Story Premise


This FAQ sheet was compiled to answer some of the more common questions that are asked about Urusei Yatsura. If you have any questions that you'd like to add to this FAQ, send your suggestion to mason@proulx.ca and I'll give it my consideration.

THE QUESTIONS

  1. What does the title mean? How is it pronounced?
  2. For what years did the manga run? the anime? How much of it was there?
  3. On what time, day, and station did the TV show air?
  4. How do I get UY anime and manga in North America?
  5. Why is the manga in black and white?
  6. How far did Viz translate the manga? How many volumes have they put out? Which manga stories have been skipped by Viz?
  7. What has AnimEigo released so far? How often are the tapes released? Have they released any dubs? Why can't I get movie 2 from them?
  8. Ogre, demon, devil, oni? Just what race is Lum?
  9. Why do Lum, Rei, Ten and all other Oni wear tiger-stripes?
  10. Was it me, or did I see Lum in a music video?
  11. Why do many of Lum's sentences end in "-tcha"?
  12. Why do the Oni play tag in the first episode and the final movie?
  13. What are those bug-eyed red fish creatures in a spacesuits ?
  14. Does Ataru really love Lum? If so, why does he keep trying to get away from her? Why can't he admit that he loves her?
  15. Why does Lum love Ataru?
  16. What happened to Ataru and Shinobu's relationship?
  17. What is beefbowl (gyu-don)?
  18. Why is movie 5 called Kanketsuhen (Final Chapter) if there's another movie after it?
  19. I hear that most of the character's names have a deeper meaning. What exactly do the various names signify?
  20. What's the UY Complete Music Box? Does it include all the music of the series? Can I still buy it?
  21. Why can't I find any fansubs?
  22. Did Rumiko Takahashi do anything else after UY?
  23. Could there possibly be a remake of Urusei Yatsura in the future? Why or why not?
  24. I've heard of a rock group calling themselves 'Urusei Yatsura.' Who is this band and what is their connection to the Urusei Yatsura manga and anime?
  25. In what ways is the anime different from the manga?
  26. What were the names and order of the Urusei Yatsura volumes released in English by Viz?

THE ANSWERS

1 - What does the title mean? How is it pronounced?

The title "Urusei Yatsura" is a Japanese play on words. There isn't any English equivalent to this complex multi-leveled pun, so we must explain it in detail to understand it.

The first word urusei is a mispronunciation or dialectic slurring of the Japanese word urusai which means "annoying," "noisy" or "obnoxious" yatsu is an informal way of saying "person" while -ra is simply one way of making a word plural. With that in mind, the title seems to say "obnoxious guys" but it still doesn't account for the fact that it's written as urusei and not urusai. Well read on and you'll see why.

Uru is also the name of a fictional planet from which the alien race of the Oni come from. In Japanese writing where each syllable is a different character, it is written as: u-ru-hoshi ya-tsu-ra, where hoshi is the kanji (Chinese ideological character) for "star." An alternative pronunciation for that character, used only in a compound word when describing the name of a planet, is sei. So with all of that in mind, Urusei Yatsura can mean "noisy-star guys" or perhaps "annoying fellows from planet Uru" or even AnimEigo's translation that is given as "those obnoxious aliens"

Using English phonetics, the name is pronounced
"oo-roo-say yat-soo-rah." (don't pause at the dashes, just say it in quick succession like they were two words).

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2 - For what years did the manga run? the anime? How much of it was there?

The manga started in rather sluggishly in 1978, started up again in 1979 and continued on until 1987. In total Takahashi had created 34 volumes of Urusei Yatsura which comes up to around 374 manga stories. See About the Manga to learn more

The TV series started on October 14, 1981 and ended on March 19th, 1986. It had 195 separate TV episodes including an hour long year-end special. From then on many video and films were produced which kept coming out until 1991 when it stopped being made completely. Of the non-TV show releases there have been 6 movies, 8 OVAs, 2 TV specials, and many other miscellaneous video releases. See About the Anime for more info.

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3 - On what time, day, and station did the TV show air?

From 1981 to 1986 the show aired on Fuji TV every Wednesday at 7:30 p.m. There were only two exceptions. One was the spring special in between episode 21 and 22 which aired on a different night and time. The other would be episode 180 which was interrupted for the volleyball World Cup.

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4 - How do I get UY anime and manga in North America?

