Urusei Yatsura 2022 Series Review (#UruseiYatsura)

うる星やつら 2002
Urusei Yatsura 2022 review

Many, many, MANY years ago, I embarked on a journey to expand my knowledge of classic anime titles. Naturally, Urusei Yatsura was near the top of the list. And though it was a struggle, I did manage to make it through that series. As such, I came out with an understanding of the series impact on anime and manga writers today. So when it was announced that Urusei Yatsura would get a 46 episode remake, starting in 2022, I was determined to watch it.

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The Story, in Brief

An alien race known as Oni come to Earth. A teen boy named Ataru is chosen to compete against the Oni teen girl Lum, who has the ability to fly and has electrical powers. Ataru has to grab Lum by the horns to win and he has 10 days to do this. On the tenth day, Ataru is depressed because he has almost no chance. His girlfriend, Shinobu, says she’ll marry him if he wins. Encouraged, Ataru uses ingenuity to remove Lum’s bikini top, giving him an opening to grab her horns.

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Lum hears Ataru’s joy over getting married to be a marriage proposal. As such, she accepts and basically moves in with Ataru. This ends his relationship with Shinobu. In addition, it causes him an extra layer of grief when he attempts to score with other girls and women. Over time, new characters come into the fray to mix things up, including childhood friends of Lum. Over time, Ataru comes to care for Lum, though he only expresses it at times when he thinks she might be gone.

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Wacky Adventures, Status Quo

I’ve never read the source Urusei Yatsura manga, and to be honest, I have no desire to do so. That said, one thing I discovered from watching the 2022 anime adaptation of the manga was how much the original anime adaptation padded stories. That way, the OG adapters could add an much wacky, nutty adventures to the mix, while always maintaining the status quo of the main characters.

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To that end, with only 46 episodes at their disposal, the 2022 adapters of Urusei Yatsura cut a lot of stuff. As such, irritatingly annoying characters such as Cherry, Ten-chan, and Fujinami don’t get as much screen time as in the OG adaptation. The modern adaptation effectively tells the “best” stories from the manga, including a couple never before adapted into anime form. But there are lots of stories that got cut for time.

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Frankly, I’m fine with this. The problem with Urusei Yatsura is the demand that the status quo of characters remain unchanged. As such, while some episodes are character episodes (mostly to do with Ataru), all has to be forgotten for the next episode. Thus characters are not allowed to grow. They must remain static, and after a while this becomes boring.

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Continually adding new characters for new hijinks only goes so far. Again, the static, status quo requirements really restrict the series from excelling. If the series were pure wacky comedy, it wouldn’t be bad. But when you have a romance element where you know nothing will change, eventually one thinks, “Why am I watching this?”

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Not Capturing 1980s Feel

Since Urusei Yatsura came out in the 80s, I appreciate the fact that this 2022 adaptation was set in the 1980s. Unfortunately, much of the time, I never thought I was in the 1980s. Sure, Ataru had his mini boom box in his room. And he had some 80s-styled posters. Ataru’s home had a boob tube TV. And there were OG TV aerials on the roofs of buildings at times. Sometimes, we’d see VHS tapes used. And when the odd car might get shown, it did have an 80s aesthetic.  All of these were things I appreciated.

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Yet for the most part, I rarely felt like the show was actually set in the 80s. As referenced above, there were plenty of 80s references scattered about from time to time. So why didn’t it feel like it was actually set in the 80s? The OG anime feels like the 80s, but then the dated animation style helps with that.

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When I thought back to the episodes that felt like the most 80s like, it was the episodes in which there was 80s styled music. And frankly, more 80s music, whether licensed from Japanese and American audiences, or whether new stuff that sounds like it came from the 80s would have worked wonders. But, the music mostly feels modern, which adds to the perception that the series isn’t quite in the 80s.

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Final Thoughts and Conclusion

Let me wrap up my review of the 2022 Urusei Yatsura with some final thoughts.

  • While I came off as negative about the series, that’s not to say I didn’t have episodes that I liked. Some made me laugh quite a lot. Some were touching. So there were a lot of things positive about the series. Its just that the negatives stick out stronger in my mind. And I’ve been through this all before.
  • I can’t be positive about the official subtitles for the series. Obviously, I’m going to drop a ding for not using Japanese honorifics. But beyond that, the amount of changes to the scripts to have the characters say things they didn’t actually say irritated me to no end. And lets not even go into the cringe British lingo injected into the final episode to try to capture the Tohoku Japanese dialect.

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In the end, the 2022 adaptation of Urusei Yatsura was mostly okay. You could consider it a “best of the manga” adaptation, considering how much had to get left behind. But in reality, I don’t think the entire manga could get adapted ’cause I’m not sure how many folks could stomach the rigid status quo forced on the characters for another couple of seasons.

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Next up: The Ranma 1/2 remake.

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