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Urusei Yatsura Movie 1: Only You Anime DVD Review

9 min read
More an extended TV episode than what the future movies will be like, it's still very much Urusei Yatsura.

More an extended TV episode than what the future movies will be like, it’s still very much Urusei Yatsura.

What They Say
It isn’t easy being a guy-especially if you’re Ataru Moroboshi, the luckless lecher loved by Lum, the aviating Alien Princess with a very short temper.

Lum doesn’t need much assistance going ballistic when everyone in Tomobiki gets an invitation to Ataru’s wedding-and she’s not listed as the bride! Seems some 11 years ago, Ataru played “Shadow Tag” with a young girls named Elle and won. Unfortunately, Elle was another Alien Princess, and on her planet, if a boy steps on a girl’s shadow, they have to be married!

When Elle’s emissary comes to make arrangements and Lum redefines the term “the atmosphere was electric!” Lum’s friend Benten suggests a pre-emptive wedding, and with Lum’s parents help, they manage to abduct Ataru.

Things are looking up for Lum…but things never go that easy! Watch out for that attack fleet!!!

The Review:
The audio presentation for this feature film brings us the original Japanese language track along with an English dub encoded in stereo at 192kbps. The stereo mix for the show is fairly decent but it’s pretty reminiscent of the same kind of mix we got with the TV series itself so it’s not exactly a wild hopping time of sounds coming from every direction. The mix does sound good, and clearer than the TV mix since it’s several years more recent, and is free of problems such as distortions or dropouts.

Originally release in 1983, the transfer for this film is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.33:1. While it is showing its age in various areas, the bulk of this transfer definitely outshines the TV material of the time in its colors and detail. The main issues that can be seen is mostly just age, where there’s a few nicks in some areas and a touch of dirt in the form of specks. It’s very minimal overall though. Colors look very rich for its age, cross coloration only shows up in a couple of small areas where some lines are very close together and active and aliasing is minimal. While it doesn’t have the zip and bang of more current movies obviously, this transfer looks leaps ahead of the previous VHS and LD transfers I’ve owned.

AnimEigo has really impressed me with their packaging here by changing their normal style to match what Central Park Media has done with their previously released Movie 2. With it being like that, all of them should match nicely (which means I hope CPM returns the favor if they manage to get the new 16:9 transfer of Movie 2 and do a re-release). The cover art uses the traditional image with the roses opening in the background with Elle taking up a sizeable part of it as small images of Lum and Ataru struggle. This is probably the best looking UY cover yet from AnimEigo, definitely much better than the TV series releases, though those aim for a different goal. The back cover provides a couple of good images and a lengthy summary of the premise. Technical and basic production information is clearly listed and the extras are nicely laid out. The layout here is another step in what looks to be a growing “professionalism” in their covers and is definitely a good sign.

Using the wedding scene as the main image, the menu selections are laid out along the top and are quick to access and load. A nice soft song plays along to the main menu, and if you watch it carefully, you’ll notice many of the characters do little movements and pop in at different times, such as Cherry popping up behind a quivering Ataru. It’s a cute menu that works nicely.

With the dub being such a huge part of this release, it’s not surprising that the extras are very dub oriented (as well as the simple fact that there’s almost no Japanese extras to begin with). The first entry is the “Dub Auditions” with a tagline of “you never wanted to hear!” And yes, you can pretty much take that to heart. Lum with an aristocratic French accent? Lum with a touch of Russian that lingers into Southern? This feature runs just over sixteen minutes in length and covers a number of characters. Some of these are just horridly bad that you can easily imagine them being MST3K’d or a really bad fandub. It’ll make you appreciate the end results all the more. A Behind the Scenes feature, running just over twenty-four minutes, provides a lot of looks at the voice recordings. These came out much better than how the You’re Under Arrest materials were done, with larger windows for the voice actors. Essentially, it covers a large number of the cast and provides a minute or two showing them recording a scene or two, flubbing or flirting with the camera. The character biographies section covers about twenty-five people and will definitely help new viewers since each provides a little bit about the character and a quirk or two. The Meet Lum & Ataru section is a couple of stills that provides a biography on the voice actors (English) behind the two leads. And finally, the image gallery provides numerous conceptual sketches of characters for the film.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
When Urusei Yatsura was first released in the U.S., AnimEigo took an interesting approach to their (monthly?) releases of the show. Every time a new release came out, it would be two tapes; a TV series tape and a movie/OVA tape. The very first release came out with TV 1 and Movie 1. So people being introduced to the series got to experience the origins of the show and the first movie, which takes place roughly a year into “continuity” of the show.

