Manga of the Month: Urusei Yatsura

Urusei Yatsura by Rumiko Takahashi

I could have always made Urusei Yatsura a manga of the month. There was nothing stopping me. While Ranma is what really made me a hardcore anime fan it was Urusei Yatsura that solidified me as a Rumiko Takahashi fan. As one of my favorite manga of all time it has always been a simple choice. It was always a question of when more than if. I was just waiting for the right time and this just seems to be just the perfect moment. With the premium Viz rerelease of the manga coming out regularly and the new anime on TV this seems like the best time to talk about Rumiko Takahashi’s major break out hit.

Ataru Moroboshi is the unluckiest boy in the world and probably the most horny as well. These two qualities come to a head when he is chosen as Earth’s champion in a game of tag against alien invaders. When he catches the alien princess and saves Earth but accidently becomes engaged to the electric oni, Lum in the process. The town of Tomobiki soon becomes an vortex for aliens, monsters, and all sorts of other weirdness. Atatru is trying his best to get an alien girlfriend or two but his fianc√© is determined to keep her “darling” in line.

For better or for worse Rumiko Takahashi’s later series always have a much tighter theme and flow. You have a fairly good idea what your going to get in any chapter of Inuyasha or Maison Ikkoku. But Urusei Yatsura feels much more like jazz in its freeform nature. One chapter could be a sexy comedy about aliens, the next is nothing more than a giant set up for a pun with folk creatures, and the next chapter a touching romantic interlude. The only main theme is that the Urusei Yatsura cast are horrible people who are very amusing when they are horrible to each other.

There are some classics of manga and anime which are amazing pieces of history that give the reader a far greater understanding and context for the medium as a whole but can feel like homework. They are rewarding in the end but you have to put in major effort truly digest them. Urusei Yatsura is a key foundation of modern shonen romance and comedy manga but it also just darn fun to read. It is simultaneously educational and entertaining.

Plus Shinobu is the best Rumiko Takahashi character ever. This is a fact. If you disagree you are just wrong.

-Alain

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