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This article is about the manga and anime franchise. For the band, see Urusei Yatsura (band).

Urusei Yatsura (うる星やつら?) is a humorous manga series written and illustrated by Rumiko Takahashi that premiered in Weekly Shōnen Sunday in 1978 and ran until its conclusion in 1987. Its 374 individual chapters were collected and published in 34 tankōbon volumes. The series tells the story of Ataru Moroboshi, and the alien Lum who believes she is Ataru's wife after he accidentally proposes to her. The series makes heavy use of Japanese mythology, culture and puns. The series was adapted into a TV anime series produced by Kitty Films and broadcast on Fuji Television affiliates from 1981 to 1986 over 195 episodes. Eleven original video animations and six theatrical movies followed, and the series has been released on VHS, Laserdisc and DVD in Japan.

The manga series was republished in several different formats in Japan. Viz Media licensed the series for English publication in North America under the names Lum and The Return of Lum, but the series was dropped after nine volumes were released. The television series, OVAs and five of the films have been released in North America with English subtitles by AnimEigo who provided extensive notes on the series to allow people to understand the many cultural references and jokes in the series that would normally be impenetrable for non-Japanese. The remaining film Beautiful Dreamer was released by Central Park Media. Five of the movies as well as the OVA's are available from MVM Films in the United Kingdom.

The series has received positive reception inside and outside of Japan from both fans and critics. In 1981, the series received the Shogakukan Manga Award. The television series is credited with introducing the format of using pop songs as opening and ending themes in anime. In 2008 the first new episode in 17 years was shown at the Rumiko Takahashi exhibition It's a Rumic World.


An alien race known as the Oni arrive on Earth with the intention of invading the planet. Instead of taking over the planet by force, the Oni give humans a chance to fight for the rights to the planet by competing in a competition. The competition is a variant of the game of tag, in which the human player must touch the horns on the head of the Oni player within one week. The chosen human player is Ataru Moroboshi, a lecherous high school student, and the Oni player is Lum, daughter of the leader of the attempted Invasion.

Despite his initial reluctance to take part in the competition, Ataru becomes extremely interested in the game when he meets Lum. When the competition begins, Lum surprises everyone by flying away and Ataru finds himself unable to catch her. Before the last day of the competition, Ataru's girlfriend Shinobu Miyake encourages Ataru by pledging to marry him if he wins. On the final day of the competition, Ataru wins the game by stealing Lum's bikini top, which prevents her from protecting her horns in favour of protecting her modesty. In celebrating his victory, Ataru expresses his joy at being able to get married; however, Lum misinterprets this as a proposal from Ataru and accepts on live television. Despite the misunderstanding, Lum falls in love with Ataru and moves into his house.

Despite Ataru's lack of interest in Lum and attempts to rekindle his relationship with Shinobu, Lum frequently interferes and eventually Shinobu loses interest in Ataru. Still, Ataru's flirtatious nature persists despite Lum's constant attention. Lum attempts to stop him flirting, which results in Ataru receiving electric shock attacks from Lum as punishment. Lum begins attending the same school as Ataru despite his objections, and Lum develops a fanbase of admirers among the boys of the school, including Shutaro Mendou, the heir to a large corporation. Despite their romantic interest, none of Lum's admirers would risk upsetting Lum by trying to force her and Ataru apart.


The title of the series roughly translates to "Those Obnoxious Aliens". The title is written using specific kanji instead of hiragana to create a Japanese pun.[1][2] In 1977, Takahashi created Those Selfish Aliens, a "wacky boy meets alien" romantic comedy. Urusei Yatsura was developed from similar concepts, and published when Takahashi was twenty-one years old.[3] Takahashi said that she had been dreaming about the overall universe of Urusei Yatsura since she was very young. She said that the series "really includes everything I ever wanted to do. I love science fiction because sci-fi has tremendous flexibility. I adopted the science fiction-style for the series because then I could write any way I wanted to". The series was her first major work, having previously only published short stories.[4] Takahashi considers Ataru to be the main character.[5] When Takahashi ran out of ideas she would create new characters.[6] Takahashi had difficulty meeting deadlines to begin with, so chapters were published sporadically until 1980. She shared a small apartment with two assistants, and often slept in a closet due to a lack of space. While writing Urusei Yatsura she also began work on Maison Ikkoku.[7] In 1994, Takahashi stated that she will not produce any more content for the series.[8] Bewitched is credited as being an inspiration for Takahashi. Lum's use of the English word "Darling" was to emphasise her status as a foreigner.[9]

