Episode 101: “Top Secret Pool Party Peeping Plan!”
Original airdate: February 22, 1984
Corresponding manga chapter: Original
Summary: We open on Ataru surreptitiously opening his shoe locker at school and pulling out a set of bathing supplies. As he walks the mean streets of Tomobiki, he thinks back on the ten years since his family moved there, and how he’s come to know the neighborhood. And yet there are still surprises, such as the old-fashioned sento he now stands in front of.
After he enters, the Stormtroopers appear from hiding and discuss the situation. They agree that something must be up, and Megane dispenses Chibi to buy four sento kits.
Inside, the old woman in charge collects ¥240 (about $1) and mentions that there’s a party on the women’s side that day. Ataru is pleased that his suspicions were confirmed, and soon his clothes drop into a basket and he steps, towel-clad, into the apparently empty men’s bath.
I say “apparently” because Ataru gets a nasty shock when he approaches the bath and the head of Cherry emerges. Cherry offers to wash Ataru’s back, but Ataru orders him to stay in place in order to preserve his innocent eyes. Ataru hops up, then cranes his neck toward the cold water tub (the stone vessel on the left of the image). Cherry tells him that he can’t see through there, but that won’t stop Ataru, who climbs in and confirms that he can crawl to the other side. On his return, Cherry points out that if he can see the women, they can see him. Ataru discovers that when the water level goes down, he can see the other side through the crack, and gleefully empties a few scoops of cold water into the bath before sitting down to wait for someone to arrive.
The first arrival comes on the men’s side, not the women, as the Stormtroopers enter, also towel-clad. While they beard Ataru about what he’s up to, a black vehicle pulls up and six sunglasséd men step out to attend Mendou. Inside, the guys have formed a line for back washing. Ataru gets up, and Megane asks him to stay and include them in whatever’s going on, but Ataru claims that he’s just waxing nostalgic for bathhouses and the others should by all means leave.
They’re cut off by the entry of Mendou and two of his thugs, who head straight to the tub and begin pouring water on him. Ataru confronts Mendou about why he’s there, but Mendou’s refusal to answer soon turns the conversation into a water fight. During their tussle, Mendou holds Ataru’s head underwater, and he sees that their bath is separated from the women’s by a row of wooden bars.
Ataru breaks free, and Mendou tells him why he came: Ryoko was having a party there, and he came to, ah, keep an eye on things. Ataru asks if Ryoko will be there “too”, thus confirming Mendou’s darkest suspicions. The Stormtroopers ask who else is coming, but their question is answered by voices from the women’s side: Lum, Oyuki, Sakura, Shinobu, and Ryuunosuke (also Ran and Benten, apparently). Ataru weeps tears of joy as they announce that they’re having a hot tub party.
The other side of the eyecatch sees all the young guys lined up against the wall, contemplating the glories on the other side. Ataru shushes Megane when he gets too excited, and admits that he heard Lum talking about the party , but didn’t realize how many of the girls would be there. He starts to cackle; Megane and Mendou silence him, but a bit too late, as Lum says that she thought she heard Darling’s voice, to the other women’s alarm. The women mention adding some water to cool the bath, and the boys spring into action.
All they can see is a hand, so Ataru begins draining the water. Angling themselves, they manage to catch a brief glimpse of Shinobu, down to her bare shoulders. Ataru jumps into the bath (Mendou takes his place), which Megane chalks up to frustration, but is actually an attempt to see to the other side through the bars. All he can make out are a couple of feminine silhouettes, and he starts to tear his hair out until inspiration strikes. He runs out to the entryway, buys a bottle of milk, gulps it down, and returns to the bath, using it as a spyglass.
Over on the other end of the bath, Mendou’s thugs have been getting blitzed on sake with Cherry. Mendou comes over to chew them out for drinking on duty. One of them stands up for himself by saying that he’s not on duty while in the bath; he’s then overcome with love and grabs Mendou to give him a huge smooch. A Dappya alien apologizes for the previous scene, and Mendou frantically cleanses himself in the bath.
The Stormtroopers, still grouped around the cold water tub, catch a glimpse of Oyuki, who senses them watching and informs the others. Cherry reminds them that if you can see them, they can see you. Mendou asks one of his bodyguards for his multitool, but he throws it into the tub instead, and when Mendou tries to grab it the women see him and realize that someone’s a-peepin’. Benten’s suggestion of tying the peeper to her motorcycle and dragging him around town meets with general approval.
Undaunted, Ataru returns with a second milk bottle, but it’s still too blurry. Megane sees this and submerges to take a look himself, surfacing with a stunned expression. Meanwhile, Mendou is using his multitool to dig a groove in the wall. Ataru comes over and tries to force his help, but breaks the blade instead. Ataru’s insistence that it was an accident inspires a vision in Mendou: if he can “accidentally” fall over the wall, he can blame it on Ataru, and they’ll take pity on him.
While he’s overcome by this reverie, Ataru uses the broken multitool to saw through one of the bars in the bath, Megane by his side. Coming out of it, Mendou asks one of his thugs to throw him, but doesn’t specify where and gets pitched into the floor instead. The next throw shoots him through the roof, while the women comment that they seem to be having fun.
In the bath, Ataru is overcome by staying in the hot water too long, and Megane hurries to take his place. He saws through one of the bars and tries to squeeze through the gap, but gets stuck instead. He floats to the surface as a group of kuroko carries Mendou back in, and everyone sees Ataru trying to climb over the divider. The others smack him down, not wanting him to give the game away, but he’s unswayed. He doesn’t want anyone to see Lum, while Mendou doesn’t want him to see Ryoko, and no one wants anyone else to see if they can’t, so it soon devolves into a general brawl, its broadcast suitability preserved by the kuroko.
Finally they all fall against the wall, which tips over, and reveals the girls in all of their glory:
Thoughts: “There sure is a lot of skin in this episode!” “There sure is!” This episode cracks me up. Bath peeping episodes are a staple of a certain type of anime, and if done well can go entertainingly over-the-top (the one in Full Metal Panic Fumoffu is hilarious as well). The behavior exhibited isn’t terribly admirable, but the peepers tend to get the worst of it (both because frustration is funny and because if they succeed the episode doesn’t have anywhere to go).
This episode and the previous one have both been anime-original humor episodes driven by a simple situation compounded by the characters’ natures, but this one works much better for me because the situation is much more believable and the wider range of characters leads to the plot going in more and wilder directions. It’s a bit of a slow starter, but builds nicely to a very Takahashiesque anticlimax. The kuroko providing modesty dots is an inspired touch; this joke reappears in Patlabor, taken to the next level. (On the down side, I could have done without the joke about the guard kissing Mendou, but fortunately it passes quickly.)
It’s interesting to compare this episode to the manga-based bath house story in episode 53. The lack of any new characters or a paranormal gimmick is more typical of the animators, while the earlier episode is full of random aliens (though none of consequence). The integral role for the Stormtroopers is also typical of the animators, while Takahashi used Ten instead. The earlier episode is also more revealing of the women, but the joke doesn’t hinge on it there.
Next: A drug creates a duplicate of Sakura as a child!