Episode 83: “Big Battle! Ten vs. Ataru”
Original airdate: September 7, 1983
Corresponding manga chapter: “The Injured Boy and the Missing Ten”, volume 17, chapter 2 (Japanese tankobon release)/overall chapter 170
Summary: Ataru and Ten eat breakfast as they watch a wrestling match between Beefbowl Man and SS-1 and SS-2. It ends in a draw as everyone catches fire, and Ataru takes the chance to wolf down his fourth bowl of food, capping it off by eating Ten’s. He puts on a pair of welder’s goggles as he does so, and when Ten launches his inevitable vengeance, Ataru blocks it with his frying pan, shoves a ball in Ten’s mouth, dribbles him outside, and lobs him over the horizon.
Ten rubs his backside as he contemplates why Ataru keeps beating him. Lum zips to school behind him; Ataru follows, but stops to poke Ten, taunt him, and finally hit him face-first into a wall. Ten swears vengeance, and we next see him in a school corridor, preparing to stretch a rope in the path of Ataru and his friends. Rather than Ataru tripping, though, he drags Ten across the floor, where the others step on him.
Out by the baseball backstop, Ten digs what appears to be a pit trap for Ataru. However, Ataru sees it and rakes the loose dirt into it, then summons Megane and co. to run an earth roller over it. After burning his way out, his next step is to trick out his Armored Potty Scooter and try to run Ataru over.
At the key moment, Ataru bends over to pick up a 10 yen coin, and Ten hurtles past him. Barely able to reach the controls, he tries to step on the brakes but hits the thrusters instead, launching himself into orbit.
Back on Earth, he dejectedly floats past Cherry, but refuses to tell him what’s wrong. Cherry pulls out a turtle, which outpaces Ten, and when Ten reaches him again (either Ten is flying in a circle or Cherry can teleport) Cherry calls him out for being slow and weak. His answer is for Ten to wear extremely heavy iron geta, which he can barely drag along the ground. This doesn’t help him in avoiding the Tomobiki boys jogging for gym class, who trample him for the second time that day. Ten calls them out, and tries to burn them while they’re all lined up, but they duck in time.
Ataru taunts Ten, and he’s just about to abandon the shoes and lay down some smack when the girls’ gym class shows up. When they ask what he’s doing, Ataru claims that Ten has sworn not to remove the shows until he’s strong. Everyone applauds and praises his dedication. When they leave, he looks stricken, and after dark he’s still struggling his way home. He’s 50 meters from home and about to abandon the shoes, but he hears Lum from above. He asks if she’s come to take him home, but she’s got something better: a strength training resistance harness!
She explains that this will train his entire body, not just his legs. Up in Ataru’s room, the clock flips to 9:00, and a loud, metallic thud rings out. Lum explains that it’s Ten coming up the stairs. The clock continues to tick over: 9:38, then 10:25, and Ten finally staggers in, exhausted. When Ataru asks what he’s doing, he snaps that he’s training to beat the hell out of Ataru. Ataru pegs him with a small stone shot out of his nose, which Ten can’t dodge. Ten crawls into the ceiling and madly plots revenge.
The next morning, Ataru wolfs his breakfast again, and Mrs. Moroboshi asks where Ten is. Ataru brags that Ten is upstairs nursing his pride, and if he comes back he’ll give him more of the same. Running to school, Ataru stops short when he sees something on the ground (a star mostly surrounded by a circle of pebbles) and Torajima the one-eyed cat on a nearby trash can. Torajima hands him an ultimatum, in which Ten asks him to meet at Cherry Heights. In the vacant lot, the two combatants face off, surrounded by an audience of cats. Ten wears a strange helmet, and welcomes Ataru to his doom.
He charges Ataru, who winds up with his frying pan and connects, sending Ten spiraling into the ground. However, his arm and body shake in pain, and he has to drop the badly bent frying pan. Ten’s helmet falls away to reveal a metal pot. He launches into the air, saying that he’s forced to resort to the one technique he didn’t want to use. We don’t see what happens, but we hear a scream that resounds for miles.
