Saturday, September 25, 2010

One of the greatest anime movies ever?

Lum - Urusei Yatsura 2: Beautiful Dreamer (1984)
Director: Mamoru Oshii
Rating: Nine of Ten Stars

I just recently rewatched one of my all-time favorite Japanese cartoons for the first time in over five years. It was the second theatrical release based on Rumiko Takahasi's first hit comic book series, "Lum--Urusei Yatsura" (UY means "Obnoxious Aliens" in Japanese).

"Beautiful Dreamer" is every bit as good as I remember it. I don't necessarily recommend it to those unfamiliar with the cast of the "Lum" comic books, but I nonetheless place it among my all-time favourite animated features.

In this curious film, Lum, Shinobi, Ataru, and the rest of the central cast of the series find themselves the only beings left in perhaps the entire world. They later realize that the entire world has been reduced to a 2 km area around Ataru's house... and that's when things start to get really strange.

This film grabbed my attention immediately. The plot seemed to be something well beyond the standard 'Lum' wacky comedy that I'm used to from the graphic novels... there was a mystery here, and from the outset I was interested in seeing how it would be resolved. As the mystery deepend, the film actually started to get rather creepy--something I'd never thought possible for this particuarly property--and the mix of humour and mild horror was extremely effective. Even as the mystery reached its resolution, the creepiness deepened and for a time I wondered if it was going to be possible for the filmmakers to restore the light-hearted Lum-verse to its previous state.

They managed to do just that, and with a very ... and with a highly satisfying ending. What's even more remarkable, over the course of 'Beautiful Dreamer,' they breathed more life into Lum and Ataru than I thought could be possible; they've always been rather one dimensional characters to me--not it a bad way, but that's all they needed to be. But in 'Beautiful Dreamer,' we are shown another facet of Ataru, and Lum's character deepens as well.

Click here to read reviews of graphic novels by Rumiko Takahashi at the Shades of Gray blog.