Urusei Yatsura – Beautiful Dreamer (2nd movie) – (A J!-ENT Anime DVD Review)
September 7, 2008 by Dennis Amith
“The classic ‘Urusei Yatsura’ film still looks great and very entertaining nearly 25 years later!”
DVD TITLE: Urusei Yatsura
DURATION: 100 minutes
CATALOG #: USMD-2431
DVD INFORMATION: Animated, Collector’s Edition, Color, Dolby, Dubbed, DVD-Video, Subtitled, NTSC
COMPANY: Central Park Media/US Manga Corps
RATING: Suggest 13 and Up
ORIGINAL CREATOR: Takahashi Rumiko
DIRECTOR/SCREEN WRITER: Oshii Mamoru
MUSIC: Hoshii Katsu
ART DIRECTOR: Kobayashii Shiichiro
PRODUCTION: Kitty Films/Toho
Famed director/screenwriter Mamoru Oshii (Ghost in the Shell, Jin-Roh: The Wolf Bridge and Patlabor: The Mobile Police) puts his own surreal stamp on the slapstick comedy by Rumiko Takahashi (creator of Inuyasha, Ranma 1/2 and Maison Ikkoku).
Ataru was a hopeless teenage loser until he met the beautiful space princess Lum. Now he’s a famous loser with a superpowered alien girlfriend! Lum’s very existence throws the spacetime continuum completely out of whack and Ataru’s high school is trapped in an alternate reality bursting with obnoxious aliens. Will love conqure all and return the starcrossed Ataru to normality? Not a chance!
It seems like for many anime viewers who have been watching anime for nearly or over three decades as I have has seem to comment on Urusei Yatsura’s 2nd movie “Beautiful Dreamer” as a film that would be a classic.
A film that would deviate from the comedic style of the TV series and although still retaining its humor, to really show an almost sci-fi, yet almost serious storyline thanks to director and screenwriter Oshii Mamoru.
Many people know what kind of cerebral anime that Oshii would create after this film but this is where his talent was first displayed and where many anime fans at that time would clamor of how this was the ultimate anime film.
Originally released in theaters back in 1984, the series really had some major politics behind-the-scenes as Oshii who was really ticked off with how he had to change things for the producers for the first film, wanted to do things his own style with the second film. Not only did series creator Takahashi Rumiko nearly canned the script, Oshii also drew the ire of anime fans of the popular series.
For me, back in the early 90’s “Urusei Yatsura”, “Ranma 1/2” and “Maison Ikkoku” were Takahashi Rumiko fan favorites on the fan sub scene. In fact, I remember when she came to San Diego Comic Con in the early 90’s and rocker Matthew Sweet had a Lum tattoo. “Urusei Yatsura” had its major fandom and people really talked about this film nearly ten years after it first came out in theaters in Japan. And yet for me, I was talking about corellations between this film and a Star Trek: the Next Generation episode about time repeating itself.
With “Beautiful Dreamer”, Oshii takes the Urusei Yatsura cast for a ride as the team is preparing for a festival but for some reason, it seems like things are repeating itself and Ataru, Lum and friends start to realize something is wrong when they realize that they are the only ones in their city that are alive. Only Ataru’s home and a nearby supermarket are the only functioning parts of the city and something has gone awry.
What has happened to the word? What has happened to the school? Who’s behind it all?
Really, I don’t want to spoil the film for anyone but what I will say that the fact that Oshii was behind the creation of this film and what he was able to accomplish in his career so far, you can look back at this film and just see how the famed director/screenwriter was able to come out of his shell and really make you think. Granted, it’s not as cerebral as “Ghost in the Shell” but nevertheless, with the humor that “Urusei Yatsura” is known for but to put the cast in a situation for a film like this was quite interesting.
I did not own the original DVD release back in 1998 but according to the back cover, it says it features digitally remastered video. From my viewing, I felt that the anime series on DVD looked great for a 1984 film. I’ve read that the Japanese remaster of the film was great because it was anamorphic but US Manga Corps did not use that transfer and chose to remaster it their own way. Signs still have its hard subtitles but all in all, not having owned or seen the Japanese remastered DVD, I can just tell you from my experience with this DVD that the animation looks great!
I watched the film primarily in Japanese but I did watch certain parts of it with the original English dub. But I wasn’t really into the English dub (but my preference is more towards the Japanese voice acting anyway) but I’m sure those who prefer that, may enjoy it. But watching it in Japanese and hearing Hirano Fumi as Lum and Furukawa Toshio as Ataru is just fun and I love watching those two interact.
Specia features include an art galler, original Japanese trailer (which is widescreen btw…), the US trailr and trailer for the first film. The biggest special feature that makes this DVD worth owning though is the director’s commentary by Oshii Mamoru. For those who are familiar with his work know that this man is a man of few words. And for him to give commentary for a film he did back in 1984 is special. I mean…as in a rarity. So, this alone enhances this DVD and makes it a “must-buy”!
For nostalgia reasons, I really wanted to see this film again and you can purchase it online for a good price these days.
There has been so much said about this film, may it be looked as “classic” because of its storyline, because it was written and directed by Oshii Mamoru or enjoyed by many as it was one of the first anime films to be shown on television and many people watched it on the Sci-Fi channel and thoroughly enjoyed it’s repeating timeline story.
But for me the DVD was special in that I watched it with many fellow anime fans during an anime club meeting and remembering the laughs and everyone enjoying it. I remember just being around that “Urusei Yatsura”/Takahashi Rumiko crazy fandom in the early 90’s and how everyone would clamor for the fan subs. And nearly 25 years later, after its release in the theaters and just realizing how much of a classic this film is, how much of a part Oshii Mamoru played and how it influenced him on works in the future and more.
I have no idea if a new version of this film will come out in 1999 for it’s 25th Anniversary, I would imagine a Blu-ray release in Japan to celebrate it but for now and for it’s low price, for those who have been curious about this film or wondered if it is worth purchasing, the answer is a “YES”!. It’s definitely worth owning this film but also for it’s rare special feature commentary featuring Oshii Mamoru.
Definitely check it out!
+ A classic “Urusei Yatsura” film!
+ Directed and written by Oshii Mamoru
+ A rare director’s commentary by Oshii
– Not utilizing the Japanese master for this second DVD version releases
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