Urusei Yatsura is a comedic manga series written and illustrated by legendary mangaka (creator), Rumiko Takahashi. Her first ongoing manga series, it was serialized in Weekly Shōnen Sunday from 1978 to 1987. Urusei Yatsura is comprised of 374 individual chapters, which were collected in 34 tankōbon (graphic novel or trade paperback) volumes. Urusei Yatsura (which means “obnoxious people”) is the story of a Japanese high school boy, Ataru, and an ogre-alien princess, Lum.
VIZ Media published Urusei Yatsura in English during the 1990s in various formats. In 2018, VIZ announced that it had re-licensed the manga and that it would publish it in its 2-in-1 mini-omnibus editions. The 2-in-1 collects two graphic novels or tankōbon in one, larger-than-average paperback volume (5 3/4 × 8 1/4 as compared to the smaller 5 × 7 1/2 in). The Urusei Yatsura Signature Edition is being published under the VIZ Signature imprint with a rating of “‘T+’ for Older Teens.” The first two volumes carry a print MSRP of $19.99 U.S. / $26.99 CAN, and future volumes will present 400 pages of content, with the complete series scheduled for English publication on a quarterly basis.
Urusei Yatsura (Signature Edition), Vol. 2 contains Part 3 (Chapters 1 to 9) and Part 4 (10 to 19) of the series. Part 3 opens with “Father, You Were Strong,” in which Princess Kurama, the alien crow-goblin princess, launches her latest attempt at making Ataru Moroboshi a better potential husband. They go back in time to when her father, Ushiwaka, was a young man. Both Kurama and Ataru, however, are shocked to discover that her father is more interested in ascetics than romance. In “Without Even Saying Goodbye,” lecherous, lazy, always hungry, and girl-crazy Ataru is somehow split into two versions of himself. One loves Lum, and the other loves Ataru's real girlfriend, Shinobu. One seems a better version of the other, but will things really work out the way anyone thinks they will?
Part 4 opens with “Sake and Tears and Men and Women.” A husband and wife alien couple (that resemble dogs) start invading bodies, including Ataru. When the womanizing alien husband possesses Ataru, his family, friends, and neighbors come to believe that the high school boy is even more lecherous than they ever imagined. “Who's That Baby?” finds Ataru's rival for Lum, the new student, Shutaro Mendo, suddenly playing teen dad to a baby that is obviously not human. In “Magic Running,” Ataru does not realize that his morning jog might cost him his soul!
[This volume includes “Urusei Yatsura Data File” 03 and 04, and “Part 3 Notes” and “Part 4 Notes.”]
THE LOWDOWN: Having read the equivalent of the first four volumes of the Urusei Yatsura manga, I have read more of it than I ever did in the past. I bought a few issues of VIZ's 1990s publication of Urusei Yatsura as an American monthly comic book series. This new reading is giving me a deeper appreciation of the series.
Urusei Yatsura Signature Edition Graphic Novel Volume 2 collects 19 chapters, and, with the first seventeen chapters published in Vol. 1 of this new edition, readers can see how quickly creator Rumiko Takahashi gets a handle on the dynamics of her creation. For a long time, I have admired how Takahashi can make a single chapter in her serial manga seem like a standalone episode of a situation comedy. Each situation works on its own outside of the context of other chapters. It is as if Takahashi draws from a never empty reservoir of comedic plots.
It would take me pages to explain the comedic delights offered in this second volume of Urusei Yatsura Signature Edition, but whereas Vol. 1 introduced what seemed like it could be a winning series, Vol. 2 delivers on that potential. This series is a must-read for fans of humorous world-comics.
I READS YOU RECOMMENDS: Fans of Rumiko Takahashi will have to have the “VIZ Signature” edition of Urusei Yatsura.