1984 Animated Anime Certified Weird (The List) Comedy Dreams Japanese Mamoru Oshii Mindbender Recommended Technology

354. URUSEI YATSURA 2: BEAUTIFUL DREAMER (1984)

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“It’s no use, Mr. James — it’s turtles all the way down.”–J. R. Ross, “Constraints on Variables in Syntax”

DIRECTED BY: Mamoru Oshii

FEATURING: Voices of Toshio Furukawa, Fumi Hirano, Machiko Washio, Akira Kamiya, Takuya Fujioka; Wayne Grayson (as Vinnie Penna), Roxanne Beck, Marnie Head, Draidyl Roberts (English dub)

PLOT: College students within the city of Tomobiki put together for a good the next day. One of many academics, affected by exhaustion, develops a wierd feeling of déjà vu, finds his condominium coated in mud and mushrooms, and hypothesizes that the complete city resides the identical day time and again. As the varsity nurse launches an investigation, individuals regularly start disappearing from the city till solely she and a small group of excessive schoolers are left.

Still from Urusei Yatsura 2: Beautiful Dreamer (1984)

BACKGROUND:

  • “Urusei Yatsura” started as a manga (by Rumiko Takahashi) in 1978 and was tailored as a long-running animated tv present in Japan beginning in 1981 and ending in 1986. It was also called “Lum, the Invader Girl,”  titled after its principal character, when it performed on the BBC. The collection included all kinds of influences and was particularly recognized for mixing science fiction with Japanese folklore. It had an “anything can happen” high quality to it; consuming mysterious sweet may make hearts seem over your head, or one of many characters may discover a digital camera that despatched these it photographed to alternate dimensions. Even so, Lovely Dreamer was a radical departure from the collection’ comedian method.
  • Mamoru Oshii labored on 106 episodes of the “Urusei Yatsura” tv collection and was credited as lead director on two. He’s additionally the credited director on the primary Urusei Yatsura film, For You, however was solely introduced in after a earlier director give up, and thought of his work on that movie a “rush job.”
  • This tour departs from the collection’ ordinary concentrate on Lum and aliens, however is partly impressed by a earlier episode of the collection, “Wake up to a Nightmare.”
  • Lovely Dreamer accommodates many references to the Japanese people story Urashima Tarō, a few fisherman who marries a spirit princess and spends what looks like a couple of years in her kingdom, however returns to his village to seek out that centuries have handed. That is an previous and recurring theme in people tales, which Washington Irving took as the idea for America’s “Rip Van Winkle.” In Urashima Tarō’s story the fisherman is initially rewarded for rescuing a turtle, which is why there are such a lot of references to turtles within the film.
  • Lovely Dreamer additionally references the baku, a mythological monster who eats goals and nightmares. It has no Western equal.
  • Lovely Dreamer was Eric Younger‘s employees decide for a Licensed Bizarre film.

INDELIBLE IMAGE: The primary characters briefly escape Tomobiki on a Harrier jet, solely to look again and see that their metropolis rides on a turtle’s again, à la Hindu cosmology.

THREE WEIRD THINGS: Nazi tea store; copyrighted piglet; city on a turtle

WHAT MAKES IT WEIRD: Lovely Dreamer co-stars an amorous flying turquoise-haired alien in a tiger-striped bikini. Not solely is that not the weirdest factor within the film, it’s the touchstone of normality in a movie that drops the romantic slapstick conventions of the TV collection it was tailored from in favor of a mind-bending journey, bearing its characters into dreamlike worlds on the again of a cosmic turtle.

Unique trailer for Urusei Yatsura 2: Lovely Dreamer

COMMENTS: What would occur when you took a beloved Japanese sitcom-style cartoon a few boy-crazy alien and turned it right into a feature-length “Twilight Zone” episode? The reply is Urusei Yatsura 2: Lovely Dreamer. An American popular culture analogy is perhaps if a younger Darren Aronofsky had directed a function movie model of “The Simpsons” as a critical psychological thriller, whereas staying true to the characters and humorousness. Reviewers disagree on whether or not you profit from having seen an episode or two of “Urusei Yatsura” beforehand. When you’re accustomed to the collection you’ll know the characters proper off the bat, get some in-jokes, and have an appreciation for a way totally different the usually ominous tone and flirtation with philosophical concepts is from a typical 15-minute slapstick episode. However for these on the lookout for weirdness, it might be much more gratifying when you don’t know the characters beforehand. They’re all easy caricatures, so their roles develop into obvious when you get previous the preliminary character dump. I say, bounce proper in with no preparation (past the minor spoilers on this evaluate, naturally).

