Episode 115: “Haunted Special: Raiders of the Lost Mendou”
Original airdate: June 13, 1984
Corresponding manga chapter: “The Treasure Awaits!”, volume 16, chapter 7 (Japanese tankobon release”)/overall chapter 164
Minor characters introduced: Matsu-Chiyo, Heihachiro
Summary: The Mendou family patriarch’s condition is critical! Shutaro has been summoned to his bedside, the solemnity of the occasion broken only by one of the guards tripping him with a string and the discovery that maybe he isn’t as dying as all that.
His grandfather explains that these are critical times, and he must seek out the Mendou family treasure, which is the charm to summon the whole gang (Ataru, Lum, Ten, Shinobu, and the Stormtroopers). The map to the treasure lies on the head of the Australopolar Octopus, Matsu-Chiyo, but the way it was hidden is so elaborate that he can’t remember where it is, and he can’t die until it’s found.
In no time at all, the characters are bundled up snug and entering an enormous freezer, which houses the world’s rarest octopus, one that only lives at the South Pole. After a pause to establish that Shutaro is happy to have the girls around but the others can go hang as far as he’s concerned, they meet Matsu-Chiyo, who does not impress.
Ataru and the Stormtroopers slag it off, and teary-eyed, it streaks off, prompting an estate-wide alert that promises whoever finds it whatever they desire. Now clad in safari gear, the crew follow him into the Tropical Dome while thinking about what they desire (Ataru wants to get Ryoko, Shinobu wants Shutaro, and Lum wants Ataru to not get whatever it is he’s thinking about). Their thoughts quickly turn away from love, though, and more toward panthers and pythons, giving us the first of many suggestive shots in this episode:
Lum rescues Ataru and Perm through the indsicriminate application of electric shocks, as Shutaro helpfully explains that they keep leopards and snakes in the dome. Some estate guards report that they’ve had no luck in the Savanna District, and move on just as Perm is dragged into the underbrush by mysterious tentacles. The boys take off after him, leaving Lum, Shinobu and Ten on their own. They find Perm, who is either covered with octopus ink or doing a really tasteless blackface routine.
Off by himself, Shutaro’s fears are concerned as he sees that the temperature is exceeding 38° C (100.4° F). Could someone in the party suffer from Dave’s Syndrome?
Well, close; Ataru and Megane hear the girls scream, and run forward to see them held aloft by the tentacles of a giant octopus (Ten is sort of stuck to one of the stickers). They and the Stormtroopers (minus Perm, who’s out for the rest of the episode) charge forward, only to be trapped themselves. Megane tries to get Shinobu to use her super-strength to free herself, with Ataru helping out by shouting that he sees Shutaro kissing another girl, but to no avail. Matters then take a decided turn, as a stray tentacle pulls off the front of Shinobu’s shirt, to which she responds by trying to look like Tsuyu from My Hero Aacdemia.
Lum protests that she is too pure, but the octopus knows what it wants, grabbing her shirt and then bra (with a nipple shot that’s kind of surprising for this point in the series). Lum can see where this is headed, and electrocutes the whole affair, sending everyone crashing to the ground. Shutaro appears to tend to the topless Shinobu, to the chagrin of the other boys. He explains that it’s against his principles to fight octopi, especially one that has the special property of enlarging at high temperatures, another thing the others think he could have mentioned earlier.
Shinobu gets dressed again, and Shutaro tells Matsu-Chiyo that it’s time to head home, leading to another awkward embrace. Ten spots a map on the back of Matsu-Chiyo’s head, which Shutaro explains is a tattoo that only appears when it gets excited. Ten demonstrates the difficulty cell phones cause for RPG adventure design by taking a Polaroid of the map, but Ataru grabs it, and they’re off! (Except Shutaro, who’s entwined in the arms of octopus love.)
In a nearby cave, meanwhile, a tattered man bemoans his fate.
He hears Ataru and Shinobu outside the cave, and is thrilled that after twelve long years, there will be customers at last! His hopes are short-lived, as Ataru and Shinobu charge past him and the others trample him, but he has no regrets.
