The Urusei Yatsura Viewing Project, part 110: “Unremovable Magic Lipstick”

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Episode 110: “Unremovable Magic Lipstick”

Original airdate: May 9, 1984

Corresponding manga chapter: “The Magnetic Lipstick!!”, volume 17, chapter 4 (Japanese tankobon release)/overall chapter 172

Minor characters introduced: Akemi, other random girl student

Summary: We open on a TV showing a talk show interview with a soap actor, quickly switching to a baseball game and then an idol singer singing “Pajama Jama da!”.  It turns out the TV’s in a ramen shop, being watched by a bored Lum while Ataru orders his fifth bowl.  The TV switches to a traffic report, then something that catches Lum’s attention: a man (who looks like the main character of City Hunter) and woman running along a beach.  The woman trips and the man tries to catch her, winding lying on top of her and complimenting her red lips.  He goes in for the kiss, but the camera pans down to show a tube of lipstick rolling out of her hand; turns out it’s a commercial.

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Lum is inspired, and grabs Ataru’s head, inviting him to “make youthful memories”.  She’s temporarily distracted by the cook asking for payment, and Ataru slips away to use the youthful memories line on a couple of girls.  They slug him and walk off, and Lum lands in front of him.  He cringes and offers her his ramen, but she merely says sadly that he’s never kissed her.  Ataru ducks, but she just flies off without electrocuting him.  He starts to head off to hunt for for more girls, but is tackled by the ramen show proprietor, demanding payment for six bowls of noodles.

Cut to the exterior of a shiruko shop, where Ryuunosuke is acting shifty due to being in the girls’ secret sanctum and wolfing her dessert.  She’s sitting with two random girls and Shinobu, who tells Ryuu to eat up because she’s paying.  One of the other girls (Akemi) pulls out a magazine with a “Kiss Me” ad and hints that Shinobu knows all about kissing, but Shinobu coyly says that she’s saving herself.  Akemi admits that she’s already had her first kiss, and the other girl tells Shinobu that being a kiss virgin in high school means that she’s hopelessly behind and get with the program, man.  She starts to ask Ryuunosuke if she’s been kissed, but her over-the-top reaction to the revelations in the magazine more or less answer that one for her.

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Downtown, Lum is surrounded by a swarm of couples.  She dejectedly walks home past a series of strange billboards, until she sees a “Kiss Me” sign, and inspiration strikes (as does lightning).  The ad is on the mind of others, as well: Shinobu returns to her bedroom, strips to her slip, and brushes her hair while reflecting that she wants her first kiss to be special, but that she’s still in kind of a kissing mood. Someone else watches the commercial over and over, trying to zoom in on the moment of the kiss before they pan away; it’s Megane, who’s frustrated that they don’t show the money shot.  He launches into a rant that includes the phrase “springtime of my youth”, rubs up against a poster of Lum (one of many), and clutches his pillow tightly.  This sends him into a strange vision of an old-timey movie where Lum, dressed like a nurse, mourns that they can’t be together before he goes off to war, or something.

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She begs for his last kiss, but before their lips meet the image rewinds over and over, like the commercial.  Megane freaks out over his inability to imagine how a kiss goes, and crawls up onto the roof to sound his barbaric yawp in his stripey pajamas. (Kudos to the animators for remembering that detail.  Also, the scene of their kiss rewinding and Megane running over the rooftops is in a classic AMV–I want to say “Dare to be Stupid” but I’m not positive.) His cry of “Lum!” sounds out across the city, then Japan, then the whole world as the camera pulls back like in The Powers of Ten. (Someone get this guy some porn, stat.)

The cry passes Lum’s UFO, where Lum is doing science–you can tell because she’s wearing a lab coat, although wearing it open over her bikini kind of defeats the purpose.  She synthesizes an object that looks like a large red bullet, and drops it into an unnecessarily large machine, which dispenses it as a tube of lipstick.  Applying it to her lips, she flies back to Ataru’s room and tries to apply it to him as well, but he dodges her increasingly wild attacks.  She winds up slashing it across Ten’s face, and her lips are immediately drawn to his cheek.

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Ataru spots what’s going on, and goes into a lecture about how kissing needs to be between a man and woman who love each other very much.  He grabs the lipstick and throws it out the window, but when Lum takes Ten to go look for it it turns out that he palmed it, and has nefarious plans.  In her bed, Shinobu sleeps alone; Megane sleeps with his Lum pillow; and Ryuunosuke sleeps with the magazine ad.

The next day, Ataru runs to school with a spring in his step.  Shinobu has a premonition that romance may be in the air, and gazes out the window but only sees Ataru.

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In the classroom, Ataru seeks out a target, and decides to go for the girl least likely to have been kissed, namely Ryuunosuke.  He startles her looking at the magazine, which she hides as though she’d been reading porn, and proffers the lipstick and a mirror.  She rolls up her sleeves puts it on, and while admiring her reflection he applies it to his lips as well.  He’s rapidly drawn to her, but his face meets not her soft lips but her hard fist.  Lum flies over to see what’s going on; they’re drawn together as well, but the Stormtroopers tackle Ataru while Mendou pushes Lum to safety, to her annoyance.

