「戦慄の参観日 / 君去りし後」 (Senritsu no Sankanbi / Kimi Sarishi Ato)
“Parents` Day Horrors / Since Your Parting”
It’s been a while since Urusei Yatsura has given us a serious episode, but it’s a refreshing one to watch. The first segment might have come and gone with the moms fighting amongst themselves, I’d rather dig deep into the second segment that captures exactly what Lum means to Ataru when he’s alone with his thoughts for too long.
I AIN’T GOT NOBODY
I appreciated how “Since Your Parting” directly confronted Ataru as a character. As a gag manga, I figured he’d be static in his role, and his purpose would rarely go beyond flirting with random girls and trying to leave his relationship with Lum. But this particular segment makes it clear that Ataru’s behavior is not off the table when it comes to being dissected in greater detail.
As time goes on and Ataru still pulls the same act of desperately trying to attract other girls, Lum begins losing her patience with him. Instead of wanting to drag Ataru back in line by shocking him with her abilities, she can’t help but feel genuinely worried about Ataru because his desperation is making him look careless and pathetic. The rebellion he thought he was having only made him out to be an irredeemable prick who keeps trying to dunk on the girl who loves him out of pure resentment.
While Lum likely would’ve told him what was up if Ataru hadn’t kept trying to shut her conversations down, the time away was important for Ataru to re-assess his priorities. Lum was the one thing about Ataru that humanized him and gave him a companion to look after. Aside from this, Ataru has nothing going for him other than skirt-chasing, and even that wore thin back when he was doing the same shtick around Shinobu.
It made it all the more impactful when Ataru did break down. With all of the pride and goofball nonsense Ataru embraces wholeheartedly, Lum is the only person who he’s ever let his guard down around. Because of this hidden level of trust, Ataru is deeply hurt when it appears that Lum is gone for good and was so fed up with him that even she left. The tears he shed felt real enough that it was really upsetting to see him sobbing over his Lum doll.
Hopefully, the introspection he got from this is able to stick. I know sometimes with comedies, it can be more of an imperative to present the world as zany and hedonistic for laughs. But Ataru showed some real growth with how choked up he got from Lum’s dramatic return into his life, swept up in the autumn leaves. Old habits may die hard, but it will feel like a much more special story if Ataru comes to have a better appreciation for the love that Lum has to offer.