The manga was partially translated and reprinted by Viz Comics. Back issues and graphic novels can still be found in most comic shops that sell manga. Otherwise they can be ordered straight from Viz themselves. But Viz no longer produces new English language Urusei Yatsura manga. They suddenly stopped publishing the series several years ago because they didn't quite know how to market the series and as a consequence weren't able to sell enough to justify it's continued release. It's a shame since they were finally getting to the point in the manga where things really start getting good and the art style becomes more refined. The more daring of you may want to try finding the Japanese language editions if you want to see the continued adventures of the Urusei Yatsura gang.

The anime series is being translated and released by AnimEigo. The tapes can often be found in video stores but since UY isn't in high demand, they're hard to come by. The surest way to find their tapes is to contact AnimEigo's mail order service and order the tapes. They also sell videos online.

To find the original Japanese manga and anime without having to travel to Japan, there are online shops that deal in such imports. For a list of popular stores and e-commerce sites that sell both domestic and imported anime and manga, check out the links page.

While some Urusei Yatsura goods are particularly tricky to fid, the key is to keep hunting. UY merchandise is not easy to find outside Japan, but there's lots of it out there. If you are persistent, you will eventually prevail.

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5 - Why is the manga mostly black and white?

You must be new to manga if you're asking this question. This has more to do with the standard practice in the Japanese comics industry than Urusei Yatsura specifically. In Japan most widely circulated comic series are produced at a rate of one chapter per week, which is far more demanding than the monthly schedule of American comics. Given that colouring is one of the more time-consuming aspects of doing a comic, Japanese comics tend to omit colouring so that each comic can meet its weekly deadline. For this reason, comics like Urusei Yatsura are drawn with a very stark blackline style using solid blacks, crosshatching and patterns. The series did sometimes have a colour pages done in watercolours (Rumiko Takahashi's colouring method of choice), but these are mostly done as an occasional bonus for readers of the original weekly run. The tankoban (trade paperbacks) reproduced these in black and white.

Comics done completley in colour do exist in Japan, but they tend to be more expensive, come out less frequently and have a smaller distribution. Thus they're less popular than weekly publications like Urusei Yatsura. For this reason, most comics in Japan are black and white.

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6 - How far did Viz translate the manga. How many volumes have they put out? Have they skipped any chapters?

Viz stopped releasing UY around the point of tankoban volume 11 (wideban volume 5) of the manga series. For the most part the they are available in graphic novel or comic book form, except for vol. 3.5 to vol. 4.8 which were serialized in Animerica magazine and are only available as a graphic novel.

Viz has skipped three manga stories. vol 2.2 "The Mysterious Egg," vol 2.5 "Kidnapped by Kappa," and vol. 3.1 "Father, you were strong."

One story, vol. 1.9, "The Great Kiss War", was skipped in the original run of Lum*Urusei Yatsura, but was included in the graphic novels. Another, vol. 3.4, "Ain't He Sweet" only appeared in the graphic novel.

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7 - What has AnimEigo released so far? How often are the tapes released? Have they released any dubs? Why can't I get movie 2 from them?

So far AnimEigo has released 25 TV volumes, with four episodes per tape so they're up to episode 98 (including a 1 hour TV special). They've also released 5 of the movies, and 6 OVA volumes which include all 8 OVAs episodes, the Inaba the Dreamaker TV Special, Ryoko's September Tea party, and I'm the Shuu-chan Memorial Album. They're in the process of rereleasing their TV tapes on DVD. By my last check, they were up to volume 10.

AnimEigo releases Urusei Yatsura rather erratically since it's never been their biggest money maker. When they started making the subs in 1992 they came out once a month, but then they started coming out bimonthly, then on a quarterly basis and now there is no telling when the next will come out.

All of their current UY releases are Japanese language with English subtitles, excepting an English dub of the first two episodes labeled as "those obnoxious aliens." Years later they're going to try to dub the series again. Reportedly, an English dub of the first movie is in the works.

However, movie 2: Beautiful Dreamer cannot be obtained from AnimEigo because it was released by U.S. Manga Corps. AnimEigo did the translation, but somehow they rights for the movie belong to USMC. They later released an English dubbed version of the movie as well as their original subtitled version.

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8 - Ogre, demon, devil, oni? Just what race is Lum?

Although many translations are given for what race of alien Lum is, the only correct term would be Oni. To make it more accessible to the western world, many American translators have tried to translate the name into something that we could comprehend such as ogres and devils. But in actuality Oni nothing like those types of creatures. Oni were are a traditional Japanese demon of mythology that was said to be a product of bad karma in humans. They take on many forms, but the traditional view of an Oni is an evil and ugly giant with horns, a mouth that stretches around his face, fangs and often carries a large club and has many frightening powers which often includes possession. The traditional woman Oni is beautiful and seductive, but can suddenly turn into a frightening demon. The Oni from Urusei Yatsura are a modern alien version of the traditional Japanese variety.

