"Urusei Yatsura is based on the manga by Rumiko Takahashi, creator of Inuyasha. U.Y. was Takahashi's first success, and one of the most beloved series of the 1980's. Tiger bikini-clad Lum is still a popular character at cosplay conventions. However, the series is not as voraciously watched as Inuyasha. Whether this is because people think it is old, or dated, or the animation is not slick, they are missing out on true zany hilarity.
A little naughty, with a little nudity, the story is about an unlucky teen named Ataru who lives with his parents and becomes the love target of a sexy alien girl named Lum. There are so many crazy characters, most based on Japanese mythology, and an anything-goes "plotline." Ms. Takehashi has a wonderful imagination, and this series is strictly a steady stream of laughing gas."
No Words to Describe
Otaku Technik | 03/15/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)
"There really are no (English) words adequate to describe Urusei Yatsura- it's an animated absurdist romantic-comedy from outer space, it's a work of art which helped form the famed avant-garde anime director Mamoru Oshii's career, a groundbreaker which pioneered anime aimed at a more mature audience and popularized many of the now-standard anime gags; the list could go on for a VERY long time.
Before I go on with the review, I'd like to make a few corrections of misunderstandings from other reviews- for one, the DVD does indeed have a menu from which you can access the individual episodes (you just have to press the "Menu" button on your remote) and the transfer is top-notch for a show that, bear in mind, is from nearly thirty years ago. Originally a dub was created for the first four episodes, but due to its general atrociousness it was discontinued. I doubt many of the people buying this anime (generally being pretty hardcore anime fans) could care that much. The animation, while not as shiny as the later episodes or modern anime, was some of the best from the period. And Ataru is indeed likable- but I'll get to that later.
Urusei Yatsura (the title is a Japanese pun which is much too hard to explain in a limited format, but could rougly translate as "Those Obnoxious Aliens") was a breakthrough for several different giants of the manga and anime worlds. For one, it was the debut series of Ms. Rumiko Takahashi, the world's most popular female comic artist and multi-multi-multi-millionaire creator of some of the most loved and very best manga ever, and which helped her to cement that position. But if the manga was Takahashi's breakthrough, the anime was twice that for many of the most acclaimed directors, artists, and writers of the anime world, especially Mamoru Oshii, directors of such films as "Ghost in the Shell". But enough history.
The plot has been described in detail elsewhere, so I won't go that far into it, but suffice it to say that yes, it is just as weird and crazy as it sounds. What else could it be when the plot is centered around the most luckless, lecherous, nerdy loser on the face of the earth who just happens to be the exclusive, passionate love interest of a green-haired, tiger-skin bikini wearing and pheromone-exuding space princess with the sensual name "Lum" (pronounced "luhm", or in Japanese, even "ramu", not "loom" as I originally believed)?
For some reason, and I am no exception, many fans of Takahashi's work originally feel a little hesitation to pick up Urusei Yatsura, probably mostly from misinformed or biased reviews which describe the animation as outdated, etc. But trust me- its really hard, if you're a fan of anime, to NOT become hooked on this show. The comedy is much more wacky than what you can find in Ranma 1/2, but besides that, the show really has heart, with extraordinarily likeable characters and enjoyable situations. It's easy to fall in love with Lum, but Ataru is another story- many complaints say that, unlike Godai or InuYasha or Ranma, Ataru has no strong points. I disagree; yes, he may be a loser compared to the characters just mentioned, and yes, he really is an a**hole most of the time, but he has something that not many other male anime characters have- identifiability. He's just a normal, if very persistent, high-school age loser, who is thrust into the weirdness mostly against his will. Besides, I know it sounds cheesy, but the character has an ultimately good heart, and it comes out even in some of these earlier episodes.
