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Since Urusei Yatsura aired in Japan in the roaring 70's, many reviews have been written on Urusei Yatsura. The upcoming weeks several reviews from different sources will be added here.
To get you started I have added three reviews and you can expect more reviews in time.

Enjoy!

This is taken from T.H.E.M. Anime Reviews
Written by Carlos Ross

Urusei Yatsura Movie 2: Beautiful Dreamer

Synopsis

It's the day before the School Festival, and things around Tomobiki High are weirder than usual.

Even the legendary lecher, Moroboshi Ataru, senses something is amiss, and he and his rival, Mendou Shuutarou, note the eerie emptiness of the town, and that, one by one, the people they know have started to go missing. The sun sets, and then the next morning ...

It's the day before the School Festival, and things around Tomobiki High are weirder than usual.

Much, much weirder.

Review

While working on my backlog, I remembered this interesting movie from my old video store days. The first time I saw this, I hadn't seen Urusei Yatsura in years, and my only previous memories of the show were half-forgotten snippets from the foreign language channel in Los Angeles in the 1980s. So Beautiful Dreamer may as well have been my intro to the UY universe, and I was equally intrigued and confused.

That was no place to start, but now, having knowledge of the series behind me, I feel I can give a proper review to this movie. One thing's for certain, though: if you come in expecting the wacky hijinks of Ataru, Lum, and Company to send you into endless laughing fits, you'll be sorely disappointed. Beautiful Dreamer isn't a formulaic madcap comedy ... but rather, a skilled surrealist Oshii Mamoru piece with lots of mystery and just enough Urusei Yatsura wackiness to remain familiar.

Nowadays, Oshii Mamoru is known for his forays into the surreal, like Angel's Egg, and his psychological thrillers, like Ghost in the Shell. Many current fans are surprised to learn that he directed a comedy series like Urusei Yatsura. Oshii honed his talent for the mindtwist with the theatrical features of this franchise (as well as the similarly wry Patlabor universe), and Beautiful Dreamer is definitely much more of a mindtrip than the majority of the already "super-weird" TV series.

It isn't perfect, of course. This is by no means an acceptable standalone title -- the characters are assumed to be already known, so they are given only the briefest of introductions before being sent on their way to a Tomobiki that never seems quite real, even for its own universe. If anything, newcomers will be confused by the appearance of characters like Cherry, who get little more than cameos. Confusing imagery abounds, and the narrative itself is often convoluted enough to warrant rewinding and watching scenes over again, just to make sure you saw everything correctly. Bonus points for adding even more amusing mythological references to a franchise already loaded with them -- that's where you see the Takahashi essence at work. There is also quite a bit of development of certain characters, primarily the high schoolers, like the rich, but incredibly whimsical Mendou Shuutarou. Fans of the series will appreciate the added emphasis on these characters, while newer fans may struggle to keep up with all the names.

On the minus side, I must mention that the version I screened of this is one of the absolute worst English-language dubs I have ever experienced. While Valley Girl Lum is to be expected and Ataru is actually fairly decent-sounding, the vast majority of voices are either theatrically overacted or hopelessly wooden. Japanese names are slaughtered left and right - Megane becomes "Muh-gain" and Mendou becomes "Men-dow". Of course, this being an early Central Park Media release (unlike every other piece of the franchise), the dubbing quality (or lack thereof) should be no surprise, but I've honestly seen better dubs on Hong Kong action flicks.

Do keep in mind, also, that this is a fairly old movie. The animation and music are dated, but good for their time, well reflecting the often surreal ambience of the movie. Newer fans spoiled by digital work may find it more quaint than quality, and may draw parallels.

Even with the dub, I found Beautiful Dreamer to be a thought-provoking, occasionally confusing, but ultimately enjoyable movie, and while it isn't the same old Urusei Yatsura, it is a richly imaginative and welcome addition to a well-loved series.

