The Urusei Yatsura Viewing Project, the Movies, part 2a: Beautiful Dreamer, part 1

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Urusei Yatsura Movie 2: Beautiful Dreamer

A few notes before the fold:

  1. I don’t usually feel the need to say this, but for this movie I will: If you have not seen Beautiful Dreamer, I highly recommend you do so before reading this article.  I generally assume that my readership has either seen UY and/or isn’t overly concerned with spoilers, and normally that’s fine.  However, it’s really best to be unspoiled when seeing this film for the first time, as navigating the plot as it develops is an important part of the viewing experience.  Enter freely and of your own will…
  2. This movie has more subtleties than the average UY episode, and including important details without giving the game away will require a more discursive approach than the average episode writeup.  I’m not going to even attempt to cover it in a single entry.  There are some natural break points in the story, so it’ll probably be three or four parts (which is fair, since it’s four times longer than a TV episode).
  3. For reasons lost to the mists of the history of licensing, this movie was the only UY property released by U.S. Manga Corps/Central Park Media, rather than AnimEigo. (In a nice touch of class, AnimEigo left a space for it in their movie boxed set.) That’s why the subtitles are in a different style (and white), and there may be stylistic differences in the translation as well.

Premiere date: February 11, 1984

Corresponding manga chapter: Original

Summary: Seagulls wheel and turn in a blue sky, above the ruins of a city, where a tank rests by a body of water.  An unfamiliar figure looks out through binoculars, and a black-haired woman sunbathes in a bikini.  On the water, Lum and Ten, Kakugari and Chibi race on jetskis.  Perm and Megane sunbathe on the shore, and Ataru stands knee-deep in water, stunned.  We pull back to see what Ataru is staring at: the building in the middle of the lake, around which the seagull circle, is the ruins of Tomobiki High School, its clock cracked and handless…

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As the credit start, we see a different view of Tomobiki High.  It’s nighttime, and the school is a hive of frantic activity.  The student body, many of them in costume, are preparing the school for the ’84 School Festival.  Scaffolding surrounds the exterior, the inside is filled with students carrying props and equipment in every direction, and the school shop is serving Ramen Lite to dogs.  Classroom 2-4 is preparing their entry: the not-at-all-in-poor-taste Third Reich Decadent Coffee Shop.

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Perm questions whether anyone will visit them, and whether they should have gone with Ataru’s suggestion of a Hot Babes Cafe, but Megane won’t have Lum debasing herself to cater to someone’s strange tastes (meanwhile, Shinobu is sewing the pants of his Nazi uniform).  Onsen-Mark sticks his head in to ask when they’re going to be ready, since there’s a lot of work to do before the festival starts tomorrow.  Kakugari pops his head in as well to show off his sideburns, which give him a certain resemblance to Onsen-Mark.  The teacher in question isn’t amused, and demands to know where Ataru is.  His stomping around isn’t good for the state of the already precarious classroom, what with it holding a full-sized tank and all.

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Onsen-Mark objects to a tank being brought in without his permission, but as Mendou points out, he can’t really confiscate it.  The floor creaks alarmingly, and from within the tank comes the familiar voice of Ataru.  He declares his love of Ran, and then Ryoko, to Mendou’s alarm.  Onsen-Mark grabs the end of the barrel while Mendou climbs in the hatch, to find Ataru dreaming about pretty much every woman in the series who doesn’t appear in this film (except Benten, oddly).  Mendou, Ataru and Ryuunosuke tussle inside the turret, slamming into the controls and sending the barrel and Onsen-Mark out the window.  He struggles to keep his balance, while below Sakura tosses her hair in disdain and walks off.

A voice asks him what he’s doing: it’s Lum, who settles onto the barrel to watch him.  She says she’ll help him if he tells her where Darling is; when he says that Ataru’s in the tank, she peeks in through the barrel to see Ataru lunging at Ryuunosuke while Mendou is overwhelmed by his claustrophobia.  Lum gives Ataru until the count of three to desist, and when he (naturally) doesn’t, unleashes the Wrath of God down the barrel and into both Ataru and the tank in general.

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The tank’s body spins wildly, sending students flying everywhere and doing a number on the floorboards.  Cut to the worse-for-wear crew enduring a lengthy lecture in the principal’s office:

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Only Ataru notices the fragments falling from the ceiling.  Shinobu and Lum go to make tea, and are surprised to see Sakura there as well.  They explain that they’re out after the ten o’clock curfew for female students due to “an incident”, while Sakura has been busy taking care of construction-related injuries.  Shinobu complains that something like this happens every night and she’s tired of being away from home, but Lum says she enjoys it, since it’s like camping every night.  Shinobu adds that she’s only there to keep an eye on a certain someone who isn’t aware of what she’s doing.  She and Lum argue about Ataru and Mendou and their similar personality flaws.

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Shinobu adds that at least Mendou is good-looking.  Sakura is amused by the young folks, but becomes less amused when Shinobu points out that Tsubame’s main grace seems to be good looks as well.  Lum breaks in to say that she loves Darling, and wants to stay with him, their families, and their friends, forever.  Shinobu points out that they’re pretty much in that situation now, and Lum agrees, and that’s why she’s so happy.  This irritates Shinobu, but Sakura encourages her to hang in there, since tonight’s the last night before the festival.

Outside the school, Ataru hops into a car with Mendou, and asks if he’s still angry.  Of course Mendou is, since Ataru led to him being electrocuted, the tank’s electronics fried, and the cafe ruined, and being drawn into Ataru’s pervy dream isn’t helping.  Leaning out of the car, Ataru muses that they’ve been spending a lot of nights at school and only leaving to get food, but he doesn’t remember the town being that empty at night.  His train of thought is interrupted by a passing truck full of nude female mannequins, and they travel in silence until the car stops at a crosswalk.

The silence is broken by music…

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played by a pair of faceless musicians…

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…accompanied by another faceless figure throwing out sale fliers, and a little girl in a sundress and a hat.

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When they pass, the car speeds off, and the pair look back in confusion as the group fades into the distance.

To be continued…

Thoughts: There’s not a lot to say at this point without giving the game away.  I can say, however, that the animation is simply gorgeous: it’s detailed and fluid, but without sacrificing the integrity of the character designs.  The scenes of chaos in the school in particular cry out for the use of the pause button.

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I also enjoyed the conversation between Lum, Shinobu and Sakura (even if it was a Bechdel test auto-fail), since it’s the sort of leisurely talk the characters don’t usually have time for in a TV episode.  It’s also nice to raise the question of what Lum sees in Ataru, even though she doesn’t really answer, and Shinobu does admit that he’s essentially good-natured.

Next: Is more going on than meets the eye?

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