gone hideously wrong.
He explains that he was doing intense training in the mountains when he was surrounded by a thick fog and found himself in the “Tohgenkyou”, or “Valley of the Peaches”, full of peach blossoms and beautiful women. Ataru and Mendou immediately set off in unison, hauling Cherry behind them and insisting to Lum that they’re just going for the
articles fruit. At the base of a waterfall, it’s nowhere to be found. Cherry laughs, saying that only someone with his spiritual training could enter, and not an ordinary mortal. This last just as long as it takes for them to find the billboard.
Ataru continues to tell Lum that they’re just after the food, and points out Megane, who’s gone peach-mad from starvation. When they go in, they find two paths, the Fruit Course and the Women Course. Lum teases Ataru that he’s naturally going to the Fruit Course, but he distracts everyone and charges forward through the Women course. He gets there just in time to catch up to the others (who are walking), and it turns out that the paths join up.
They walk through pinkish grass that’s neck-high on Cherry and elbow-high on everyone else until they come to a tree covered in huge peaches. Cherry says that the last time he was there, he was standing in just this spot when a peach snaps open, swallows him, and drops in to the river, which carries him back to their world. The others see a litter carried by old women, surmounted by a weeping, scantily-clad (of course) young woman. Ataru zips in to hit on her, and while Lum electrocutes him, the other boys pile on with offers of help. A huge, hairy, be-robed man appears to take them up on their offer.
He explains that they’re hermits who are trying to live in peace, but have to sacrifice the girl to the Evil Peach to protect themselves. (Note: this is the second evil fruit the gang has encountered.) The boys stand up to offer help, but grab the litter and charge off toward the portal to their world instead. The head hermit intercepts them, and says that the holy sword “Peach-Petal” can destroy the Evil Peach. The sword can be found by the Evil Peach Tree, but they have to encounters perils three to get it.
Without quite knowing how, they find themselves lined up wearing numbers. The head hermit assures them that they’re amulets, while behind him the other hermits give odds on them. The starter’s pistol goes off, but everyone except Lum and Ten immediately falls into a pit (no Punji stakes, fortunately). Ataru, Mendou and Parm manage to crawl out, while Megane needs food badly and collapses back into the pit. They’re making good time when a peck of peaches roll down the path, taking Perm with them. Mendou cleaves several peaches in half, but when he poses to flick the juice from his blade a particularly huge peach knocks him flying and out. Lum calls out to Ataru, who’s being pursued by peach-monsters on long…stalks…and then things get..suggestive.
Lum carries Ataru away from a tentacle-y fate, and they spy the tree of the Evil Peach ahead of them. At his request, she drops him (from higher than he really intended) and he skids to a halt in front of Peach-Petal. Seizing the hilt, he shouts “Excalibur!”, draws the sword from the ground, and with a mighty leap cleaves the peach in twain.
The hermits begin to calculate the payouts; the head hermit says that they should find a simpler way to gamble, but the sacrifice points out that they have all the time in the world. Ataru, meanwhile, is overcome with shock, and gives up.
Changes from the manga version: Two random male classmates accompany them rather than Megane and Perm, and no one gets overwhelmed by a double batch of Lum’s food. The manga doesn’t have the…stalks.
Thoughts: Back to the manga with a two-fer of plot gimmick stories with very Takahashi anticlimax twist endings. Fun, but not terribly revealing of character, so there’s not a ton to say about them.
Remember how, early on, I commented that I was going to assemble a set of images that look like hentai when taken out of context? Yeah. This was the episode I had in mind. Note that modern tentacle hentai didn’t exist until a few years after this episode (Wikipedia credits it to The Guyver in 1986), so the imagery wouldn’t have looked so ridiculously suggestive at the time.
I do find it interesting that Takahashi never introduced the anime version of the Stormtroopers into the manga, but is still using generic classmates as secondary characters. There are some character designs that reoccur (one of whom became Perm), but she didn’t try to give them names or distinct identities. It doesn’t surprise me that she didn’t borrow someone else’s creations for her work, but she doesn’t seem to have been interested in naming and defining characters that weren’t driving the plot, even when she was using them as part of the story.
I should have noted it last episode, but I’m now past the 1/3 mark!
Next episode: Kurama, Ryuunosuke, and a gender-change gun!