Urusei Yatsura Movie 1: Only You (of 6) (Mania.com)
Review Date: Sunday, January 11, 2004
Release Date: Monday, November 12, 2001
What They Say
It isn't easy being a guy - especially if you're Ataru Moroboshi, the luckless lecher loved by Lum, the aviating Alien Princess with a very short temper.
Lum doesn't need much assistance going ballistic when everyone in Tomobiki gets an invitation to Ataru's wedding and she's not listed as the bride! Seems some 11 years ago, Ataru played 'Shadow Tag' with a young girl named Elle and won; unfortunately, Elle was another Alien Princess, and on her planet, if a boy steps on a girl's shadow, they have to be married!
Only You is my first foray into Rumiko Takahashi's world of Urusei Yatsura, but can a movie that carries the weight of 195 TV episodes be that enjoyable as a first experience?
The only language present on the disc is a Japanese stereo track, and in watching it for this review I heard no problems.
At the time that MVM began releasing the Urusei Yatsura movies on DVD, no American release existed. As such, MVM seem to have used their VHS masters in transferring the films to DVD, so the print is hard-subtitled, which may be a deal-breaker for some. The subtitles are a little blurred, and there's a little artefacting and cross-colouration around them at times. The film itself doesn't look too bad but is certainly showing its age, with some nicks and scratches on the print and some movement in some of the darker scenes. It's not beautiful, but it's certainly not the worst transfer I've ever seen, especially for an older film.
The front cover has a nice image of Lum on it, taking up a large part of the background, with a full body shot of Elle beside her in the foreground, which is a little bit too red for my liking. The rest of the cast appears in a montage at the bottom. The image is nice, but the strip at the bottom with the movie's "Only You" subtitle takes up a fair amount of space. The back cover is fairly bland, with screenshots, a brief summary of the movie and production credits.
The menus are extremely straightforward and barebones. The main menu gives you the option to play the movie or select a scene, and has a decent image cobbled together from some screencaps, with Lum and Elle either side of Ataru. The scene selection menu is functional, with a list of the movie's ten chapters. Access times are fast, it's just an extremely basic menu.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
I fully expected to be totally and utterly baffled by Only You. The movie carries a fair amount of baggage, and watching this movie as a first glimpse into the world was a daunting experience. And yet, when I actually sat down and watched it, I found myself quite at ease and totally charmed by the characters and world it presented.
The movie begins with a scene cast in shadow of a young boy and girl playing together. When the boy eventually steps on her shadow, she tells him that she's actually an alien, and on her planet stepping on someone's shadow is a marriage proposal. He agrees to marry her and she says she'll be back in 11 years, and goes off in her spaceship.
Flash forward to the present time, and a boy named Mendou is presented with an invitation to the wedding of Moroboshi Ataru and Elle. Of course, Mendou has a big problem with this as Ataru is supposed to be with Lum, who just about every boy seems to want to be with. Unfortunately for Ataru, just about everyone has received an invitation, and so Lum's Stormtroopers (a group of boys who all want Lum, but remain Stormtroopers just for the sake of her happiness) take him captive and bring in a torturer (of the tickling kind) to find out who the mysterious "Elle" is. It's not long before Lum makes her entrance, and she is one unhappy alien. She wreaks havoc on the school, and even Mendou turns up (complete with tanks and all) to attempt to get vengeance for Lum, who nonetheless protects Ataru from him.
Then a spaceship from Planet Elle arrives to take Ataru with them to wed Elle. After an amusing encounter with the ship's Captain and Elle's nanny, Ataru is given a day to get his affairs in order. He is all too eager to go and marry Elle since she's supposed to be beautiful, much to the chagrin of Lum. During the reprieve, Lum concocts a plan to take Ataru to her homeworld for her to marry him first. While Ataru and Lum's families push for him to do it, he still wants to go and marry Elle. It's not long before Rose, the Woman of Seven Disguises, kidnaps Ataru and takes him away to Planet Elle, leaving Lum all alone. So Ataru finally gets to meet his new wife, but he soon discovers that she's not as faithful as she appears when Mendou stumbles across a refrigerator... full of men! Lum's not about to give up on Ataru after all this time though, so the race is on to stop the wedding.
As you can probably gather, a fair amount of Only You, particularly in the first half of the movie, is entirely predictable in terms of plot. I could see where it was going right from the opening scene with Ataru and Elle as children. And yet, that didn't really bother me at all when I was watching the film, because the characters and situations were extremely enjoyable. One of the problems with the story though, is that once things reach Planet Elle, the plot gets a little too slow and things just aren't as enjoyable as they were in the first half, at least until the big battle at the church begins. While that sequence is enjoyable, the exposition as we see Elle and Ataru as kids again is a little drawn out, but then things pick up for the finale, which is absolutely hilarious. I loved that it didn't end how most films would, but stuck to exactly how Ataru would react.
Thankfully, Urusei Yatsura's characters are all fairly easy to get to grips with. It would certainly help to have the backgrounds of who some of the less prominent cast-members are, but for the most part it's easy to catch up with who's who just by taking in the dialogue and watching how the characters react in certain situations. The cast are also extremely endearing. Most are very funny and the comedy comes off extremely well, through both visual means as well as the dialogue.
The personalities are all extremely enjoyable, and it's the relationships that really make Only You work well. Lum loves Ataru, and even knowing exactly what he's like, she still wants him for herself more than anything. She's an extremely sympathetic character and it's very hard not to feel for her when she gets upset. Ataru is a complete pig at the best of times in the way he treats Lum. He can't keep his hands of other women and refuses to devote himself to her. And yet you can still feel that he cares about Lum, and he even, on the odd occasion, shows it briefly. Elle's appearance is brief, so there's not much time to get to know her, but she works as an amusing device to come between Lum and Ataru.
The rest of the principal characters all have their moments, from Mendou's attempts to thwart Ataru, to Megane's ability to steal most of the scenes he appears in. Even Ataru and Lum's parents manage to keep the humour up in their appearances. It's clear that the creative minds behind the film were completely at home with the characters and how they react and behave in certain circumstances, and it works really well.
Unfortunately, there are some problems with this release that may hinder a few people's enjoyment, depending on how you look at things. As mentioned above, the movie is hard-subtitled, and there are a few issues with the video. It's certainly watchable, but everyone should be aware that this release is pretty barebones in all departments before making a purchase.
Only You is a lot of fun, and for the most part it's very enjoyable. There are a few lulls in the latter part of the movie, but overall it's well worth a watch just for the characters. As an introduction to the world of Urusei Yatsura, the movie isn't the most accessible thing to pick up. But a pit of persistence and paying attention to dialogue makes it easy enough to get a feel for the characters and premise. The DVD presentation is a little unfortunate as the movie deserves better, but it's not enough to stop me recommending Only You as a highly entertaining film, which left me eager to see more of what this series has to offer.
Japanese Language,English Subtitles
Philips 28" Pure Flat Widescreen TV, Pioneer DV-464 code free DVD player, JVC gold-plated RGB SCART cable, standard stereo sound.
Mania Grade: B
Audio Rating: B
Video Rating: C+
Packaging Rating: B
Menus Rating: C
Extras Rating: N/A
Age Rating: 12 & Up
Region: 2 - Europe
Released By: MVM Entertainment
Running time: 101
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: Urusei Yatsura