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Urusei Yatsura Review
Urusei Yatsura(Those Obnoxious Aliens)Urusei Yatsura was an extremely popular manga and anime series that ran in Japan in the early 80s. This anime spans 195 TV episodes, 11 OVAs and 6 movies that are currently being released on DVD in North America by AnimEigo.At its most basic level, Urusei Yatsura is the comedic story of the tumultuous relationship between the beautiful, tigerskin bikini-clad alien girl, Lum, and the Earth's most unlucky, lecherous boy, Ataru Moroboshi. Ataru is continually chasing other girls and Lum brings him back into line with her raging jealous temper and tremendous jolts of electricity. But it really goes much further than that. Urusei Yatsura covers so many genres, that it sometimes baffles classification. Science fiction, comedy, parody, romance, Japanese mythology, Urusei Yatsura incorporates it all into a wonderful, amazing gestalt of pure otaku enjoyment. The story starts out with Ataru being chosen to represent the Earth in a competition of tag with an alien race bent on conquering the world.
As the first of many, many jokes, puns and Japanese mythological references, the alien race is based on the legend of the Japanese Oni.The aliens make a deal with Earth. If Ataru can chase, capture and touch the horns of the alien representative, Earth will be saved. Unfortunately, Ataru, who is the epitome of extreme self-interest, refuses. That is, until he sees the person who will represent the alien race in this game of tag, the lovely, green-haired Lum. With the idea of actually being encouraged to grab and grope the beautiful alien to reach her horns, Ataru eagerly volunteers. For the next 10 days, Ataru struggles to capture Lum, who has the rather unfair advantage of flight. On the evening before the last day of the contest, with Earth facing certain doom, Shinabu, Ataru's girlfriend, promises Ataru that he may marry her if he succeeds. Armed with this motivation, Ataru comes up with a brilliant plan that matches his lecherous nature. On the morning of the last day, he manages to snatch Lum's bikini top off and forces her to chase him to reclaim it. As she lunges for the clothing, he grabs her horns and in victory cries out that he can now get married. Lum misunderstands and thinks he means that he wants to marry her. She accepts and so starts the endless love/hate trials and tribulations of Ataru vs. Lum.The artistic talent for Urusei Yatsura reads like a Who's who for Japanese animation. Rumiko Takahashi, the popular mangaka who is also responsible for Maison Ikkoku, Ranma ½ and Inu-Yasha wrote the original manga
. Mamoru Oshii (Ghost in the Shell) and Kazuo Yamazaki (Maison Ikkoku, Please Save My Earth) handled the direction for the Urusei Yatsura TV series. Finally, Akemi Takada, who is responsible for the character designs for Kimagure Orange Road, Maison Ikkoku, Fancy Lala and Creamy Mami, developed the character designs for the anime. It's no surprise that Lum from Urusei Yatsura and Madoka from Kimagure Orange Road are considered two of the most beautiful female characters in the history of anime fandom. Fortunately, we have AnimEigo producing the R1 DVD release for North America. In addition to providing an excellent subtitled translation, AnimEigo has also provided extremely detailed liner notes. While Urusei Yatsura can be easily enjoyed simply for the comedy, these liner notes enable the viewer to understand the countless Japanese cultural references as well.
The TV Episodes
The TV series is comprised of 195 episodes that ran from 1981 to 1986. They are strictly episodic or follow short multi-episode arcs each of which stand on their own. Here we are introduced to the many unique and lovable characters that make up the world of Urusei Yatsura.
These are currently being released by AnimEigo. At this time, you can pre-order volumes 16-20 and/or 21-25 in box sets directly from AnimEigo, or you can order the first five individual volumes from your favorite DVD vendor. The rest of the individual volumes will be release at the rate of about 1 volume each two months.
After the TV series ended, 11 OVAs were created. The first was the only one of real note, Inaba the Dream Maker. It was truly a delightful and touching story which introduces Inaba as a possible new love interest for Shinobu. The remaining OVAs are little more than additional TV episodes, which while still quite enjoyable, don't measure up to the first one. Inaba the Dream Maker
Lum, Shinobu and Ataru get a glimpse of their possible futures and, maybe, a chance to set their own destiny. I really loved the ending of this story. Raging Sherbet
Ran's plan to sell sherbet cones that are produced from the beaks of little sherbet birds runs amok. I Howl at the Moon
Lum's home-cooking strikes again, causing Ataru to turn into a werewolf. Now he's on the run as Lum tries to get him to take the antidote before it's too late. Catch the Heart
A package of 'heart candies" from Ran has some interesting affects. Whoever eats one has a heart appear above their head. And whoever grabs the heart causes that person to fall in love with them. Just imagine the fun when Lum eats one. ^_^ Goat and Cheese
The gang is photographed in front of a cursed goat statue. The legend says that if the phantom goat eats those photographs, the subject will die. Now they have to guard those photos with their lives. Date with a Spirit
Tsubame, Sakura's fiance, is being followed by a beautiful ghost. Of course, Ataru is not to be stopped from hitting on her himself. Terror of Girly eye Measles
Ataru catches the Girly eye measles which means he now has huge, simmering, anime girly eyes. Is it contagious? Nagisa's Fiance
Ryuunosuke must deal with an unusual new suitor. Worst yet, their fathers have arranged for them to get married. The Electric Household Guard
The television-addled Shingo becomes Mendou's bodyguard and with prompting from Ryouko raises chaos. Ryoko's September Tea Party
Bit of a 'clips' episode as we recap some of the best scenes from the original TV series and reveal the past of Ryoko's various guests. Memorial Album: I'm the Shuu-chan
Another 'clips' episode as the Mendou clan's personal satellite narrates the story of the Mendou family.
