「あなたにあげる / 幸せの黄色いリボン」 (Anata ni Ageru / Shiawase no Kiiroi Ribon)
“Present for You / The Yellow Ribbon of Happiness”
Urusei Yatsura’s second episode thrusts Ataru in an entirely new life where he’s the main character of a public spectacle as Lum settles into his household. But as he tries to find ways to subvert Lum’s stranglehold on his life, he seeks counsel from supernatural forces who could potentially free him from his new alien wife’s clutches.
SOME LIKE IT HOT
What makes this show resonate so much with me is how it has no qualms about playing out like an absurd sitcom. It feels like the closest I’ve gotten lately to watching all the kitschy old Arabic TV comedies that I grew up with where goofy dudes fumble their way through interactions with angry wives or fight with each other to impress the clearly unimpressed town beauty. It’s hard not to get those vibes from Ataru when he gets roped into one scheme after another that backfires gloriously, either due to his trust in equally incompetent fools or his desires clouding his judgment.
It can be obnoxious to hear about old media being propped up for the wrong reasons, but there is a kinder nostalgia that comes from comedies that aren’t afraid to lean into the eccentricity of characters who are too stupid or dramatic to function normally. It takes what could have been normal happenings, and transforms them into a comedy of errors where Ataru only starts to realize how much of a crap avalanche he’s buried under by the time it’s too late to back out.
I think the fact that Urusei Yatsura feels like it belongs in an entirely separate reality helps amplify the comedy. The audacity that the show has to begin its first couple minutes with Ataru trying to focus in class without Lum trying to get frisky with him and act out an entire bedroom scene in front of his classmates, Shinobu, and the teacher. Or having the grim reaper await Ataru’s fake death only to get electrocuted alongside Ataru.
I GET WEAK
I had a very great time with the new developments in the episode as we learned more about Cherry’s family. I keeled over when Ataru was horrified to find out that Sakura, the weird yet beautiful woman expected to become a shrine maiden, is revealed to be related to Cherry. Sakura is such a fun character too with how she carries her own hot-headed eccentricities with her as she attempts to exorcise the bad luck from Ataru. It’s such a joy to hear Sawashiro Miyuki again, especially in a role where her character is flying off the handle and jumping from feeble vulnerability to seething rage to pleasant enthusiasm in a matter of seconds.
It also paints a picture of where Ataru’s mindset is now that there’s a legitimate media circus around his relationship with a space alien, and the consequences it had on his personal life. Namely, Ataru realizes that he’s stuck in an abusive relationship where he’s regularly electrocuted for any of his transgressions. One of which is playing along with Cherry’s scheme to neutralize her electricity with her horns.
I think what minimizes some of the unsettling readings of Ataru’s situation in Urusei Yatsura is that he is usually granted the autonomy to be himself no matter what. He’s a very tenacious character who lets his inflated ego get to his head with regard to what he can personally get away with, with or without Lum’s wrath. By flying too close to the sun and gloating about his success with getting roped into Sakura’s troubles and neutralizing Lum’s electricity, he is ill-prepared to realize that there are a number of caveats and plenty of misfortune to go with his lack of restraint.
I am looking forward to situations where Ataru is more at fault considering that timing winds up biting him in the butt to foil his plans to hook back up with Shinobu and rid himself of Lum. It definitely feels like the series would wind up steering towards reforming Ataru into being a better partner for Lum, but for the time being, it looks like Ataru’s tussles with Lum will focus on making life easier for him to drool over other women in spite of his new fiance’s ire. The next episode will introduce Shuutarou Mendou, so if you’re familiar with this character, you’re in luck. If not, it should be neat to see how others react to Ataru and Lum’s relationship.