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Movies and OVA
Movie 1: Only You    

"Is that a sexual perversion?" During the students' gossip sequence after the opening titles, one of the students wonders if Ataru is committing bigamy by marrying this Elle person when he's supposedly already married to Lum (or at least, things are close enough that they might as well be). Another student follows that up by asking what bigamy is--"is that a sexual perversion?" In the original Japanese, these lines were a pun (as so many conversations in this series are). The joke is that the word for bigamy in Japanese is "juukon," and the person responding wondered if it was like "lolicon," which is Japanese shorthand for "Lolita Complex." The "con" in both words is different, meaning "marriage" in the first one and "complex" in the second.

Bearing the Unbearable During the Inquisition in the Tomobiki High School Clock Tower, when Megane says to Ataru, "Ataru, do you know why... we have borne the unbearable...?" he is making a reference to the famous radio speech by the late Emperor Shoowa, on Aug. 15, 1945, when he announced Japan's surrender to the Allies, ending World War II. Specifically, he is quoting the oft-quoted phrase (Megane quotes it again in Movie #2, "Beautiful Dreamer) "taegataki o tae, shinobigataki o shinobi," which is usually translated as "[Japan] must bear the unbearable..." meaning, in the original, surrender. In the case of Lum's Stormtroopers, however, "the unbearable" is seeing Lum hopelessly in love with Ataru.

Puns in character names Many of the character names in "Urusei Yatsura" describe the characters very well in the original Japanese.

"Moroboshi Ataru," for example, means "to get hit by a star." And since "star" is at least partially synonymous with "alien" in this series, it means that he attracts aliens and other weirdos, like it or not. "Shinobu" is another good example, for a different reason: the word means "patient," but in actuality, she is anything but.

As for the Stormtroopers, their nicknames come from their looks: "Megane" means "glasses," "Chibi" means "runt," and "Perm" and "Kakugari" get their nicknames from their hairstyles. The normal writing of "Mendou" means "trouble," but in the case of the Mendou family, the name is written with a different set of characters, giving a different official meaning ("face" + "temple," which in itself is somewhat descriptive), but nonetheless, the Mendou family lives up to the traditional reading of the word that is a homonym of their family name: they are lots of trouble. Benten is actually one of the seven Chinese gods of luck, Oyuki is a takeoff on the classic snow princess of Japanese myth, and Princess Kurama and the Karasutengu ("Crow Goblins") are also based on the mythical "crow people" that are their namesakes.

A Rose, by any other name, would be as funny. There are also numerous references to roses in this film, starting with the rose-shaped starship from Planet Elle, showering rose petals everywhere in its first appearance. The name of the visitor this ship brings, Babara, is also a rose pun in Japanese, being a hybrid of the words "Baba" (a derogatory term roughly equivalent to "Old Bag" in English) and "Bara," which means "rose." The name of the spy who trails Lum and eventually abducts Ataru and the gang from Lum's Father's ship is named Nanabake Rose, and "nanabake" means "shapechanger" (though she proves amazingly inept). Then there is "Baran," the capital city of Planet Elle (another "Bara" pun), and last is "Baragumi Elle," which is written on the tag which the little Elle wears in the flashback sequence. The joke here is that Japanese kindergarten classes in the same school are often distinguished by names such as "Baragumi (Rose Class)," "Sakuragumi (Cherry Class)," "Momogumi (Peach Class)," etc., and Elle would naturally be in the "Rose Class."

Vacuum Cleaners from Hell. "Uzushio" means "an eddying current," and as such, is the sort of name that might be used as the brand name of a washing machine made in Japan. For this reason, it is funny to Japanese audiences when used as the name of the suction device which Lum uses to gather up Ataru and his family (and Cherry, too), especially because that name includes the word "zenjidoo" (fully automatic) which is the sort of descriptive word that would also tend to be used as part of the name of such an appliance.

Maitta, maitta, tonari no jinja. "Maitta" is a word one says when one is having trouble. It also means "to visit," as in "visiting a shrine." The word for shrine is "jinja." So when Ataru says to Babara, "Maitta, maitta, tonari no jinja," he is having fun by confusing the two meanings of the word "mairu (maitta)," which are both written the same way, adding to the fun.

