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  Urusei Yatsura 5: The Final Chapter Love on the Run
Year: 1989
Director: Satoshi Dezaki
Stars: Fumi Hirano, Toshio Furukawa, Akira Kamiya, Ichiro Nagai, Kaneto Shiozawa, Kazuko Sugiyama, Machiko Washio, Saeoko Shimazu, Yu Inoue, Akira Murayama, Hirotaka Suzuki, Issei Futayama, Yuko Mita, Noriko Ohara, Kenichi Ogata, Koichi Kitamura
Genre: Comedy, Animated, Science Fiction, Romance, FantasyBuy from Amazon
Rating:  8 (from 1 vote)
Review: Gravity-defying alien bikini babe Princess Lum (voiced by Fumi Hirano) and girl-chasing high school slacker Ataru Morobishi (Toshio Furukawa) are still no closer to admitting their true feelings for one another. But the feuding couple are in for a shock. Awake after years sleeping in a cryogenic pod misplaced by removal men (!) Lum's senile old grandpa (Koichi Kitamura) reveals he promised her hand in marriage to the grandson of Upa (Kenichi Ogata), a gnome-like alien mushroom peddler who saved his life. After poisoning him in the first place! The groom turns out to be Rupa (Kaneto Shiozawa), a blonde, buff bishonen in black who floats down from the heavens on a chariot drawn by flying pigs, only to wreck his big entrance by crashing into Tomibiki High School. While no less reluctant to marry Lum, Ataru is not about to be shown up by yet another alien interloper. So along with billionaire rival Shutaro Mendo (Akira Kamiya), Lum's best friend space biker babe Benten (Yuko Mita), fire-breathing baby cousin Ten (Kazuko Sugiyama), Shinto priestess Sakura (Machiko Washio) and several others, Ataru boards a crowded UFO to try and stop the wedding. Inevitably intergalactic mayhem ensues.

Although Urusei Yatsura: The Final Chapter was intended to be the final installment in Rumiko Takahashi's sprawling, madcap science fiction romantic comedy there followed a series of straight-to-video adventures (or OAVs, original animated videos) along with one last feature film: Urusei Yatsura 6: Always My Darling (1991). Nevertheless an aura of finality pervades throughout movie number five as the plot contrives to force the pig-headed Ataru to finally admit his true feelings for lovely, if fiery-tempered Lum. Albeit characteristically not verbally but through action which as we all know speaks louder than words. Previous films, notably Urusei Yatsura 2: Beautiful Dreamer (1984) and Urusei Yatsura 4: Lum the Forever (1986), blended elements of horror and mystery into the screwball SF comedy formula but despite mildly suspenseful scenes early on Final Chapter goes all out for laughs.

Gag for gag this is possibly the funniest Urusei Yatsura movie, expertly paced by veteran animator Satoshi Dezaki and performed with gusto by the seasoned voice actors. Elements of classic Looney Tunes cartoons linger about surreal visual gags wherein Ataru periodically produces a giant mallet from nowhere to smack someone over the head, Rupa and Upa's novel mushroom-based superpowers or the priceless scene in which the squabbling teenagers keep arguing even while they plummet to certain death. Tomoko Konparu's screenplay retreads familiar ground but throws enough new twists to keep things engaging. Rather ingeniously Konparu plants the feuding lovers into a love triangle (technically a love square) even more messed up than their relationship. For it happens Rupa has an unwanted, aggressive would-be girlfriend of his own in the form of Carla (Yu Inoue), a bazooka-wielding amazon who takes Ataru hostage in a mad bid to make him jealous.

In typical Rumiko Takahashi fashion what begins as a squabble between a quartet of hormone-addled, if emotionally constipated, teenagers rapidly expands to galactic proportions. The Earth is engulfed by giant mushrooms and Lum's family inadvertently unleash a demon-shaped doomsday device the cast attempt to disable in a deadly game of tennis! Yet again the fate of the world comes down to a game of tag between Ataru and Lum (which as long-time Urusei Yatsura fans will recall is how this whole mess got started way back in episode one of the television series) in lieu of his seeming reluctance to say the words"I love you." The central joke at the heart of Urusei Yatsura of high school romance governing the fate of vast alien civilizations across the universe and other dimensions remains on a fittingly grandiose scale although the animation is noticeably less lavish compared with earlier feature films. Even so the colourfully eccentric production design remains as eye-catching as ever plus the film has a rather sweet message about love having more to do with actions rather than words, complimented by the heart-warming realisation among the supporting cast they need Ataru and Lum to stay together so they can all continue to hang out.

Reviewer: Andrew Pragasam

 

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