Definitely something different, and an interesting step in the evolution of the Urusei Yatsura franchise. People expecting and looking for madcap comedy won't find it here, and might want to remove a star or two. — Carlos Ross

Recommended Audience: There's really not much in the sex and violence department here at all. Lum is actually fully clothed most of the time! There are a couple of scenes with some adult themes, but apart from that, the biggest deterrent to younger audiences will be the confusing nature of the plot, rather than offensive content.



Version(s) Viewed: VHS, English dub
Review Status: Full (1/1)
Urusei Yatsura Movie 2: Beautiful Dreamer (c) 1984 Takahashi Rumiko / Shogakukan / Fuji Television / Toho Corporation


AKA: N/A
Genre: Fantasy mindtrip with some comedic elements
Length: Movie, 98 minutes
Distributor: R1 DVD from Central Park Media out of print.
Content Rating: 13+ (adult themes, mild language)
Related Series: Urusei Yatsura (TV, OAVs, movies)
Also Recommended: Angel's Egg, Patlabor, Urusei Yatsura
Notes: I have heard this was based off a very short manga arc in the original Takahashi Rumiko manga -- however, I have not been able to confirm this offhand.
Rating:

This is taken from T.H.E.M. Anime Reviews
Written by Christina Carpenter

Urusei Yatsura

Synopsis

We've been waiting to write this review for six years. And where better to start than at the beginning?

Moroboshi Ataru is the world's unluckiest boy. He's also the world's biggest lecher, and can't seem to get any girl to give him the time of day. One fine day, aliens come down to invade the Earth, but they give the hapless Earthlings a chance to save themselves by randomly choosing a hero to play a game of tag against their green-haired sexpot crown princess Lum. Unfortunately for Earth, their hero is Ataru. While everyone prepares for the world to end, Ataru does his best to capture the princess, who can fly and send electric shocks. At the last moment, Ataru's �lady love�, Shinobu, makes a deal with him � if he wins the game of tag, she will marry him. A motivated Ataru wins the match in the final minutes, and upon winning, yells out for all to hear, �Now I can marry her!�

Unfortunately, he doesn't specifically which �her� � and the crown princess Lum and the race of invading aliens accept his heartfelt marriage proposal.

Review

Anime as we know it now would not be what it is if it weren't for Urusei Yatsura.

Prior to this show, most anime was still relegated to Saturday mornings and family fare. Even anime like Captain Harlock and Space Battleship Yamato were seen as shows for younger people, and while housewives had Sazae-san, anime was not seen as a legitimate form of entertainment for all ages. And while there were a few exceptions, anime was seen as very much �for kids�.

Enter Urusei Yatsura, which still resonates in Japanese culture to an extent rivaled only by Doraemon. But as Doraemon was a success among children, Urusei Yatsura was a show that truly crossed over for both young and old alike. And Lum is considered the first anime idol � no previous non-mascot anime character had ever sparked so much merchandising, records, posters, or simply become such a multimedia phenomenon. Lum was the first anime character that Japanese guys could idolize without being looked at funny � and she remains an icon not just in Japan, but worldwide.

To spark such a phenomenon, one would have to assume that the actual show is good, right? Well, it is.

Urusei Yatsura was truly revolutionary � no show had ever parodied the breadth and width of Japanese culture, past and present, so thoroughly as this one. With a huge cast of memorable, wonderful characters who are the seeds of today's anime archetypes (like anime's first true loser hero, Ataru, and first ditzy, petty magical girl-from-heaven, Lum), UY remains the mold that modern creators look to when creating their series. Most anime of the last twenty years can trace at least some influence to this show, and when anyone says, �It's been done before and better,� odds are that it was done by UY.

