On a dark and distant planet the Old Woman of Oak Forest (voiced by Hisako Kyoda) is angry that she was not invited to a party celebrating the birth of the princess of the Oni clan. Naturally it is all the fault of the Intergalactic Postal Service, but the old witch does not know that. To avenge this perceived insult she puts a curse on the princess that she will never be happy with her True Love. Sure enough the baby grows up to be gravity-defying babelicious tiger-skin bikini clad Princess Lum (Fumi Hirano) forever at odds with her haplessly horny human beau Ataru Moriboshi (Toshio Furukawa) who when they aren't mixed up with a wacky aliens, magical animals and strange beings from other dimensions, chases every pretty girl he sees. For a break from the usual mayhem, Lum arranges for her high school friends to visit the newly opened amusement park Marchenland. But strange things are afoot at this bizarre place. Scary ghost children, doorways to other worlds and a cackling clown with a creepy crystal ball freak out the Tomobiki teenagers. Out to impress sexy magician's assistant Oshima (Masako Sugaya), Ataru takes part in a magic act. Whereupon Ruu the Magician (Mitsuo Iwata) mysteriously disappears leaving Ataru transformed into a pink hippo! An enraged Lum sets out to find who is really responsible but ends up trapped in a parallel world controlled by a child wizard (Kazuteru Suzuki).
After Mamoru Oshii's Urusei Yatsura 2: Beautiful Dreamer (1984) proved too trippy and esoteric for series creator Rumiko Takahashi (though it remains a favourite among many fans), she wrestled creative control back for this third feature film. Of course this being the wild and wacky world of Urusei Yatsura the resulting story proved no less surreal. Perhaps most jarring is the English language theme song 'Born to Be Free', a fist-pumping rock number with Van Halen-esque guitar riffs. Although the emphasis remains on fun and laughs several scenes skirt surprisingly close to the horror genre with many eerie incidents to offset the familiar candy-coloured slapstick, particularly for anyone with an aversion to clowns. Takahashi's plot has a distinctly fairytale feel with allusions to numerous classic Disney films: the princess cursed by a disgruntled witch from Sleeping Beauty (1959), the creepy amusement park from Pinocchio (1940) (a living puppet also makes an appearance), a flying pirate galleon and a little boy dressed like Peter Pan (1953), and a cameo from Alice in Wonderland (1951) along with the White Rabbit. However the central theme explores how characters cope when magic drains out of their world as a result of Lum's abrupt disappearance, which becomes a meditation on growing up, moving on, learning to embrace maturity. Whereas the child wizard clings stubbornly to his idealized view of relationships, perennial adolescent Ataru finally shows hints of maturity in his feelings for Lum.
While undeniably imaginative Takahashi gets so carried away with inventing kooky concepts and crazy creatures the narrative veers off on strange tangents. However the decision to focus largely upon the human characters this time around pays off with some poignant moments as the earthlings bemoan the sudden halt to their surreal carnivalesque existence. In a moment both funny and sad, Shinobu (Saeko Shimazu), Ataru's long-suffering human lust object with the terrible temper, discovers she no longer possesses her surreally superhuman strength. As with the first feature film Remember My Love plays best with seasoned Urusei Yatsura fans given director Kazuo Yamazaki makes no attempt to familiarize newcomers with these established characters. With the exception of a stunning aerial chase over, under and through the cityscape of Tokyo the animation is perhaps a tad less fluid than in earlier entries yet the designs and layouts remain wondrous to behold. In a kaleidoscope of colours the animators conjure dense, vividly alive alien realms full of surreal oddities. Takahashi's outlandish alien beings and strange sci-fi gadgetry are a delight for SF fans while the ongoing romantic sparring between Ataru and Lum remains heartfelt and touching in parts. Yamazaki returned for the next sequel, Urusei Yatsura 4: Lum the Forever (1986).