The Urusei Yatsura Viewing Project, part 105: “Scramble! Rescue Lum!”

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Episode 105: “Scramble! Rescue Lum!”

Original airdate: March 21, 1984

Corresponding manga chapter: Original

Summary: It’s a clear night, and Kotatsu Neko and the Dappya alien are staggering home from a night on the town when the stillness is broken by the familiar cry of “DARLING NO BAKA” and an eruption of lightning that hits a streetlamp, causing a cascade that shuts down all the lights in the neighborhood.  She flies out of Ataru’s bedroom in a huff, and inside, Ataru demands to know what Ten told her that made her so mad–even though he hit on a bunch of women on the way home, none of them accepted, so that shouldn’t be enough to set her off.  He doesn’t get an answer, though, as his parents call him down to apologize to the whole neighborhood.

In her UFO, Lum stews about how she gives Darling her all, but he still goes after Earth girls. (Rumor has it they’re easy, apparently.) She decides to sleep on it, but on the way she sees a warning light on her control console.

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It seems to me that the Dimensional Stabilizer in a UFO is like the oil light in your car–you want to take care of it as soon as possible–but Lum just taps it until it turns green, then summons her sleep capsule out of the floor.  After she lies down and closes her eyes, the warning light turns yellow, then red, then half the lights on the console start blinking red as well.

Down on the Mendou estate, Ryoko, Mendou (Shutaro), and their father are kneeling around a “medicine” Ryoko has just finished making.  A goon (or Perm in his old pointy sunglasses?) appears and summons Mendou, but when Ryoko cries that he doesn’t like it, he consumes it before leaving.  He goes to Mendou Family Mission Control, where they tell him that a large, unknown object is rapidly approaching.  A flight of reconnaissance planes try to catch a glimpse of it, but are unable to before it crashes, leaving a smoking crater.

Back in Ataru’s room, he’s sitting at open sliding door watching the stars (annoying Ten, who isn’t wearing a shirt and is getting cold).  Ten gives up and goes to sleep in Lum’s UFO, knocking Ataru over on the way.  He stops to look back, but Ataru yells at him to go, and with a “well fine then” Ten is gone.  Ataru is regretful.

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Mendou has erected a tent at the edge of the crater, and is trying to chart it on a topographic map, but his goon isn’t being much help.  He gets a call that something is emerging from the object, and plunges into the crater (it’s pretty steep) in time to see a group of his men carrying Lum’s sleeping capsule out of her UFO.  Mendou smashes the glass open with his elbow, and after determining that she’s alive, calls out for medical help.

Ataru has fallen asleep in the doorway, but wakes up when he sees a flying form approaching.  However, it’s Ten, who shouts “It’s bad!” before hurtling past Ataru and burying himself in the wall.  He tells Ataru that the UFO is gone, and while engaging in light physical abuse establish that Lum wouldn’t have left without telling Ten.  Ataru insists that Ten try contacting her with his communications equipment, and over Ten’s protests grabs him and races off on his bike.

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Ten is unable to raise Lum from inside his potty UFO.  Ataru grabs the microphone just as a kuroko appears onscreen.  He tells them that Lum isn’t home, and signs out.  Ten concludes that Mendou must have Lum at the complex.

Inside the medical center, a doctor tells Mendou that Lum is largely unhurt and beginning to wake up.  Mendou enters the room, where Lum is wearing a white dress and surrounded by flowers.  There’s just one catch…

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She’s lost her memory!

In school the next day, the Stormtroopers demand that Ataru tell them why Lum is absent, but Ataru insists he doesn’t know.  Mendou is packing up to leave early, telling Shinobu that it’s for a business obligation.  Before he can leave, Ataru says he has something to tell him.  Megane senses something up, and sends Chibi after them, but Ataru catches him and sends him back with a warning that it’s none of their business.  As it begins to rain, Ataru confirms that Lum is at Mendou’s house.  Mendou says she doesn’t want to come back, and tells Ataru that he should confirm it for himself…if he’s willing to go through the family’s private army, that is.

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In the infirmary, Ten finishes telling Sakura about why Ataru and Lum’s relationship is over.  He says he hasn’t told anyone, but since there was a student in the back of the room the whole time it probably doesn’t matter.  In classroom 2-4, the students are abuzz with the rumors.  Ryuunosuke asks why everyone’s gossiping, but Shinobu’s unable to make it clear.  Perm starts to tell Megane what he’s heard, but Megane’s already heard it.  When he hears that the source of the rumor is Ten, he gets an idea.

The idea takes the form of hauling Ataru up to the bell tower (he calls them out on the unoriginality of their approach).  Ataru continues to insist that it’s nobody’s business but his and Mendou’s.  Megane gives his manifesto: Lum chose wrong back then, but stuck with it until now, when she’s left him  They can’t accept Ataru’s lackadaisical attitude, and are determined to stop Lum from making another mistake by hooking up with Mendou.  Megane cries out that they’ll charge the Mendou mansion tonight! (to the surprise of everyone else), but Ataru still isn’t interested.

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The Stormtroopers go to build their strength by eating BeefBowl, but Perm is too worried to eat, since they’re going up against a sword-wielding opponent and he’s unsure if it’s worth it.  Megane bawls them out for allowing their ardor to wane, and declares that he’ll go on his own if necessary.  The others leave, saying their farewells and also sticking Megane with the bill.

Ataru sits alone in the dark in his bedroom.  Opening his closet, he finds a ball of yarn and an unfinished sweater, and concludes that she wouldn’t have gone to be with Mendou while leaving the sweater unfinished.  Meanwhile, in some sort of greenhouse building, Mendou watches Lum walk down a flight of stairs with a slightly chagrined expression.  He reassures her it’s all right, and asks how she’s doing.  She’s glad she can see the stars, as she has a confused sense of yearning but no memory of why.

In his bedroom, Megane finishes writing his will (with an old-fashioned brush) and pulls a box with a helmet and pads from his closet.  The text of his letter plays as a voiceover: it’s an apology to his parents for stupidly getting himself killed, and thanks for the day’s meals.  Cut to an armor-clad figure walks down the nighttime streets, as he’s joined by the other three Stormtroopers.  Megane goes over his strategy (basically, confusing them by going in the front door), but they’re cut off by Ataru popping his head over the wall.

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He explains that he knew they’d be dumb enough to go to the front door and waited for the there.  Megane asks how he intends to fight, and he shows them a toy pistol–but as a toy of Ten’s, it’s more powerful than any Earth weapon.  They take cover behind a pipe and take sight on their target: the gates of the Mendou complex.

To be continued…

Thoughts: This is the first part of the last story of this season, and thus of the last story directed by Mamoru Oshii.  The marks of his tenure on the show are all over it: heavy emphasis on the Stormtroopers, and a story that places drama over humor.

I find the fraughtness of the tone to be odd.  Mendou is being unusually stuck-up and dishonest by not telling Ataru the truth, and doesn’t seem all that bothered by it.  Likewise, the assumption of the Stormtroopers that their classmate will kill them with his sword really seems out of place, when we’ve seen Ataru single-handedly storm the estate to reach Ryoko.  The next episode preview makes it look zanier, but that’s not this episode’s tone.  While there are a few jokes, it’s still oddly grim.

Next episode: Storming the Mendou complex!

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