Saturday, August 06, 2005

I bought Suspicion the other day because it was on sale at Borders and I rather like the movie. It really is a shame the studio insisted the ending be changed but, as Hitchcock pointed out, the whole of the movie beforehand is still very important. And very wonderful.

Let's see if I can think of anything to say about other movies I've seen recently . . .

Ah. Miraculously, Tim was able to get hold of Urusei Yatsura movies five and six. Urusei Yatsura movies can be very difficult to acquire in the U.S, with the exception, for some reason, of the second movie, Beautiful Dreamer. Some say Urusei Yatsura's humour is lost on American audiences due to the fact that a lot of it is obtuse references to Japanese culture and folktale. Personally, I rather like the gleeful strangeness of it at times.

The comic on which it is based was by Rumiko Takahashi, creator of Inu-Yasha, Ranma 1/2, and Maison Ikkoku. Urusei Yatsura preceded all of those titles, and set up many of the themes common to each of them--bizarre, violent, immature characters in bizarre situations, with a love story in the middle.

Urusei Yatsura was made into a television series in the early 1980s. The first episodes set up the premise--Ataru (whose name can mean "struck by a fallen star" or "very unlucky") is a student at Tomobiki high school and quite lecherous. When one day earth is besieged by aliens, it is Ataru who is randomly chosen to play tag with the beautiful alien Lum in order to decide the fate of the planet.

Lum's species bears a peculiar resemblance to the Japanese mythological creature "oni," often referred to as a Japanese ogre. Ataru must grab Lum by the horns to win, but unfortunately, Lum can fly. Eventually, Ataru takes Lum's bikini and, while she's chasing it, topless ("Give me back my only outfit!"), Ataru grabs the horns, forgetting Japanese mythology, and rashly exclaiming that now he can get married--his girlfriend had promised to marry him if he saved Earth. However, when one grabs an oni by the horns, one is granted a wish by that oni, and Lum interprets Ataru's exclamation as a marriage proposal. Soon, she's moved in with him, and his home begins to attract all manner of alien and mythological chaos.

Urusei Yatsura can mean "Those Obnoxious Aliens," but "Urusei" is also a crude spelling (pronunciation) of "Urusai," which means, sort of, "You're being too noisy!"

So, I've now watched the fifth movie and I don't think I enjoyed it as much as I would have a decade ago. Years of inundating myself with a broad variety of movies has altered my taste a little, so I become a little uninterested, at times, with the film's unrelenting twists of strangeness, which sort of have a greying effect. Perhaps this is why I've so enjoyed Maison Ikkoku recently, as it's Takahashi's most subdued series.

But, in the end, how could I not love Urusei Yatsura 5?

Trouble begins when Lum's senile grandfather half remembers trading her hand in marriage for an antidote to a poisoned fish he'd eaten as a young man. So Lum's betrothed comes to Earth on a flying chariot drawn by eight black pigs. Soon, Ataru leads a group of monks and mythological Japanese characters in an intergalactic chase to a dark planet, all the while refusing to admit it's because he loves Lum. But there's a collision in hyperspace, and Ataru's ship and another crash-land on the dark planet. The other ship belongs to a girl in love with Lum's betrothed (of course).

The girl packs a rocket launcher, threatens the groom, and Lum is cloned. It looks like everyone's gonna die, but then Lum and Ataru get in an argument and Lum decides to stay on the planet. The movie continues with a plot about Earth being overrun by giant mushrooms, and a looming, grinning, memory erasing device that can only be deactivated with tennis balls.

Ataru's wealthy friend, Mendou, assembles tanks to fire tennis balls from their cannons . . .

And so on.

Some of it is cheap, romantic comedy shenanigans, but there's something sweet about the credulously strange, treacherous, and vicious characters.

No comments:

Post a Comment