The Urusei Yatsura Viewing Project, part 108: “Raging Queen of Rugby!”

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Episode 108: “Raging Queen of Rugby!”

Original airdate: April 25, 1984

Minor characters introduced: Alien princess and crew (unnamed)

Corresponding manga chapters: “The Queen and the Rugby King”, volume 7, chapter 4 (Viz release)/volume 9, chapter 4 (Japanese tankobon release)/overall chapter 84; “Youth Rugby Hell”, volume 20, chapter 9 (Japanese tankobon release)/overall chapter 210

Summary: The universe is a strange place, full of many wonders, and among those wonders are Ryuunosuke’s breasts. (That is actually the transition, although the last part goes unspoken.) She’s in the changing room of a bathhouse, feeling herself up to determine that keeping them wrapped up isn’t stopping them from growing.  When it comes time to get dressed, she discovers that her breast wrap is missing, and her spare has also been stolen from the laundry.  Since Happosai isn’t in this series, she just shrugs and heads home (how they missed the chance to title this episode “Ryuunosuke Unbound” is beyond me).

On the way home, she passes through a street bazaar, where a takoyaki seller addresses her as “miss”. (Actually “onee-chan”, so more literally “sis”, but the upshot’s the same.) She grabs him by the shirt and makes him repeat it several times, then goes all tingly at being addressed as female.

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At home, Mr. Fujinami eyes his daughter’s breasts suspiciously.  He flicks a meatball at her, which she catches, and uses the distraction to poke her chest with his chopsticks.  He demands to know what happened to her wrap, or why she hasn’t bought a new one, but she’s reveling in her newfound freedom (see? She takes the cardboard out!) and visible femininity. Her father’s response is to insist that he needs to put lotions on the swellings to reduce them, giving us both a creepy line and an unfortunate visual:

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The narrator tells us that in the last years of the twentieth century, we’re being studied and scrutinised by intelligences as mortal as our own, and to prove it we cut to the inside of a spaceship, where the bridge crew is evaluating the Earth as a new home.  They detect electromagnetic radiation, indicating intelligent life, but the requisite scantily-clad space princess is fine with that.

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The all-male crew is hopeful that the intelligent life will resemble them, and that there might be more than one woman there, possibly even as many as one in ten!  The princess is not amused, and drops the drooling crew members into a trap door, where it’s implied that they’ll become robotic servitors.  She lectures the crew about how she’s the woman, and that the ideal ratio is one woman to lots of men (which is the opposite of how it actually works, but she’s got a good scam going and isn’t going to blow it) and the invasion of Earth is on.

Back at Tomobiki High, Ryuunosuke walks the halls, bouncing slightly and distracting all the boys as she goes.  The Stormtroopers discuss the situation, and the fact that they’ll be playing rugby in PE that day.  They agree not to let her get wind of the situation, and split up, leaving Megane to cling to his love of Lum to overcome his lust (and nosebleed).

In the locker room, the girls warn Ryuu of the dangers of playing braless rugby, and not just because her boobs get in the way of her arms.  (She should be glad they’re not playing shirts vs. skins.) Shinobu tries to fashion a makeshift wrap from two handkerchiefs, but it doesn’t fit, to the chagrin of the less well-endowed in the room.

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The boys, meanwhile, gird up their loins and enter the field of battle, where Onsen-Mark tells them that he’ll be refereeing and to play clean.  The ball is, uh, snapped? launched? kicked? (I’m not really up on the details of rugby) and Ataru catches it, leading the entire class to trample Onsen-Mark.  Ryuunosuke asks Ataru why the others are chasing them, and he responds by tossing her the ball.  The boys execute a precision maneuver (which Ataru calls “Spider in Hell”) to try to trap her, leading her to kick the ball away.

On the bridge of the UFO, the aliens are crowing about how their technology is impressing the savages on the ground when their collision alarm goes off: they’re about to collide with an object the same size and shape as their spacecraft, namely a rugby ball.  They collide violently and crash to the ground, where their damage reports are interrupted by the sight of enormous feet charging toward them.

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The UFO is caught up in the scrum, sustaining more damage and suffering the sight of Onsen-Mark’s smashed face filling their viewscreen.  Emerging from the scrum, Ataru notices that there are two balls, and tosses one away while noting that the other one is oddly high-tech.  He invites Ryuu to join him in scrumming, but she decks him, noting that as a halfback she’d have no reason to join a scrum anyway. (I must admit at this point that I enjoy the word “scrum”.) They huddle briefly to agree that they need to get rid of the obstruction again.  Chibi catches the…hike? and leads them all in a very familiar-looking Onsen-Mark-trampling maneuver before tossing the ball to Ryuu, whereupon the chase commences.

Inside the ship, they’re seeing a viewscreen full of feet, primarily, so the queen orders that they be shrunk down and brought aboard.  Outside, Mendou has the ball, and he and Ataru flank Ryuunosuke.  Ataru warns her that they’re after something other than the ball; Mendou is shocked, but when Ataru points out that anyone carrying the ball is fair game, he passes it to her, and Ataru wraps himself around her.  From the field where the girls are playing, Lum catches sight of Ataru’s behavior and angrily charges him in full flight.  She reaches them just as one of the bridge crew presses the button, and the three of them disappear.

