Young Love on the Run/Between a Rock and a Hard Place
Episode 1 of Urusei Yatsura begins with aliens getting ready to invade Earth. Meanwhile, we spot an elderly man pondering what’s going on as he glares at our male protagonist Ataru, conversing with his love interest Shinobu. Shinobu is upset that Ataru’s looking at other girls – yet Ataru tries to convince her otherwise.
Shinobu gives Ataru one more chance; Shinobu breaks his promise after complimenting a nearby female jogger. Shinobu slaps Ataru and walks away.
Ataru gets tackled off the bridge by the elderly man and lands in the river. The two reconcile in a nearby area, as the old man explains that he thought Ataru was attempting to hop off the bridge. Ataru tells the old man that he wouldn’t throw his life away because a girl dumped him, startling the old man. The old man tells Ataru he looks ugly, and Ataru beats him up leaving the old man with bandages over his face. The old man claims that Ataru’s physical features indicate bad luck as he informs Ataru of his occupation and name.
He’s a traveling monk named Sakuranbo but prefers the name Cherry. Ataru’s mother and Shinobu arrive, stating they’ve been worried about his well-being after hearing some terrible news. A group of government agents arrives, informing Ataru that they’ve been looking for him. When Ataru arrives home, the alien’s Oni-looking leader greets him, and Ataru tries exorcising it with food–to the leader’s amusement. The invaders point their weapons at Ataru to stop him.
As the aliens prepare to land their ship, the government agents inform Ataru of his task. They tell Ataru that he must defend Earth as apart from the alien’s invasion plan. The alien leader says they want to compete in a showdown against a random human that their computer picks, and if they lose, they will give up and go home. The alien leader informs Ataru that he will compete in a game of tag against his daughter, Lum.
Lum arrives at Ataru’s house in a “shocking fashion” and introduces herself to everyone. While charmed by Lum’s beauty, the alien leader explains that Ataru has ten days to beat Lum in tag by grabbing both of her horns. Lum tells Ataru that he won’t be able to get his hands on her; Ataru says otherwise. A government agent tells Ataru that the fate of Earth is in his hands and that he needs to act seriously about the matter.
Ataru straightens up as the alien leader says the competition starts tomorrow. After some time, the competition between Lum and Ataru begins as everyone from the aliens and humans arrives at a large stadium to witness the game. The announcer goes over all the details with the audience as everyone cheers for their respective representative. The game starts as Ataru rushes to grab Lum. However, she dodges his grab by flying into the air, bewildering him.
He tells Lum she’s cheating because he didn’t know she could fly. Lum tells him he should’ve done his research and to get her if he can. After several failed attempts, Ataru finds the situation hopeless until a group of girls encourages him to keep trying. Ataru continues his attempts as five days pass. The humans are starting to get infuriated with Ataru as Lum mocks him. We get a humorous montage of Ataru failing to catch Lum, and we find out that he only has one day left.
Journalists and citizens swarm Ataru, mocking and hating him for his failure. Lum looks at him from above and starts feeling bad for Ataru. Ataru heads home as his mother, father, and Cherry converse about their worries about the alien’s plans. Ataru’s father worries that his son will become a social outcast, as Cherry says it was unfortunate that he was born with terrible luck. He asks what could’ve led to his bad luck as Ataru’s mother remembers that he was born on Friday the 13th.
Since Ataru was born, they’ve encountered black cats and earthquakes, among other terrible luck. Ataru’s mother and father bow their heads in shame, as his mother wishes she’d never given birth to him. Ataru lay in his bed, soaking in on his failures to defeat Lum sooner as his friends see him grieve. To motivate Ataru, Shinobu declares she’ll give him her hand in marriage if he wins. This reignites Ataru’s passion and motivation, as his other friends give off a sigh of relief.
We arrive on the final day of the competition. As Ataru attempts to grab Lum’s horns, he continuously utters the word marriage to motivate himself. Lum and the audience are left puzzled as Ataru grabs Lum’s feet and laughs. Lum shocks Ataru with her electricity powers and leaves him on the ground. However, Ataru gets back up and rushes toward her again as Lum hesitantly tries to evade him. Motivated by his desire to marry Shinobu, Ataru leaps into the air and grabs Lum. She tries to shoo him away, leading to Ataru removing her bra on accident.
Embarrassed, Lum shocks Ataru off of her, but he still has her bra in his possession. Like a bull and a matador, Ataru throws her bra into the air to catch Lum off guard. Lum grabs it but doesn’t see Ataru from behind. Ataru uses the opportunity to grab hold of her two horns, winning the game. He yells into the air that it’s time to get married as the humans cheer in delight that the aliens won’t be invading Earth anymore. Ataru dances, excited that he’ll finally be a married man.
However, Lum walks over to him and accepts his marriage offer. As Journalists pester him with questions, Ataru’s puzzled by the whole situation. Lum’s father is shocked, but Lum insists that Ataru proposed to him during their game of tag. Lum’s father decides to let his grievances go and tells Ataru that he’d better take care of his daughter. Shinobu’s upset with Ataru and leaves. Ataru explains that it’s all a misunderstanding, but Shinobu doesn’t buy it as the night ends.