It may seem unfair or pretentious to compare all anime from 1981 onwards to Urusei Yatsura, until you realize that this show has everything ... AND the kitchen sink. While the characters are supposedly from a sci-fi show, they lampoon everything from mythology and folktales (the Oni, snow maidens, Momotaro) to modern Japanese society (Ataru's long-suffering parents, the put-upon teacher Onsen-Mark, the deranged and often irrelevant Buddhist monk Cherry) and different aspects of the then-current pop culture (disco music, romance dramas, biker gangs). Of course, UFOs and aliens were hip and cool in early 1980s Japan, which is why Urusei Yatsura is steeped in the sci-fi tradition, but it rarely takes itself seriously unless it wants to. But more often, Tomobiki High School is the backdrop for what can properly only be described as pure insanity.

Of course, no high school is complete without its zany cast of characters. Ataru is a completely irredeemable lout who really does bring on all the misery he gets in his life. And at the same time, you can't help but cheer for him and hope the poor loser catches a break someday. Then there's Lum, who floats around and wallows in the cutesy teenage slang of the time like an interstellar Valley Girl, while she chases Ataru around and zaps him for being unfaithful (since they're �married� and all). There's Ataru's handsome, filthy rich, and equally lecherous rival Mendou Shuutarou, who chases Lum around (because having an alien princess for a wife would be the ultimate status symbol). And there's Ataru's erstwhile fianc�e, Shinobu, who can lift and throw large objects (like Mack trucks) in her fits of rage without even really thinking about it. And there's dozens and dozens more characters, who would take the next six years to adequately describe. (Like the goddess of luck, Benten, who is mysteriously now a biker chick. Or Lum's bratty little cousin, Ten, who breathes fire, flies around on a training potty, and torments Ataru any time he can.)

However, for readers of the manga, the anime seems to go along on completely different tangents from the original. Where the manga has plenty of SF hi-jinks with the cast described, the anime brings in a foursome who many fans lovingly refer to as �Lum's Storm Troopers� (Megane �Glasses�, Perm �Curly�, Chibi �Shorty�, and Kakugari �Buzz�) � more often than not instigators of nine-tenths of the craziness in the anime. Initially absent in the manga, these everyday teenage boys are the anchors of the show, everyday Joe Schmoes who idolize Lum but don't have a chance in heck with her � and chase her anyway. In a sense, the �Storm Troopers� epitomized the audience of Urusei Yatsura and are the unheralded secret of the success of the anime. Rarely the true center of the action, they are nonetheless its catalysts, sparking the madness and grounding it at the same time. Where the main cast in the manga often simply runs amok, the anime �Storm Troopers� serve as a foil to Ataru and Mendou, and slow down the action enough so that all the characters get personalities beyond the archetypes presented in the manga.

The animation, for its time, is fairly average. Unfortunately, this means that Urusei Yatsura has noticeably aged, but thankfully they don't try too many neat things with the television budget. It probably would look more dated if they tried to look state-of-the-art. The music is heavily calypso-influenced (as was popular in Japan during the time period), and there is a whole lot of disco dancing going on. But the songs are cute, funny, and enjoyable even now � even younger fans who are normally deathly allergic to disco have been caught grooving to �Lum's Love Song� and �Space is Super-Weird�.

Nothing quite sums up Urusei Yatsura as the word �weird�. UY epitomizes the very idea that the Japanese are completely frickin' insane � and quite proud of it, thank you very much. However, this show isn't just about being weird and funny.

If all UY had to offer was gag-a-minute visuals, then it wouldn't still be airing on reruns even today in Japan like an anime I Love Lucy � and Lum's image wouldn't be selling pasta on a poster in Rome, over twenty years after the show first hit the air. Urusei Yatsura is a timeless comedy that takes a deep, hard look at the Japanese psyche with a funhouse mirror. Younger fans may dismiss it now because they've seen all the jokes in newer anime like Ranma �, Tenchi Muyo, and Sorcerer Hunters, but Urusei Yatsura is a landmark series that deserves to be remembered for what it is: one of the first megahits � and still one of the best.

