Stephen reviews: Urusei Yatsura 5: The Final Chapter (1988)

uruseiyatsura5_1Urusei Yatsura 5: The Final Chapter [うる星やつら 完結編 Urusei Yatsura – Kanketsuhen] (1988)

Starring Fumi Hirano, Toshio Furukawa, Kaneto Shiozawa, You Inoue, Akira Kamiya, Saeko Shimazu, Yuko Mita, Kazue Komiya, Kazuko Sugiyama, Machiko Washio, Ichirō Nagai

Directed by Satoshi Dezaki


Once Rumiko Takahashi finished the manga of Urusei Yatsura, it of course had to be animated. So The Final Chapter is a perfectly accurate name for the fifth film in the series as it retells that final manga story arc. And finally, after all these films, Urusei Yatsura 5 actually feels like an episode from the series. It does everything that made the series so much fun, and yet it feels like something is missing. I think it’s just that after all these films I’ve come to expect something unique from them. I wasn’t expecting it to suddenly start doing what it was supposed to be doing this whole time. I kept waiting for the other shoe to drop, and it never did. This film is a perfect rendition of what the series was always about, and that makes it different from all the other films.

What also works against it a bit is that I came to it with the expectation of seeing something major going down. This was supposed to be the conclusion of the series, so I felt like it was going to have a much bigger sense of closure than it does. Compared to the previous films which kept trying to inject drama into the story, this film feels much less momentous. It does work in a great sense of coming full circle, with Ataru and Lum once again playing a game of tag with the fate of the Earth hanging in the balance, just like the first episode of the series. Compared to the TV series, this is a great way to wrap things up, and it does a great job in that respect. Compared to the other films, though, it has less emotional strength, and coming right off of watching those, it felt a little weak.

uruseiyatsura5_2From a more objective view, there’s nothing to really complain about, except that maybe things are getting a bit redundant. Once again Lum has gotten into an entanglement with an alien that wants to marry her, and Ataru gets into one of his own entanglements with another alien woman, and the usual comic mischief ensues. It’s the same old stuff, but at the same time that makes it familiar. The humor is a notch or two below what the TV series had accomplished, but that’s holding it up to a pretty high standard, and The Final Chapter is very entertaining the whole way through.

Unfortunately, this also leaves me with very little to discuss. Unlike the previous films, there are no standout features to it. No fantastic visuals, no confusing plot developments, no anomalies to report. I could list off the various kooky events, like the chariot pulled by a pack of flying pigs which could be interpreted in a couple of ways, but that doesn’t really reflect how entertaining they are. And at this point examples hardly seem necessary; if you’ve been at all following these reviews it should be pretty obvious what this is about.

I suppose when this film came out it had been after a couple of years without any new Urusei Yatsura content, so it must have been a fun return to form for fans of the series. Lumped in with the franchise as a whole, however, it is just one more tale, much like all the others. That doesn’t take anything away from it. It’s one more helping of the same stuff the series has done before, and if you liked that stuff, then you’ll like this one, too.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JzndXxOs9nY

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