Wednesday, July 18, 2012
YEAR 1978: LUM
Though most of the femmes formidables here belong to the mythoi of adventure or drama, Rumiko Takahashi's Lum holds pride of place as one of the formidable females of the comedy mythos.
As I've always recapitulated Lum's origin story here, I won't repeat myself on that subject. It's interesting to observe that she was not initially the star of the series. The first story with Ataru and Lum was followed by a second tale featuring only Ataru and his human girlfriend Shinobu, who encountered another, less science-fictional demon. Then Lum returned in the third URUSEI tale and stayed for the remainder of the series. At a Comic-con in the early 2000s I asked Rumiko Takahashi whether Lum's re-introduction had been intended all along or not, and my recollection is that she said "not": that the original intent was a title focused on Ataru.
Equally oddly, one of her most recognizeable features-- the ability to generate electrical shocks-- doesn't appear in the first Lum story. In the earliest stories her shocking of Ataru is an unintended side-effect of her attempts to show affection, but it quickly progresses to become a science-fictional version of the rolling-pin, the traditional comic means used by wives to chastise their straying husbands.
The early Lum's character is somewhat nastier and more aggressive than later versions. Arguably Takahashi may have diverted some of Lum's aggressions into other characters, such as Benten and Ran. I don't plan to do any entries for the secondary female characters of URUSEI, but suffice to say that Takahashi devotes no small effort to making sure that her breakout series featured plenty of powerful females.
The manga series was successfully adapted to an anime teleseries in 1981, followed by a handful of bigscreen movie adaptations. Since both of these follow the model of the manga-series quite closely, I won't provide entries for any anime-adaptations here.