These past few years have been a time of resurgence for various classic anime & manga franchises – not only with the long-running new adaptation of JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure, but also with an adaptation of Ushio & Tora, and a sequel to Inuyasha, it only seemed appropriate that someone returned to the manga that put Rumiko Takahashi on the map in Japan – Urusei Yatsura.
The original anime adaptation of the series came out in the ’80s, and times were different then, in a few respects. On the one hand, you could get away with nipples in TV animation (for characters of both genders). On the other hand, the fanservice arms race hadn’t progressed as far as it has now – the overt allusions to masturbation that we’ve gotten in shows like Rent-a-Girlfriend and My Dress-Up Darling wouldn’t fly then. Also, “Gainaxing” hadn’t been invented yet, or when it had appeared it hadn’t become quite as widespread. This means that a series that was somewhat horny on main for time now feels remarkably chaste. Not wholesome, but still (relatively) chaste. Seriously – from just this winter, if you look at Ayakashi Triangle and Urusei Yatsura, it’s clear which show is hornier, and it’s not the one with the character who is willing to hit on any attractive person who identifies as female (other than the space alien who wants to jump his bones – but they won’t say wants to jump his bones).
Additionally, this adaptation of Urusei Yatsura keeps the characterization of the original – where the majority of the cast are just unrepentant assholes. Lum is overly clingy and will unleash electrocution on Ataru at any time, whether he deserves it or not (normally he does, but a few times he doesn’t). Shinobu will clobber anyone who annoys her with the largest thing available (frequently a desk) – which is on the one hand is justified, because the majority of the characters are assholes, but on the other hand she also will clobber people who speak ill on class Stupid Rich Guy Mendou (whom she has a crush on). Honestly, the list of characters who aren’t jerks are considerably shorter – mainly Ryuunosuke Fujinami – a girl who was raised as a boy by her jackass misogynist father – and school nurse Sakura – who mainly serves to be an adult character who takes none of any of the other characters bullshit, while also being a character with enough power that nobody can walk over them like they can with the other adults.
All of that makes the show a bit of an acquired taste. As someone who was watching anime before the Moe boom, this was fine for me, but as someone who binged the earlier version of Urusei Yatsura on DVD for review on Bureau42, and who watched this show week to week, I’ll definitely say this show benefits from watching at a more measured pace. This is less because the jokes are monotonous, and more because these characters can get a little grating over time.
In all, I did really like this new Urusei Yatsura series, and I’m definitely looking forward to the show’s second season in 2024. The series is currently available for streaming on Hidive.
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