Children Who Know War. "Sensoo o Shiranai Kodomotachi" (Children Who Don't Know War) was a popular folk/protest song in Japan in the late 1960's-early 1970's. It was about the generation gap between the pre- and post-World War II generations. The latter says that even though they do not know war, having been born and raised after its end, nonetheless they love peace, and want to live in a peaceful world. The song ends with a plea by the younger generation to call them "Children Who Don't Know War." The joke here is that, during the "space dogfight scene," Megane is happy to tell Shinobu that they are now, instead, "Children Who Know War," at last.

"Say something Fatherly" Ataru's Father telling Ataru not to take out a loan for his wedding to, or honeymoon with, Elle, is a reflection on the expense and payment schemes typical of Japanese weddings. They tend to be more expensive than American weddings, and whereas, in the U.S., the bride's family typically pays all the wedding expenses, things aren't nearly so cut and dried in Japan, where either or both families may pay the expenses, or the bride and groom may pay their own expenses. Taking out such loans is at best uncommon, but it is the sort of thing that this family would do (In "Beautiful Dreamer", Ataru's father takes out a 500 year loan in Ataru's name!).

Home Cooking Megane mentions a lot of foods in his first tirade on Planet Elle: Takoyaki is a pancake-like batter, rolled into balls containing octopus and vegetables, and baked. Gyuu-don (short for "Gyuuniku-Domburi"), which we refer to as "Beef-bowl," is beef boiled in sauce (usually soy sauce) with onions, on top of rice, in a bowl. The flavor of the sauce seeps down into the rice, which is what Megane is so excited about. Just about everybody knows what ramen is. The point is that these foods are "everyday foods," equivalent to hot dogs, hamburgers, and pizza in the U.S.; to wit, the foods you grew up with and miss the most. As for the gyuu-don restaurant Ataru points out on Planet Elle, the joke here is that these places are like McDonald's: i.e., they're EVERYWHERE.

What will become of me? About Ataru's Mother crying about what will become of her in her old age: typically, in Japan, children take care of their parents when they get too old to take care of themselves, and those children will live with their parents more often than in Western countries. Certainly, Ataru's Mother and Father are the kind of people who expect that treatment from their son. His mother in particular is concerned with her own well-being, and given how badly her husband and son are taking care of her now, she's got good reason!

The Matchmaking Incident The matchmaking "incident" that Lum's father refers to is recounted in Episode 22, stories 43-44, "The Great Space Matchmaking Operation," which is available in subtitled form in AnimEigo's UY TV series tape #6.

Movie 3: Remember My Love


Remember This Joke: There has been speculation in some quarters of American anime fandom that the title of this film was a pun on the title of another famous anime film, "Macross Super Dimension Fortress: Love -- Do You Remember," which came out the year before "Remember My Love" was released. Informed sources in Japan neither confirm nor deny this, but given the overall attitude of the creative staff of the series, we wouldn't put it past them.

Shutaro's pet octopi: the octopus is the crest of the Mendou family, and they keep a lot of them as pets. The one which appears in the first part of the film, "Umechiyo," has a couple of interesting associations. First, "Umechiyo" might be a play on "Umechajoroo," who was a melodramatic "hooker-with-a-heart." Ume, by the way, means "plum," which is a reference to Umechiyo's appearance: there is a cascade of plum flowers on its back, which is reminiscent of a similar design -- a cherry-blossom-cascade tattoo -- on the right arm and shoulder of the lead character in a popular, long-running samurai Japanese TV series: Toyoma no Kin-san. Also, when written in kanji, "Ume-chiyo" bears a resemblance to "Umeboshi," which happens to be "pickled plums," which this octopus resembles.