On the other side of the tunnel, the characters are astonished to discover…an operating carousel? After the eyecatch, we pull back to see that it’s a full-blown amusement park. Megane finds a stone dedicating it to Shutaro’s fifth birthday, leading him into a rant about how the proletariat shouldn’t be supporting the rich in this sort of thing, but the others have already gone on to the rides. Following behind, Shutaro feels a certain sense of familiarity, but can’t place it before he’s accosted by the tatterdemalion figure. He identifies himself as Heihachiro the ticket puncher, who’s been living off the land while faithfully waiting for the Young Master to return. This ends badly when he knocks over Shutaro’s torch, leaving him to panic in the dark and fall into a pit (lucky he wasn’t eaten by a grue).
Back in the amusement park, everyone is more concerned with riding the carousel than finding the treasure, until Lum gets jealous of the attention Ataru is paying to Shinobu and electrocutes them, leading the whole carousel to fall apart and hop away, with Lum and the Stormtroopers pursuing the pair.
They charge into the Mirror House, which Lum also smashes with electricity. They don’t have long to catch their bearings before the Ferris wheel comes loose and rolls toward them, upkeep clearly not having been a priority for the Mendou clan. They take refuge on the roller coaster, which turns into a mine ride. A wild chase ensues, concluding with a jet of water that propels them back into the manga storyline, in the form of a frozen lake and an army of windup penguins.
It turns out that they’re high-quality ice shavers (prompting more jealousy from Megane). Hijinks ensue with the ice and Ten’s flame, dropping the Stormtroopers into the lake and leaving Ataru and Shinobu free to follow the map into a hedge maze. Ten is annoyed about being used as an ice melter, and chases them until he gets fed up and burns the whole thing down. He tries to snatch the photo from Ataru, but it crumbles into ashes and blows away, just like their dreams, until Lum points out that maybe they can get by without the map at this point.
At the base of an enormous octopus statue, Ataru digs up a box containing a button. They press it, and the statue rises up from the ground, revealing a door and Shutaro, who pulls himself together and pretends he’s there to suavely usher them into the treasure chamber.
They emerge into the bedroom of the Mendou patriarch, who beseeches them to redouble their efforts. Asked what the treasure actually is, he explains:
Shutaro holds up a mirror, and his grandfather is pleased that he can now pass on with no regrets, though his grandson would be happy to consign him to Hell.
Changes from the manga version: The patriarch gives them a copy of the map directly, leading them to the frozen lake, then shows up again to give out more copies. The ice breaks, dropping the core cast in with the penguins, and from there directly to the statue and the wrapup.
Thoughts: This is a slight episode that feels like a throwback, but it has a number of funny moments. The filler material in particular harks back to an older iteration of the Lum/Ataru/Shinobu triangle, with a lot of lightning bolts being thrown, and the random nudity also feels like something from the first season. (Is this the first time we’ve seen Shinobu’s nipple, or did it turn up in the episode where ghost Ataru spies on her in the bath? I can’t remember at this point.) Megane is given a lot to sink his teeth into (though the animation in those bits gets kind of crude), and there’s some physical comedy I didn’t bother to recap during the big chase.
Heihachiro is a fun creation, for all that he only gets under a minute of screen time. He reminds me of the Ghost Pirate Captain from The Venture Bros., in that he’s been stuck doing something unrewarding for a very long time, but is going to stick with it because that’s what he does, dangit.
The title of the episode went through some changes in different versions. The manga title just refers to the treasure; the more literal translation of the episode title given at Tomobiki-cho is “Haunted House Special! Quest for Mendo Estate Treasure!”, so the Indiana Jones reference was added by AnimEigo. What’s interesting about that is that the roller coaster chase could have been construed as a reference to the mine sequence in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom…except that the movie didn’t premiere until May 1984, and didn’t open in Japan until July 1984, a month after this episode aired.
Next: Cherry brings home some cursed items, which possess the characters and make them parody a boxing anime!