My second favourite Urusei Yatsura movie, after #5. I'm sure many would say I should be putting #2 up there, but bugger that. This happens to be one of the three reality-benders, but it's also the most straightforward of them and it certainly won't make your brain ache.
More importantly, it's a happy film and the most romantic one in the series. That's odd since the plot involves Lum being kidnapped and the magic going out of Tomobiki, but that's a relatively short bit late in the film and furthermore has Shinobu narrating over the top of it. It's almost charming, in fact. "Autumnal" is the word I'm looking for, which is probably deliberate from the filmmakers since it skips over about six months up to the cherry blossoms in spring. Lum's Stormtroopers go crazier and burn their photos of her. Shinobu loses her super-strength. Ataru goes on girl-hunting as usual, but eventually even he cracks and goes looking for Lum.
What this film achieves is to make me care about the Lum-Ataru relationship. Obviously this isn't an impossible task since it's been done before quite often, but it's by no means a foregone conclusion. Ataru is a retard and Lum is capable of being almost as bad. I always thought the TV series was at its weakest when it was concentrating on these two. Nevertheless here we have Ataru actually breaking the walls of reality to get Lum back, which when it finally happens is the trigger for what I can only describe as a music video. A ballad plays over images that have nothing to do with the plot, but are instead all about illustrating the theme. We see love among seabirds, dinosaurs and butterfly-winged fairies. Both the music and the images are wonderful, but together they make something beautiful. I've been known to put on the DVD just to replay that sequence.
Oh, and did I mention that this has the best music of the six Urusei Yatsura films? For once the songs are entirely in English, rather than Japanese with occasionally English bits. Then there's the wacky ending, with comedy music so nifty that the TV series stole it for some of their later episodes.
I love that ending, by the way. You see, for the most part this film isn't particularly funny. I like it, but I can't pretend that it's often going for laughs. However they make up for all this at the end by letting their hair down and blasting Onsen-mark's classroom to hell and back, in a scene of merry destruction that's extreme even for Urusei Yatsura. Look out for the cameos from minor characters in the background and the topless mermaid who jumps out of the water at one point.
Anyway, the story. We start in 1967, with a Brothers Grimm witch cursing the newborn Lum because she wasn't invited to the birth. Ignore the flash forward to 2267. Coming back to 1985, we find Shinobu telling Lum about the Japanese legend of the red thread of fate. According to this, people destined to be together will be invisibly joined by a red thread tied to their little fingers. Lum thinks this sounds cute. If you've never heard of this before, remember it. You'll see this legend in quite a lot of anime, actually.
What happens next is that a fairground comes to town. Everyone goes to see, only to find themselves rubbing shoulders with aliens and robots (all normal so far), a yellow-suited clown, themselves as children and/or Alice's White Rabbit running through a door in the air. There's clearly something weird going on, but fortunately it's being presented within a straightforward narrative. After a while there's a magic show at which something surprising happens. Ataru becomes a pink hippo. What's more, he stays that way. His parents are as sympathetic as you'd expect (i.e. not at all) and Lum promises to stay with him no matter what, but before long she's chasing bad guys out of the window and getting trapped in extradimensional realities.
This film doesn't really have a villain. It has people who are behind all this trouble, but they're not bad at heart. Even the witch turns out to be dozy rather than evil. There's a chap called Ruu who's in for a surprise or too before the end, but he's a pretty thin character and the nearest he comes to being interesting is a Cutey Honey reference. I don't hate him or anything, but he's no better than the plot needs him to be.
Perverts should note that this film has the most nudity and nipple filled harem in the series, although we hardly spend any time there. Ataru's trying to think only of Lum in order to navigate through the realities and reach her, but he's not very good at it. Another notable bit is the scene where for once Lum's mother speaks Japanese rather than some incomprehensible alien language. It's not a mistake from the filmmakers because the characters comment on it, but that's the only time in the entire franchise when she doesn't speak gibberish.
This is a reality-bending movie, but it has a simple story and it's rather sweet. It makes something lovely out of the Ataru-Lum relationship. Whenever I want to pick out a film to make me happy, this is always a good choice.