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9 - Why do Lum, Rei, Ten and all other Oni wear tiger-stripes?

The mythological Oni were said to have worn tiger-skin underwear. UY plays on this by combining traditional Oni garb with outfits out of a sci-fi show.

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10 - Was it just me, or did I see Lum in a music video?

Clips of Urusei Yatsura that feature Lum appear in an American music video by rock artist, Matthew Sweet called "I've Been Waiting." Lum also makes a very brief cameo appearance in Matthew Sweet's "Ugly Truth Rock" video as a keychain, as well as a cameo in the framed picture hanging on the wall in the beginning of "Sick of Myself."

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11 - Why do many of Lum's sentences end in "-tcha"?

Lum attaches "-tcha" to most of her verbs which happen to be at the end of a sentence. Her speech is patterned after a very cute saccarine-laden style used in Japan by little girls who are trying to be cute, almost sickeningly so.

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12 - Why do the Oni play tag in the first episode and the final movie?

The word for Tag in Japanese is Onigokko which literally means "game of the Oni." So it would be suitable for Oni to have tag as a favorite sport. In both cases, they use a competition of tag to decide the fate of earth.

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13 - What are those bug-eyed red fish creatures in a spacesuits?

Those are Dappya Monsters. Called as such because they end every sentence with "dappya" These humorous little cameo characters were originally from Takahashi's first published work called Kattena Yatsura. The big joke with them is that they're from another series so they don't belong in Urusei Yatsura but still make a habit of constantly interfering with the show.

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14 - Does Ataru really love Lum? If so, why does he keep trying to get away from her? Why can't he admit that he loves her?

Ataru loves Lum more than anything but he tries to convince himself and those around him that he doesn't. But often times he lets his guard down. Whenever Lum is in some kind of danger or it seems that he may lose her, that's when Ataru's true self comes out and he shows his true feelings towards Lum. But why does he run from her?

It would almost seem that Ataru would want to keep a platonic relationship with Lum for the time being, but she keeps pressuring him into a deeper relationship which makes him feel trapped. Similarly he is a very independent person who isn't comfortable having his life suddenly taken over by such an overbearing girl who keeps trying to change his ways. Ataru wants to be free to do whatever he wants, which includes girl-chasing and more, but Lum keeps following him, yelling, nagging and giving him an electrical punishment every time he defies her. All of those things make Ataru feel like a prisoner and so he constantly flees from her. But more so he's actually running from having to face his true feelings, which may be the underlying reason behind it all. That brings us to the question of why he has such a problem with admitting his love.

At the beginning Ataru had a bit of a physical attraction to Lum, just like with all girls. But during the Tag Race, he decides he wants nothing to do with her. Ataru's negative feelings towards Lum became worse after Lum decides to move in with him, become his loyal wife and he quickly finds out that she won't let him cheat on her. After getting over the initial "shock" of Lum being around him all of the time (pun intended), he unknowingly begins to fall for her. Eventually he comes to grips with that fact and accepts his love for her, but finds it impossible to show his feelings after he acting like he disliked her for so long. So Ataru finds it to difficult to show her how he feels, but he makes things worse by evading the situation and repeating the same horrible behaviour that makes Lum mad. It's a truly vicious circle.

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15 - Why does Lum love Ataru?

Well a woman's feelings are a mysterious thing. Only Lum could explain why. Still, there are many reasons that become obvious over the series. One is that Lum sees through Ataru's affectations and knows that he is really a good natured person. A good soul is something that Lum seems to prize over everything else. Also Lum seems to only like men with interesting personalities, which accurately describes Ataru. Early on in the show Ataru is obviously a clutzy loser, but as the series progresses, he actually becomes a pretty cool dude. Maybe Lum was also attracted to this potential coolness he posessed. But this is still speculation because for the most part it's a complete mystery.

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16 - What happened to Ataru and Shinobu's relationship?

Shinobu really wanted Ataru as a boyfriend at the beginning despite his behavior. But soon after Mendo shows up, she seems to have forgotten all about persuing Ataru and instead wants Mendo as a boyfriend. Even then Shinobu still has some romantic feelings for Ataru since she does let him get close on a few occasions, but it doesn't last long and begins to grow into fondness as a friend as opposed to a love interest. In short they become friends, although Ataru still tries to get fresh with her.

