First Look: Urusei Yatsura (2022)

Manga Adaptation by David Production
Streaming on HIDIVE


Horny teen extraordinaire Ataru Moroboshi is randomly selected to be the representative of the human race in a contest of honor against invading aliens, and wins, saving the planet Earth! However, he accidentally proposes to Lum – the invaders’ princess – in the process. Now Ataru’s stuck between an unwanted suitor from space and his grumpy girlfriend from home, and both ladies are ready and willing to “correct” him should his eyes stray in the wrong direction.

Iro’s verdict: This Sure Feels Like It’s From 40 Years Ago!

Urusei Yatsura is undeniably a classic property (does any other individual mangaka have as many mega-hits as Rumiko Takahashi?) and this modern version is undeniably well-made (though at this point I’m more likely to check out the original anime for that classic 80s look). I also undeniably have little tolerance for this specific form of anime romantic comedy, where The Repeated Joke is that the guy does a dumb – often needlessly horny – thing, or perhaps there is some kind of doofy misunderstanding, causing everyone to see boobs and hoot and holler and the major female characters to slap or zap the guy across the room. Laugh, lather, rinse, repeat. I admit it drew a couple chuckles out of me, but this ain’t my scene.

Euri’s verdict: It’s Pikachu

I’ve always wanted to check out Urusei Yatsura, partly because some people consider it a classic, but mostly just out of curiosity to see the background to that one bikini-clad character that keeps showing up at anime conventions. I never did get around to it despite adoring the BBC dub, but once David Pro announced they were going to revive it, I figured it was just worth waiting for that.

Because of this, it’s especially weird that after watching the first episode I just find myself… wanting to watch the original? This version appears to be faithful to the manga, it looks great and the music is spot-on, but the story and style is very clearly a product of the 80s and there’s something clinical about this new production that doesn’t quite gel. I’ve no doubt that this will be a competent adaptation at its very worst, but I’m genuinely considering just watching the 1981 adaptation instead.

Artemis’ verdict: Roughly As Unfunny As It Always Was

I don’t dispute that this title has major historical significance. There’s probably not an anime/manga history buff around who doesn’t know the name Rumiko Takahashi, who was (and still is) hugely influential, not just as a female manga artist but also as an artist in her own right. Meanwhile, Urusei Yatsura itself helped to form the blueprint of what would later become the harem genre – it’s a true OG of anime rom-coms.

Does that make the actual content good? In my books, no – this is as deeply unfunny as it was back when it first aired in the ’80s. The production team did a great job of updating the look while remaining faithful to that extremely distinct 70s/80s aesthetic, but that’s where the positives end for me. In the year of our lord 2022, I have to assume that the only people watching this outside of historical curiosity are the old Master Roshi-type dudes, cackling over the copious cleavage/thigh shots and getting nostalgic for the good ‘ol days of tiger-print bikinis and lecherous slapstick humor. It’s a hard pass for me.

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