The Urusei Yatsura Viewing Project, part 87: “Wow! The Mysterious Matsutake Mushroom Soup!”

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Episode 87: “Wow!  The Mysterious Matsutake Mushroom Soup!”

Original airdate: October 26, 1983

Corresponding manga chapter: “Autumn of…Matsutake”, volume 16, chapter 1 (Japanese tankobon release)/overall chapter 158

Summary: On a sunny autumn day at Tomobiki High, Onsen-Mark walks the aisles of classroom 2-4 and reads gibberish in English. (“Ten made to be…full in care…car was to become…”) He stops when he looks down at Ataru’s school bag, which contains an enormous daikon radish.  Demanding to know what he’s doing with it, he gets obvious answers (“Eat it, of course”) and calls inspection on the other students, leading to a huge pile of vegetables and other ingredients.

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He recognizes the ingredients of nabemono (basically a soup with a wide variety of ingredients, cooked at the table) but before he can do anything, Megane clobbers him from behind and he’s tied up.  Ataru suggests that if they cook and eat now, the other teachers won’t be able to interfere.  Reaching for the pot, he’s startled to find Cherry nestled among the ingredients (although he really should have seen that coming).  The students make it clear that he’s not welcome, but he produces a basket of items that might change their minds.

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Matsutake!  Everyone gathers around in awe; as the screen notes, at the time a single matsutake could cost as much as 10,000 yen ($43).  Everyone launches into reveries about the last time they had matsutake (years ago) and how amazed they are to see this glorious day, in the springtimes of their youths and all that.  Lum asks Cherry if matsutake are all that great, and he thinks to himself that, well, at least they taste and smell like matsutake.  Standing apart from the throng, Mendou pities the commoner, while the girls get to chopping.  Soon, the nabemono is bubbling away, and as the mushrooms are added the smell becomes divine.  The girls surrounding the pot have an odd reaction to it, though: they pass out.

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Despite Mendou’s assertion that something is fishy (shroomy?), the boys gather around and dig in.  Mendou refuses to partake until Lum vouches for it and offers him a mushroom; as he bites for it, she pulls it back and Cherry gives him one instead.  (Er, a mushroom, that it.) Elsewhere, Ryuunosuke relates to Shinobu her childhood encounter with a matsutake, when her father valiantly protected her from the evil mushroom.  The memory makes her angry enough to break a desk in half, but Shinobu encourages her to take her chance now.

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She eats, and experiences what appears to be her first-ever moment of orgasmic bliss.  Ataru and Perm congratulate Cherry and ask him where he got the mushrooms.  Cherry says he grew them.  Megane insists that you can’t just grow matsutake, and Cherry reflects, “Who said anything about matsutake?”

Abruptly, Mendou gets up, his face in an odd expression, and signals for the attention of the class.

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  • 1. Shutaro Mendou: enters a locker.  Result: He freaks out, and the class goes wild. (They all have the same strange lines under their eyes that Mendou does, and applaud after most of these.)
  • 2. Megane: takes off his glasses.  Result: we see how tiny his eyes are.
  • 3. Ataru Moroboshi: eats matsutake.  Result: he gulps down his plate.

Onsen-Mark has freed himself and starts eating.

  • 4. Onsen-Mark: is unable to get anywhere because the entire class throws desks at him.
  • 5. Ataru Moroboshi: eats matsutake.
  • 6. Ryuunosuke Fujinami: announces she’ll wear a sailor suit.

She gets as far as taking off her jacket and shirt, to the general appreciation of the boys.  As she starts to take off her pants, her father appears and protects her against the evil mushroom by wolfing directly out of the bowl, until Megane knocks him away.

  • 7. Shinobu Mitake: throws some desks.  She shouts “Men disgust me!” and chucks a stack of about ten desks at the boys.
  • 8. Ataru Moroboshi: eats matsutake.
  • 9. Kakugari: makes Chibi cry by repeatedly punching him.  Result: Chibi bawls.
  • 10. Chibi: Makes Kakugari make him cry by repeatedly hitting Kakugari’s fist with his face.

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Lum pulls him away, and the class chants for her to do something.

  • 11. Lum: flies around the (oddly high) ceiling.
  • 12. Shinobu Miyake: attempts to fly by jumping off a stack of desk.  Result: crashes through the floorboards.
  • 13. Mr. Fujinami: announces that he hates the sea.
  • 14. Megane: announces that he’ll dislocate his jaw.  Perm calls him out for a lousy performance, and is about to start his own stunt when:
  • 15. Ataru Moroboshi: eats matsutake gets kicked offscreen by Perm.
  • 15. Perm: smells his own socks (while still on his feet).
  • 15a: Eyecatch.

Two teachers track the smell of cooking to classroom 2-4, where they see:

  • 43. Perm: pops his zits.