Music Notes: Takekawa Yukihide, who wrote the music for the opening and ending themes, was the vocalist for the legendary rock group Go-Die-Go. They had probably their biggest hit in 1979, with "The Galaxy Express 999," theme from the movie "Ginga Tetsudoo 999." He's been writing songs for quite a lot of people, ever since the group broke up. Micky Yoshino, who wrote the BGM for the movie, was the keyboardist for the group. He does a few projects here and there, and he also has his own music school. In 1992, he got arrested for possession of marijuana.

Upsetting Feelings: Early in the film, Sakura and Cherry make a pun that they will repeat later on: Sakura, looking at Tomobiki Marchenland, says she has "muna-sawagi," which means "an uneasy feeling." Cherry, munching on baked sweet potatoes, says he too has the same feeling. Sakura shouts at him that that is just "muneyake," or "heartburn."

Barred from Entry: After being repelled from entering Tomobiki Marchenland, Cherry speculates that it may be some sort of "kekkai." This term comes from Buddhism, and refers to a) an area forbidden to entry by a certain group, usually women (to keep them from disturbing the monks' concentration) or b) a fence used to separate a temple from the land beyond it.

A Stupid Pun: After the "magic show," when Mendou first sees Ataru's changed self, his first words are, "Baka kaba." This pun literally translates as "stupid hippo," but the thing that makes it funny in the original is that "baka," which means "stupid," and "kaba," which means "hippo," are written with the same characters in Japanese, simply reversed.

Fun with color: Ataru's fainting from discovering his new condition leads Megane to make the following observation: "As the blood drains from his face, it turns from pink to pale purple." The joke in the original centers around the word "aoza-meru," which means "turning pale," or "turning pale purple." The usual word for pale in Japanese is "aoi," or "blue." But mixing that "blue" paleness with Ataru's new pink skin color results in a pale purple. Yet another joke that doesn't really work in English.

Not one to wish on: The falling star that Ataru sees after Lum disappears is a bad omen in Japanese folklore.

I Can't Believe I Ate The Whole Thing: There's an old Japanese saying that one'd become a cow if s/he went to sleep right after eating a meal. When Ataru first appears at school as a hippo, one of the students comments that he became a hippo for this reason, only to have another one set him straight. This is followed by another student saying that it's the year of the cow, and making a sound that sounds like "moo!" but is also the word "mo!" which is an expression of exasperation in Japanese.

About Oshima: raccoons and foxes are both considered animals of deception in Japanese folklore. So it's only natural that he would be a shapechanger.

A "Cutey" Joke: In the scene where Ruu reveals his true self to Lum, he says, "At times, a mysterious pierrot. At times, a powerful magician. But in fact...!" These lines are taken straight from Cutey Honey, a 1973 manga/TV series created by Nagai Goo (Majinger Z, Getter Robo, Harenchi Gakuen et al.) Cutey Honey was an android superheroine whose various transfor-mations lent her power as well as disguise. When she assumed her true form to do battle with the various monsters of the Panther Claw gang, she would invariably intone some variation of the above lines, naming off the various transformations/ identities which she had assumed in the course of the episode, finishing up by identifying herself with the line, "Shikashi, sono jittai wa! Ai no Senshi Cutey Honey sa!" (But in fact, I am! Cutey Honey, Warrior of Love!)

A Traditional Meal: Oyuki being the model of a traditional Japanese noblewoman, the eating scenes aboard her ship are also very traditionally Japanese. The hole in the (tatami!) floor with the pot hanging over it is called "irori," and usually contains "nabemono," which is a sort of stew, with broth, vegetables, and meat. The fish-on-a- stick is another example.

Curses R Us: The outside of Gingakei Yorozunoroigoto Hikiuke Kumiai (the Milky Way Curses-R-Us Management Organ-ization) has many of the trappings of a Shinto shrine. The inside, on the other hand, is set up like a typical bank branch in Japan, down to the placement of the furniture and the uniformed female clerks.

