Stephen reviews: Urusei Yatsura 3: Remember My Love (1985)

125824464096916322687Urusei Yatsura 3: Remember My Love [うる星やつら3 リメンバー・マイ・ラブ] (1985)

Starring Fumi Hirano, Toshio Furukawa, Akira Kamiya, Mitsuo Iwata, Saeko Shimazu, Machiko Washio, Shinji Nomura, Sumi Shimamoto

Directed by Kazou Yamazaki


I was curious what kind of changes Urusei Yatsura would undergo once Mamoru Oshii left the scene. It turns out, not all that much. Remember My Love has a lot more flare and visual style than I expected from it, and also keeps to a more emotional story than the TV series did, just like the first two films in the franchise. One thing to remember about anime comedies is that they always tend to take themselves seriously at the end. The grand finale of a story needs to have punch, and comedy anime usually tries to accomplish this by turning away from the comedy. I get the feeling that these films were Urusei Yatsura‘s way of doing this. The TV series seemed unending. In 1985, more than four years into its run, Urusei Yatsura was still going strong. So it was the movies where the series could take its break from comedy and tackle the emotions underlying it all.

That’s not to say the comedy is abandoned here. Not by a long shot. But there are a lot of moments where you would normally expect a lighthearted joke, and instead there is only the dramatic tension of the situation. This is actually rather distracting at times and left me in a confused mood where it was difficult to tell whether I should be laughing at a certain point, or actually feeling for the characters. This is detrimental to the film, but at the same time, these moments are also done pretty well, making the story engaging on more than a simple laugh-a-minute level.

uruseiyatsura_1The plot involves a time travel setup, not that it starts dealing with that until the end of the film. But right from the start it jumps from 1967 to 2267, so it’s pretty obvious that some kind of time jumping is going on. The bulk of the film, however takes place in the time the movie was made, 1985, where all the usual Urusei Yatsura characters are going about their lives as usual. When Ataru is cursed to become a hippo, Lum takes off to find the culprit while Ataru lays around and bemoans his situation. The action focuses more heavily on Lum this time, and the rest of the cast is left with more peripheral roles.

It’s hard to describe much else without spoiling the story. But there were plenty of great moments of comedy along with some great moments of surreal mystical confusion. If you’ve been following my reviews for a while now you probably know that I love surrealistic anime, so this film may be skewed to my taste more than normal. At any rate, I certainly enjoyed how it all went about.

Tuxedo Mask, is that you!? You know it's a good time travel story when it uses characters that hadn't even been invented yet.

Tuxedo Mask, is that you!? You know it’s a good time travel story when it uses characters that hadn’t even been invented yet.

The movie also features one hell of an awesome chase scene as Lum chases down the film’s antagonist, twisting through skyscrapers and eventually taking her through a rather trippy scene in a maze of funhouse mirrors. It was not only an engaging action scene I hadn’t expected to see in the series, but it also showcased some great animation for the time period. The visuals are a definite strong point for the film. I was rather surprised to see just how much the movies would maintain a strong style even after Oshii left the scene, but Yamazaki stepped up to the plate and delivered an excellent experience.

If there’s anything I can really fault in this film it is that it feels rather different in tone from the series. This isn’t really a problem as it is basically following the road set out by Oshii in the first two films, but it is leaving me without the relentless silliness that I expect from the series. I keep expecting a laugh around every corner, and it’s just not here. What replaces it is still good, but leaves me feeling rather unfulfilled. I guess the only thing I can do is go back to the TV series and get my giggles from there.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bw06w_rQHZw

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