The Urusei Yatsura Viewing Project, part 72: “Lum: Rebel Without a Clue”

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Episode 72: “Lum: Rebel Without a Clue”

Original airdate: June 15, 1983

Corresponding manga chapter: “Love and Violence”, volume 6, chapter 8 (Viz release)/volume 8, chapter 9 (Japanese tankobon release)/overall chapter 78

Minor characters introduced: Movie punk versions of the characters

Summary: Lum walks down a grubby hallway, lit only by the harsh glare from the windows.  She pushes open a metal door to reveal a field strewn with junk, white sheets flapping on clotheslines above it.  The door slams shut, revealing a New Wave version of Perm (no pun intended) lurking behind it.  A noirish voiceover begins.  He demands to see what she’s brought, and she pulls out a bank containing her mortgage money and demands the goods in return.  Perm taunts her with an envelope containing compromising images of her Darling, and the negatives, but demands additional favors as well.  She shouts “You lied to me!” and a scorched Perm collapses and rolls down the pile of junk.  Lum sobs at her actions, and vows to become an outcast…and from his director’s chair, Ataru yells “Cut!” for lunch.

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Lum flies over to ask about her performance; Ataru plays it cool, but cameraman Lum rhaposidizes about her presence.  Lunch is at Big Beef, where Megane tells Ataru that they’ll be out of money after this meal, since he’s been filming slowly and buying Beefbowl every day.  Since the entire class chipped in to fund the film, Ataru as director/producer will be the first against the wall.  They don’t have enough to edit what they’ve already done, and the script isn’t even finished.  Ataru tries to think of a solution, and inspiration strikes

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Ataru butters up Mendou, his potential investor, by telling him that he wanted to make an epic co-starring Lum and Mendou.  He adds that the plot is the only one it could be: a love story.  Visions of Rhett and Scarlett running through his head, Mendou agrees with a show of reluctance.  This changes to disbelief the next day, when he sees Lum in her gang-girl outfit and Afro.  Ataru explains that he’ll be talking her out of a life of delinquency.  In-character, he tells Lum to take off those clothes and celebrate the springtime of her youth; when she isn’t impressed, he throws his arms around her, and the lightning flies.  Ataru compliments the still-smouldering Mendou on his performance, and decides that this should be an all-star production.

In class the next day, Ataru approaches Shinobu; his overly strong approach gets him both shocked and chair-smashed, but she agrees to play an ordinary high school girl, albeit one who enjoys machine-gunning things.  In-character she begs Mendou to come away with her, eventually going off-script and just straight-out playing for Mendou.  She kicks Ataru away when he cuts and tries to stop her, and it leads to a scuffle with Lum that Megane films eagerly.

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Ryuuonsuke, when asked, freaks out, saying that being in a movie gets you arrested (what kind of movies have you been watching, Ryuu?) until Ataru tells her that she can be feminine in it.  She envisions herself as Eliza Doolittle in the “Ascot Gavotte” scene of My Fair Lady (accompanied by her father?!?) and eagerly agrees.  Her character faces down Lum and gang (which now includes Shinobu, in a face mask), declaring that if she can KO them, she can be a woman (Ataru justifies this on the basis of producer desperation).  She clobbers Mendou, and when Ataru comes in to congratulate her, sends him flying over the school.  Megane sends the other crew and performers in to subdue her, filming all the while, until a kick gives him a shot of the sole of Ryuunosuke’s shoe and then the sky.

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Ataru muses about the filmmaking process over a montage of filming and editing, until the film (“Love Transcends Everything”) is ready for its first screening to the cast and crew.  Onsen-Mark and another teacher scuffle over watching through a crack in the door, until Ataru shoos them away, and we see what’s happening onscreen: the gang have become masters of concealed weaponry.

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The gang are all love-deprived, and react to any approach with violence (over montage thereof, some of it directed at Ataru).  The narrator adds that it’s a desert, deprived of love, as shown by Ataru weeping in a desert with a “Love” banner on his back; this is the point at which the audience begins to look aghast.

Out on the balcony, Onsen-Mark explains what’s going on to the other teacher, and they discuss whether school violence is a good theme or not, and if it indicates that it’s a problem at their school.  Inside, onscreen Ataru is going on about love in the appallingest purple prose, and the characters ride bikes up the mountain of love with him.

