The Urusei Yatsura Viewing Project, part 107: “Parallel Worlds! Where’s Darling?!”

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Episode 107: “Parallel Worlds! Where’s Darling?!”

Original airdate: April 11, 1984

Corresponding manga chapter: Original

Minor characters introduced: Alternate universe versions of the cast

Summary: First off, new season, new theme song, (“Pajama Jama Da!”), new, very 1980’s opening, and even a new title card!

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It’s cherry blossom season, and the students of class 2-4 are partying raucously.  Lum clings to Ataru’s arm nervously, enigmatically speculating that this may not be her home dimension.  Ataru shakes her off and goes to break off a cherry tree branch.  Lum warns him that he could throw off the dimensional balance.  He scoffs, but sure enough the branch is no sooner broken than the world goes dark, a storm of petals appears, and when it clears she’s surrounded by a bunch of costumed weirdos, but no Darling.

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Elsewhere, the Stormtroopers re-enact a Godzilla plot, with Kakugari and Chibi in the role of the tiny Mothra women.  An angry Onsen-Mark steps up to yell at them, and seeing their flushed faces (and Megane apparently wearing lipstick), demands to know if they’re drunk.  Megane demonstrates that they’re only drinking Coke, and accuses Onsen-Mark of ruining their celebration of a grand Japanese tradition.  They jump him, ripping his clothes off in the scuffle.

Elsewhere, Mendou and Shinobu walk apart from the crowd.  Mendou asks if she still cares about Ataru, and she says he’s with Ryuunosuke, but who needs him anyway; they exchange significant glances, and she asks to go somewhere more private.

In panning over the festival, we see a child playing with a toy of Mike the Penguin and his cold, dead penguin eyes. (Inside joke).

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Ataru is trying to chat up Ryuunosuke as she cooks noodles at her father’s stand, but she refuses to talk to non-customers.  Mr. Fujinami orders three dishes with meat, and Ataru is about to object when he’s interrupted by Cherry casting aspersions on his face, much as in the first episode.  Cherry eats one of the plates of noodles, and Mr. Fujinami demands Ataru pay him ¥900, one for Cherry’s plate and two for himself.  Ataru doesn’t want to pay for something he didn’t eat, and starts to get into it with Ryuu when Lum spots him and flies down.  She pays Ataru’s bill and leads him off, missing the surprised expressions she leaves behind her.

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Mendou and Shinobu have relocated to a bench by a pond outside a small shrine, and are about to kiss when they’re interrupted by Ataru ringing the temple bells.  Lum tells Ataru to leave them alone, but Ataru objects that his woman is about to be stolen.  Both Shinobu and Lum object to this characterization, and Lum grabs Ataru and flies off, followed by the puzzled couple.  The exhausted (and half-dressed) Stormtroopers see the group, and follow as well.  Lum takes Ataru to a (different) secluded spot and tries to chat him up, but he brushes her off and asks not to be called “Darling”.  She says that she always calls him that, which confuses him, and his confusion is compounded when he’s hit on the head by stones thrown by some poorly-concealed lookie-loos.

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Ataru stalks off and is collared by Megane, but he wants to know what’s going on as well.  Shinobu speculates that there’s been a change of policy, and that to offset bad feeling about Planet Oniboshi dominating Earth, the princess may be choosing an Earthman groom.  The Stormtroopers realize that they finally have a chance, and they and Mendou declare their willingness to risk the springtime of their youth against the forces of planet Oniboshi, charging off after Lum.  Ataru and Shinobu look at each other, shrug, and walk off arm-in-arm into the sakura.  Lum electrocutes her suitors and flies off.

A montage winds time forward to night, where Lum is flying around the city, finally deciding to go home.  She arrives at the Moroboshi home to find it a wreck, and the family eating sullenly in the dark.

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Ataru’s parents refuse to acknowledge her as part of the family, and Ataru angrily pushes her away, saying he’s had no use for her since she beat him in that game of tag.  They flash back to the final day of the competition, when he pulled off her bra with his suction cup gun, but then was too mesmerized by her breasts to follow through.  She apologizes for the fact that they’re now pariahs, and flies off, mulling over the fact that she appears to be in a parallel dimension.

(New season, but same eyecatch.)

Lum returns to the park, locates the dimensional portal, and flies through.  We’re back at the festival, where Ataru is hitting on Ryuunosuke (whose chest doesn’t appear to be bound).  Mr. Fujinami clonks Ataru with a pot, and in the process of collapsing he manages to pull Ryuu’s pants down, showing that she’s wearing panties.  This leads to a standard Fujinami conflict which ends with her decking her father.  Lum flies down and sees Ataru’s unconscious form, and scoops him up, apologizing to Ryuunosuke for his fickleness (once again missing Ryuu’s expression).