An original and unapologetically Japanese classic that earns every star we can give. Newer fans, however, might drop a star or two due to dated animation and not having the fandom and/or cultural background to properly appreciate it. — Christina Carpenter

Recommended Audience: Despite brief nudity (oh, gee, Lum's top comes off once or twice), innuendo, and slapstick violence, I'd have trouble barring anyone from watching this, because those factors are inconsequential compared to the humor and entertainment value of this show. Unless you're a stick-in-the-mud prude, I'd say three and up. Young ones would get a kick out of the physical humor, teens would enjoy the high school antics, and adults would be amused by the endless cultural references being skewered.



Version(s) Viewed: Broadcast airing, raw Japanese; VHS, raw Japanese with scripts; prerelease fansub; VHS, Japanese with subtitles
Review Status: Full (218/218)
Urusei Yatsura (c) 1981 Takahashi Rumiko / Shogakukan / Kitty / Fuji TV


AKA: Those Obnoxious Aliens, Lum
Genre: Science-fiction romance comedy
Length: Television series, 218 episodes, 25 minutes each
Distributor: VHS and R1 DVD from AnimEigo
Content Rating: 7+ (brief nudity, slapstick violence)
Related Series: Urusei Yatsura OAV, Urusei Yatsura (movies)
Also Recommended: Ranma 1/2, Tenchi Muyo
Notes: A short-lived AnimEigo dub was made and released as Those Obnoxious Aliens (which is the literal translation of this show). Generally acknowledged to be one of the worst dubs ever conceived, it tanked in sales and was discontinued after only one tape. Its failure has absolutely no bearing on this review.

There are also numerous OAVs and six movies (which will be reviewed separately), and the whole thing is based off Takahashi Rumiko's seminal manga of the same name (released by Viz in North America as Lum and The Return of Lum, because they're silly like that).
Rating:

This is taken from Otaku USA
Written by Daryl Surat

m-UY-00

"A hapless, average guy finds himself surrounded by beautiful women, all of whom love him inexplicably for simply existing and have one or two defining personality traits. The guy lacks the backbone to pick just one girl, so he's content to keep things as they are, such that as situations develop, he can be around all the characters as they exhibit their personality traits. If he accidentally touches one of the girls or sees them in a state of undress, then he is met with physical violence. When things start getting stale, just introduce another girl."

Over the decades, the above has become the template for a glut of anime romantic comedies and dramas, enough such that fans in America coined the informal term 'harem anime' as a catch-all to describe them. But where did this all begin? For my money's worth, the REAL answer is Kimagure Orange Road, as that defined all of the character archetypes, situations, stock gags, and so on that makes the entire harem genre absolute garbage. But KOR apologists, too blind to see that the show they adore is actually utter trash, will deny this charge on the grounds that there are only TWO girls the wimpy milquetoast guy can't decide between in that show. As such, the most commonly agreed-upon origin of the 'harem anime' is the 1980s anime series Urusei Yatsura (roughly translated, 'Those Obnoxious Aliens'), ostensibly based on a manga series by Rumiko Takahashi, creator of such mega-popular series as Inuyasha and Ranma ½. But I got news for you: anyone who makes that claim is flat-out wrong. Urusei Yatsura isn't the first 'harem anime'. It's the anti-harem anime, preemptively made before harem anime existed, and it remains one of the best anime ever.

The basic formula for UY: take a classic Japanese mythological tale or creature and render it as a crazy guy or a cute girl. Then unleash them on the third stone from the sun and let the hijinks ensue. Mob chase scenes, widespread destruction, countless puns, facefaults, and slapstick domestic violence "remember, against guys only because it's only funny when MEN get physically assaulted!" are the norm in this series, which defiantly

s-UY-05

gives continuity the finger as our heroïne's house is routinely destroyed, only to be perfectly rebuilt and fine a few moments later. If you're expecting a story, look elsewhere. Crayon Shin-chan is commonly described as 'the Japanese version of The Simpsons', but Urusei Yatsura to me is the Japanese version of The Simpsons back when that show was still good.

