by Mason Proulx
In February 1983, the Urusei Yatsura movie "Only You" opened in theaters across Japan. While the television series and comics they were based on were highly popular, this is the movie that thrust Urusei Yatsura into the mainstream. The movie, inspired by grand old hollywood films and epic pulp sci-fi fantasies, brought audiences on a fantastical journey across the stars full of romance, adventure and comedy. Yeah I know it sounds sappy, but this is movie is so much fun, especially if you're into UY.
To me this is the definitive Urusei Yatsura movie. It's packed full of classic Urusei Yatsura antics and gut-bustingly funny moments. It not be challenging to the mind, but heck, who cares? It's just pure entertainment and does a very good job at providing exactly that. It stays very true to the whimsical spirit of the TV show which none of the other movies did so well.
As always, Ataru nearly steals the show. His character and delivery were perfectly done. Kudos to the writer and Ataru's voice Toshio Furukawa. Lum is especially gorgeous in this movie (yes I know it's animated but geez, whotta babe) and what's more, she really gets a chance to show what a multi-dimensional character she is. Lum's no bimbo, she's a smart, sassy and determined young woman who just happens to lose her better judgment when it comes to her feelings. Benten also really shines in this movie, even though she hadn't been fully recognized as a major character at this point of the TV show. I think they made a good choice to focus a lot more attention to her for Only You. Even Mendo some great moments in the spotlight. I was a bit disappointed that Sakura had so little to do in this movie, but you can't win them all. She certainly makes up for it in the next movie. As for the antagonist of the film, I found Elle to be exeptionally compelling for a one-shot movie character. It would have been the perfect UY experience if this movie was done a bit later when characters such as Ryuunosuke, Ryoko and Kotatsuneko show up. The whole film would then have a more well-rounded feel. Then again maybe not. Too many characters may have further confused things. The movie already works perfectly as an ensemble drama so I see no reason to mess with it.
This movie has a distinctive feel to it that is reminscent of pulp science fiction movies from the 1950's and early 1960's, if they were produced in the golden-age hollywood style. It's a fascinating treatment of the series. It was made in the early 80's, but it's made in the tradition of more classic anime from the 70's (which were in turn heavily influenced by old hollywood films).
The animation is stellar and the colour is vibrant and wispy, like a Takahashi watercolour painting. It may look slightly dated by today's standards, but in its day it was one of the most well animated movies of the time. It's certainly one of the last movies of its kind to be made before the industry began to change the way it made anime. No one makes movies like this anymore and it serves as a fine record of the last hurrah of the seventies style of anime filmmaking.
The soundtrack is also spectacular. A nice varied range of music style that has that fantastical sweeping space opera feel, but with all of the techno trappings of UY music.
In my opinion this the most enjoyable UY movie out of the lot. UY2 may be more substatial, UY5 may be more faithful. But as for pure entertainment value it has them beat. This is what Urusei Yatsura is all about. Nearly everything I've come to love about the early shows is here in this movie, and then some. It's one of my personal favorite movies and I'd reccomend it as the perfect introduction for newcomers to the Urusei Yatsura universe.