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AKA: N/A
Genre: Fantasy mindtrip with some comedic elements
Length: Movie, 98 minutes
Distributor: R1 DVD from Central Park Media out of print.
Content Rating: 13+ (adult themes, mild language)
Related Series: Urusei Yatsura (TV, OAVs, movies)
Also Recommended: Angel's Egg, Patlabor, Urusei Yatsura
Notes: I have heard this was based off a very short manga arc in the original Takahashi Rumiko manga -- however, I have not been able to confirm this offhand.
Rating: Four StarsFour StarsFour StarsFour Stars

Urusei Yatsura Movie 2: Beautiful Dreamer

Synopsis

It's the day before the School Festival, and things around Tomobiki High are weirder than usual.

Even the legendary lecher, Moroboshi Ataru, senses something is amiss, and he and his rival, Mendou Shuutarou, note the eerie emptiness of the town, and that, one by one, the people they know have started to go missing. The sun sets, and then the next morning ...

It's the day before the School Festival, and things around Tomobiki High are weirder than usual.

Much, much weirder.


Review

While working on my backlog, I remembered this interesting movie from my old video store days. The first time I saw this, I hadn't seen Urusei Yatsura in years, and my only previous memories of the show were half-forgotten snippets from the foreign language channel in Los Angeles in the 1980s. So Beautiful Dreamer may as well have been my intro to the UY universe, and I was equally intrigued and confused.

That was no place to start, but now, having knowledge of the series behind me, I feel I can give a proper review to this movie. One thing's for certain, though: if you come in expecting the wacky hijinks of Ataru, Lum, and Company to send you into endless laughing fits, you'll be sorely disappointed. Beautiful Dreamer isn't a formulaic madcap comedy ... but rather, a skilled surrealist Oshii Mamoru piece with lots of mystery and just enough Urusei Yatsura wackiness to remain familiar.

Nowadays, Oshii Mamoru is known for his forays into the surreal, like Angel's Egg, and his psychological thrillers, like Ghost in the Shell. Many current fans are surprised to learn that he directed a comedy series like Urusei Yatsura. Oshii honed his talent for the mindtwist with the theatrical features of this franchise (as well as the similarly wry Patlabor universe), and Beautiful Dreamer is definitely much more of a mindtrip than the majority of the already "super-weird" TV series.

It isn't perfect, of course. This is by no means an acceptable standalone title -- the characters are assumed to be already known, so they are given only the briefest of introductions before being sent on their way to a Tomobiki that never seems quite real, even for its own universe. If anything, newcomers will be confused by the appearance of characters like Cherry, who get little more than cameos. Confusing imagery abounds, and the narrative itself is often convoluted enough to warrant rewinding and watching scenes over again, just to make sure you saw everything correctly. Bonus points for adding even more amusing mythological references to a franchise already loaded with them -- that's where you see the Takahashi essence at work. There is also quite a bit of development of certain characters, primarily the high schoolers, like the rich, but incredibly whimsical Mendou Shuutarou. Fans of the series will appreciate the added emphasis on these characters, while newer fans may struggle to keep up with all the names.

On the minus side, I must mention that the version I screened of this is one of the absolute worst English-language dubs I have ever experienced. While Valley Girl Lum is to be expected and Ataru is actually fairly decent-sounding, the vast majority of voices are either theatrically overacted or hopelessly wooden. Japanese names are slaughtered left and right - Megane becomes "Muh-gain" and Mendou becomes "Men-dow". Of course, this being an early Central Park Media release (unlike every other piece of the franchise), the dubbing quality (or lack thereof) should be no surprise, but I've honestly seen better dubs on Hong Kong action flicks.

Do keep in mind, also, that this is a fairly old movie. The animation and music are dated, but good for their time, well reflecting the often surreal ambience of the movie. Newer fans spoiled by digital work may find it more quaint than quality, and may draw parallels.

Even with the dub, I found Beautiful Dreamer to be a thought-provoking, occasionally confusing, but ultimately enjoyable movie, and while it isn't the same old Urusei Yatsura, it is a richly imaginative and welcome addition to a well-loved series.

Definitely something different, and an interesting step in the evolution of the Urusei Yatsura franchise. People expecting and looking for madcap comedy won't find it here, and might want to remove a star or two.Carlos Ross

Recommended Audience: There's really not much in the sex and violence department here at all. Lum is actually fully clothed most of the time! There are a couple of scenes with some adult themes, but apart from that, the biggest deterrent to younger audiences will be the confusing nature of the plot, rather than offensive content.



Version(s) Viewed: VHS, English dub
Review Status: Full (1/1)
Urusei Yatsura Movie 2: Beautiful Dreamer © 1984 Takahashi Rumiko / Shogakukan / Fuji Television / Toho Corporation
 
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