The characters of Megane, Perm, Kakugari and Chibi are recurring characters throughout the anime adaption, however in the manga they are nameless fans of Lum who are never seen after Mendou is introduced.[2] In contrast the character Kosuke Shirai plays a large role in the manga, but does not appear in the anime series. His role is often performed by Perm.[10] The second half of the anime is closer to the manga then the first half.[2]



The series began sporadic serialisation in 1978's 39th issue of the manga anthology Shonen Sunday and ended in 1987's eighth issue after publishing 374 chapters over almost 6000 pages.[2][11][12] A total of 34 individual volumes with 11 chapters each were released in tankōbon format between 1980 and March 1987.[12][13][14] After the tenth anniversary of start of the series, it was printed in 15 "wideban" editions between July 1989 and August 1980.[15][16] Each volume contained around 25 chapters, and were printed on higher quality paper, with new inserts.[12] A bunkoban edition of the series was released over 17 volumes between August 1998 and December 1999. Each volume contains forwards by other manga creators discussing the influence the series had on them.[12][17][18] A "My First Big" edition was printed between July 2000 and September 2004. This edition was similar to the tankōbon but used low quality paper and were sold at a low price.[12][19][20] A shinsoban edition over 34 volumes was released between November 17, 2006 and March 18, 2008. This edition was also similar to the tankōbon but used new cover artwork and included a section that displayed artwork from current manga artists.[12][21][22]

After requests from fans, Viz Media licensed the series for release in English across North America under the title of Lum * Urusei Yatsura.[23] Despite a strong start, the series was dropped after 7 issues. The series was then reintroduced in the monthly Viz publication Animerica and because of the long gap the series was retitled The Return of Lum.[12] The English release finished in 1998 and is now out of print. The first 11 volumes of the Japanese release were covered, but several chapters were excluded and a total 9 English volumes of the series were released.[2][12]


Main article: List of Urusei Yatsura episodes

The series was adapted by Kitty Films into a 195 episode TV series that aired from October 14, 1981 to March 14, 1986 on Fuji Television. With the exception of episodes 10 and 11, the first 21 episodes contained two stories.[2][24][25] The first 106 episodes were directed by Mamoru Oshii and the remainder by Kazuo Yamazaki.[26][27] Six opening theme songs and nine closing themes were used during the series.[28]

On December 10, 1983, the first VHS release of the series was made available in Japan.[29] The series was also released on fifty Laserdiscs.[30] Another VHS release across fifty cassettes began on March 17, 1998 and concluded on April 19, 2000.[31][32] Two DVD boxsets of the series were released between December 8, 2000 and March 9, 2001.[33][34] These were followed by fifty individual volumes between August 24, 2001 and August 23, 2002.[35][36]

During 1992, the series was licensed for a North American release by AnimEigo. Their VHS release began in October of the same year and was among the first anime titles to receive a subtitled North American release. However the release schedule was erratic.[2][23][37] AnimEigo later released the series on DVD. The series was available in box set form as well as individual releases. A total of 10 boxsets and 50 individual dvds were released between March 27, 2001 and June 20, 2006.[38][39] Each DVD and VHS contained Liner notes explaining the cultural references and puns from the series.[40] A fan group known as "Lum's Stormtroopers" convinced the Californian public television station KTEH to broadcast subtitled episodes of the series in 1998.[23]


