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The Fall 2022 Preview Guide
Urusei Yatsura

How would you rate episode 1 of
Urusei Yatsura (TV 2022) ?
Community score: 4.0

What is this?

Urusei Yatsura is the story of the unluckiest and most lecherous young man alive, Ataru Moroboshi. When aliens decide to invade Earth, Ataru is randomly selected to defend his planet by playing a game of the aliens' national sport, tag. Should he win, the world shall be saved. However, Ataru is motivated for far less noble reasons, as the one he plays against is revealed to be the curvaceous alien princess, Lum. The game goes for 10 days, and on the last day, Ataru, motivated by his girlfriend assuring him marriage (and consequently, a marriage night one can assume) should he win, finally catches Lum. However, with his victory he gives a cry of joy for his coming marriage, which is misinterpreted by Lum to be a marriage proposal. She promptly agrees, beginning the two's "marriage" together.

Urusei Yatsura is the new television anime of Rumiko Takahashi's manga and streams on HIDIVE on Thursdays.

How was the first episode?

Richard Eisenbeis

Like many American anime fans of my generation, my first introduction to Urusei Yatsura was the 1984 classic Beautiful Dreamer. This film, written and directed by Mamoru Oshii of Ghost in the Shell fame, is a surrealist adventure playing with time and dreams to explore the wants and needs that lie at the core of the human soul. The film remains one of my all-time favorite anime to this day (to the point I talked about it at length with him a few years back), However, if you're a fan like me, there is one important thing to note: Beautiful Dreamer is the exception, not the rule, when it comes to Urusei Yatsura—this new anime included.

Even with the new coat of paint, the new Urusei Yatsura feels very much like the series and manga that it's adapted from. Unlike shows whose stories have been updated to modern times like Spriggan and Parasyte, Urusei Yatsura remains set in the 70s. The main difference is simply the more modern animation style used. What we get in the end is a series that feels almost out of time.

All the old clichés are there: the lecherous lead, the violent women, and the accidental pervert situations. We are basically watching the world's most abusive, dysfunctional relationship. We have Ataru who claims to want to be with his childhood friend but can't stop lusting after every girl that walks by. Then we have Lum, an alien who has decided that she is destined to be with Ataru and physically assaults him with electricity when he tries to argue the point. And lastly, we have Shinobu, a doormat who will forgive Ataru again and again, no matter what he does. When it comes down to it, all three (not to mention the rest of the cast) are highly unlikable—and that's kind of the point.

The reason Urusei Yatsura works as a comedy is the simple fact that everything horrible that happens to our “heroes” feels like karmic justice. You can laugh because you are seeing bad things happening to bad people. The problem for me is, that's not really the kind of comedy I enjoy these days. Even in comedies, I like having someone to root for rather than simply reveling in the misery of others. And even if that's not the case, I'd at least like some kind of social commentary or philosophical exploration. But to be frank, I'm not going to get that here. …Well, not unless they give Mamoru Oshii the helm again and let him take the story in his own direction, anyway.

James Beckett

Urusei Yatsura is one of the seminal Rumiko Takahashi classics that I've managed to stay mostly ignorant of throughout my time as an anime fan. I'm well aware of Lum, naturally, but I always knew of the bikini-clad space waifu more as an ever-present cultural meme than a real character. This new adaptation is the first time I've actually sat down to watch a full episode of Lum's antics, and I've got to say, I think I get it! This show is pretty darned fun.

I'll admit it took me awhile to acclimate to the series' very retro comedic stylings. I'm already disinclined to love a comedy where the main joke is how loud every character is while crazy things happen around them, and Ataru's whole “incomprehensibly lame and stupid” shtick doesn't exactly make for the most likable protagonist around.

I got a lot more out of it when I stopped looking at it like a “romantic” comedy and started to see it more like the horniest possible version of a Looney Tunes cartoon. Think about it: Ataru is basically a lecherous Elmer Fudd, Lum is the sexy Bugs Bunny in a bikini who can only express her love via constant psychological and emotional torment, and Shinobu is… I dunno, Daffy Duck, maybe? Look, I get that it's an iffy analogy, but it makes sense to me, and it helped recalibrate my brain so that I could focus on the colorful feats of cartoon violence on display, and not so much on whether I actually cared about whether Ataru would ever get to “kill the wabbit,” if you get my drift (I'm talking about sex).

Speaking of colors, it also helps that Studio David is producing one of the liveliest and aesthetically dazzling shows that I've seen all season! I love details like Lum's color shifting hair and all of the little comic book flourishes that have been added to the background art and scene transitions. Even if Ataru's sounds are often grating to a fault, I'm happy to watch all of his suffering in glorious HD if it manages to look this consistently delightful.