The 64 Trillion Credit Question: The title of the game show in which Ruu's parents are competing is a pun on the titles of three popular game shows in Japan: "America Oodan Ultra Quiz (The Crossing America Ultra Quiz)," "Naruhodo the World (I See the World)," and "Quiz Hyakunin ni Kikimashita (Quiz: We Asked 100 People)." The "America Oodan" annual quiz is one of the most popular and long-running TV events in Japan, with the finalists competing at various places in the U.S. The quiz starts out with a stadium full of contestants, but at each step they get eliminated through various means. There are a couple of dozen challenging steps, and each is not just a test of knowledge, but a test of physical and emotional strength as well. Some of them are potentially dangerous. It usually takes a couple weeks for a given quiz session to cross the entire U.S., which leads to the other joke in Oshima's comments here: since the game in which Ruu's parents are contestants is crossing the Galaxy, rather than just one country on one small planet, it seems appropriate that the game would take years to get from one end to the other.

We get Stars, they get Stamps: Teachers in Japanese elementary schools often use stamps like the ones which Lahla uses to mark Ataru's forehead when they first meet. They are often in the shape of cherry blossoms, and often have such cute messages as "Taihen Yoku Dekimashita" ("Extremely Well Done,"), "Moo Sukoshi Desu" ("A Little More"), etc.

Kotatsu Neko (literally, "Footwarmer Cat") is the large and vengeful spirit of a cat who died when its owners left it out in the cold. Given its fate, it is highly attracted to sources of warmth.

To the Moon, Dad! When Ryuu blasts her dad into the sky, we took liberties with the translation. What he actually says is "kira," a Japanese onomatopeia roughly equivalent to "twinkle." The "hitting someone into orbit" is another Japanese schtick, just like "everyone falls to the floor."

Subliminal Jokes: If you have a LD player with digital still capability, flip through the sequence with Lahla and Ataru on the bike, when Ataru's head gets all distorted.

Movie 4: Lum The Forever

General Note: This film was made after the end of the TV series. As of the time of this writing (October, 1993), we have only released about 20% of the series, so some of the characters (such as Ton) have not yet appeared.

Lum's reaction to Ataru feeding her the umeboshi (pickled plum) at Mendou's Cherry-blossom viewing (hanami) party, i.e., "What did you feed me?!" stems from Oni getting drunk on umeboshi. For more details, see TV Set 11, Episode 42, Story 65, "Drun-kard's Boogie." To find out about hanami, see "I Howl at the Moon" (Tsuki ni Hoeru), in OVA Set 2.

If you've ever seen a live crab taken out of water, it starts foaming. That's the reference Megane makes when he says, "H...Hey, Mendou! Is your cherry tree a crab monster or something?!"

Oshiruko is basically a soup made of sweet red beans. It's really sweet (essentially made with beans, sugar, and a pinch of salt), and resembles chocolate. It is also very high in calories, which is why Shinobu gives Ataru the line, "Too bad... I'm on a diet!"

As for Ataru's follow-up, "Then I'll rub your shoulders for you!" Parents (especially mothers) usually ask their children to rub their shoulders after a meal.

When the class shouts, "ULTRA SUPER ELECTRIC ATTACK!" the pose Lum strikes is from the legendary "Ultra Seven," celebrating its 25th anniversary as of this writing (1993), and considered the best of all of Tsuburaya Productions' Ultra Series. The pose is the mirror image of the one which Ultra Seven struck to fire his "Wide Shot," the most powerful of all his energy attacks: Ultra Seven shot from his right forearm, with his right elbow on the backs of the fingers of his left hand, whereas Lum fires from her left forearm, with her left elbow on the backs of the fingers of her right hand. She strikes the pose correctly a couple of times in the manga as well.

Cicadas come out in summer, dragonflies in autumn. The movie takes place in spring (April), hence the confusion.

"Oni no Kakuran" (lit. ONI's summer sickness) is an expression used whenever someone who never gets ill (esp. someone who's very strong and athletic) somehow gets sick. Used in reference to Lum, a real Oni, it, produces a nice pun in the original Japanese.

The word "Olm," apparently a measurement of intelligence, was a was a made-up word in the original, and when we asked Kitty for a romanization, they gave us authorization to romanize it as we saw fit.

