Reviewby Allen Divers, Feb 3rd 2004
Urusei Yatsura: Only You
When a girl from Ataru's past comes back to marry him, it's up to Lum and the rest of the gang to put a stop to it. The only problem: Ataru's pretty excited about getting married. Lum pulls no punches as she gets her father to gather the entire Oni space fleet to put a stop to the wedding. And of course, as always, the rest of the gang has their own motives for keeping the wedding going so they can be with Lum. Will true love prevail, or will Ataru finally get lucky?
The current popularity of anime owes its existence to a group of hardcore fans that in the early 90s who decided to legitimately bring over some of the best that Japan had to offer. Of the initial set of companies that appeared, only a few are still running. AnimEigo, one of these early pioneers, has made a name for itself by continuing to pump out releases of one of the titles they began with. So after a few years of promise, the first of the Urusei Yatsura movies finally makes its way to the DVD format. AnimEigo has high hopes as this movie represents a new attempt to dub this wonderful series after a very brief and unsuccessful attempt in AnimEigo's early history. With the release time of the rest of the movies hanging on the success of this movie, AnimEigo is looking for a home run with this classic series.
While not the first Urusei Yatsura movie to be released on DVD or feature an English Dub (that honor goes to CPM's release of Movie 2: Beautiful Dreamer) Only You represents AnimEigo's foray back into dubbing Urusei Yatsura. Often credited as why sub fans hate dubs, the early dub showed a lack of experience and poor casting choices, leaving a giant hurdle for future dubs from any company to overcome. Fans waiting for the release of this movie in the original promised box set, featuring all the movies and specials, grew ever impatient when AnimEigo announced plans to dub the movie and release it on its own. Delays were announced as AnimEigo struggled to find the right actress for the part. After a while, the parts were cast and AnimEigo premiered the dub at Anime Expo 2003.
When it comes down to it, the dub is passable but not really groundbreaking or awe-inspiring. Those used to the Japanese voices will squirm a bit in their seats as the English actors try to imitate the tones of the Japanese voices, and fail miserably. The English script follows the original Japanese as closely as possible, but it's just difficult for fans to get over the voices they are already used to hearing. In terms of performances, the English cast falls a bit flat as well. Not nearly as expressive as the Japanese cast, the English cast comes across as if they are just reading the lines and not really feeling the lines. Given time, the actors may get the feel for their characters, but right now the dub falls flat. On the positive side, it is nice to see a classic series like Urusei Yatsura receive a solid modern dub. Dubs help sell a series, and the inclusion on the first movie will help Urusei Yatsura reach an audience other than the classic fans who buy it now.
For fans of a more classic style, Urusei Yatsura represents the best animation and artwork that the early 80s had to offer. Working with a better budget than the regular TV series, the cel animation is bright and vibrant and transfers well into the DVD format. Character designs are typical Rumiko Takahashi with a strong emphasis on comic expressions. The artwork and animation also pays homage to a lot of the big sci-fi blockbusters of the time with its expansive space scenes and starship battles. Aside from the obvious jokes and puns that lace the script, a lot of the comedy in this movie relies on visual gags. Much like the series, there's more going on in the background, complementing the action in the foreground.
While the animation and artwork is a slight notch above the TV standard, the plot for Only You is nothing new to fans of the show. Once again, Ataru meets a new girl and wants to marry her, and it's up to Lum to stop the wedding. There are quite a few classic moments as the entire supporting cast of the show makes an appearance and does what is expected of them. Fans will enjoy seeing their favorite characters getting a chance to shine in their own way. The story moves pretty smoothly and despite being simply a mish mash of what's been done on the show it serves as a solid place for new viewers to jump in. Unfortunately, those looking for resolution of a lot of the hanging plot lines from the TV series won't find it here. Only You is basically an extended TV episode with superior animation.
Despite its age, Urusei Yatsura is a solid series of the romantic comedy genre that has aged very well. Its simple designs and over the top characters makes it a joy for all who watch it. Newer fans may be at a loss as they struggle with the archaic look of the series, but can see the origins of many more current series they enjoy now. Urusei Yatsura is one of the original wacky love tales that helped define the entire genre. Without it and many of Rumiko Takahashi's other works, the romantic comedy genre would not be what it is today. Old school fans will enjoy what this movie has to offer, and those new to the series can sit back and enjoy it as well.
Overall (dub) : B
Overall (sub) : A
Story : B
Animation : A
Art : A
Music : B
+ A classic story given the royal treatment
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