The only reason I give 4 stars instead of 5 is that this first season is hardly the best, featuring the most dated animation and less interesting character development than the second season and onward(Oshii had yet to take the reigns). Indeed, many picking up the first four episodes might even be turned off- leaving us Urusei Yatsura veterans to only say "Please, hold out a little longer". The series really is a classic and a gem, but you have to give it a chance. I would suggest picking up one of the later volumes first, to get a sense of the series' potential, and then coming back to the first season."
Boys mets Alien
Ronnie Clay | Winnsboro, Louisiana | 10/19/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This tale of an alien princess, Lum in love with the worlds biggest lecher, Ataru, could only come from the wild mind Rumiko Takahashi. This comedy/sci-fi/romance is full of memorable characters like Ten, Sakura, Mendo, Shinodu, Ryunosuke, Ran, Cherry, and a lot of others. The stories will have you busting laughing and the animation is pretty good for 80's standards."
A nice trip down memory lane!
ChibiNeko | Whereever I go, here I am. | 10/09/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"While younger anime audiences in the US may not know about this series, us older viewers will fondly remember UY as one of the first series to come to the US in both anime & manga formats. Unfortunately this was one of the series that didn't fare so well in those early & rough days of manga/anime, so unfortunately the manga series is now out of print. The anime series is luckily still in print, so the newbies can still get this part of the UY franchise.
The plotline of the series is somewhat simplistic for a Takahashi manga, which is one of it's strengths. Lum is one of several invading aliens bent on conquering planet Earth. Luckily for Earth, the aliens are willing to give them a chance to keep their planet from being conquered- if the Earth's champion can catch Lum in a game of tag. Chosen at random is the extremely unlucky & lecherous Ataru, a Japanese boy with more bad habits than good ones. When a misunderstanding causes Lum to believe that Ataru wants to marry her, Ataru is "cursed" to have the beautiful alien by his side forever.
I just love this series. True, some parts of the series & animation do seem dated by today's standards, but the sheer quality of UY shines through & it's very easy to see why this series is still so well loved by it's fans here in the US & in Japan. Whenever I watch this series I can't help but wonder why it hasn't become more popular over here, especially with Takahashi's other works being so popular.
If you consider yourself an anime fan, you have to see this series. If you haven't at least watched one episode, you really can't count yourself as being hardcore. (Liking it isn't necessary, but watching at least one UY episode, OAV or movie is!)"
Sci-Fi? Romance? Drama? Yes!
Christopher Bubb | Saline, MI United States | 07/17/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Rumiko Takahashi's first major work illustrates why she is so popular, both in Japan and in the United States: there is literally no limit to her imagination. She comes up with the strangest ideas, stuff that will quite literally have you saying, "Whoa! I didn't expect THAT to happen!" and laughing yourself silly while you say that. And as much as RANMA ½ is my favorite of Takahashi's works, none of her works illustrate her vast imagination better than URUSEI YATSURA. It's a series that seems to throw in everything under the sun and then some - some episodes are sci-fi-oriented, some are pure drama, some are romantic comedies and some are nothing but good old-fashioned comedy. Fans of just about any genre of anime will find something to like here. I will admit, though, that it is quite jarring to have some of the stories end so abruptly without any real resolution... you're waiting for some kind of resolution and suddenly realize that the episode is over! That's why I think the best way to watch this series is to not try to figure it out or overanalyze it, but to just sit back, take it for what it is and enjoy. It's not as story-driven as Inuyasha, Maison Ikkoku, or the first season of Ranma, and first-time viewers may be put off by the apparently disjointed vibe, but it's still very enjoyable. These first four episodes are a good introduction to the characters and premise, but be forewarned - starting in episode one, URUSEI YATSURA starts pouring the wackiness on thick and then keeps it coming relentlessly until the DVD is over.