What we do see is Onsen-Mark writing some gibberish on the blackboard (“USE JUMP[cut off] BHLI”) and the class paying very little attention. Perm looks out the window and is dumbstruck by something he sees. The whole class crowds to the windows to see an unimaginable sight: Ataru with his arm in a huge cast.
No one can believe it, and they launch into a litany of all the damage that Ataru has shrugged off without a scratch, cockroach-like, from Lum’s lightning to Cherry’s extreme closeups. Lum flies out to check on him, and the boys turns oddly stylized as they march out to demand to know what’s going on. Ataru insists he’s fine, and refuses to go into it. He thinks to himself that he can’t tell everyone he was beaten by Jariten, but his internal monologue turns external, letting the cat out of the bag.
Lum announces that Ten is on her shitlist for hurting Darling, which seems to cause him another spasm, and flies off to find him. The rest of the class speculates that Ten’s going to get it (more spasms) and press Ataru for what caused it. He flashes back to Ten’s “sure-death technique”, which impresses everyone. Ataru curses his arm and waves it around like a mad thing, leading to still more spasms. He cradles it and asks what it’s trying to accomplish.
In class, Ataru tries to open his lunch one-handed, then to stab it with his chopsticks. Onsen-Mark stomps over and demands to know why he can’t be quiet, to which Ataru retorts that he can’t eat quietly with one hand. Onsen-Mark starts to accept that, then catches himself and snatches the lunch away. Ataru dives for it and goes down with another hand spasm. Onsen-Mark says he’s confiscating it, but Shinobu stands up and says that she thinks he’s going too far. Ataru tearfully thanks her for standing up for him, then launches himself at her. She dissuades him by hitting him with Onsen-Mark.
The boys in the class gather round, expressing their skepticism that someone with so much energy is really injured. They demand to see his hand, and even puppy-dog eyes won’t stop them. They have him pinned when Lum flies in, and suddenly everyone’s back in their seats again. She says that she can’t find Ten, but he tells her not to worry, since it’s just between the two of them. After a couple more spasms, Lum asks to see his injury, and pulls the sling away.
The dressing catches fire, and Ataru runs around the room in panic before dousing it in a fire bucket. Pulling it out, we see what’s going on; the rest of the class says it figures, since the idea of him being injured was unlikely.
Changes from the manga version: Most of the first half is original; after one page of Ataru abusing Ten and one of Ten launching his ultimate attack, it cuts to Ataru walking to school with the bandaged arm. Rather than Shinobu, it’s Sakura who sees to Ataru and at whom he flings himself; Lum flying off to find Ten and him explaining what happened takes place after that, and that leads to the denouement.
Thoughts: For an episode that’s more than half original, the animators have done an excellent job filling it in with material that has the right feel. Ataru’s abuse of Ten is obnoxious but not outside his earlier behavior, and the whole “training” sequence is very Takahashi in feel. (Ten is one of the characters the animators have always had a good handle on.) I’m also amused by Ataru licking his bandages like a dog.
However, the animation is seriously subpar in this episode. Ten in particular is off-model for pretty much every scene, with the lower part of his face squashed and stretched out like a duck’s bill. The students are generally on-model when they’re fronted by named characters, but the random background characters are random grotesques. It’s as though anything that wasn’t copied directly from the manga (and Ten isn’t on-panel for most of the chapter) is being drawn from someone’s vague memory, or is being distorted in ways that don’t fit the animation style.
The background shots of the class (middle row) feel like a throwback to the early first season. (The circular, crossed eyes look like they belong in Doraemon.) In that context they could be excused as the result of animators who hadn’t worked out how to draw original characters that resembled Takahashi’s style. After 83 episodes and a movie, it’s a lot harder to accept. I really hope that this is the result of the animators working on Beautiful Dreamer, because this is hard to take.
Next episode: Attack of the killer potatoes!