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AnimEigo presents
Urusei Yatsura TV #1 (1981)

- Lum (Fumi Hirano)

Review By: Jeff Ulmer   
Published: April 29, 2002

Stars: Fumi Hirano, Toshio Furukawa, Saeko Shimazu, Kazuko Sugiyama, Ichiroo Nagai
Other Stars: Kenichi Ogata, Natsumi Sakuma, Akira Kamiya, Machiko Washio, Yuuko Mita, Ayako Tsuboi, Reiko Yamada, Tetsuyoo Genda
Director: Mamoru Oshii

Manufacturer: Cine Magnetics
MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (brief nudity)
Run Time: 01h:42m:28s
Release Date: March 27, 2001
UPC: 737187003301
Genre: anime

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer
A B+B+B+ C

DVD Review

Get ready for a wacky, alien comedy anime in the debut installment of Urusei Yatsura. The series originally ran from 1981 to 1986 in Japan, becoming one of the longest running series at the time with 195 episodes in total. Their first major DVD release project, UY was originally only available in a five-disc set directly from Animeigo, and later became available individually at retail. Each volume contains four installments, which (at least for the first 23 episodes) are divided into two principle acts with separate, though usually related, stories.

Ataru Moroboshi (Toshio Furukawa) has to be the world's most unlucky person. When a race of aliens known as the "Oni" return to Earth to reclaim the planet for themselves, Ataru finds himself volunteered as the one to fend them off—if he can triumph in their national sport of tag. When he sees who his opponent will be, a bikini-clad beauty named Lum (Fumi Hirano), he figures it's an easy victory; after all, he is only required to grab the horns on her head. Unfortunately, he missed one small detail, which is that Lum can fly. Of course, Ataru's girlfriend, Shinobu Miyake (Saeko Shimazu), is none too happy about his enthusiasm for girl chasing, so to appease her, Ataru promises to marry her if he wins, which Lum misinterprets, so when Ataru finally succeeds in his mission, he is bequeathed to the alien girl instead, a situation he can't back out of. This, of course, leads to all manner of complications. Shinobu is upset, Ataru is upset, and all the guys who are now lusting after Lum are upset. What ensues is mayhem.

As expected, the first disc introduces many of the characters, and apart from Lum, Ataru and Shinobu, we meet Cherry, the midget monk, Lum's fire-breathing cousin Jariten (commonly referred to as "Ten"), Ataru's parents (who are a blast unto themselves), and even Lum's transforming former fiancé. Each episode adds another layer of characters, and the situations are completely unpredictable.

I first discovered this series when a thoughtful fan sent me copy of the second disc, which had a manufacturing flaw when first released. I was hooked from the opening credits, with Lum's cute little dance routine to "Suki yo... suki yo... suki yo!" and the antics that followed were a good indication of what to expect, which is quite simply anything. The show pokes fun at just about everything, and with the help of the included liner notes that explain a lot of cultural references, the brilliance of the writing really shines through. This is definitely old school animation, so not as slick or vibrant as modern shows, but for its wacky sense of humor, and a great body of likeable characters, there isn't really anything that covers as much ground as well as Urusei Yatsura.

Rating for Style: A
Rating for Substance: B+


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio1.33:1 - Full Frame
Original Aspect Ratioyes

Image Transfer Review: Being an older show, the video presentation has some differences from what would be expected in a modern release. Colors are less saturated but well defined, though reds tend to bleed a bit. Black levels are solid for the most part. Compression issues are noticeable in backgrounds and around some objects, but pretty minor, as is any aliasing. There is a bit of print damage, but this is minor as well. The detail available on the DVD does make cell dirt stand out more, but this doesn't really bother me, as it is part of the show. I'm quite happy with how this looks on volume one.

Image Transfer Grade: B+


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access

Audio Transfer Review: Mono Japanese audio is clean, with only a touch of edginess in a couple of places. There is a constant level of hiss, but otherwise the presentation is as good as can be expected. Frequency range is limited, but suitable to the show. No major defects here.

Audio Transfer Grade: B+


Disc Extras

Static menu
Scene Access with 8 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English with remote access
Packaging: unmarked keepcase
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extra Extras:
  1. Liner notes
Extras Review: On disc extras are pretty much nonexistent. The main menu has chapter stops for the start of each half episode, though the show does have additional stops within it. Subtitles are removable, and contain cultural references when appropriate. Where this disc excels is the liner notes on tabbed, cardboard sheets the size of recipe cards included in the case, which give a ton of background on the show. These cover everything from the origins of the name and the associated puns, to the characters and background on common Japanese terminology, all of which are great reference material for this and other anime titles. Each episode has its own section detailing points of interest, and show just how well the series is written by the depth of the humor. These cards are definitely a strong point in the release, and something I wish every vendor would include.

Extras Grade: C


Final Comments

The first in a large series of subtitle-only discs, Urusei Yatsura is brilliant, classic anime, fusing well written and humorous stories, a great cast of likeable characters, and the zaniest situations imaginable. While newer series may offer more flash and action, it is hard to resist the power of the Oni, which has become a guilty pleasure. We're liking it, darling.


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