This presented an interesting scenario. At the time, I found the TV series to be completely unlike anything else I had seen at the time. And it wasn’t necessarily a good thing. All anime was in terms of commercial releases were really babes with guns or other violent shows. A comedy like this just didn’t click right away. And in taking in the first movie where you have so many characters that haven’t been introduced yet, it was a chance to really confuse and turn away those who would be interested in the property. I know I was. If it wasn’t for the second set of tapes and what Beautiful Dreamer showed me anime could really do, I don’t think my fanaticism over the series would be anywhere near as high as it is now.

Such is the basic plot of Only You. The movie opens to a really nice looking prologue where we see six-year-old Ataru playing with a little girl in the park as the sun sets. As their play comes to an end, she says she’ll come back in eleven years to marry him, to which he agrees. She then disappears off into the sky, leaving Ataru to contemplate the matter. Being Ataru, he realizes that eleven years is so far away that it doesn’t really matter at all, and so time marches on. (Side note: this prologue was apparently not shown in the original theatrical run of the movie, which lead audiences to not be as informed up front. It showed up later on home video, but one indication seems to be that it only showed up on the 2001 DVD release. The AnimEigo VHS/LD run always had this opening).

So it’s back to the present, where through the opening credits we watch as a funny looking pink alien on a bicycle moves all over the city and spreads invitations to people who know Ataru. Invitations to Ataru and Elle’s wedding. The reactions are varied but generally hostile towards Ataru, from those like Shinobu who still hold out hope for him or to those like Megane who realize this will crush Lum’s happiness. One particular segment shows just how huge the Mendou estate is and the lengths they go to in delivering letters.

When everything comes to a head and Lum finds out (roughly the same time as Ataru, as he’s blissfully unaware), the escort ship from Elle’s planet arrives to bring him to her. Giving him a day to get his affairs in order, Ataru is given a force field that protects him from Lum’s attacks. Taking advantage of the time, he starts packing up and getting ready to go. But Lum won’t let it happen that easily, and after some careful nudging from Benten, the two of them work towards kidnapping everyone and going to meet Lum’s parents in space to perform a fast wedding so that Elle can’t get Ataru.

This leads to a large-scale war between Elle’s forces and the Oni, leading into the arrival on her planet and quite a few amusing revelations (Beefbowl joins are apparently like convenience stores – they’re everywhere!) The introduction of the sexy Elle and her plans for Ataru, as well as learning Ataru’s true motives, all play out just like an extended solid episode of the TV series. In a sense, that’s the weakness of this first movie, in that it really does just feel like a really long (but good) episode from the show as opposed to an actual movie. The budget is bigger, the designs are more detailed, but the idea is the same.

I ended up taking the movie in twice, listening to it in both languages. I’ll say again, I don’t find myself really in the right position to comment on the qualities of the dub overall. Having invested many years into the series itself and finding that nobody can outdo Akira Kamiya, a Urusei Yatsura dub will simply never sound right to me. The time for this to be dubbed is likely much better than the first time around for the TV series. More and more fans are used to hearing Japanese puns and jokes not being adapted into English puns and jokes that more of it is understandable – understandable and funny, as fans continue to know more. In the end, I’m more interested in hearing comments from first-time viewers of Urusei Yatsura to hear what they think of the dub.

Urusei Yatsura: Only You is one of the new treasures in my collection. Rediscovering shows that you haven’t seen in years with all the knowledge gained in between can bring new life into something that was once a curiosity. This movie definitely reflects that for me, giving me a new appreciation of what it is. Having grown more and more interested in Oshii’s works over the years, having another of his classic comedy movies out provides a great contrast against the large amounts of dark and serious material he’s been up to lately. He needs to return to Urusei Yatsura and provide a new big-budget theatrical movie.

In Summary:
For those who’ve never tried Urusei Yatsura before, Only You isn’t the easiest entry into it. But it’s a movie I recommend highly now, much more than I would have ten years ago when it would have turned me off of the entire franchise.

Japanese 2.0 Language, English 2.0 Language, English Subtitles, Voice Actor Auditions, Behind the Scenes, Character Biographies, Meet Lum & Ataru, Image Gallery

Content Grade: A-
Audio Grade: B+
Video Grade: B+
Packaging Grade: B+
Menu Grade: B+
Extras Grade: B+

Released By: AnimEigo
Release Date: October 21st, 2003
MSRP: $24.98
Running Time: 101 Minutes
Video Encoding: 480i/p MPEG-2
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1

Review Equipment:
Sony KDL70R550A 70″ LED 1080P HDTV, Sony PlayStation3 Blu-ray player via HDMI set to 1080p, Onkyo TX-SR605 Receiver and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.

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