Thursday, October 28, 2010


One question that's occured to me as I've continued to plug away at this series: does the supergirl have to win every battle in order to come out on top?

Take Rumiko Takahashi's breakout manga series URUSEI YATSURA. The story opens with teenaged goofus Ataru being drafted to fight the representative of an alien race. If he loses, Earth gets invaded; if he wins, the aliens make peace with Earth. His opponent happens to be a sexy flying bikini-babe named Lum.

The manga and its anime adaptation approach their conflict-- a game of "tag" in which Ataru must seek to grab Lum's horns, as shown below-- somewhat differently. In the anime, it's all slapstick scenes in which Ataru keeps trying to grab the flying femme and constantly falls on his face. In the original manga, Lum and Ataru go at it with a bit more violence, with Lum kicking Ataru in the face and so on. The panel below shows a little more up-close-and-personal action than one sees in the animation.

So Lum loses that battle.

But later, Lum gets her way, because she believes (or says she believes) that Ataru has proposed marriage to her, which leads to endless comic conflicts in which Ataru tries to live the life of an average Japanese high-schooler with an unwanted alien "wife" hanging around. Moreover, Lum belatedly demonstrates (as of her second appearance in the manga) that she can enforce her demands for monogamy by subjecting Ataru to horrendous electrical shocks. What this says about normative Japanese male-female relations can be safely left to the imagination.

Over time, naturally, the boy with the troublesome girl reciprocates her feeling, after a fashion: if there was no possibility of actual romance, UY would've been a dull series indeed. But this would certainly be a case where the woman lost the contest but essentially won the war of the sexes.

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