I’ve seen my fair share of anime series in the last ten years. In fact, it’s been just over ten years since I began to consume anime at a severely unhealthy pace (previously referred to as my “Anime Renaissance”). In that time, all sorts of characters have flashed before my eyes (“flash” being a deliberate term), but one that always stuck out to me by virtue of its absurdity was Lum from Urusei Yatsura, what with her tiger-striped bikini and boots combo, shiny blue-green hair, and horns.
Then, about a year ago, I got wind that Urusei Yatsura would be getting a modern-day anime adaptation, just over thirty years after the original series began airing. “Okay,” I thought to myself. “This would be a good chance to see just what the series is all about with a nicer sheen to its presentation.” Granted, I had some hesitation about a reboot of a cult classic, though with no real affection for the first series, I went into this with basically no expectations. May as well try it out.
I lasted one episode.
“Not much is notable about the lecherous Ataru Moroboshi, but his extraordinary bad luck sticks out like the horns in an alien’s head. When Earth is threatened by a fleet of alien invaders known as the Oni, Ataru is selected to represent humanity in a duel against one of them. It’s a stroke of rare luck for Ataru that the duel is in fact a game of tag, and that his opponent is Lum, daughter of the Oni’s leader, who places her personal dignity above victory—as Ataru finds out by seizing Lum’s bikini top and with it, victory.
However, misfortune kicks in again when Lum mistakes Ataru’s promise to marry his girlfriend, Shinobu Miyake, as the desire to wed Lum herself, and decides she rather likes the idea. Wielding her influence as an alien princess, she moves in with him. Forced to deal with the consequences of his womanizing ways, Ataru must balance his crumbling relationship with Shinobu while keeping Lum happy, all the while flirting with every woman he meets.”
The Part Where I Sound Jaded and Old
Quick disclaimer: Watching this transported me back in time. Not to 1981, but instead to 2013. Back when I was at the height of my anime binging spree—the year I started this blog, when the Summer of Anime was this new and inspiring thing I relied on to fuel my insatiable thirst for “brightly-colored women.” Alas, it was also a time of incredible naivety. My ego thrived on contrarianism, my critiquing style on hypercritical, fully objective rationale. Such a rush it was to view some ultra-popular series and bemoan its overinflated hype.
It is not I who cannot see the value, but everyone else that deny the obvious faults.
To combat this minimally-active portion of myself, that which I try to temper nowadays, I will describe my thoughts on the debut episode of this series with as little vitriol as possible. Because if those who have read my blog for some time know me at all, and have some semblance of what Urusei Yatsura contains, they would know my thoughts before I did.
Urusei Yatsura, at least from the content present in the first episode of its 2022 version, is absolutely not for me. Cacophonous, rushed, one-note, and completely absorbed in a carefree atmosphere of goofy shenanigans involving kids with very poor control over their emotions and communication. I claimed above that I lasted a single episode—and I did—but in truth, I essentially tuned out at around the 13-minute mark. It was just noise, noise, noise, noise!
Based on the summary provided above from MyAnimeList, one would reasonably expect that to last the entirety of a single episode, correct? Not the case here. Everything, from the invasion to the introduction of the major characters to the contest and the miscommunicated marriage proposal, is only about 60% of the first episode. It does not waste any time getting the plot (loose term) going and the formula set. Lots of montages in the first half of the episode…
To its credit, however, I was most invested when there was something actually happening. The game of tag between what’s-his-name and Lum was, though very, very rushed, appealing enough to get across the aura of the series and its humor. As an introductory sequence, it did what it had to do, reason be damned. If only it continued that same course.
Now, I wish to address something that fans of the original series, and perhaps this one (if they don’t find it “soiled”), may find spoiled of me. Urusei Yatsura is not a serious show. It’s not some high-stakes drama the likes of Monster, nor does it even really compare to the standard rom-com in practicality. It’s stupid, it knows it’s stupid, and it just rolls with it. The kind of series where you can, as the kids say, “turn your brain off to” and enjoy for the high-energy enthusiasm from the characters and writing.
In the past, I would see that and immediately say “show = bad.” Presently, I’ve settled on “It’s not for me.” These sorts of series, with a whole lot of screaming and the writing forcing characters into bizarre situations for the hell of it, have grated me for many years and continue to do so even now. If I do not see any “point” or “irony” or whatever other synonym present, then it’s just chaos for the sake of it and I see no value in it. That does not mean it cannot have value to others, however.
So when it comes to Urusei Yatsura, all I can really describe is that if your taste is the polar opposite of mine, you’ll probably adore it. The seiyuus did do a commendable job of putting their all into the vocal performances, and, admittedly, having the main character’s mother constantly point out how stupid he was did produce a smirk out of me. There are glimmers of something that I could find enjoyable… only they’re smothered by the same joke repeated ad nauseum because love triangles are funny, I guess.
When it comes to my taste, this was probably one of the worst things I’ve seen in quite a while. What I may remember most vividly is the look on Lum’s face when she realizes she’s been bested, and that that automatically makes the male protagonist the most irresistible thing in the universe. Truly astounding how quickly she goes from “This dude’s a funny brat” to “You are the only thing I live for.” Reminds me of Infinite Stratos… if I’m comparing you to Infinite Stratos, that’s a problem.
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Thank you for your time. Have a great rest of your day.