Whereas the primary plot shall be set in movement by a laxative emergency, and can anticipate parts of each Groundhog Day and Darkish Metropolis, Lovely Dreamer begins out in an extra-confusing method, even for initiates. It opens on what seems to be like a seashore fronting a ruined metropolis; characters sunbathe on a Leopard tank, and one stands within the water, dazed, together with his mouth agape because the gun barrel of the tank approaches, showing to enter him orally. (This odd fellatio imagery recurs later, nevertheless it by no means actually is sensible.) He’s gazing at a burnt-out shell of a constructing with a destroyed clock tower as seagulls’ shadows cross in entrance of it (we’ll study later what this deserted construction is). After this prologue, the story begins from the start (because it have been, on this time-scrambled story) at a highschool the place the youngsters, wearing costumes starting from strolling clams to Godzilla, make last-minute preparations for tomorrow’s pageant. The scene appears like they’re prepping for a army assault, with looking spotlights, alarms, and directions issued by bullhorn. We concentrate on one group of youngsters who’re getting ready their contribution to the festivities: the “Third Reich Coffee Shop” (!), a Nazi-themed short-term bistro. (The chief of this enterprise objects to the notion that they need to have gone with a “hot babes” theme as an alternative, claiming he’d relatively be shot then make his espresso store “according to Ataru’s weird tastes”). One character stands on the tank glimpsed within the opening, screwing mild bulbs into the ceiling in a swastika sample. The afore-referenced Ataru is napping within the tank and begins embarrassing the others with pillow speak from his sexy goals. By means of a loopy sequence of missteps considered one of their schoolteachers finally ends up hanging out the second flooring window holding onto the tank barrel. Lum, a flying schoolgirl, lands on the tank barrel to ask concerning the location of her “darling” (the hormonal Ataru, it seems). Not one of the characters discover any of this exceptionally unusual, and the longer you watch, the extra all of it begins to make sense (a bizarre type of sense, naturally).

Though Mamoru Oshii would go on to be acknowledged as certainly one of animes biggest visible stylists (take a look at the pagoda parade sequence in Ghost within the Shell 2 to see him at his delirious peak), Lovely Dreamer‘s budget, six-month-turnaround, and fidelity to the simplistic designs of its TV show characters all hamper the film’s appears. Anime conventions, like characters whose eyes take up 1 / 4 of their face and whose mouths open to swallow a whole hemisphere of their heads once they get indignant (which they’re able to doing within the blink of one among their unnaturally spherical eyes) predominate. Nevertheless, Oshii places his rushed price range to good use, compensating for the crude animation by preserving the motion busy: the throng of costumed cosplayers within the opening scenes, and a later spectacular inside the highschool after hours when scholar doppelgangers begin popping up all over the place and the interiors instantly tackle a corridor of mirrors geometry. He exhibits creativeness in his stagings, which, together with the formidable plot, reveal a expertise past his TV-series origins. Because the characters talk about a speculation that the identical day is repeating time and again, the digital camera fluidly pans 360 levels to point out the 2 individuals in flip. A nighttime drive is illustrated in headlights surrounded by inky darkness to extend nervousness. A scene set in an aquarium is a nod to Orson Welles‘ Woman from Shanghai, however shot from the opposite aspect of the tank, in order that the partly translucent, impressionistic yellow and aquamarine tropical fish move in entrance of the characters. And the ultimate thirty minutes pile goals on prime of goals, permitting Ohsii to indulge his type in a number of milieus, from a discotheque harem to a Frankenstein homage to an summary world of coiling DNA strands.

It’s not a lot of a spoiler to say that Lovely Dreamer takes place largely in a dream world—the title may even clue the cautious reader into that reality. So it’s no shock that the film is completely bizarre, even by the exaggerated requirements of anime. The plot goes by way of three totally different phases, starting with the “repeated day” thriller and turning into an virtually post-apocalyptic teen wish-fulfillment fantasy earlier than revealing the puppet grasp behind all the curtain for the anything-goes finale. It’s not even clear who the protagonist and antagonist are till the third act of the difficult plot; and I haven’t even talked about the little woman within the white solar gown and a wide-brimmed hat that hides her face like a turtle withdrawn into his shell who pops up occasionally (partly as a result of I’ve solely the vaguest theories about who she is or what position she serves within the story). “Urusei Yatsura”‘s TV theme guarantees to “put weird and weird together, and make it even weirder!” Lovely Dreamer takes that pledge to coronary heart—and takes it farther than its fan base would have imagined. Only one instance: there’s a second when Ataru merely sinks right into a puddle whereas strolling to high school and disappears for some time. When he re-emerges, it’s in a swimming pool, with ‘s household tank inexplicably in it; quite than being surprised by the surrealism of the scene, aristocratic Mendou is indignant and pulls out his samurai sword (!) and tries to kill Ataru. In different phrases, Lovely Dreamer‘s characters do loads of “just rolling with it.” You must, too.