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17 - What is beefbowl (gyuu-don)?

An inexpensive fast-food meal which consists of a bowl of rice topped with a mix of vinagered sprouts and cabbage with strips of cooked beef in a savory sauce. Often extra toppings are added to it. This happens to be a favorite of students like Ataru and Megane who eat mountains of beefbowl since they're both cheap and tasty. It's sort of what pizza is to an American student. It happens to be one of my favorite Japanese dishes as well which should give you a clue as to what kind of culinary sophistication I have. I once asked my Japanese language teacher if she liked gyu-don, and she told me that she rarely eats at gyu-don places because they're filled with construction workers, truckers and other low-level laborers. It's a truly blue-collar dish. All I know is when I was in Japan, half of the restaraunts I visited I usually ordered a donburi meal like gyuudon. I couldn't get enough of the stuff. If that means I'm slumming it, so be it.

Gyuudon is only one variety of 'donburi' meal of which there are countless types. Besides gyuudon other popular variations include 'tendon' (with tempura) 'katsudon' (with fried pork cutlet) and 'oyakodon' (chicken and egg).

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18 - Why is movie 5 called Kankestuhen (Final Chapter) if there's another movie after it?

The fifth movie "Kanketsuhen" signals the official conclusion of Urusei Yatsura. However, about three years later another movie came out which doesn't seem to fit into the storyline of the series. Although AnimEigo calls it movie 6, it was really only a 10th anniversary comeback special in the form of a feature film. Many fans tend to think of the sixth movie kind of like an extended OVA because of the treatment that the animators gave it.

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19 - I hear that most of the character's names have a deeper meaning. What exactly do the various names signify?

NAME MEANGING OR SIGNIFICANCE
Ataru Moroboshi
to get hit by a falling star
Lum
name of a 70's bikini model / modified version of Takahashi's kid nickname / etc.
Shinobu
to endure or patience
Mendo
trouble or complications
Sakurambou
cherry / deranged monk
Sakura
cherry blossom
Ten/Jariten
the heavens / bratty Ten
Megane
glasses
Paama
perm
Kakugari
buzz-cut
Chibi
runt
Rei
zero
Ran
civil war / orchid flower / a cute sound one makes when happy
Benten
same name as one of the seven oriental gods of luck
Oyuki
honourable Snow / psudonym of the legendary Yuki-onna.
Ryuunosuke
a man's name
Onsen-mark
the Mark of the Hot Spring
Kotatsuneko
footwarmer-table cat
Tsubame Ozuno
swallow of Oz
Kurama
reference to Kurama mountain, which was the location of several Tengu legends
Kitsune
fox
Inaba
reference to a children's story about a rabbit

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20 - What's the UY Complete Music Box? Does it include all the music of the series? Can I still buy it?

The Urusei Yatsura Complete Music Box is comprised of a huge set of 15 compact disks filled with background music and vocal songs from the TV show, movies, OVAs and more. While it doesn't feature every single UY sound that ever was, it comes pretty close to being truly "complete." It isn't easy to find, but it is still available for purchase. I haven't heard of any new ones being produced in recent years, but you might be able to find them by checking with the higher-end stores like Nikaku Animart. Be warned that since this boxed set is so huge, and because Japanese CDs are almost double the price of CDs in America, it's incredibly expensive at well over $375 in American dollars.

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21 - Why can't I find any fansubs?

The fact is that very few fansubs of UY were ever made. Those few fansubs were done long ago and are now so rare that they're considered to be non-existent. Since AnimEigo already releases the series and most fansub groups only subtitle new anime, no-one has bothered to go on to create any other fansubs of the series.

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22 - Did Rumiko Takahashi do anything else after "Urusei Yatsura"?

Well duh. Haven't you heard of a little thing called Ranma ? How about Maison Ikkoku? Maybe Inuyasha? Wow, you are clueless aren't you? Why not check out the rest of Rumic World and discover some of the other series that she's created during and since Urusei Yatsura.

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23 - Could there possibly be a remake of Urusei Yatsura in the future? Why or why not?

Probably not. I personally have heard rumors from time to time coming from Japan that Urusei Yatsura may come back to TV, but so far I haven't seen any of these rumors come true (other than reruns of the old shows). One has to assume that UY will not come back.

Why not? Well for a variety of reasons.

For one Rumiko Takahashi probably doesn't want new shows made. In fact I think she stated it specifically after she was disapointed with the 4th and 6th movie as well as the last few OVAs made in the early 90's. They need the creator's permission before making an adaptation and without her okay it doesn't look promising.