It does't take long to end up with quite a few cute girls, but here's the principal difference as to why Urusei Yatsura is not a 'harem' show: the reason the so-called 'harem' exists in those shows is because the main character never seems to try and score with any of the women fawning over him, not even the one who's positioned as the 'obvious' choice. To do so would imply the presence of a distinct personality. That makes it harder for the otaku viewer to mentally substitute themselves in for the blank slate male lead. Some notable examples in recent years have bucked this trend, but they're not intentionally comedic.

Urusei Yatsura, as the predecessor to 'harem' anime proper and an era in which otaku were the primary demographic for anime, has a male lead that's the polar opposite of all that: Ataru Moroboshi, the most lecherous teenager on the planet. True, he can't pick one girl. But that's because he wants ALL the girls, and no matter what Neil Strauss says, when you're the kind of guy Ataru is, hitting on every girl you see just means you get rejected by every girl you see.

All the girls HATE him, with the exception of one. For as a further example of his terrible luck: his name roughly translates to 'get hit by a falling star', one of the aforementioned countless puns, Ataru finds himself forcefully hitched to Lum, the green-haired princess of an alien race known as the 'Oni'. Like the mythical creatures, Lum has horns and wears tiger-striped clothing, except instead of being a scary ogre like her dad she's a cute girl with green hair who wears a two-piece, tiger-striped bikini as her default outfit. Between her revealing attire that guarantees she's on pretty much every bit of official Urusei Yatsura artwork and Stevie B's anime con evangelism, Lum is far, FAR more famous and well-known than the series in which she originates.

That's quite unfortunate, since Lum quite frankly is the least entertaining character in the entire series. Oh sure, she can fly and shoot lightning when she's either very s-UY-07happy or very upset (which she gets whenever she sees Ataru trying to cheat on her, so every episode), but her main purpose in the story is to get the ball rolling for the story by way of her having some sort of random alien invention or there being some character that's interested in her. Lum is not funny herself and after a few minutes, it doesn't even register in your brain that she's wearing either a bikini or a schoolgirl uniform. However, she enables everybody ELSE to be funny.

Lum's friends and relatives are a cadre of wacky aliens with their own bizarre traits based on 'fractured fairy tale' style interpretations of classic Japanese myths. Ataru's classmates, teachers, and parents are greedy, fanatical, and prone to violence or general mental instability. Hey, you'd go crazy too if you had to keep track of that many love triangles! Much like the supporting cast of The Simpsons, you can sum up everyone's character in pretty much one phrase. The Prince of the Underground: his talent is DIGGING HOLES! Ryuunosuke: she's a girl who was raised as a boy by her jerk dad, so hardly anyone realizes she's a girl! (Note: just like the girls in the show, female fans of Urusei Yatsura LOVE Ryuunosuke.) There may not be an ongoing narrative, but everyone's developed just enough such that by the time the writers come up with a situation, they need only drop these characters in and the episodes practically write themselves. The first ending credits song sums up the writing approach: let's put weird and weird together, and make it even weirder!'

Truly, these aren't the typical scenarios you see reused today so often in actual 'harem' properties. As the anti-harem anime, Urusei Yatsura had CREATIVITY. One episode was about the banning of leaving school campus to get lunch, thus resulting in a city-wide war between truants and faculty. A PTA meeting results in intergalactic war, the peace negotiations of which were settled by a roulette gamble. Contracting space cavities means the only way to slightly alleviate your pain and general zombie-like state is to bite someone else, thus giving THEM space cavities. A space taxi driver gets stiffed on his fare, so he steals all of the world's oil. A rich girl accompanied by an army of kabuki stagehands holds a masquerade ball where everyone ends up fighting it out as they race to the goal. Heck, one episode is a straight-up Agatha Christie homage in which everyone gets invited to an island mansion and gets KILLED one by one! No 'harem' show since ever came CLOSE to this level of inspired brainstorming. They all banked instead on emphasizing the pretty girls. They just don't get it: Lum isn't what makes the show completely awesome. Yes, she is literally the poster girl of the series, and without 2D and 3D people alike being drawn to her there would be no show as these situations wouldn't come to pass, but that isn't enough to make people stay interested for long.