During the Television run of the series, four theatrical films were produced. Urusei Yatsura: Only You was directed by Mamoru Oshii and began showing in Japanese cinemas on February 11, 1983.[41] Urusei Yatsura 2: Beautiful Dreamer was also directed by Mamoru Oshii and was released on February 11, 1984.[42] Urusei Yatsura 3: Remember My Love was directed by Kazuo Yamazaki and released on January 26, 1985.[43] Urusei Yatsura 4: Lum the Forever was directed again by Kazuo Yamazaki and released on February 22, 1986.[44]

After the conclusion of the television series, two more films were produced. A year after the television series finished, Urusei Yatsura: The Final Chapter was directed by Satoshi Dezaki and was released on February 6, 1988 as a tenth anniversary celebration. It was shown as a double bill with a Maison Ikkoku movie.[30][45] The final film, Urusei Yatsura: Always My Darling was directed by Katsuhisa Yamada and was released on November 2, 1991.[46] In North America, "Beautiful Dreamer" was released by Central Park Media. The remaining five films were released by AnimEigo in North America and MVM Films in the United Kingdom.[40]

OVA releases

On September 24, 1985, the special Ryoko's September Tea Party was released consisting of a mixture of previously broadcast footage along with 15 minutes of new material. Almost a year later on September 15, 1986, Memorial Album was released, also mixing new and old footage.[47][48] On July 18, 1987 the TV special Inaba the Dreammaker was broadcast before being released to video. It was followed by Raging Sherbet on December 2, 1988, and by Nagisa's Fiancé four days later on December 8, 1988. The Electric Household Guard was released on August 21, 1989 and followed by I Howl at the Moon on September 1, 1989. They were followed by Goat and Cheese on December 21, 1989 and Catch the Heart on December 27, 1989. Finally Terror of Girly-Eyes Measles and Date with a Spirit were released on June 21, 1991.[49] The OVA's were released in North America by AnimEigo who released them individually over 6 discs.[40]

On December 23, 2008 a new special was shown for the first time at the It's a Rumic World exhibition of Rumiko Takahashi's works. Entitled The Obstacle Course Swim Meet, it was the first animated content for the series in 17 years.[49][50] On January 29, 2010 a boxset was released featuring all of the recent Rumiko Takahashi specials from the Rumic World exhibition. Entitled It's a Rumic World, the boxset contains The Obstacle Course Swim meet as well as a figure of Lum.[51]

Other media

File:Urusei Yatsura Music Capsule.jpg

Music Capsule LP album

A large number of LP albums were released after the series began broadcasting. The first soundtrack album was Music Capsule which was released on April 21, 1982, and a follow up Music Capsule 2 was released on September 21, 1983. A compilation The Hit Parade was released in July 1983, and The Hit Parade 2 was released on May 25, 1985. A cover album by Yoko Matsutani, Yoko Matsutani Songbook was released on May 21, 1984. Lum's voice actress Fumi Hirano also released a cover album, Fumi no Lum Song which was released on September 21, 1985.[52][53]

Many games have been produced based on the series.[54] The first game to be released was Urusei Yatsura: Lum no Wedding Bell (うる星やつらラムのウェディングベル?), which was released by Jaleco for the Nintendo Family Computer on December 23, 1986, exclusively in Japan.[55] The game was a port of the arcade game Momoko 120%.[56] In 1987, Urusei Yatsura was released by Micro Cabin for the Fujitsu FM-7 and Urusei Yatsura: Koi no Survival Party (恋のサバイバルパーチー?) was released for the MSX computer.[57][58] Urusei Yatsura: Stay With You (うる星やつら&ハドソンCD・ROM音楽付?) was released by Hudson Soft for the NEC PC Engine CD on June 29, 1990 with an optional music cd available.[59] Urusei Yatsura: Miss Tomobiki o Chigase! (うる星やつらミス友引を探せ!?) was released by Yanoman for the Nintendo Game Boy on July 3, 1992.[60] Urusei Yatsura: My Dear Friends (うる星やつら~ディア マイ フレンズ?) was released by Game Arts for the Sega Mega CD on April 14, 1994.[61] Urusei Yatsura: Endless Summer (うる星やつら エンドレスサマー?) was released for the Nintendo DS by Marvelous on November 20, 2005.[62]