The OVAs (and movies) will be released in a single 8-disk boxset from AnimEigo currently available for pre-order at the AnimEigo web site. The Movies
During the TV series and for well after, six Urusei Yatsura movies were made. Carrying on the tradition of the TV series, they continue the comedy, drama and
mythological references fans had grown to love. Movie 1: Only You (1982) This one was pure Urusei Yatsura with a simple but delightful plot as Lum attempts to break up the pending and mysteriously arranged marriage between Ataru and the beautiful alien woman, Elle. Movie 2: Beautiful Dreamer (1984) This is one of my all time favorite movies. It is directed by Mamoru Oshii and based on the Japanese legend of Urashima Taro, which is similar to the well-known story of Rip Van Winkle. Unique to this movie, there is a wonderfully eerie and surreal atmosphere throughout the entire story that keeps you riveted to your seat. For this one movie, I strongly recommend the following steps to maximize your enjoyment of it: - First, before you watch it (if possible), check out this site
It explains the Urashima Taro legend around which Beautiful Dreamer is based.- Pick a time late at night in a quiet mood with no distractions to watch the movie for the first time. - As you watch the movie, some things to look for:
The school clock tower and the changes it goes through
The little girl in the big hat, especially her first appearance
Any and all references to what day it is
Seemingly casual comments by Lum - AFTER you have watched the movie, read this stunningly complete and detailed write up on the movie.
(NO peeking! Wait until after you've seen the movie!)
And then this site for added insights:- Now watch the movie again (at night, *always* at night), and this time you should grok in fullness. This is the only
Urusei Yatsura production that was not released by AnimEigo but rather Central Park Media
. As such, it is the only UY production that is dubbed in English. Also of note, the original Japanese closing credits were shown against a scene where the camera is drawing back further and further from Tomobiki High. The school gradually gets smaller and smaller until we can see the entire town of Tomobiki. In the DVD, the zoom is cut short after showing the school and the English credits are shown against a black background.
Movie 3: Remember my Love (1985) Ataru is turned into a pink hippopotamus, Lum is kidnapped and her friends search the town for her. Eventually they give up and all the weird and wacky elements that made the town of Tomobiki so delightful disappear as well. The town and its inhabitants become, well, ordinary. Can Lum be rescued and Tomobiki restored to its original state? Movie 4: Lum the Forever (1986) In the spirit of Beautiful Dreamer, this movie delves into cryptic imagery and Japanese mythology. However, while BD is perfectly enjoyable without looking for any deeper meaning. That's not the case with Lum the Forever. Be prepared to watch this movie several times to grasp the underlying story. Movie 5: Urusei Yatsura Kanketsu-hen (1988) Based on the final chapters of the manga, this movie is a perfect conclusion to this amazing series. One thing to keep in mind as you watch is that Ataru has NEVER confessed his love to Lum, and Lum is just as determined to make him say it because she knows that he really does love her. The final scene is awesomely moving and yet remains so perfectly suited to what makes Urusei Yatsura so unique. Movie 6: Itsudatte my Darling (1991)
To celebrate the 10th year anniversary of the first TV broadcast, one more UY movie was released. No deep elements here, just basic UY hi-jinks. All I can say about this one is that as a UY fan, you will likely enjoy it, but in truth the story should have stopped with Kanketsu-hen. With the exception of Beautiful Dreamer, the movies (and OVAs) will be released in a single 8-disk boxset from AnimEigo currently available for pre-order at the AnimEigo web site.Handy links:AnimEigo
- The American studio responsible for the North American distribution of Urusei Yatsura Central Park Media
- The American studio responsible for the North American distribution of the second Urusei Yatsura movie, Beautiful Dreamer. Tomobiki-cho
- Possibly the most comprehensive site in existence for information on Urusei Yatsura