The teachers approach Cherry and say they’d like to join the party, pulling out a packet of meat as their contribution.  He tucks it away and tries to leave, but is blocked by the principal, who sets off a string of meat-related puns.

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The principal backs him into the room, but Cherry distracts him by producing five duplicates of himself and circling around the principal.  Lum tells the principal that anyone putting on an act needs to announce his name and number.

  • 44. The principal: the Ninja Clone-Probing Technique. Result: he puts on a black suit and stops Cherry in his tracks by flinging a compass at his feet.
  • 45. Onsen-Mark: crawls out from under the desks but is buried again as soon as he announces his number.
  • 46. Teachers A and B (and the principal): collapse.

The applause dies down, and Megane becomes anxious.

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Perm tries to calm him down, and Cherry reflects that he was right not to eat the mushrooms.  His withdrawal symptoms grow worse, though, and as Chibi joins him Lum realizes that this addiction must be a side effect.

  • 1. 46. Shutaro Mendou: enters a locker. (The AnimEigo notes say “Careful viewers will notice one of the most commons ways of saving expenses and time during production of anime, the repeated use of footage.” I assume the “careful viewers” bit is sarcasm, because it’s not subtle.) Result: the rest of the class buzzes him for repetition.
  • 47. Shutaro Mendou: puts a bucket on his head and freaks out.
  • 48. Shutaro Mendou: pulls his clothes over his head and freaks out.

Lum realizes that they can’t keep this up indefinitely, and flies out.

  • 49. Onsen-Mark: has a door smashed over his head by Shinobu as soon as he announces his number.

Lum returns hauling Sakura behind her, sits her down by the pot, and flies out again.  She looks at the pot, up at the class, and back at the pot again.  She takes a mushroom in her chopsticks, and Ataru and Mendou, who by now are badly off-model, insist that she must try it.

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Cherry gives her a shifty look, and she swaps it for another bit of vegetable instead.  Ataru is appalled that she isn’t eating mushroom, and buries his head in her bosom while begging her to perform.  She knocks him away, and he jumps to his feet:

  • 50. Ataru Moroboshi: was babied by Sakura.

Lum brings in Mrs. Moroboshi, who reflects that she hasn’t had matsutake since her wedding and begins eating wildly, and Mr. Moroboshi.

  • 53. Mrs. Moroboshi: cleans the floor (student-style, by putting the sponge on the floor and running back and forth).

Mr. Moroboshi looks over to see Otama, who is searching the pot for oysters.

  • 54. Mr. Moroboshi: reads the newspaper (while holding his arm up like he’s holding onto a strap on the train).
  • 55. Otama: shows her legs.

Tsubame appears, and eats a mushroom before Sakura can stop him.  She does her best to retrieve it.

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Ryoko appears on her pantomime horse.

  • 57. Ataru: announces he’ll do “something” to Ryoko but is blasted by Lum before he can specify.
  • 58. Tsubame Ozuno: holds a wedding with Sakura.
  • 59. Megane: will be the minister.

They march down the aisle, with Sakura suddenly in a wedding dress (well, Tsubame is a magician). Tsubame says “I do” and they kiss, him slipping her a mushroom in the process.

  • 60. Ryoko Mendou: will make her brother cry.

The sky turns red as evening draws on.

  • 679. Chibi: parts his hair.
  • 680. Megane: wipes his glasses. (The class is still applauding uproariously at these.)

Cherry walks away from the school.

  • 681. Ataru Moroboshi: eats matsutake.

He reflects that, as he suspected, the mushroom was dangerous, and he’s really, really glad he didn’t have any.

  • 682. Sakura: exorcises.

And as he walks into the sunset, the parade of repeated footage continues indefinitely…

  • 683. Ataru Moroboshi: throws matsutake.  Result: Cherry gets hit on the head by a giant mushroom.

Changes from the manga version: The manga story is much less drawn out.  It’s the same until Mr. Fujinami appears, but with fewer acts; then the teachers appear and give Cherry the meat, and he leaves while the hijinks in the classroom continue.

Thoughts: This episode an interesting treatment of the manga story, in that it takes the weaknesses of the recent episodes and runs with them.  The characters’ features being distorted by the mushrooms (which is in the manga, at least to the extent of the lines under the eyes) helps cover some of the sloppy animation, and the setup of the compulsion to do acts (and the addiction to seeing them) justifies padding through the use of re-used animation.  As a result, I can’t quite ding the episode for those issues the way I would under other circumstances.

I do appreciate some of the ways in which the episode is extended, since it goes in a lot of directions that aren’t in the manga.  The low-key nature of the acts is very Takahashi-esque, and bits like the wedding are entertainingly weird.  It also stays humorous the whole way through rather than trying to get serious, and even has a punchline (such as it is).  It’s nowhere near the heights the series can achieve, but it doesn’t hit some the pitfalls it’s been falling into lately, either.

Next episode: Ten destroys the scarf Lum made for Ataru!

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