The Urusei Yatsura Viewing Project, part 75: “And Then There Were None”

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Episode 75: “And Then There Were None”

Original airdate: July 6, 1983

Corresponding manga chapter: Original

Minor characters introduced: Boat captain, helicopter pilot, doctor, nurse

Summary: A scene of gears and clockworks is superimposed over a music box, which fades into a boat crossing a choppy sea.  In the red-lit interior, Ataru, Onsen-Mark and the Stormtroopers huddle together, while Lum calls out that she can see the island.  A car bears them through the rain and lightning, while a helicopter carries Cherry, Sakura, Shinobu and Mendou, and they meet in a clearing.  Ataru asks why he invited them, but Mendou says he was invited as well, and the pilot says he’ll see them in a week.  Mendou tries to ask him something, but he and the driver are already going.

Onsen-Mark points out the mansion, with its lightning-lit statues of Godzilla and Rodan.  The enter through the large front doors to hear a disembodied voice greeting them to the island.  There are ten rooms prepared, though as Chibi notes there are eleven of them.  Megane discovers the electric eye that turned on the lights and activated the tape; although Shinobu is starting to have misgivings, there are no other people on the island, and no way of leaving.  Lum volunteers to stay with Ataru, but over the protests of all the other males Sakura declares that the girls will stay with her.

They sit down to a sumptuous meal, at a table set with ten places.  Cherry, who is stuffing himself while sitting on a stack of books, speculates about who the eleventh guest might be.  The clock strikes eight, and a song begins playing.  The guests identify it as the song that played on the music box accompanying their invitations.  Onsen-Mark identifies the song as “Who Killed Cock Robin”.  Only Cherry continues eating, as lightning strikes outside

The next morning is clear, and birds rise from the trees as Sakura calls the others to the kitchen, to confront them with an empty refrigerator.  Three days’ worth of food is nowhere to be seen, and neither is Cherry.  His door is locked, and when he doesn’t respond, Lum blasts it open.  They rush in to find Cherry lying prone on the bed, surrounded by food.  Large, unchewed vegetables are shoved in his mouth, and he holds a handful of arrows in his hand.  Sakura checks on him, and declares him dead.  His body slides to the floor, and a music box falls out from under him, playing its tune.

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Who killed Cock Robin?
I, said the sparrow,

With my bow and arrow,
I killed Cock Robin.

Mendou and Ataru play billiards, while discussing the circumstances of Cherry’s death; since the door was locked, it must have been through overeating.  Sakura enters and says that he appears to have been poisoned; while it’s not certain that he stole the food, they have to consider the possibility that the refrigerator’s contents were poisoned all along.

Sakura demands that they gather the others, and Lum and Ataru go to look in the basement.  Ataru sees Perm sitting there holding a saucer, but he doesn’t respond to his name.  Something drips onto Ataru’s neck; he reaches back to check it, and finds his hand streaked with blood.  It’s Kakugari, blood dripping from his forehead, a shovel in his arms.  Ataru runs in panic, and stumbles across a pair of glasses.  Megane sits in the corner, blood running from his mouth.  His body falls onto Ataru, who tries to scramble away but stumbles across Chibi, lying on the ground with a large needle thrust into his neck.  Ataru’s eyes roll into his head, and he passes out.

The remaining guests sit in the drawing room, Sakura standing before the grandfather clock.  Ataru comes to with his head in Lum’s lap, and she confirms that there are four more dead.  Onsen-Mark says that they won’t be the last; the music box points to a series of deaths based on “Who Killed Cock Robin?”.  Mendou scoffs that it’ll be Agatha Christie next, but Onsen-Mark runs through the verses so far.

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Who saw him die?
I, said the Fly,

With my little eye,
I saw him die.

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Who caught his blood?
I, said the Fish,
With my little dish,
I caught his blood.

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Who’ll make his shroud?
I, said the Beetle,
With my thread and needle,
I’ll make his shroud.

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Who’ll dig his grave?
I, said the Owl,
With my spade and trowel,
I’ll dig his grave.

Onsen-Mark starts to go over the other verses, but Ataru is anxious to find a way out.  He asks Mendou for his communicator, but it’s been smashed.  Lum can’t summon her UFO from here.  As he starts to break down, Sakura marks two “X”s on the face of the clock in lipstick, saying that they need to survive the next five days.  They’ll check the island for the killer tomorrow, but Ataru is panicking over the idea that it might be one of them.

A book is flung out of a second-story window, and the characters rush to the site.  It lies at the foot of a tree, in whose branches Sakura is crucified, a green liquid running from her mouth.

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Who’ll be the parson?
I, said the Rook,
With my little book,
I’ll be the parson.

Incongruously light-hearted eyecatch!

On a log by a pond, Ataru sits with Lum.  He breaks apart a stick, and Lum begins to cry, protesting the senseless of their murders.  Ataru snaps that he doesn’t know why it happened, and, tears flowing freely, wreathed in lightning, Lum screams “I DON’T UNDERSTAND!”.  Mendou enters the clearing and asks to speak with Lum privately.  Ataru protests, but Mendou teases him for being afraid of being alone.  On his way out, Ataru encounters Shinobu, who asks where Mendou is.  On being told, she starts in that direction, but pauses to look over her shoulder at Ataru before hurrying off.

That night, Lum sits disconsolately in the drawing room while Ataru and Onsen-Mark methodically wolf down cup noodle.  Under its three “X”s, the clock strikes nine, and Onsen-Mark declares that it’s too late for the others to be out.  Ataru asks Lum to go check, but Onsen-Mark argues that it’s too dangerous for her to go out, and Ataru eventually gives in and agrees that they won’t go out until morning.