 Naturally, Lovely Dreamer divided followers on its launch. Collection creator Rumiko Takahashi was reportedly sad with the unexpectedly darkish and mystical path the director took her modest teen-oriented comedy (Oshii says that they stopped talking to one another). Lovely Dreamer has since been acknowledged because the collection’ masterpiece, a standalone piece with breakthrough attraction. On the time, few would have foreseen that Oshii, a employed hand who labored his method up from the storyboard division to helm “Urusei Yatsura”‘s first two feature film adaptations, would go on to become one of Japan’s most famous animators with the philosophical hit Ghost within the Shell and different works aimed toward extra refined audiences. In his commentary monitor, Oshii says “When it opened in theaters, there was no movie I was more worried about than [Urusei Yatsura 2: Beautiful Dreamer]. But it did well, which wasn’t so good either… I got cocky, I thought that I could do whatever and write whatever I wanted, no matter how weird. And it just went to my head. I was so amused that after this I made another movie that was a little out there, and it was easily rejected, and I lost a job.” That second film he’s referring to is clearly the surreal Christian parable Angel’s Egg, a piece that was so “out there” that it did almost finish his profession, and which has but to be correctly re-issued regardless of its devoted cult following. Lovely Dreamer, within the meantime, has continued to attract audiences, each followers of the collection eager to see what the fuss is about on this odd digression from an already wide-open premise, and from curiosity seekers uninterested within the wider franchise. With Lovely Dreamer, Oshii hit a candy spot between the favored and the esoteric, balancing flippant romantic comedy with a level of darkness that typically threatens to take the movie into the darkish thickets of fairy tales. However regardless of how far the turtle of a plot carries the dreamers, they may return from the Dragon Palace again to the place they began. As a lot as they attempt to return to regular, they’ll discover every thing concerning the collection inevitably modified. As did Oshii, who was simply getting began on his private wild journey.

WHAT THE CRITICS SAY:

“It’s all silly and slapstick comedy with absurdities involving a cheery flying alien her human boyfriend and their group of eccentric friends who get worked up over a crazy school festival, until things start getting weird.”–Zev Toledano, The Worldwide Celluloid Bloodbath

“On paper this movie shouldn’t work. Oshii’s surreal visions and measured pacing make an appearance here, but he also keeps the madcap antics of the characters. Surprisingly both parts mesh well and create a movie that is more than just a sequel to a sit-com.”–Roman J. Martel, Roman’s Critiques

“It’s the day before the School Festival, and things around Tomobiki High are weirder than usual. Much, much weirder…  Beautiful Dreamer isn’t a formulaic madcap comedy … but rather, a skilled surrealist Oshii Mamoru piece with lots of mystery and just enough Urusei Yatsura wackiness to remain familiar.”–Carlos Ross, T.H.E.M. Anime Evaluations (VHS)

IMDB LINK: Urusei Yatsura 2: Lovely Dreamer (1984)

OTHER LINKS OF INTEREST:

Urusei Yatsura 2: Lovely Dreamer Liner Notes – Some explanatory notes on the movie from a “Urusei Yatsura” fansite, which additionally hosts a particularly detailed synopsis

Urusei Yatsura – An excellent primer on the unique collection from Daryl Surat of Otaku Journal

Urusei Yatsura 2: Lovely Dreamer Half 1: The Characters – A rundown of the various characters who seem within the movie

HOME VIDEO INFO: The enduring reputation of the “Urusei Yatsura” franchise generally, and the excellence of this installment particularly, has stored Lovely Dreamer in print each in Japan and abroad. In 2018 it acquired a “collector’s edition” DVD and Blu-ray launch from Diskotek Media (purchase). I’m skeptical concerning the added worth of placing an unrestored 1984 film out in hi-def (DVD ought to do exactly effective), however those that insist on the format ought to be happy that they not have to show to Japanese sources. Viewers have the choice to observe within the unique Japanese or within the classic English language dub, which matches again to the times of VHS. Sadly the voice appearing typically leaves one thing to be desired: Nurse Sakura’s line readings are notably uninspired, which is a disgrace since she is the voice of cause and the authority explaining what’s truly happening. A terrific commentary by director Oshii headlines the extras (tip: take heed to the English dub whereas studying the commentary in subtitles). Different options embrace each the unique Japanese and English language VHS trailers and a number of digital “liner notes” (a practice for the “Urusei Yatsura” releases) explaining the historical past of the discharge and mentioning Japanese cultural references (just like the legend of Urashima Tarō) that might in any other case go over most Westerners heads. There’s even the unique English dub credit, for obsessive completists.

Lovely Dreamer can also be obtainable on-demand (free for Amazon Prime subscribers). On the time of this writing the dubbed model was additionally out there to observe free of charge (with commercials) on Crackle. There’s no assure that may nonetheless be true by the point you learn this, in fact.

(This film was nominated for assessment by fori. Recommend a bizarre film of your personal right here.)