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Inside the ship, they’re trapped in suspended glass tubes.  The crew member is blown away by the presence of two females, who talk and everything, and shouts “Protoculture!” before falling through the trap door (one for you Macross fans there).  The princess assures them that she’s all the woman they need, and what sort of sick planet are they on that has two women who move and talk and everything?  Her opinion isn’t helped by Ataru, who’s swinging his tube toward her, smacking into the glass on the downswing and asking for her phone number.

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The princess (understandably) freaks out, and calls for help.  The crew go to summon security just as a furious Lum blasts her way out of the tube, and Ataru breaks his tube and lands on the princess while continuing to chat her up.  Lum grabs him by the back of the shirt and starts to fly off.  Ryuu breaks her own tube, landing before the princess as well (but not chatting her up).  The security forces arrive on flying chairs, and the princess tells Ryuunosuke that she can’t avoid them, before finding herself appalled at the lousy job the bridge crew is doing at trying to capture her.

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Up above, Lum has to avoid both the flying chairs and the grabby-sticks.  She flies in a large circle and returns to the throne, Ryuunosuke grabbing hold of her as they pass.  Lum’s having trouble with the weight, which turns out to be because Ataru has hold of the princess and still trying to get her number.  They fall back to the throne among the bridge crew, to general consternation and the flash of lightning.

Outside, the PE class sits in a circle around the UFO, and Chibi wonders aloud where Ryuunosuke went.  She’s still inside with the others, fighting off the crew.  The princess wonders if this is the end of the halcyon days when she had her pick of men.

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(Yes, it’s “Momotaro” again.) The princess vows to expel the women, but as she reaches for the button Ataru pops up to hit on her, Lum goes after him, Ryuu runs after them so she’s not fighting the men alone, and it turns into a big struggle.  Outside, the team is still watching the ball, until Onsen-Mark picks it up while muttering “A scrum…”.  In a flash of energy, Ataru, Lum and Ryuu reappear, and the UFO/ball rather shakily flies off.  Ataru goes into a reverie about how it isn’t a ball, and somehow brings the subject back to Ryuunosuke’s breasts.  She grabs the ball, and the chase recommences (with some of the same footage reused, so her shirt goes from torn to whole between shots).

Changes from the manga version: This is actually two stories rather cleverly stitched together.  The story with the UFO and alien princess is a fairly early one (I hadn’t expected to go back to the Viz volumes at this point in the anime).  The story has a regular rugby game (no Ryuunosuke, who hadn’t been introduced yet).  The aliens only abduct Ataru, who chases after the princess while the UFO/ball is being flung around.  Lum flies over to try to find Ataru and someone accidentally shrinks her, and her angry chase after Ataru sends the ball flying around the field.  It ends with the two being expelled and the UFO flying off, as in the anime.

The other story starts with Ryuu in the bathhouse, and the anime follows it pretty closely until the game itself.  The game has more successful groping (Lum flies in to help at one point and winds up grabbing Ryuunosuke’s breasts herself) but at the end her father throws her another bandage/wrap, which she uses to lasso the boys and fling them around the field.

Thoughts: There sure is a lot of skin in this episode!

I like what the animators were trying to do here: they took two stories with a related theme that were too slight to make a full episode, and spliced them together in a fairly organic way.  Their intentions are good, using largely Takahashi material rather than a large amount of new story, and the two stories and the overall result are both humorous.

Unfortunately, the actual execution has a few issues.  One is the reuse of animation. (One of the repeated scenes of Ryuu running away was one where she was speaking the first time, so the second time she’s moving her mouth without saying anything.  The use of such an old story also means that Ataru and Lum have both taken enormous steps backward in their personalities, which can be a bit jarring.

There’s also the matter of the ending.  As sometimes happens in the series, the Ryuu story has a questionable premise (ha ha, let’s all grope her!).  This is partially offset by the assumption that Takahashi isn’t endorsing this behavior, but in the anime it’s gone through another layer of largely male animators, which puts the curse back on it a bit.  There’s also the fact that in the manga, while Ryuunosuke goes through a worse time (no one actually reaches her breasts in the anime), she gets her own back at the end, aided by an unusually helpful gesture on her father’s part.  The anime just ends in mid-chase, so we don’t get that resolution and poor Ryuu comes off the worse for it.

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(How do they tell the teams apart?  Everyone’s wearing the same outfits.)

All in all, I’d call this episode a near miss; I like what it’s going for, and appreciate that they’re moving back toward the classic style of the series, but it’s not as strong as the previous one.

Something the animators added to the alien ship is a slight layer of Macross parody.  Apart from the Protoculture reference, the male alien’s green hair and the glass tubes are reminiscent of the Zentraedi. (So is the gender ratio, but that’s a feature of the original story.)

Next episode: Ran uses black magic for the perfect date with Rei!

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