Also much of this TV series' success was based upon the stellar staff behind the scenes. After all these years the voice talent have all scattered or retired. But each one of them was catapulted into popularity with the help of Urusei Yatsura. The production staff have all gone their seperate ways to become leaders in the industry who have each been responsible for creating some of the most popular anime of the 80's and 90's. It would be impossible to bring most of the old creators and voices back together now that they've achieved such widespread success on their own. Most industry people know that it would be impossible to recreate that success without the original core staff. It was done before with the last few releases and those were total flops.

Sure, Urusei Yatsura may have a big fan following, but so do a hundred other anime. The industry is always producing new stuff so there's never a need to renew old shows. Especially in Japan where there's a prevailing "out with the old, in with the new" mentality. The fact that Urusei Yatsura has still held on to much of it's former popularity in such a social climate is impressive, but it just means a remake is unlikely.

However in recent years there's been a trend of animation studios revamping old anime and making it new again. So the idea of UY making a comeback is not farfetched, but unlikely in my mind. The hype over UY has died down in Japan since the late 80's. By now most Japanese still remember the series fondly, but there's no drive to revisit it. Since it's like a relatively newer show to us in America (the anime was released here in 1992) it's easier for our fan base to get excited about a series which to most Japanese has gone the way of a classic.

So what should you feel about the possibility of UY's comeback? My advice is to forget about it and just enjoy the 10 years worth of old releases that are still out there.

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24 - I've heard about a rock group calling themselves 'Urusei Yatsura'. Who are they and what is their connection to the Urusei Yatsura manga and anime?

There's a band from Glasgow, Scotland that call themselves Urusei Yatsura. The name aparently came to them when some members had a passing fancy with the anime, and decided to use it as a band name. Other than that, they have no connection to UY whatsoever. They're not a tribute or novelty band. They don't play anime music. They're just a typical rock group that happened to choose the name of an anime show. I personally don't mind and say more power to them. At least they're using a name that's cool.

The only problem is that internet searches often tend to confuse UY anime and manga fans when they go looking for Lum, and are disappointed to find a bunch of musicians who look nothing like her.

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25 - In what ways does the manga differ from the anime?

In a lot of ways. There are too many differences to point out but there are some glaring ones.

The most obvious difference would be Lum's Bodyguards (Megane, Perm, Kakugari and Chibi) being used as prominent characters. In the manga they were only briefly used early on as nameless members of Lum's fan club. By the time Mendo shows up, they vanished from the manga never to be seen again. The anime on the other hand extrapolated upon their brief appearance and made them into four very distinct personalities in co-starring roles. Especially in the case of Megane who becomes a notorious scene-stealer, they practically impose themselves on the story and interfere with the triangle between Lum, Ataru and Mendo. Megane for example is given so much screen time, that he often takes emphasis away from Mendo's role which is extrememly important to the manga. The characters may have been entertaining, but they were in essence spare baggage. Megane and the others became a favorite tool of the animators for expressing their bemusement at otaku culture.

The style of humor would be another big difference. Although it's difficult to describe in words..

Most of this applies to the first half of the TV series and movies rather than the later half, which is more similar to the manga.

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26 - What were the names and order of the Urusei Yatsura volumes released in English by Viz?

Viz attempted to release Urusei Yatsura in English in 1989 and then tried once again in October, 1994. Of the two attempts they made at translating the series they called the initial release "Lum: Urusei Yatsura" and the revival of their release "The Return of Lum: Urusei Yatsura".

Marketing research suggested that named volumes sold better than numbered releases (this was especially apparent in Viz's anime releases of Ranma and Maison Ikkoku during this time period), and so Viz gave individual names to the collected graphic novels they released. The titles were:

  • Lum Urusei Yatsura Perfect Collection (this collects the books originally titled "Lum: Urusei Yatsura Vol. 1 & 2)
  • Return of Lum: Urusei Yatsura
  • Lum in the Sun
  • Sweet Revenge
  • Trouble Times Ten
  • Feudal Furor
  • Creature Features
  • For Better or Curse
  • Ran Attacks

To see which stories match up with which English volume, please see our manga summaries section.

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FAQ written by Mason Proulx

Contributors:

Robert Daniels
Hurtle Hamster
Sean Gaffney
Matthew Webber
Derek Janssen
jlehto
Theresa Wymer
John Chennavasin
Larry D. Wooten
Shaw Izikson
Alvin Marte
Nori Ikeno
Harley Acres
Dylan Acres



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