Anime of the Month
Urusei Yatsura by Studio Pierrot
Urusei Yatsura is based on an obscure manga by an even more obscure manga-ka named Rumiko Takahashi. Ok that is a blatant lie. But for the amount that people still talk about Urusei Yatsura in the U.S. you would assume this was the case. Which is a shame because it is one awesome anime.
Urusei Yatsura starts with the lecherous and unlucky Ataru Moroboshi getting engaged to the alien Lum Invader after saving the earth by defeating her in a game of tag. Despite Lum being drop dead gorgeous Ataru wants to date all the other women in his life while the super jealous Lum wants to keep her darling faithful…by any means possible. Ataru might be the world’s greatest girl chaser but Lum can fly, shoot lightening blots, and has bevy of gadgets of alien super science. Ataru and Lum lives are only more complicated by various aliens and human who are drawn to Lum.
Urusei Yatsura’s greatest strength is its delightfully twisted cast of characters. Lum herself is an immortal anime icon to Japan and other parts of the world. You will see echos and allusion to the cast in every other Rumiko Takahashi work and a good deal of any other manga as well. From the spoiled over the top richest boy in the world Shuutaro Mendou to the manipulative split personality Alice in Wonderland themed alien Ran all of Urusei Yatsura’s characters are iconic. Urusei Yatsura is also the most Japanese of all of Rumiko Takahashi’s works. Most of the aliens are based on creatures of Japanese mythology.
So with 195 episodes, 11 OAVs, and 6 movies where do I start. Or rather where should youstart? The answer is slightly unexpected. Start with the last disk. It has episode 194 which has the top 10 Urusei Yatsura episodes in summary with the most popular episode in its entirety. It will give you a good idea if this series is for you. You could also start with the first movie. It jumps right into the action and is consistent in tone with the rest of the series. The second movie might be the pinnacle of Urusei Yatsura but much like Lupin III: The Castle of Cagliostro it might give you the wrong impression of the series. The 5th movie is also excellent but it’s very silly to start with the end in my humble opinion.
Also Rock the Planet (the 5th opening) is without a doubt one of the greatest anime openings of all time.
Manga of the Month
D.N.Angel by Yukiru Sugisaki
Daisuke is a short, artistic, and energetic, if a bit clumsy, 14-tear-old boy but he has a bit of problem. In his family, all of the first born boys inherit the ability to turn into the phantom thief Dark who is a bit of handful. Hiwatari, a classmate of Daisuke who is hiding some secrets of his own, is determined to catch the thief that hasn’t appeared since almost 40 years prior. Dark has been stealing artwork from the Hikari clan for 400 years but for what purpose and reason? Dark emerges when there is artwork to steal but also when Daisuke’s emotions surge, especially those of love. To make things more complicated Risa, the girl Daisuke has a crush on, falls in love with Dark while Riku, Risa’s twin, starts showing feelings for Daisuke. Not to mention Dark being in love with Riku himself. Plenty of drama and comedy ensues with the help of Daisuke’s family. So begins a game of cat and mouse, art theft, action, magic, mystery, and quite a bit of romance. It has a good pace mixed with artwork that continues to evolve as the series goes on. The relationships are a high point pulling you first one way, then the next, making the complexity very dynamic.
D.N.Angel is a series that garnered popularity in Asuka magazine and has only recently come off hiatus for long-waiting fans. With 11 volumes released in English and just 13 in Japanese everyone who reads it is anxious for its, more than likely bittersweet, conclusion.