Ryuu comes over to see what’s going on, and is nearly kissed by Lum.  Mendou collars Ataru and demands to know what’s going on, and he explains in a quick cutaway.  Megane and Mendou want Ataru to share the wealth, but after Shinobu denounces the goings-on Mendou denounces them as well, gaining the approbation of all the girls. Megane goes into a reverie about how it’s his day at last, and tries to grab the lipstick, but Ataru rebuffs him by tossing him into a stack of desks.  The class’s girls swarm around Ataru to get some of the lipstick action themselves, but it’s so they can put it on Mendou, not him.  Mendou isn’t going for it, until he thinks about the possibilities for two seconds.

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After a brief fantasy, he grabs the lipstick and puts it on.  It pulls him toward someone’s lips, but it’s Ataru, not Lum, and no one stops them before they lock lips.  Pulling themselves apart and briefly losing the will to live, they stand back-to-back and insult the others’ breath.

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The girls seize the moment and put the lipstick on themselves, handing it off to a mysterious small hand when they’re done.  Ataru turns and tries to seize the moment, but comes lip-to-lip with Cherry instead.  He explodes into fireworks while Cherry says a prayer for his soul.

Meanwhile, the girls are chasing Mendou around the room, and the boys want in on the action as well, passing it around and lipsticking up. (It’s a bit of a stretch that everyone puts it on perfectly, even those who haven’t worn it before.) It turns into a big chase around the room, except for Megane, who’s buried under rubble, and Shinobu, who refuses to lower herself.  Her unnamed friend from the beginning tells her to seize her chance and slaps the lipstick on her.  Ataru tries to go for it again (not that it’s worked well before, but Ataru rarely learns from experience) but just gets a faceful of desk instead.

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Shinobu stands her ground and fights off all challengers, including all three standing Stormtroopers.  She winds up fighting back-to-back with Ryuu, defending themselves against the increasingly zombie-like boys, until Ryuunosuke accidentally turns too close to her.  Their lips meet, sending them both into a heavy-breathing panic.

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The boys are pleased by this development, but these two aren’t, and the skirmish resumes in earnest.  The boys are thrown around the room, many of them locking lips in the process.

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The lipstick lands by Megane, who manages to apply it with some effort, and he bursts forth from under the pile of desks to set forth and make some youthful memories.  He throws himself at Lum just as she loses her patience, and Megane winds up eating the lightning bolt meant for Ataru.  The melee goes on (with some reused footage) until Lum finally shouts at everyone to stop.  She sees Ataru trying to force himself on Ryuu, and blasts them both, causing an explosion that blows out the windows.

Cut to Lum in the ramen shop, stress-eating.  The proprietor assures her that she looks good in the lipstick, which surprises her so much that she reverts to a first season character design.

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She hears a commotion outside, with a girl angrily rejecting someone who’s wearing lipstick.  Turning, she and Ataru are drawn together…but the window’s in the way, and it’s not pretty.

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Changes from the manga version: The manga story begins with Lum in the lab, with none of the “Kiss Me” setup or ramen store framing sequence.  After Ataru and Mendou kiss, the subsequent chase lasts around a page, and of course there’s none of the business with Megane.

Thoughts: A fun but frothy episode (though it’s a bit odd that there have been two groping-based plots in three episodes).  Toward the end it becomes repetitive, but not as badly as, say, the shiitake mushrooms episode–the situation is changed up more often.

The concept of this episode is potentially fraught in a couple of dimensions, one played up more by bits added by the animators.  As with the rugby episode, we can probably assume that Takahashi isn’t advocating the behavior in this episode.  There’s also the negative reactions to the same-sex kisses, but that’s not necessarily a result of homosexual panic; Ataru and Mendou can’t stand each other, and Ryuu and Shinobu were caught off-guard, and it’s pretty clear that this wasn’t how Shinobu envisioned her first kiss. (That part was added by the animators–another one for Ryuunobu shippers, I guess.)

A couple of cultural points here.  One is that kissing was originally an odd foreign practice in Japan, so anime and manga make more of a big deal of it than American media, explaining Shinobu’s reactions and her discussion with her friends.  It’s hard to imagine an American series where the principal couple hadn’t kissed in the course of 110 episodes, two specials and two movies.  Also, it’s clear that the characters have much less access to sexy material (though probably not to the ridiculous lengths that Megane takes it).  We saw this in the library episode, where the boys were fixated on a simple swimsuit magazine.

One minor bit from the animators that I particularly enjoyed: When Ataru shows the lipstick to Ryuunosuke, she looks back and forth between it and the magazine several times to verify that it is, indeed, lipstick.

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Next episode: Flower viewing death match at the Mendou complex!

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