The names of Mendou Shutaro's dream brides, "Sakura, Shinobu, Akina, Kyooko, Momoko, Yuki, Keiko, etc..." are, except for the first two, the names of popular Japanese Pop/idol singers and other "talents" of the time.

"The mountain where we chased rabbits..." (Usagioishikano-yama) "The river where we fished for small crucian carp..." (Kobuna, tsurishi kano kawa...) are lyrics from "Furusato" (which in this context is perhaps best translated as "Home"), a famous traditional Japanese song.

Movie 5: The Final Chapter

General Note: This film, an animated retelling of the finale to the manga series on which this anime is based, was released in first-run some two years after the conclusion of the original broadcast run of the TV series. It assumes much background and familiarity with the story and characters, in addition to various characters that appear here for only the first or second time. As of this writing (Dec 1993), AnimEigo has only released a little over 20% of the TV series run, so there is bound to be some confusion. Please bear with us.

"Accept our betrothal gift!" "Yuinoohin" is a gift consisting of several items, including money, given to celebrate an engage-ment. The word "Yuinoo" can also mean the ceremonial exchange of such gifts. "Surume" (Dried squid), "Kombu" (Seaweed), sake and Tai (red snapper), items typically included, symbolize good luck. Orimono (hand-woven fabrics) are traditionally used to make the bride's wedding dress. The degree of formality one wants will dictate the quality and amounts of these items one will include. Such ceremonies were traditionally conducted at the bride's home, by messengers of the groom, but nowadays are held in hotels or wedding halls, when they are held at all.

"It's dark! I'm scared!" This is simply a reminder of Mendou's deep-seated fear of the dark, which usually (but again, not always) goes hand-in-hand with his claustrophobia.

"There's a lot of things that I don't usually get to eat. This is pretty good." This is a reference to the difference between Mendou's lifestyle, and that of people like the Moroboshi's. The things that he would have in his nabe are not the sort of ordinary things that people like the Moroboshis have in theirs, and he finds the change of pace interesting.

"I'll get some snacks to go with the tea." "Chagashi" is, literally, tea snacks, the sort that one might typically have with Japanese tea, though not green tea, which is associated with the tea ceremony. Bancha or Sencha are the most common teas for chagashi.

"Why tag?" "It's what the Oni people do at fateful times such as this." This line is one of the fundamental puns on which the series is based. The Japanese name for tag is "Onigokko," which literally translates as "Game of the Oni," and is thus logically the game that Lum's people, the Oni, would play. The significance of grabbing an Oni's horns stems from a Japanese myth which says that an Oni must grant the wish of whoever manages to do so. This myth in turn stems from a tradition in the Kansai region of Japan of lopping off the horns of all but one or two bucks in a herd of deer, to control breeding. Ataru's failure to be specific about the wish he makes on Lum's horns in the first story of the first episode of the TV series sets the stage for everything that follows, and in this film holding Lum's horns will enable Ataru to save everyone from darkness, thus granting him another wish, sort of. For more information, see Urusei Yatsura TV Set 1, Episode 1, Story 1, "I'm Lum the Notorious!" for the original game of Onigokko which comes more or less full circle in this story.

"Just say it! Which side is just?" The banner in this scene reads "Tomobiki-cho choonaikai," which perhaps best translates as "Tomobiki Town Community Association," more or less a local citizens' action group. There is typically one in each section of a town, which gets together when members of that town need to do something for that town, such as cleaning the drains. They also make sure that information about government and other local affairs gets around to everyone in the area. Such groups are most active in older and more rural areas, where people are more likely to know one another, having lived in a given place for years at a time.

"Mendou SXR-7000-Tako, come on out!" This scene is a parody of every giant robot series, whether manga, anime or live-action, to come out in the last 25-30 years. Also, the word "tako" means "octopus," which is the crest of the Mendou Family. Furthermore, when the Tako raises the ball with the Mendou crest on it, it is parodying yet another staple of modern Japanese pop culture, a long-running Edo-period samurai series called "Mito Komon." For more information, see Urusei Yatsura TV Set 4, Episode 14, Story 27, "Mendou Brings Trouble!"