Overall, I reckon your mileage with this new Urusei Yatsura will directly correlate to your affection for the source material, or, at the very least, your desire to indulge in decades-old sitcom tropes that have been given one hell of a facelift. I don't know if it is going to make my personal rotation this fall, but I'll be keeping it in mind if I ever need to add a splash of color and some cheap laughs to my routine.

Rebecca Silverman

I have to admit that Urusei Yatsura was never my favorite Rumiko Takahashi series, mostly because I found Ataru insufferable and Lum's fixation on him baffling. The new anime adaptation is doing nothing to change my opinion, but it is doing a few things that I find I quite like. Chief among those is the decision to keep the setting in the late 20 th century – there's nary a cellphone to be seen, and in fact we see plenty of circa 1980 technology in use, from wired landlines to old box televisions. Ataru's clothing also screams the time period (as does Shinobu's but for some reason not quite so much), and all of that really adds to the campy feel of the piece. While the plot isn't one that's gone away or is no longer relevant, having it set in the original time period makes it more fun, because you know no one can be looking up plot holes and other similar world building glitches on their smartphones as the story happens. We simply have to take the series at face value, and that's a good thing. I also enjoy all of the nods to Takahashi's original manga scattered around, primarily in the opening theme when Lum herself pops out of black and white manga panels into full animated color.

Sadly the problems I had with the original manga (I never saw the first anime series, manga being easier to come by for me in those days) are still on full display in the reboot. Ataru is still a disgusting pig of a character, yelling basically every line he utters and managing to be worth exactly no one's time. Why both Shinobu and Lum are invested in him remains a mystery, although I suppose Shinobu could have known him back before the hormones kicked in (I don't actually remember how long they've known each other). Even when he's screaming a good game Ataru winds up in a bad position, and while Cherry would have us believe that at least in part of this is due to the extremely unlucky stars he was born under, that doesn't quite make up for it. In all honesty, I think the best way to judge this is based on whether or not you enjoyed the original, because however you felt about the characters and story then are very likely to carry over into this new incarnation.

Nicholas Dupree

The biggest question going into this remake/reboot/revival project was just how much – if at all – it would change for a modern audience. Urusei Yatsura is unarguably a defining title in anime and manga history, and you can find its DNA in virtually every anime comedy to this day. But that also means audiences have had 40 years to get familiar with, and eventually bored of, the tropes and gags it codified so long ago. Just making the same show again, but with modern animation and music, would be like doing a 4K shot-for-shot remake of Seinfeld – at best it would be a weird novelty to compare to the original before discarding. And with this first episode in the books, that's kind of what this show feels like, honestly.

Shockingly little has changed in the jump to 2022. Ataru might be swiping through Tinder on a smartphone in the new OP, but the technology in the show proper is all tube TVs and rotary landline phones. We've got new voice actors for the main cast, but they're delivering jokes in the same shouty cadence as if they never left 1981. Outside of a few minor cuts to make these two stories fit into a single 20-minute episode, this is essentially a straight adaptation of chapters one and five of the manga, seemingly because those are the most iconic early entries in the series. This is about as close as you could possibly get to faithful with an adaptation or reboot.

That's not necessarily bad, as there's still certainly some charm to the absurd slapstick of this alien love triangle, but it makes this new adaptation feel at once dated and redundant. Dated, in that the style of comedy where characters shouting insults and being selfish bastards has kind of fallen out of vogue, and now you need to be a lot more clever to keep an audience around. I'll admit even as somebody with a high tolerance for shouty romcoms, I got pretty tired of Hiroshi Kamiya yelling every line, and gags like Ataru's mom wishing she never gave birth to him just don't ring as all that funny anymore. Redundant because if a modern viewer is in the mood for that style of episodic comedy, why wouldn't they just seek out the original and get it straight from the space-cow? That show had episodes directed by some of the biggest names in 80's and 90's animation, and there's way more of it to check out. It just feels like a missed opportunity when you have one of the most iconic anime characters and IPs in history to just make the same thing again but with a fresh coat of paint.

Though that coat of paint is quite nice. The series pulls off a pretty masterful magic trick, managing to make these characters feel faithful to their 80s designs without looking out of place in the modern anime landscape. Lum herself gets the most focus for obvious reasons, but the whole thing is filled with lively animation and creative layouts. Combined with great color work that makes every frame pop, and you've got an excellent and appealing production that feels like it's paying dues to the original without being constrained by slavish recreation.

On the whole this isn't a bad premiere. If you have a taste for old-school, episodic anime hijinks then this will certainly scratch your itch. If you're an oldhead who just wants to see some more lovingly animated Lum, then you'll be feasting for the next 24 weeks. And if you're a total newbie just curious about a piece of anime history, this is a perfectly serviceable entry point. But being functional and competent can't help but feel like damning with faint praise.

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