May 31, 2009
An odd combination of characters to focus on, but it works. That combo? Ran & Kotatsu Neko.
Ran buys a supernova star fragment from a Lovecraftian store (owned by the Al Hazard guild), intending to put it in a pendant to give to Rei. However she literally bumps into Kotatsu Neko and drops it. Kotatsu Neko then spends the episode trying to return it, while Tomobiki goes insane.
Firstly Ran accuses Lum of stealing it, so the Stormtroopers and Mendou try to find it (despite not knowing what it is) to prove Lum innocence. Meanwhile Ran explains what it is to Lum and Ataru, and we learn that she forgot to shield the fragment, and if they don’t find it by nightfall, the fragment will turn into a real supernova and vaporise Tomobiki (question for the sci-fi nerds – is there a common source for this and the very similar Warp star that Sarah Jane had in Doctor Who?). So they start searching too.
This all escalates into the entire town thinking that Lum & Ataru are planning on firing a supernova missile at Tomobiki, and there’s a mass evacuation/lynch mob formed and a chase out of town.
All while this is going on Kotatsu Neko is trying to find Ran, often missing her by seconds, and meeting lots of the other characters such as the Headmaster, Sakura, and Ten. Finally just as dusk is about to begin, Kotatsu Neko finds Ran, gives her the supernova and the town is saved.
The animation here isn’t as strong as the last two episodes, except perhaps for Kotatsu Neko himself. It’s clear that the animators love the character, he’s gotten far more screen time in Yamazaki-era than he did in the Oshii-era, and he is the centre of attention here, even if the mechanics of the plot is with the other characters. The manic nature of the humans (and aliens) and the slow, calm, but persistant nature of this giant ghost cat works wonders here. As you can guess from the screenshot of Ryuu and her dad cross-countering, I only scratched the surface of how the hunt for the star plays out, there’s lots of comedic sequences crammed in there, not only do they get an Ashita no Joe gag, there’s a Star of the Giants sequence that is entirely in service one appalling pun. And for that I salute it!
This episode marks the sole appearance of Naoko Yamamoto as Animation Director (though I think they were key animators on other episodes).
Screenplay: Yumi Asano
Storyboards: Motosuke Takahashi
Director: Iku Suzuki
Animation Director: Naoko Yamamoto