"Momoe, I love you!" In all probability, this line is a reference to Yamaguchi Momoe, who was Japan's most popular entertainer when she retired around 1981, to get married and settle down, at the ripe old age of 21.

Despite what you might think from the title of this film, the Urusei Yatsura gang will return in the 6th and latest UY Movie, "Always My Darling," which celebrates the 10th anniversary of the series.

Movie 6: Always My Darling


The official end of the series was the story retold in the previous movie, 1988's "The Final Chapter." This film was made in 1991, to celebrate the10th anniversary of the series. Thus, it has no particular place in the series chronology, and can be considered more or less a side story.

"Galactic Coordinates: A.H.O. Planet #3. Point: Sho-Chiku-Bai." "Aho" is a Japanese word meaning "idiot" or "jerk." Sho-Chiku-Bai is written with the kanji for pine, bamboo, and ume (Japanese apricot) trees, and is an old-fashioned way of indicating first, second and third place rankings. It is also the name of a brand of sake.

"Hold it right there!" "Ohikenasutte" is a greeting typically associated with yakuza or gamblers.

"In the northeast quadrant of the universe..." "Ushitora" is an old-fashioned way of saying "northeast," using the characters for cow and tiger as part of an archaic system of directional notation.

"There's no choice... We'll have to make a deal." "Se ni hara wa kaerarenai" (lit. "The back cannot be made into the stomach") is an idiomatic expression, roughly equivalent to "The leopard can't change his spots."

"Hey! How about some of the best tofu in the universe!" Tofu peddlers used to ride around in much the same way, selling their wares, but very few if any still exist in Tokyo. Also, customers would normally only buy three or four blocks at most, as they couldn't eat more in a day. Lupica buying 12 (and later, 17) is thus absurd. In addition, she gives him her own pot to put tofu in, because until recently tofu was only sold fresh, not prepackaged. "Momen" (cotton) and "kinu" (silk) refer to the methods of filtering tofu. Silk-filtered tofu has a finer texture than cotton-filtered.

"Hand that over to me!" "Gyo," the sound which Ataru makes, has a double meaning: written one way, it's an onomatopoeia for surprise. Written another way, it is one way of saying fish. In this way, it goes with the fish who appear in the background.

"A footwarmer in midsummer has an elegance all its own..." Kotatsu (footwarmers) are normally used only in winter.

"So long! I've no more time for the likes of you!" "Engacho" is a child's game, similar to the American game "cooties." The idea is to avoid getting "tainted" (usually by being touched), or if you are, to pass it on. Games usually start when one of a group of children gets tainted because something embarrassing and/or dirty happens.

"Uh no, not 'Wa-water' it's just water..." "Mizu" means water, and "mimizu" means earthworms, in Japanese, but "mi-mizu" is "mizu" stammered out, and ends up sounding like "mimizu," which is the source of Rio's confusion: a more literal translation would be: "Uh, no, not earthworms, water." One of the more untranslatable puns in the series.

"Tonight's 'Stupid TV Til Dawn' is changing its regular schedule..." "Asa made nani-nani TV" (TV Til Dawn about some specific subject) is an occasional feature on Japanese TV, wherein a group of experts on some subject (usually political or economic in nature) will talk until the wee hours.

"No! I don't want to die like this!" "Men be damned!" "Now's my chance to show the results of daily, bloody training!" "Over to you, Ryuunosuke!" "Right! Here I go!" "Attack!" This entire sequence is based on "Attack No. 1," a famous manga/anime series about a high school girls' volleyball team.

