Urusei Yatsura (1981)

Urusei Yatsura - MyAnimeList.net
I won’t lie, Lum is the reason I wanted to watch this, that is a very striking character design.

I’m sure everyone who’s watched anime over the past decade and dove into the culture has seen some characters pop up from time to time that they don’t really recognize. One of these characters for me was Lum. Lum is a from a show called Urusei Yatsura (Those Annoying Aliens) that I had never heard of before. I’ve always liked her design for, ahem, obvious reasons, so recently I decided I would give Urusei Yatsura a watch. I got into anime in 2009 and admittedly I’ve seen very few shows that aired before then. So one of the things I wanted to do in 2022 is give some older shows a chance. I might come to regret that, since it’s been a rough start.

Urusei Yatsura tells the story of Moroboshi Ataru, a perverted young man who just wants to have his own harem. With no real personality traits other than being loud, obnoxious and constantly sexually harassing every woman in sight, it’s hard to like this character at all. Lum paints a more likable picture, although not by much. She’s an alien who’s challenged Ataru to a game of tag for the fate of the earth. Afterwards they promise to marry each other, although it’s clear from the start that Ataru isn’t planning to keep this promise.

I dropped this show after 10 episodes, which was already more than I could stomach. The music is grating to the ear and I’m not a fan of the voice cast either. The animation is fine, especially considering it’s a 40 year old show, so I’m not going to deduct any points for that. I didn’t manage to find a singular likable character. Most of the cast was aggressive, selfish and didn’t listen to any of the other characters. The only person I could somewhat relate to was Ataru’s dad, who just wanted to read his newspaper and be left alone.

Urusei Yatsura (2022) (Urusei Yatsura) - MyAnimeList.net
Announcement for the 2022 adaptation. I will give it a watch but I don’t have high hopes.

It does make me curious about the aging of older media. As morals shift into the modern world, and things that used to be strange and even illegal become more acceptable, like gay marriage, trans rights, gender equality and many other rights, how poorly do some shows age? I’m in the camp that we can’t blame old media by modern standards, but that doesn’t mean it’s not  cringe worthy to watch sometimes. Watching Urusei Yatsura feels like watching a let’s play from 10 years ago. Did I like it at the time when it first came out? Definitely. Do some of the jokes make me cringe when I watch it now? Absolutely. Some things aren’t meant to last through time and from my experience watching this show, it’s not an exception. 

Now the reason I’m writing this is because right before I started watching this show, I heard it was getting a new adaptation in 2022. It will be produced by studio David Production, of JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure fame. I’m extremely curious how they will handle this show. The material is extremely dated, and some of the humor wouldn’t fly at all in 2022. And rightfully so, in some cases. Now anime isn’t always politically correct, which is fine, but I think the audience that enjoys this kind of content is shrinking quickly. I will definitely give this new version a watch, just to do a comparison. My hope for the show is that they take the core plot and make a more modern take on it with more likable characters. I’m not having high expectations, since I’d rather not get disappointed, but a version of this show where the characters are actually somewhat relatable could be very good. It could have a similar style of humor to shows like Arakawa under the Bridge, for example.

My question for you readers, have you seen Urusei Yatsura, and if so did you enjoy it or not? Are there any other old anime (from before 1990, for example) that you would recommend I watch? I’m open to suggestions. Let me know in the comments down below and thanks for reading!

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