What is Urusei Yatsura?

Hunting the Wild Urusei Yatsura Anime
by Anthony D. Baranyi

Introduction

During the past year I have joined many others in the hunt for Urusei Yatsura anime. I started out simply enough a year ago, when at first I found a copy of "Beautiful Dreamer" in a nearby Blockbuster Video store. Totally intrigued by "BD" I spent the next several weeks checking out the anime sections of all of the regional Blockbusters and was rewarded by being able to rent all of the movies and OAVs. But I was only able to rent one of the Animeigo TV collections. My appetite whetted, I started to check out the comic stores in nearby Toronto, but I was only able to find one of the TV collections to buy.

Determined to get the entire collection, I set out on what turned out to be a year long odyssey into the realm of anime and manga collecting. I feel that my experiences may be of value to the Urusei Yatsura fan world as a whole. Therefor I have put together this chronicle of my efforts for all to use as a reference. I used two means to find UY anime and manga - visiting stores in person and using mail order. The following reports are based upon my personal experiences with the various vendors.

1 - In-Person Visits

There aren't any Japanese bookstores or anime/manga shops in the Greater Toronto area. Many anime and manga can be found translated into Chinese at the many Chinese stores in the region, but English or Japanese versions are very rare and found at premium prices in only a few comic stores. I was fortunate, however, to be able to travel to Los Angeles one several occasions during the last year, so I had a chance to visit a number of sources there.

The first place I visited was alt.ant, a music, video, anime and manga store in the student center at the University of California at Irvine ( for the uninitiated, the "ant" in "alt.ant" refers to "Peter the Anteater", of the old comic strip "B.C." by Johnny Hart. Peter the Anteater is the mascot of U.C. Irvine - the battle cry is "Zot" - the sound Peter makes when he zaps an ant - I am an alumnus of U.C.I. - BA Chem. '73 ). They had a great selection of anime art books, some manga and a lot of videos. I visited "alt.ant" before I started to collect UY items. You can contact "alt.ant" at (714)-824-4930 or via e-mail at "alt-ant.uci.edu".

On two other times I went to the Yaohan Plaza in Torrance, California ( at the border of Carson ) and saw the "Asahiya" Bookstore. This plaza reminds me of the big Chinese plazas and malls here in Metro Toronto. The bookstore had tons of manga, but no UY issues. They also carry a huge selection of Japanese educational books and workbooks. I picked up a couple of grade school books to help me with my Japanese lessons. They had some art books and a few videos, but overall it was an impressive collection of all kinds of Japanese books and magazines. They are at 21515 Western Ave. at the corner of Carson Blvd. - Tel (310) 787-0700.

I also twice visited "Books Nippan" in downtown LA ( 605 W. 7th St. at Grand - Tel - 213-891-9636, 800-427-6100, e-mail - "nippan@netcom.com" ). This a smaller but still impressive store, with a smaller selection of general Japanese books and magazines but a better selection of art books, videos. I have been ordering things off and on from Books Nippon for the past year so I have received good value for their "discount" card. I knew that they had a bunch of the Pony Canyon re-issues of the Urusei Yatsura Japanese LD's so I immediately went to their LD section and picked up everyone I didn't have. They also have a number of CDs and posters. Their LD section is going down. But over all they are always worth a visit.

I also went to the "Tokyo-Do Shoten" bookstore which is in Pacific Square at 1610 W. Redondo Beach Blvd. in Gardena. Tel - 310-532-5010 ( This mall also contains a Chinese restaurant which has the best Dim Sum I've had outside of Metro Toronto - but they don't have fried sticky rice ... ). They also had a very good selection of manga, some art books and lots of videos - but nothing that I didn't see elsewhere and the prices were somewhat higher.

I also twice went to Banzai Anime in West LA ( 2951 Sepulveda Blvd. at National Blvd. - Tel - (310) 231-6080. The first time I went they had some manga, some anime, some art books and a fair number of models. But was particularly attractive was their collection of cels. The next time I went I was really disappointed. They no longer carry cels and had almost no manga and few videos or LDs. They did have music CDs, a lot of anime models and a fair amount of H-anime for those who like that. They also rent anime.

2 - Mail Order

In between my infrequent visits to Los Angeles I supplemented my diet of anime and manga by ordering over the phone. Many stores were not willing or able to supply any UY related materials, but some were quite good about it.

I ordered UY videos and laser discs from Books Nippan. They always gave excellent service and shipped the orders promptly via UPS. I was also able to receive their 20% club discount on the mail shipments as well as not pay State sales tax. However, they discourage special orders.

I also ordered videos from Banzai Anime, but they were not as careful with the orders and tend to be slow with their deliveries.

Several times I ordered from Planet Anime in Houston, Texas. They supplied videos, manga ( both tankoubans and widebans ) and laser discs. They were also one of the few places willing to place special orders. But their delivery is always very slow. The last shipment came with the box totally crushed, fortunately the laser disc was okay. Planet Anime is at 2439 Times Blvd in Houston, Tel 713-523-7122.

I bought the bulk of the UY widebans from Sasuga Bookstore in Boston. They were always courteous and efficient and I received my orders quickly. Their telephone number is 617-497-5460.

I ordered once from Anime Plus, in California, Tel 818-773-7371. They supplied me with a UY TV video and Movie 6. Their service was good and fast, but their selection was low when I called.

Recently I tried out a new firm in Los Angeles, Kaseijin Anime, 3175 S. Hoover St. #576, Tel 213-747-3828, 888-380-6926. They were willing to special order the UY laser discs for me without any down payment. They got the discs from Japan within a couple of weeks, shipped them to me via UPS and even provided the UPS tracking number so that I could track the shipment on-line. Their prices are the same as the discounted prices at Books Nippan. I will definitely give Kaseijin Anime more business in the future.

I tried to order a couple of times from Nikaku Animart, but it was very hard to get in touch with them, and when I did they were not very cooperative. They are also uninterested in special orders unless you put money up front and wait until their next rip to Japan.

Conclusion

Based upon my experiences, my main recommendation to anyone who wants to try out any of these vendors is that you always call first to check their hours and check their stock, before you visit or send in an order. Many of the companies have "1-800" or "1-888" numbers, ( but I can't use them from Canada ) so the cost to you is minimal. Also, this list is not exhaustive, but reflects those companies who had some UY materials during 1997. It is no guarantee that they will have any now. Be sure to check the various ads in "Animerica" magazine as well as the web-based anime "malls"

Have fun with your own "hunting" and good luck!

 

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