She leads a confused Ataru away while explaining that she met another Darling in another dimension, but they’re interrupted by Mendou charging them, sword drawn and shouting about an unfaithful wife.  One lightning bolt stops his charge.

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Mendou ascertains that by “Darling” Lum means Moroboshi, and sits down to commit seppuku to erase the shame to his family.  Lum confirms that Mendou’s wife is in fact her own self, and gives the most hilariously inadequate apology ever.

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She flies off, leaving Ataru to explain to Mendou and his sword just what was going on.  Flying through the sakura vortex again, Lum thinks she’s returned to the correct dimension, missing the fact that Kotatsu Neko is brown with a white ear and spot.  She’s soon disabused when she runs across a quartet of girls that turn out to be the Stormtroopers, girl-type.  Meganeko stops her from leaving, saying that Lum reminds her of someone she knows, only he’s a guy.  She goes on to declare her love for Lum; Lum objects that they’re both women, but Meganeko pursues her at high speed, going on about the purity of romantic love between women, until Lum finally stops and objects loudly.

They’re interrupted by Ryuunosuke bringing them takoyaki.  Lum congratulates Ryuu on finally getting a girl’s uniform, prompting him to break down in tears and say “But I’m a man!” His mother appears from nowhere to console him.

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Once more unto the vortex, and Lum lands in a desaturated world where Ataru has a character design straight out of a ’70s shoujo manga (or possibly the Rankin-Bass Hobbit).

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By now Lum is wary, and she interrogates Ataru about the facts of this world: Ataru won the game of tag, Megane is male, Ryuu is female, the sky is blue, doughnuts are plentiful, and Friday is TGIF night on ABC.  Since everything checks out, she embraces him, but after a moment he notices she’s cold and gives her his jacket.  As he leads her off, she remarks on how gentle he is, and he says that it’s because he’s in love with her.  Lum realizes that this is clearly a disturbing universe, slowly shakes her head, and flies away.

We cut to Ataru walking down the path with the cherry branch over his shoulder.  He spies Lum waiting in a tree, and tells her he’s going home.  She asks if he loves her, but he doesn’t want to talk about something embarrassing in public.  He doesn’t shrug her off when she holds his arm, and she decides, “eh, close enough”.

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New end credits, too, with a new ending theme, “Koi no Mobius” (“Mobius strip of love”), which has some lyrics in Spanish (Japanish?  Sapanish?).

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Thoughts: If this episode is indicative, I’m going to enjoy this season.  It’s the sort of episode I’ve been missing: character based with a simple paranormal inciting incident, has some thoughtful moments but is still funny, and looks at Lum and Ataru’s relationship from her point of view. (I literally LOL’d at the scene of Lum apologizing to Mendou and Ataru.) The improved animation already looks promising, as well; the character designs are a bit more up-to-date (Ryuu looks more like a Ranma character than ever) and everything is just a bit lusher.  Compare the new title card to the old one for how far we’ve come.

I do deduct a couple of points because the start of the dimensional travel element is kind of unclear.  My best read on it is that she thinks something’s wrong because Ataru shrugs her off and then the dimensional portal is nearby by coincidence, but it’s also possible that she slipped dimensions before the episode started and Ataru just opens the portal wider by accident.  The branch Ataru’s carrying suggests that she winds up where she started, or at least close enough not to matter much, but that’s ambiguous as well.  The flow of time between dimensions follows plot convenience rather than logic, but hey, it’s not hard SF.

After skipping a week, we’re at the beginning of the spring season with a very spring-themed episode.  The characters are in their winter uniforms; I’ll be interested to see when they switch.

I believe this is the first time Lum’s home planet has been given a name, although it’s not a terribly imaginative one (Oniboshi=”planet Oni”).

Next episode: A missing breast wrap, a game of rugby, and a UFO!  It does all tie together, honest!

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2 thoughts on “The Urusei Yatsura Viewing Project, part 107: “Parallel Worlds! Where’s Darling?!”

  1. Yeah, this is a great character-based episode with an interesting concept with a lot of great moments in it, and a fantastic start to Yamazaki’s run. My only “complaint” about it is that we never get to see gender-swaped versions of any of the characters besides the Storm Troopers and the Fujinamis. I would have enjoyed seeing them, even if it was only for the novelty of it.

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