Movie: I've often heard it said that AnimEigo is the Criterion of Japanese anime in the United States and there is more than a bit of evidence to back this claim up. The small company releases barely a handful of titles on an irregular basis but they make up for it by doing a great job on those titles. Being a fan that appreciates quality over quantity, I think you're unlikely to find better versions of their releases anywhere short of Japan (and often enough, better than those too). In any case, the company has been focusing its collective efforts on releasing one series, Urusei Yatsura, over all others in recent years and the decision was made to include an English language dub on their movies. This was considered by some of the fanatical purists as heresy, after all, the original release had no such track (forgetting for a moment that the original release also had no English subtitles), but they can simply choose the original track if that's such a problem. The market for anime includes a huge number of people that want a dub (although a well done dub is preferred) so Animeigo is looking into expanding its market in order to give both factions of the language matter something to enjoy (those who aren't into anime wouldn't know how silly the sub vs. dub wars get online at times). In the first movie release of the famed characters by AnimEigo, Urusei Yatsura 1: Only You, we get a look at the misadventures of Lum and Ataru as they encounter a powerful alien force that'll stop at nothing to obtain Ataru for their leader.
Okay, a bit of background is in order here. The series follows the life of Ataru Moroboshi, a lecherous young man in Japan that is always chasing skirts, usually failing in his quest. In the series, an alien invasion force comes to Earth, led by a princess, Lum, who is a beautiful gal with strange powers. She can fly and shoot electrical bolts of lightning from her fingertips, and it's discovered that her people were the basis for many Japanese legends on demons. Lum falls for Ataru and this prevents the invasion from taking place, with her taking up residence in his home. Lum, possessing a short temper in addition to all her other abilities, calls Ataru "darling" and freely jolts him any time she catches him cheating on her (or even looking at other women; something he does a lot). A number of men, jealous of Ataru, form a group that seeks to discredit him at any chance, hoping to curry Lum's favor. Ataru has a few women that want to hook up with him as well and that adds to the social dynamic of the series.
The movie takes place about a year into the series. Ataru and Lum are living together in his parent's home (in separate rooms of course). Another alien princess, Elle, comes to Earth in order to marry Ataru. Apparently, when he was a small child, she visited the planet and they played together. He stepped on her shadow, which is the cultural equivalent of a proposal, and she's back to consummate the marriage. Lum, on the other hand, is not going to take all this lying down and she takes steps to protect her man from himself. After all, the chance to be the ruler of an advanced galactic empire, being married to an alien hotty, and having wealth without working for it really appeals to him. Little does he realize that there's a catch and by the time he does, will even Lum be able to save him?
I thought the pacing of the movie was very well done, even though I like the series itself a lot too. While the plot would occasionally take a huge leap into the abyss, it followed the general guidelines the series with all the wacky humor intact. Those of you who enjoy the series will find a lot to like here even though it stands on its own quite well too. Those who invest the time and energy will also find the puns employed by the language and word play to give the show a lot of replay value as well. I'm going to rate this one as Highly Recommended for its content and technical matters, and well worth checking out for fans of over the top anime comedy.
Picture: The picture was presented in the typical 1.33:1 ratio full frame color anime is known for. With the source material being twenty years old, is it fair to expect the picture look really good? In a word, yes. Companies have a responsibility to clean up the prints used for the DVD transfer, regardless of age, and in this case, it looks like Animeigo stepped up to the plate and did a great job. While there was some grain and moments when the picture shimmered a bit, they were few and far between. I didn't see any compression artifacts and the show, although old, looked really solid.
Sound: The audio was presented with a choice of either Dolby Digital stereo Japanese, as originally released (although with English subtitles), or a dubbed English track. I've grown to be a big fan of the series and enjoy the Japanese track a whole lot but the dub was also quite entertaining. The vocals, music, and special effects were all properly mixed on both tracks and the DVD transfer was also well done in regards to the audio.
Extras: There were a lot of extras here: a lengthy special on the voice actor auditions, an even longer Behind the Scenes special, a horde of character biographies (far more than I've ever seen before), a section detailing Lum and Ataru, an image gallery, and a lengthy paper insert that helps explain a lot of background data, including some of the puns in the movie.
Final Thoughts: If you like anime, especially the silly comedy type, you'll like this one a whole lot. Even though the source material was so old, the picture and sound were very clean and the content of the dub nearly as good as the original Japanese audio track. I also appreciated that AnimEigo took the time, as it usually does, to include a lot of background cultural noted on the paper insert. Otherwise, a lot of the humor would go over my head (and, let's be honest, a lot of other people's heads too).