Feb 21, 2010 0
A return to a common theme in Urusei Yatsura and a return to a better class of episode.
Something that comes up a lot in Urusei Yatsura is the idea that any woman who is acting overtly “girly” is doing just that, acting. Ran, the obvious example, being a direct parody of the Burriko girls of the time, but other characters indulge in it too – Shinobu often acts weak to try attract Mendou, even though she’s clearly the toughest character in the series, Ryu hangs onto to a warped, overly romanticised, view of femininity, rather than being herself.
In this episode we meet Katsuragi Anna, a Tomobiki High School student from the year below Lum, Ataru et al. She admits early in the episode that she feels like she’s acting like a girl rather than actually feeling like one. And she appears to be a parody of female manga/anime leads, in that she’s excessively girly and has excessively sparkly eyes.
She gets mugged by Soban and Lum comes to her rescue. She asks if Lum could beat him without her powers, and Lum says yes. This is all done in a way that comes across as a parody of the schoolgirl romantic friendship genre, though not as obvious and all-out as Project A-Ko would do it. However, Anna then goes and challenges Soban to a fight on Lum’s behalf, so that she can see Lum beat him and Anna can become really brave.
Lum, foolishly accepts, only to discover that without her powers she is really weak. There’s an hilarious line at this point from Shinobu who claims that “It’s too much for a girl. We just don’t have the strength” that leads to a fun visual gag.
We then get a training montage, and for once it shows great restraint in not doing a Star of the Giants or Tomorrow’s Joe homage. We do however get an Ultraman homage with Ryu and her dad, and a Rocky homage with Lum. There’s some fun physical comedy in this sequence and some very Eighties keep fit outfits.
Lum realises she can’t get stronger naturally in the three days Anna had given her, so uses some power boosting alien bracelets and strength boosting pills.
We then get the fight and the resolution, and this is probably where it comes undone a little. Soban eats Lums bracelets and she has to rely on the pills which only last 3 minutes and get less effective each time. Eventually everything descends in chaos, but as well the Oshii era episodes did. Could have used one really strong punchline to end everything on.
Screenplay: Shigeru Yanagawa
Storyboard: Iku Suzuki
Director: Iku Suzuki
Animation Director: Yuichi Endo