The old-fashioned animation style will undoubtedly jar some viewers, but keep in mind this was a TV series which as I write this is now a little over three years shy of being 30 years old. This series was an early directorial job for GHOST IN THE SHELL's Mamoru Oshii. Studio Pierrot, also known for YU YU HAKUSHO, MIDORI DAYS, and the early-years-of-Nickelodeon classic MYSTERIOUS CITIES OF GOLD (why the heck isn't THAT series on DVD?!), handled the animation, and though the animation is of varying quality, it's still decent for an early `80s TV series. (And it does get better as the series progresses.) The character voices fit the characters very well (Fumi Hirano as Lum - her debut voice role - and Kazuko Sugiyama as Ten are my favorites so far), and the opening theme "Lum's Love Song" (basically Lum scolding Ataru to stay away from other women because she "Loves him the best") is perhaps the catchiest anime theme song ever written. I don't speak a word of Japanese but I still find myself humming it! It captures the spirit of the series perfectly.
Unlike other comedy-oriented series, URUSEI YATSURA's greatest strength is in the characters. Stock characters they most certainly are not. Ataru is a womanizing jerk but yet not entirely unsympathetic and unlikeable - it's hard not to feel sorry for him when his mother says, "I never should've had him," or to admire him for simply letting his troubles roll off of him like water off a duck's back. Shinobu is an interesting character as well; she deplores Ataru's womanizing yet always seems willing to give him one more chance (which he inevitably blows, though not always through his own fault). And though I find myself agreeing with Ten (and just about everyone else) that Lum could do so much better than Ataru, she won't give up on him - obviously she sees something in him that no one else does. Yet it's also fun to note Lum's naivete when it comes to Earth ways and customs (i.e., she thinks it's perfectly natural to visit her "Darling" Ataru at school... in his classroom). I think Ten may actually be my favorite character thus far; it's fun to watch him torture Ataru with his fiery breath and with his constant stream of insults. Ten is probably the best at putting Ataru in his place when he needs it.
Even in the first four episodes, you notice many motifs that will be replayed in Takahashi's later works. Lum is a lot like Shampoo from Ranma, and Ten reminds me a lot of Inuyasha's Shippo. And then there's Lum's ex, the hunky but hopelessly stupid Rei (his name means "zero," and that describes him pretty well), whose transformation into a tiger when he gets angry seems to have presaged the water-induced transformations of Ranma.
As for there not being an English dub... AnimEigo did in fact release an English dub of the first two episodes, titled THOSE OBNOXIOUS ALIENS. It was never released on DVD and the VHS is long out of print now, but it's just as well, because the dubbing was terrible - and I say this as someone who actually likes and enjoys English dubs. Lum was given an accent that was so thick it made her hard to understand at times; Ataru's voice sounded like some kind of bumbling mad scientist; and don't even get me started on Shinobu, whose English VA sounded like she was SCREAMING HER LINES AT THE TOP OF HER LUNGS! I generally do like English dubs, but not this one - the only decent voices belonged to Ataru's parents, in fact. The dub was uncut and the dialogue almost exactly the same as the English subs, but the poor acting ruined it and it just smacked of lack of effort. If you ever get the chance to watch LUM THE INVADER GIRL, an English dub made by the BBC and aired in the UK a couple of years back on what is now BBC 3, watch it instead of THOSE OBNOXIOUS ALIENS. The dialogue is less faithful to the original Japanese, but the voice actors do a much better job, though it may be jarring (for American viewers) hearing anime characters speaking in a British rather than American dialect of English. Of course, you will get the best viewing experience by watching in the original Japanese with English subs, partly because there simply isn't any easy way to work in the many Japanese cultural references adequately into an English dub.
Parents be forewarned: some very mild and brief nudity, but much less than in RANMA ½. Should be suitable for ages 12 and up. I'd say there is more of a risk of hurting yourself by laughing too much than of being scarred by the sight of Lum's bare breasts in Episode One.
Simply put: if you are a fan of Rumiko Takahashi's later works, of 1980s anime or of old-school anime in general, you owe it to yourself to check out URUSEI YATSURA. "