The Beginner’s Primer to the ‘Urusei Yatsura’ 2022 Anime

Anime Fall Season has begun, and I’m already scrambling for a lifeboat. I’m a huge Rumiko Takahashi fan, and Urusei Yatsura has been on my list of anime to ‘definitely watch this season’ since I first heard the news. Here’s a mostly spoiler free guide for anyone who wants to know the details on one of the most anticipated animes coming this Fall!

Log line:

Boy meets girl but girl is from outer space! 

Who Created it:

The legendary Rumiko Takahashi, who first started creating manga in the late 1970’s–who is also responsible for such hits as Inuyasha, Ranma ½, and Maison Ikkoku. Takahashi was inducted into the Will Eisner Comic Awards Hall of Fame in 2018 and she won the Grand Prix at FIDB Angoulême in 2019. She won the prestigious Shogakukan Manga Award twice in her career: once for Urusei Yatsura in 1981 and the second time for Inuyasha in 2002. 

She is still active as a mangaka whose many works have been adapted for several other mediums including anime and live-action. She is currently working on Mao, an era-spanning supernatural adventure in Japan which has been running since 2019 and has been collected in over ten volumes in its native country so far.

What is it About: 

The chronically unlucky and unapologetically not pure of heart Ataru Moroboshi is selected as humanity’s representative in a duel for the fate of the planet when an alien race known as the Oni invade Earth. 

His opponent is Lum, the Oni’s princess, and it’s only thanks to Ataru’s very unscrupulous behavior that he’s able to scrape out a win in a treacherous game of tag against her. 

She takes a shine to him and soon returns to follow him home as Lum invades not only planet Earth, but also the womanizing Ataru’s love life!

Who Would this Appeal to:

  • Fans of the renowned Rumiko Takahashi
  • Newer fans of Takahashi who want to be introduced to her older work 
  • Fans of the sci-fi and rom com genres
  • Folks who love full supporting casts and hilarious hi-jinks
  • Folks who love that slapstick energy when it comes to anime

Can My Kid(s) Read the Source Material:

The manga is labeled as “TEEN PLUS.” On the Viz website, Teen Plus “may be suitable for older teens and adults. For example, may contain intense and/or gory violence, sexual content, frequent strong language, alcohol, tobacco, and/or other substance use.” 

I would not recommend it for the younger crowd, and from what I remember reading of the source material, Urusei Yatsura gets pretty flirty and suggestive at times and the humor leans that way too. I’m not entirely sure if it is toned down a bit in this newer adaptation, but the 80’s version was a little wild. 

I’m not sure everything aged well–think the tropey lecherous male character in much of Takahashi’s work–think Inuyasha’s Miroku or Maison Ikkoku’s Yusaku Godai. Ataru in here in Urusei Yatsura fits right in with those characters albeit he’s a younger version, being a teenager. He’s very, very heavy on the “girl crazy.” Look, the whole premise introduces us to Ataru who wins the great competition saving Earth from the alien invaders because of his “unscrupulous behavior” so that should tell you off the bat who he is.

Images © Rumiko Takahashi/ SHOUGAKUKAN/ Urusei Yatsura anime committee.

Where Can I Read it:

If you want physical copies, volumes one through sixteen (with sixteen being the latest volume) are available now at most places that sell books like Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Books-A-Million, Book Shop, RightStuf, Walmart and even some comic book stores

If you are looking to read and purchase it digitally, try the Google Play store, the iBooks store front and with Kindle and Nook devices.

Important Info You Need to Know:

This is actually a reboot! The original manga series originally ran from the late 70’s to the late 80’s being released in over thirty volumes in Japan. It was adapted to anime for the first time in the 1980s releasing almost 200 episodes, a handful of movies, and even inspired a few video games!

The early part of the original anime series followed two self-contained fifteen-minute manga: the pacing worked very well with its comedic tone and approach. The original Urusei Yatsura played up pop culture and folklore pretty well, and there are countless pages, via the internet, pointing out various Easter egg: from cameos by popular characters like droids from space operas to throwbacks to Takahashi’s other work like Maison Ikkoku.

Different places online have suggested that this newest adaptation will be less of a full adaptation and more of a “best of” certain episodes of the past that will be updated and animated for a newer audience. As someone who has only seen one of the films from the 80’s and various clips of the original anime over the years, I’ll rock with that version if that’s what we’ll end up receiving. 