Takahashi stated that the majority of Japanese Urusei Yatsura fans were high school and university students. The series' peak readership figures were with 15-year-olds, but the distribution of readers was skewed towards older males. She said that this was "very easy" for her since the ages of the readers were similar to her own age; Takahashi expressed happiness that people from her generation enjoy the series. Takahashi added that she felt disappointment that Urusei Yatsura did not gain much interest from children, believing that the series may have been too difficult for children. She believed that "manga belongs fundamentally to children, and maybe Urusei Yatsura just didn't have what it took to entertain them".[63]

The manga received the Shogakukan Manga Award in 1981.[64] The series is considered an excellent source for references to Japanese culture and mythology.[65]

In Manga: The Complete Guide, Jason Thompson referred to the original manga as "A slapstick combination of Sci-Fi, fairy-tale and ghost-story elements with plenty of cute girls". He also notes that Lum is "the original Otaku dream girl". He awarded the series four stars out of four.[66] Christina Carpenter of THEM Anime praises the characters and humour and notes the influence the series had on other series over the years. Carpenter summarises the series as "Original and unapologetically Japanese classic that earns every star we can give" and awarded the series five stars out of five.[67] In an interview with, Fred Schodt expressed a surprise at the popularity of the English release of the manga as he believed the cultural differences would be a problem.[68]

In The Anime Encyclopedia, Jonathan Clements and Helen McCarthy viewed the series as "a Japanese Simpsons for its usage of domestic humour and make note of AnimEigo's attention to providing notes for those unfamiliar with Japanese culture. They summarise the series as "a delight from beginning to end" and that the series "absolutely deserves its fan favourite status".[69] Writing in Anime from Akira to Princess Mononoke, Susan J. Napier dedicates several pages to discussion of the series, regarding it as "a pioneering work in the magical girlfriend genre". Napier contrasts the series to Western shows such as Bewitched and I Dream of Jeannie, highlighting their harmonious resolution to the chaos in comparison to Urusei Yatsura's "out of control" ending to each episode. Napier later compares the series to other magical girlfriend series such as Ah! My Goddess and Video Girl Ai.[70] Fred Patten writing in Watching anime, reading manga: 25 years of essays and reviews credits the series with being the first program to inspire translations from fans.[71] Patten later credits the series for introducing the phenomenon of using anime to advertise pop songs, claiming it was a deliberate decision by Kitty Films.[72] Like Napier, Patten compares the series to Bewitched, but also to Sabrina the Teenage Witch.[73]

The series received two awards from the magazine Animage as part of their reader-voted Anime Grand Prix. In 1982, the theme song "Lum no Love Song" was voted best anime song. In 1983, the sixty-seventh episode was voted best episode.[74][75] In 1992, the singer Matthew Sweet released the single "I've been waiting", the video of which features images of Lum from the series.[76] In 1993, a band from Glasgow formed under the name "Urusei Yatsura" as a tribute.[77]


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  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 2.6 "Frequently asked Questions". Retrieved January 2, 2010. 
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  4. "Rumiko Takahashi Animerica Interview Part 2". Viz Media. Retrieved January 2, 2010.  |archive-url= is malformed: flag (help)
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  27. "Episodes 107-127". Retrieved January 2, 2010. 
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  34. "うる星やつら TVシリーズ 完全収録版 DVD-BOX2". Retrieved January 2, 2009. 
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  39. "Urusei Yatsura TV, Vol. 50". Retrieved January 2, 2010. 
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  43. Steadman, J.M. "Remember My Love". Retrieved January 2, 2010. 
  44. Steadman, J.M. "Lum the Forever". Retrieved January 2, 2010. 
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External links

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