Urusei Yatsura has been one of my favorite manga and anime series for many years, and while a very small percentage of the manga has been officially released in the States, Viz Media (who currently holds the rights, last I checked) hasn’t gotten around to releasing all of it. Urusei Yatsura volume 1
Ataru Moroboshi, a rather lecherous high school student in the Nerima district of Tokyo, is selected to represent the Earth against the invading alien Oni. His task is simple: defeat their representative in a game of tag and the Oni won’t go through with the invasion. Unfortunately for him, his opponent is Lum, a curvaceous princess of the Oni who happens to be able to fly.
After using every dirty trick in the book to win, Ataru (who was promised by his girlfriend that she would marry him if he won) declares, “Now I can marry her!”, which Lum promptly misinterprets as a marriage proposal. She then moves into his closet and the series begins a long (thirty-four 200-page volumes in the original release, beginning with Urusei Yatsura volume 1) and unique blend of science fiction, fantasy, mythology, romance, and general wackiness that keeps the series popular today, over 34 years after it began its nine year run in the manga anthology magazine Weekly Shonen Sunday.
One of the best things about the series is is depth of characters and how they all work so well together (something at which Takahashi was less successful in her later Ranma ½ series). Takahashi has a very great knowledge of Japanese mythology and uses it to excellent effect throughout the series. For example, the Oni are opposed by the ancient Japanese gods, who all act out their roles just as described in Japanese myth (though with Takahashi’s signature wacky twist added in for good measure).
While there are a few minor details which start to wear thin (the main one being that Ataru doesn’t show a lot of change over the course of the series), they don’t get in the way of the very solid and enjoyable story. Takahashi is truly a master storyteller, and when her works shine, they really, really shine. Urusei Yatsura volume 1 is definitely one of her crown jewels.
Release Date: July 15, 1999 (Japan)
ISBNs: “Wide” edition vol.1 4091228011 (9784091228017)
Original Title: うる星やつら1〈ワイド版〉
Violence: 3 (some mild science fiction and slapstick violence)