Gentle reminder that the original anime was very long and episodic in nature. So if this is indeed the approach the animation studio is going for, I don’t see it as a bad move: switch things up and put a new coat of paint on it. The animation looks gorgeous, and it is safe to assume that legions of Rumiko Takahashi fans everywhere are anticipating this one. On a related note: here’s a fascinating piece to read on the subtitling of the original series that gives great insight on the fandom, software used, and even how that aided the newer series!

Who are Some Important Characters I Should Know About:

Ataru Moroboshi, our main character: He’s severely unlucky in everything that he sets out to do in life. Imagine his surprise when he comes home one day to find the king of some Alien invaders sitting in his family’s living room. Imagine the shock he’s in when he finds out that he’s been selected by these invaders as Earth’s representative in a special competition in which the outcome places the planet’s salvation in the delicate balance?! Ataru is not a stand-up guy, my friends. He adores Shinobu, his off- and on-again girlfriend, but he cannot keep from glancing admiring other women. Don’t cue Kurt Angle’s theme music cause he’s not about that life of integrity: he’s willing to cheat on math tests and even tell a few white lies to make life easier for himself.

Lum, the alien princess of invaders: The gorgeous, horned, bikini clad member of the Oni, the alien species with humanoid bodies and features, hilariously. She’s ever curious, competitive, a little selfish and super excited about Earth. A misunderstanding by Ataru means she wants to extend her stay on this funny little planet and stick close to him, to his dismay. She soon gains a fan club, more than one alien from her home planet comes looking for her, and one in particular engages herself in everyone’s business–but Ataru’s most of all. She has a very electrifying personality that makes its presence known throughout the series.

Shinobu Miyake, Ataru’s childhood friend, classmate, and then girlfriend: She is Ataru’s girlfriend when Lum and the invaders appear on Earth. The poor girl is being dragged into everything drama wise, but she soon comes into her own with a new skillset that surprises everyone. She is quick to anger when it comes to Ataru and later she’s a young woman who is depended on when it comes to her friends. Shinobu may not be fearless, but she does her best with what she’s got That means a lot when Japan is constantly being invaded and assaulted by aliens, spirits, and other mayhem bringing guests.

Cherry, the wizened Buddhist monk: The monk is more trouble than help. This tiny man of the cloth is quick to tell Ataru of his unlucky face but slow to tell him how to escape the misfortunes that constantly come his way. He ends up holing up at Ataru’s house for a bit and freeloading off his family. Ruled by his stomach, this greedy little creature man tends to forget enough the basic duties of a monk just to justify eating some sukiyaki when someone is grieving. Cherry has a family member with a spiritual occupation who enters the story as one of the supporting cast members a bit later on.

What to expect:

Meddling family members, school life shenanigans, tigers, former finances, girls next door, puns, fiery priestess, rich heirs, school festivals, intergalactic politics, romance, battles, despair, wrestling moves, catch phrases, competitions, more princess than you can handle, homework not being done and other high stakes!

The highly anticipated anime series, Urusei Yatsura, based on the original manga written and illustrated by Rumiko Takahashi, premiered on HIDIVE this week!

Animated by David Production (JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure: Golden Wind, Cells at Work, Fire Force), Urusei Yatsura is directed by Hideya Takahashi (director of JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure: Golden Wind) and Yasuhiro Kimura (director of JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure: Golden Wind) and written by Yuko Kakihara (scriptwriter for Cells at Work! and Kids on the Slope).

As noted in the press release on the HIDIVE website, the series will star Sumire Uesaka (Rika Sonezaki in O Maidens in Your Savage Season, Hayase Nagatoro in Don’t Toy with Me, Miss Nagatoro) as Lum, Hiroshi Kamiya (Levi in Attack on Titan, Trafalgar Law in One Piece) as Ataru Moroboshi, Maaya Uchida (Rikka in Love, Chunibyo & Other Delusions, Hiyori in Noragami) as Shinobu Miyaki and Mamoru Miyano (Light in Death Note, Rintaro in Steins;Gate) as Shutaro Mendo.

Cover Image via HIDIVE

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  • Carrie McClain is writer, editor and media scholar. Other times she's known as a Starfleet Communications Officer, Comics Auntie, and Golden Saucer Frequenter. Nowadays you can usually find her avoiding Truck-kun and forgetting her magical girl transformation device. She/Her

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