s-UY-19

I know she created it, but I just can't credit Rumiko Takahashi for Urusei Yatsura being so great. For despite the fact that many of the TV scenarios were originally in the manga, her characterizations were off. Not only are some of my favorite characters in the series not even in her manga, she made her version of Lum pretty much a psycho hose beast. This in turn is how she's depicted in the earliest episodes of the anime, and this along with the now-dated animation turns people off big-time. It wasn't until about 20 episodes in when series director, a then-fledgling guy by the name of Mamoru Oshii, changed Lum's character to be nicer and more sympathetic against Takahashi's will that the popularity of Urusei Yatsura really exploded. The animation budget rose dramatically, and even though the stories began to diverge greatly from the manga, Rumiko Takahashi became a superstar by association. UY was a reasonable manga hit after a slow start in 1978, but it wasn't until 1982'four years later, mind you'when Oshii started to make it his own that it became a MASSIVE hit. So despite my liking the short stories of Rumiko Takahashi, many of which she wrote at the same time as Urusei Yatsura to make ends meet, I can't help but think that Mamoru Oshii was the one to credit for her rise to superstardom.

The average length of a modern anime series is 13-26 episodes, and most of those can't sustain their premises for even that long. Urusei Yatsura ran for 195 TV episodes, 11 OAVs, and 6 movies. It was also the first anime series to really spend BIG money on the music; the full collection of all the vocal songs and background music spans 15 non-singles compact discs! It's a colossal production, and all of it was released on DVD in America, making it the single longest anime series to be brought out in its entirety in the US. Of all that, Mamoru Oshii, who later went on to direct more serious fare such as the Ghost in the Shell movies, directed over 100 episodes as well as the first two movies. The second movie, Beautiful Dreamer, is commonly hailed as one of the single best anime films of all time. People correctly note that film is a drastic departure in tone from the typical UY source material, but it's not a total anomaly. There are some serious, surreal episodes mixed in amidst the screwball chaos. After Oshii left in 1984, his successor Kazuo Yamazaki put the remainder of the series on a much more sentimental route. The characters kind of paired up and mellowed out a bit, but there were still some great episodes and the follow-up TV episode length OAVs are good stuff. I particularly liked the OAV 'Catch the Heart,' where the gang finds candies that, once eaten, cause a heart to appear above your head. Grab someone's heart, and they fall madly in love with you!

s-UY-23

I think when it comes to Rumiko Takahashi, whichever series of hers you see first is typically the one you end up liking the most. After reading Usenet as a teenager, I intentionally watched Urusei Yatsura first so I wouldn't end up like those annoying Ranma ' posters. To this day, Ranma just isn't funny enough to me. It started off as a parody of shonen action/adventure series, but went on for so long that it became exactly what it was making fun of. Inuyasha purported to have an ongoing narrative, but little happened in the way of progress such that the finale was so rushed that hardly anyone still cared by the time it happened. Yet everyone I know loves either Ranma or Inuyasha as Urusei Yatsura and Maison Ikkoku remain relatively forgotten. It's because the former are what they saw first, or at all. Personally, I blame that early set of UY episodes which were lower in budget (they definitely look their age!) and more faithful to Rumiko Takahashi's manga.

If you want to learn more about Urusei Yatsura, go to the website I went to decades ago in the early days of the World Wide Web: Tomobiki-Cho. It's still there and it's still the best English language resource on the series there is, bar none. While you're at it, this is an open invitation to head to AnimEigo to get the DVDs. Sure, there are over 60 DVDs, but they're $8 each nowadays. There was only one series quite like this one, and though many have tried to replicate its winning formula over the years, none quite succeeded.

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