Rumiko Takahashi is probably one of the most successful manga creators, and perhaps the most successful female comic creator in the world. Most of her works were turned into wonderful anime series as well. One of her many strengths has been to create engaging characters with complexity and depth, without using a lot of exposition.
Her first series was Urusei Yatsura – “Those Obnoxious Aliens” or “UY”. The manga series (1978-1987) ran to 374 chapters, and the anime TV series was broadcast from 1981 to 1986 – 195 episodes. There were 6 movies and 12 direct-to-video specials “OVA’s”.
I’ve finally watched the entire TV series, and I still need to watch the movies and OVA’s before I level up to the UY Lifetime Achievement Award. 😉
There’s a nice capsule of the story premise here on the main English Takahashi fansite, so I won’t bother repeating it.
Unlike most of Takahashi’s series, UY doesn’t have an ongoing story arc. It’s best to watch the episodes in order so you know the backstories of new characters as they’re introduced, but you don’t need to binge-watch to keep track of things. In Western sitcoms the stories always wrap up nicely at the end, but not in UY! The house might blow up or burn down, characters get sucked into a supernatural dimension with no hope of return, or hundreds of cloned copies of Lum fly through the air calling ‘Darling!” You wonder “How are they ever going to fix this?” In the next episode, everything is back to (what passes for) ‘normal’ in Tomobiki-town.
At first glance, you might expect Urusei Yatsura to be a romantic comedy between Lum and Ataru. But really it’s not. Ataru is far to immature, stubborn, and stupid to be a romantic partner. Instead, Lum is at the center of an every expanding galaxy of weird and wacky characters and situations. Ataru’s usual role is “trouble generator”.
The anime UY was produced by Kitty Films, a subsidiary of Kitty Music Corp, and they drew on their singing idols to provide J-pop intro and exit music. If you watch carefully, you’ll also see some fun cross-promotion for other Takahashi anime. In the background you’ll see billboards for “Maris the Chojo” and other OVA’s, Lum goes to the theater to see “The Laughing Target”, and one of the Urusei songs may be playing on the radio or tv.
Next up, a little more on the music…