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Everyone is running toward the camera in soccer uniforms when the screen goes white, as Shinobu wrestles the reels off the projector.  The audience walks out en masse, declaring that the film and the negatives will be destroyed before anyone else sees it.  Ataru is both crestfallen and concerned about paying back the class, which is borne out in class as some unnamed students demand to see the film their money paid for.  He insists that he does want to show it, but finally says that Mendou won’t let him.  The other cast members agree that the characterization is lousy, but the students say that they don’t really expect much from a “SF High-School Super-Violence Spectacular Love Comedy”.

Mendou is appalled at this characterization, and some of the Stormtroopers twit him about not spotting what was really going on.  Ataru says he’d like to show it, but he doesn’t have a projector.

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Mendou is literally dragged away kicking and screaming as Lum and Ataru set up the projector.  The reel doesn’t fit, so Lum fixes the projector (with a mallet).  The plug won’t fit, so Lum fixes that as well (apparently by prying off extra prongs).

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Onsen-Mark and some other teachers (including Kuriyabashi-sensei, who we haven’t seen in a while) run toward classroom 2-4, to be confronted by this sight:

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The punk students blow past the teachers, and Chibi runs up to tell the teachers that the bullies from Sanrinboo Academy have invaded, which catches the attention of movie-Mendou.  At the gate, Iron Umbaba and Franken 1 and 2 loom and call the students cowards for refusing to face them, until they’re bowled over by geese (Japanese pun).  Movie-Lum holds up a goose and tells them to leave, but Umbaba says that doing so would violate the symbol on his back, a “No U-Turn” sign.  Movie-Mendou takes off his shirt to reveal a tattoo of himself as a track star with an octopus face.

Umbaba charges, but is knocked back by Mendou’s Astro Boy-style arm missiles.  Movie-Ryuunosuke speeds forward with an Electronic Acceleration Device (from Cyborg 009, something the real Ryuu has also referenced).  Perm blasts them with sunglasses-masers, and they run, pursued by Shinobu’s skirt missiles.  The teachers look down on the smoking crater, impressed, and movie-Ataru runs up to praise them.

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He bursts into tears at their love of the school, and they tearfully surround him.  Ataru watches in self-satisfaction, while Lum has a great bit of understatement.

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She looks back to the wreckage of the classroom, where onscreen Ataru is leading the students up the mountain of love (which looms over Tomobiki High for some reason) and the word “Fin” appears.

Changes from the manga version: The manga begins with the screening, but follows reasonably closely from that point.  It doesn’t have Ryuunosuke, obviously, and a generic bully in place of Umbaba.  The Perm character has a huge axe concealed behind his sunglasses rather than a maser (which I find funnier).  Ataru has a great line about Mendou “school-violencing” him.

Thoughts: A big jump back in time here, but with a chapter that offers a good amount of room for expansion. (I can’t think of many more episodes that take this approach, ending with the manga chapter but starting with an original leadup–the closest one that comes to mind is the fossil bird episode.) I think I overall prefer the relative simplicity of the manga story to the drawn-out anime, but the episode still has all the funny bits from the manga, so I can’t complain. (The scenes of the delinquents with their concealed weapons make a bit more sense in the manga, where the movie starts with them in a parody of anti-school violence films, than in the anime where they don’t flow very logically from the previous scenes.  The animators do lampshade it with Ataru’s script-flailing, however.)

As we’ve seen with girl gangs before, Lum and Shinobu follow classic ’70s bad girl fashion, with long skirts and Shinobu’s face mask.  I’m not completely thrilled about Umbaba showing up again; I don’t fault the animators for re-using their character, but the huge, violent black character can walk a fine line, and unlike his previous appearance he’s not portrayed as a smooth talker.

For fans of the classic parody dub This is Otakudom, this episode is the source of the footage of the video rooms.

It’s interesting to note, and says something about the direction both the manga and anime have taken, that the past several episodes have been relatively Lum-light.  The last one that revolved directly around her was episode 66.  She instigated the events of the plot in episode 67, but wasn’t onscreen much; in episodes 69 and 71 she played a role but was sidelined from the main action, and 68 and 70 revolved primarily around other characters.  It’s good that the plots and cast have diversified to the point that Ataru and Lum’s relationship (or the Ataru/Lum/Shinobu) triangle don’t have to be the center of most of the plots.

Next episode: A conflict reveals an old secret between Cherry and Sakura!

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