In the morning, Ataru glares at his television screen, happy to see more ladies talking great about him on the news. We discover that many humans sent him kudos and gifts, as Ataru’s delighted to be the Earth’s hero. Lum arrives in a shocking manner, as Ataru’s bewildered by the fact that the aliens didn’t leave Earth yet. She tells him she plans to live with him since they’re married. Ataru’s parents look at him with disappointment as his mother reiterates how she’s upset that she gave birth to him.
Lum shocks Ataru the next day for trying to cheat on her. Ataru’s furious that she keeps butting into his conversation with Shinobu over the phone. Ataru tells Lum off, saying that he loves Shinobu and that she can leave his household. This ticks Lum’s offer, causing her to electrocute Ataru. She flies off as Ataru drags himself to his home telephone. He calls Shinobu, who tries to plan her next date with Ataru.
Somehow, Lum gets involved in their dual phone call, making it a three-way. She tells Shinobu that she plans to make babies with Ataru on Saturday night to infuriate her. Shinobu hangs up the phone, enraged. Ataru cries about the situation, saying he hates Lum for ruining his life so far. In a spaceship, Lum monitors Ataru’s actions from afar. She somehow set up multiple cameras in his house to track him. She’s infuriated that Ataru continuously tries to cheat on her.
Ataru covers his ears as his mother rants about her friend is going to start spreading ill rumors about her because of his actions. While they’re bickering, a newscaster on the television reports that an aircraft flew over Tomobiki, their hometown, and disappeared. Ataru’s father tries to use his fascination with the news to calm the tension, but Ataru and his mother downplay his discovery. Ataru attempts to call Shinobu again, but Lum intervenes in the call again and makes up things to rile up Shinobu. Before she hangs up, Ataru stops and tells her to hear him out.
Lum conjures up more lies to persuade Shinobu to hang up the phone. However, Ataru convinces Shinobu not to fall for Lum’s lies. The two try to play it off like she’s not on the line, infuriating Lum. Lum kicks her jamming signal into overdrive, ruining the call between Ataru and Shinobu. Meanwhile, Ataru’s parents are watching the news, as the reporters claim Lum, Shinobu, and Ataru’s 3-way phone call can trigger a black hole to form. Ataru claims he’ll visit Shinobu in person, but Lum pulls a lever, shocking him with electricity and causing a thunderstorm to engulf Tombiki Town.
Ataru puts on a disguise, but before he leaves his home–his father interrupts him. He gives Ataru his rubber-made raincoat to help him avoid getting electrocuted. Cherry informs Ataru’s father that he will watch over him as the two depart. While on his way to Shinobu’s house, Ataru gets trampled by a telephone pole. Although Cherry shares his farewell to Ataru, Ataru gets up and knocks him away with it–yelling that he’s not dead. As Ataru and Shinobu rush toward each other, Lum turns up the power, causing the electricity to go out across Tomobiki.
Ataru and Shinobu get engulfed in smoke, making it hard for them to find each other. The two scream each other’s name and end up reuniting. Lum’s shocked by the whole matter. Enraged, Lum plans to crash her ship into two to destroy this love triangle. This also causes the storm to clear up. Meanwhile, Ataru’s parents are sitting cozily in their living quarters. Ataru and Shinobu get separated and engulfed in smoke again, thanks to Lum’s actions.
Ataru believes he’s found her again but finds out he’s hugging Lum. The smoke clears up, and Shinobu spots Ataru in the act. Shinobu picks up a telephone pole and hurls it at them. However, the pole makes contact with Ataru’s skull. Shinobu departs as Ataru calls out to her. Meanwhile, several citizens flock toward Ataru’s home, demanding his family pay for the damage he and Lum caused. The episode concludes with Lum zapping Ataru with her electric powers as punishment for cheating.
The Episode Review
Urusei Yatsura (2022) has joined series like Sailor Moon, Hunter X Hunter, and many others in receiving a fully-fledged remake order. As one of the classic romantic comedy series, I’d say this episode did an excellent job establishing our characters, world, and the type of shenanigans they’ll end up in moving forward. With its slapstick and witty jokes, there’s certainly excitement to see what this remake will offer newcomers and veterans.
The visuals and animation in this episode are top-notch. David Productions is known for working on highly stylized anime like JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure and Fire Force, so I expected no less from Urusei Yatsura. From its character design to its environments, everything looks impeccable and pops at you. Nothing looks jarring or sluggish.
The hilarious facial expressions and slapstick means I couldn’t help but laugh at Ataru’s misery. Urusei Yatsura’s story structure seems to be leaning toward an episodic format too. As long as the series can steadily develop the bond between Lum, Ataru, and the others, it should work pretty well.
The scenarios given to us in this episode involving the love triangle phone call between Ataru, Lum, and Shinobu were hilarious. Witnessing Lum get butthurt about Ataru’s affection for Shinobu felt genuine, as any girl wouldn’t want to see their lover flirting with another woman.
The pacing is a little too quick for my taste regarding the show’s dialogue delivery and events. While the show gives off this nonsensical energy from the get-go, I question the validity of Lum’s tight affection toward Ataru. While she does pity him for his failed attempts at capturing her, there isn’t enough content to justify her obsessive interest in wanting Ataru for herself.
While there are some nitpicks concerning the storyline so far, I can’t help but appreciate the effort that went into crafting this remake. With its stylized visuals, beautiful animation, and well-executed humor, Urusei Yatsura feels like a wonderful comedic gem that everyone needs to watch.