Seagulls gather around the lighthouse the next morning, and the remaining three look down on the bodies of Mendou and Shinobu.

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Who’ll bear the torch?
I, said the Linnet,
I’ll come in a minute,
I’ll bear the torch.

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Who’ll carry his coffin?
I, said the Kite,
If it be in the night,
I’ll carry his coffin.

Ataru doesn’t want to hear the recitation of the song, and screams that they should have looked last night, and now it’s too late.  Back at the mansion, Lum is off taking a bath, and Ataru asks Onsen-Mark what verses are left.  Two have been skipped (the Lark and the Dove), and the last verse doesn’t apply, so three remain for the three guests: the Wrens, the Thrush, and the Bull (or Bullfinch).  Four days are marked on the clock.

Onsen-Mark gets up to get more cigarettes, and Ataru looks up to see a spreading wet patch on the ceiling.  Running upstairs, he’s greeted by a wave of water.  He smashes open the door to the bathroom, to see Lum lying motionless under the bubbles.

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Who’ll bear the pall?
I, said the Wren,
Both the cock and the hen,
I’ll bear the pall.

Ataru collapses, pulling the shower curtain onto himself, and sobs that in the song the wrens both go together.  Onsen-Mark runs in and prevents Ataru from throwing himself into the tub.  Ataru runs out, falls down the stairs, and begins smashing windows while screaming at whoever’s responsible to come out.  Another chair goes out the window into the dark of night.

The next morning finds Ataru waking up, holding Lum’s hand as her body lies in a bed.  He hears music, and goes into Onsen-Mark’s room to find him with a pistol by his outstretched hand, his other hand clutched to his bloody chest, and sticks strewn over the bed.  A record plays on a gramophone.  He contemplates the scene, and says “Looks like I’m next.”

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Who’ll sing his dirge?
I, said the Thrush,
As I sing in the bush,
I’ll sing his dirge.

In the last remaining verse, the Bull says that he’ll pull the bell, and a bell is ringing in the lighthouse.  Ataru climbs the stairs, pistol in hand, to see a figure with his back to him, framed by the window.  Ataru points the pistol and says that he doesn’t care if he dies, but he’s taking the other one with him.  The figure laughs and says “I won’t kill you.  Because…” and turns to reveal his face.

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Ataru drops the pistol and pulls back as the true horror of the situation sinks in.

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Who’ll toll the Bell?
I, said the Bull,
Because I can pull,
I’ll toll the bell.

The scene fades to white, and back to a sunny day and the helicopter landing in the clearing.  The pilot walks through the smashed house, calling out to anyone who’s there.  He opens the door into the trashed remains of a bedroom, and finds the remains of Ataru.

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All the birds of the air
Fell to sighing and sobbing,
When the heard the bell toll
For poor Cock Robin.

.

.

.

The episode can’t end there, fortunately, and we cut back to the city and a man in a suit, who removes his glasses to polish them and says, “Really, this is an unimaginable offense against all common sense.” He asks to hear the story again, and we see that everyone but Ataru is in the room before him.  They say that it was an idea they cooked up as a group to prank Ataru, in a group of ten.  Lum came along unexpectedly, and we cut back to Mendou in the clearing, explaining that it’s a shock treatment to cure him of his lechery.  They kept him away from the bodies, except Lum, who took a drug to feign death.  Cherry went along with it because there was food involved.  The double at the end was Mendou, who has the misfortune to look like Ataru from behind, wearing a disguise and a mask.

The man, who’s now wearing a doctor’s coat, leads the group into the hallway in the hospital, saying that he has a clearer idea of the case.  Lum asks if Darling will be all right, and the doctor shakes his head, causing everyone spasms of guilt.  The door opens, and the doctor continues to shake his head at Ataru’s deranged behavior.

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Amidst general looks of disgust, Lum steps forward with a “Darling…!” and Ataru freezes, a drop of sweat running down his forehead as he realizes what’s coming.

Thoughts: I have mixed feelings about the direction the series takes around now, because we start to see more of a move toward serious episodes that, while often well-done, don’t fit the tone of the series up to this point.  I’ve noted a few episodes prior to this one where the new material isn’t especially humorous, and the episode with Shinobu and the hitmen was quite serious, but this one really stands out as completely different.

However, that said, this episode knows what it sets out to do and does it masterfully.  Whether I want the series to be creepy is a separate question, but I can’t deny that the mounting horror is indeed incredibly creepy.  Accordingly, I’ll save the broader discussion for the next serious episode, which is coming a few episodes later, and I’ve tried to reflect the tone and mood of the episode in the writeup.

A couple of notes: The “people on an island killed one by one” plot is of course from the Agatha Christie novel that gives us the episode title, And Then There Were None (it’s been released under multiple titles but this is the most polite one), so I’m glad that Mendou lampshades it early on.  The novel also has the “explain-how-everything-happened” postscript. Also, the way the Japanese title is written, it should rightly be translated as “And Then There Were None-tcha!?” but fortunately AnimEigo had more sense of mood than that.

The embedded song/video is from Greg Brown’s album Honey in the Lion’s Head, and it captures the inherent creepiness of the song better than any other version I’ve heard.  (Not everyone may think of it that way, but it’s always felt portentous to me, and this episode certainly didn’t help.)

Next episode: Ten’s mother arrives, and she’s a firefighter!

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