by Amber Tamosaitis
Rumiko Takahashi has been a manga powerhouse for over two decades - the anime version of her series InuYasha is achieving great success in the United States, playing at midnight on Cartoon Network. Not only is Takahashi's artistic longevity amazing, but so is her large appeal to male AND female readers, a true feat for a female manga author.
So it only seems fair that a feature for this month's RetroAnime feature her first success, Urusei Yatsura. The translation of the title is often given as "Those Obnoxious Aliens." Literally though, "urusei" is a slang form of the word "urusai", meaning "noisy" or "annoying"; and "yatsura', a slang word for "they". So it's lucky that when it was translated to English, the original Japanese title was left alone. The series ran from 1981-1988 and even spawned some OVAs in its wake, up until 1991.
So what's the big deal?
Urusei Yatsura's plotline is quite simple - Unfaithful boy and his girlfriend meet alien female, alien female attaches herself to boy, chaos ensues.
The story of Urusei Yatsura begins with lecherous Ataru Moroboshi. The lives of he, his feisty, yet faithful girlfriend Shinobu, and the people of Tomobiki in general suddenly become more complicated with the landing and impending invasion of the Oni, an alien race similair to mythological Japanese demons who have horns and wear tiger-striped loin cloths. Ataru is randomly chosen to bear Earth's fate - he has so many days to defeat the Oni representative's daughter Lum in a game of tag or lose the Earth to the Oni. As the deadline closes in, Shinobu promises Ataru her hand in marriage should he defeat Lum. Now determined, Ataru cheats, detaches Lum's bikini top from her body, and grasps her horns while she is retrieving it. Ataru triumphantly announces he can finally get married and Lum thinks she means to her. She is now determined to stay on Earth with her "fiancee", whom she refers to as "Darling". Though the threat of Oni invasion is gone, Ataru's real challenge has just begun.
Urusei Yatsura has so many qualities that it's not hard to see why it lasted so long. The cast of characters is extensive, each with his or her own quirky personality. From Lum's bratty cousin Ten to her alien rival, Ran, hell-bent on revenge for childhood pranks Lum pulled. The animation is simple, yet uniquely-Takahashi. The story is fun and filled with goofy, sex comedy humor Takahashi fans have come to expect.
If you enjoyed Ranma 1/2, Maison Ikoku, InuYasha, other series such as Tenchi Muyo! and Galaxy Fraulein Yuna, or just wanna see some classic quality anime, check out Urusei Yatsura! (I highly recommend the second movie, Beautiful Dreamer).