The Urusei Yatsura Viewing Project, part 92: “Bizarre! The Medicine of Selflessness!”

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Episode 92: “Bizarre! The Medicine of Selflessness!”

Original airdate: December 7, 1983

Corresponding manga chapter: “The Disembodiment Potion!!”, volume 18, chapter 2 (Japanese tankobon release)/overall chapter 181

Minor characters introduced: Akina, Seiko and other friends of Lum’s

Summary: We pan over an assortment of alchemical supplies, books, and a pot bubbling on a fire, while nearby Cherry stirs something in a bowl.  The pot turns out to be his dinner, but he explains to Sakura that the rest of it is to create the “medicine of selflessness”, which will purge the body of its Earthly desires.  Sakura scoffs at him when he pours it into a taiyaki pan, but doesn’t rise to the bait when he tries to get her to eat it.

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(What diet?  We’ve seen this woman eat a whole ox without filling up; the impact of one pastry will be minimal.) She’s smart enough to know that he wants her to be his test subject and throws him out.

Walking home, Cherry spies Kotatsu-neko, and realizes that there’s always animal testing.  He hands over the taiyaki, but to his annoyance the cat examines it and puts it on his head but doesn’t eat it.  Kotatsu-neko breaks it in half just as Ataru walks by, and gives him half, which he immediately swallows.  Cherry realizes that Ataru is the ideal test subject, being roughly 99% Earthly desire, and watches eagerly.  Ataru goes into an odd set of spasms, then lies down and falls asleep.  Cherry assumes it’s a failure and walks off, while Kotatsu-neko tosses away the other half of the taiyaki and carries Ataru home on his back.

At the Moroboshi home that evening, Ataru is still asleep, and his parents take the opportunity to get extra-large helpings of sukiyaki.  Upstairs, Ataru sleeps on his futon as Kotatsu-neko watches, until he suddenly blurs, and a translucent version of himself floats out of his body.

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He concludes he must be dreaming, and since it’s his dream he can do anything, which he demonstrates by flying out the window and over Tokyo.  Meanwhile, Lum sits on top of her UFO, complaining that she wanted to watch the moon with Ataru but he’s asleep.  That’s until she sees Ataru run in front of the moon, and flies up to embrace him.  He doesn’t want her spoiling his fun, and tries to banish her.  It turns out that lightning trumps a pointed finger, and he disappears.

In her shrine home, Sakura teases Cherry about messing up, insisting that no potion could do what he wanted.  Ataru floats by what turns out to be the window of her bathroom, and his attention is instantly riveted as she starts to undress.  However, she senses something “appalling,” and he has to float out of sight to avoid her gaze.  She walks into the next room to the bath, and Ataru, not wanting to miss a unique opportunity, follows.

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She yells, Cherry runs in to see what the matter is, and a lot of items get thrown around the room.  High in the sky, Ataru nurses the bump on his head, then thinks about where to go next.  Since he’s wet from the bath, he wants to go somewhere dry so he won’t catch a cold.

In Shinobu’s bedroom, she changes into her pajamas, says her prayers, and slips into bed.  Ataru slips through the curtains and joins her.  She instantly notices and freaks out, and pounds on Ataru while he tries to assure her that it’s just a dream.  Her parents run in, and she explains she saw Ataru; she’s pretty sure it wasn’t a dream, and her bed is inexplicably damp.

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In Ataru’s room, everyone gathers around his sleeping form to try to figure out what’s going on.  Mrs. Moroboshi insists that he’s fine, just asleep, although as Sakura notes it’s very unusual for him to skip food in favor of sleep.  His mother tries to wake him up, but not even the promise of sukiyaki will stir him.  Cherry suggests that perhaps the potion actually worked: Ataru’s body, freed from Earthly desires, sleeps, while his Earthly desires wander the world (although I’d expect Ataru’s Earthly desires to be about the size of Godzilla).

Ataru himself pops in to say hello, and Sakura instantly begins an exorcism.  Cherry points out that if Ataru can be purged of his desires, he’ll become a normal person, and cheered by the possibility of seeing her dream come true, Mrs. Moroboshi and her husband join in.  Collectively, they drive Ataru’s spirit out of the room.  Before they can relax, Cherry points out that he could return, and proposes that they prepare the means to trap him, then stand vigil (with food) until he returns.

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Floating in front of the moon, Ataru grouses about the bother of trying to be good, and vows to use his newfound freedom to fulfill his humanity, in the form of going off to look in on Ryuunosuke.  Before he can go, however, Lum catches up with him, happy that he can fly and is thus becoming more like her.  He grumbles that he’s still himself, but that he’s coming to hate humans.  Lum takes this as a promising sign, and suggests that they resume their moon-watching party, but flying this time.

Soon they’re hovering in front of the moon, snacks and decorations floating next to them.  After some silence, Lum suggests that now that Ataru is “one of us”, she should invite her flying friends over for a party.  Ataru grumbles that they’ll probably be a bunch of weirdos, but she says that on the contrary, there’ll be a lot of beauties among them.  He imagines a group of beautiful flying women (including Supergirl and Kyoko from Maison Ikkoku), and agrees.  Lum flies off, and when she’s gone, he launches into a rhapsodic dance, happy to give up Earth in exchange for all the women in the universe.

Soon the party begins, although the guests aren’t exactly what Ataru envisioned.

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Lum tells him that he has special permission to flirt, since that’ll help break his ties to the Earth, and that he just has to look to find the beauties.  They launch into a big American-style party, and Lum shoves a highly resistant Ataru onto the dance floor, where he’s passed around and flirted at by the various alien women.  He ends up stuck in the middle of an alien scrum, and manages to crawl out to Lum, who congratulates him on finding the beauty.  He announces that he can’t trust anyone and the party is over.  Everyone except Lum vanishes, and Ataru, floating somewhere else above Tokyo, decides that he might as well go home.

Returning home, he sees that a torii gate has been erected outside his house.  He slips into his room, where everyone is sitting around his body and meditating.  Turning around, he slips back into the room through the floor and tries to merge with his body.  However, Cherry sounds the alarm, and Sakura tells everyone to pray while she wraps Ataru’s spirit up in spirit rope and expels him through the window again.  Everyone cheers as his spirit vanishes into the night sky.

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The next morning, Mrs. Moroboshi tries to wake Ataru’s body.  On the way to school, Sakura is appalled to see Lum towing Ataru behind her, holding the spirit rope like the string of a kite.

Changes from the manga version: The entire scene with Lum between the start and end of the exorcism is original to the anime.

Thoughts: This episode feels like a throwback to earlier seasons, although not in a bad way; it’s fun but inconsequential.  The basic plot is driven by an externality rather than character, and is a logical extension of what would happen once Ataru can astrally project.  In the anime version, his Earthly desire form has a physical reality that seems a bit out of place, and isn’t supported by the manga story (his only interaction with the material there is transferring water from Sakura’s bath to Shinobu’s bed, and Lum doesn’t electrocute him–he just banishes himself while trying to banish Lum).

The original material is also a throwback in the sense that it’s a bit out of place in the rest of the story–the seams where it was stitched in are really obvious–and both the classic forms of filler appear (travel and dancing).  Having him interact more with Lum isn’t unreasonable by itself, but her desire to get him to renounce Earth and become an alien doesn’t really fit with her motives at this point in the series. (If she wanted to get him off Earth to keep him away from Shinobu, that would be believable but also a complete throwback to first season.) The crowd of random real weirdies is another classic we haven’t seen in a while.

Next episode: Mendou tries to defeat Ataru!

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