R1 Publisher: AnimEigo
Animation: Studio DEEN
Producers: Kitty Films
Original Release: 10/14/1981
US Release: 6/28/1995
What is it
Urusei Yatsura is a romantic comedy anime based on Rumiko Takahashi’s manga of the same title. The series focuses on Ataru Moroboshi: lecher and unemployed loser. Ataru’s existence has been nothing but misfortune since his birth. His parents don’t want him, his friends exist to stab him in the back, and the girl he loves is prone to jealous fits of rage. His luck changes one day, when he is chosen to be the savior of earth. An invading alien race, known as the Oni have come to earth and threaten to destroy the world unless Earth’s greatest champion can beat the Oni leader’s daughter Lum in a game of (what else?) Oni. Ataru has one week to win the game, lest the planet’s people face a fate worse than death.
Things look bleak, as Ataru proves to be as inept as he looks. However, a miracle occurs, as Ataru manages to win the game by chance, and grab the horns on Lum’s head. The earth is saved, and Ataru is rewarded. However, his prize is far more than anyone would have expected. As a reward for winning, Ataru won Lum’s hand in marriage!
The series is presented as a series of shorts, in which Ataru adjusts to life with his alien wife. Everything, from earth customs, to institutions like schools and landmarks are explored with a child-like wonder, and exposes how rife for comedy human nature can really be. Ataru’s less-than-ideal family life, his backstabbing friends, and even Lum’s former flames provide a darker sense of humor that makes even self-loathing a fun occasion.
Why is it Important?
Urusei Yatsura served as the launching point for several now-prominent figures in the anime industry. The most notable of these milestones include the following:
- Urusei Yatsura was Rumiko Takahashi’s first serialized series
- The series served as Mamoru Oshii’s (Ghost in the Shell) first directorial work
In addition, the series is one of the pioneers in the romantic comedy genre. The series is widely credited as an important piece of the “magical girlfriend” sub-genre of romantic comedies, and an influence on titles like Ah! My Goddess and Video Girl Ai.
Any Interesting Stories?
Central Park Media actually released one volume of the series on dubbed VHS under the title “Those Obnoxious Aliens.” The series featured an early performance by now-prominent dub actor Michael Sinterniklaas, who filled the role of Ataru.
On the note of Central Park Media, the company did acquire the rights to a part of the franchise. In particular, they acquired the second movie: Beautiful Dreamer. The deal occurred at exactly the same time frame as that which led to AnimEigo’s acquisition of the rest of the series. To maintain consistency through the franchise, AnimEigo was hired to translate and subtitle the film, and to design the packaging.
Beaufitiful Dreamer was the result of Oshii’s dissatisfaction with Only You. He loathed the idea of catering to the audience, and decided to make the film to his own specifications. Takahashi rejected the script outright, which led to backlash toward Oshii by franchise fans at the time.