Inaba the Dreammaker

What's in a name: Inaba's name comes from a children's story called "Inaba no shiro-usagi" (The White Rabbit of Inaba). Inaba is actually a place name, located in the eastern Tottori Prefecture. Found in one of the "Izumo-shinwa" (myths of Izumi) and in the "Koojiki" (Books of Ancient History), it is the story of a white rabbit who tricks a shark into taking him across the sea from Okinoshima Island to "Inaba-no-kuni" (the land of Inaba). Alas, just before they arrive, he foolishly tells the shark of his duplicity, and the shark skins him alive! Next, a group of rather mean gods, the Yasogami, seing the suffering rabbit, tell him that the way alleviate his pain is to soak himself with saltwater, and then let the wind to blow on him. Of course, this combination only causes him more pain. Finally, one of the Yasogami turns out to be a good guy named Ookuninushi-no-mikoto, who tells him the right way to cure his injury: wash in freshwater, and lie down in "gama" (cattails), because its pollen would make him feel better. There doesn't seem to be much connection between the story and the film, except that the story is fairly well-known among Japanese people.

Ataru and Kokeru: "Ataru" means "to be hit," and "Moroboshi Ataru" means "to be hit with a falling object, i.e., a star, meteorite, asteroid, etc." "Kokeru," the name of Ataru's future son by Shinobu, means "to fall down," often (but not always) referring to a pratfall. Since after you get hit, you often fall down, Kokeru is the perfect name for Ataru's son.

When the translating gets tough, the tough fake it: When the rabbits turn the giant key that causes all the doors in the Room of Destiny to fall, the lead rabbit says, in the subtitles, "...WE control your future!" But in the original Japanese, the line is "Kimitachi no mirai nanka!" which is not nearly as clear-cut in meaning as the subtitles might indicate. The difficulty in translating this comment comes from its not having a verb explicitly stated in the original. This does not impair its understandability in Japanese, where it connotes a sense of "THAT for your future!" But it does present some problems in translation, because English grammar typically requires a verb to make a complete sentence. Thus the existing compromise title, an attempt to the make the best of a difficult point in translation.

Raging Sherbet & I Howl At the Moon

Raging Titles: The actual title of the first OVA is "Ikare! Sherbet," which directly translates as "Rage! Sherbet." However, we are as susceptible to punning as the original creators of Urusei Yatsura.

Move over, Col. Sanders: Yakitori is chicken, grilled or barbecued, skewered on a bamboo stick. It's often cooked with salt or sweet soy sauce, and is a popular fast food.

Hanami: Japanese have a particular interest in seeing the cherry blossoms bloom in Spring. Therefore, in the brief period that this occurs, people get together and head for the park and picnic, often at night. Once there, they get drunk, sing, and generally behave obnoxiously, in accordance with a tradition going back centuries. The competition for good spots is intense, with party groups often sending one or two people the night (or day) before to hold a particular spot for them. During cherry-blossom season, all the weather fore- casts depict the south to north advance of the "cherry-blossom front."

The Joy of Lum's Cooking: Sakuramochi are bean-paste cakes (mochi) wrapped in cherry leaves, made for eating in Spring. Kashiwamochi are bean-paste cakes (mochi) wrapped in oak leaves, made for Children's Day (May 5). Tsukimi-dango are dumplings (dango) made as an offering to the Moon while looking at, and appreciating, it (Tsukimi) on Aug. 15 and Sept. 13, according to the old Chinese calendar. On these nights, parties would also be held, involving drinking, composing and reading haiku, and offering ominaishi (decorative flowers) and potatoes (in addition to tsukimi-dango).

"Tezukuri" literally means "handmade," but in this case, Lum used a pedal-operated cooking machine, so she said that the "sakuramochi" she made were "ashizukuri," or "foot-made."

Lum's saying she was finally able to make something Ataru liked is a reference to her (lack of) cooking ability. In the series, it's a running joke that her cooking is hazardous to the continued health and well-being of Earthpeople, and Ataru is quick to relate several examples of this: For example, the "Monster Making Candy" appeared in TV series Episode 2, Story 4, "Mrs. Swallow and Mrs. Penguin" (Tsubame-san to Penguin-san), and resulted in a tiny swallow and her chicks growing to Tokyo-trashing proportions. The spicy antidote to her Tsukimi-dango is probably one of her more benign creations.

He's lower than dirt: When Cherry says, in the subtitles, "You finally fell victim to deviltry," his original comment is, "Tsui ni onushi mo chikushoodoo ni ochiyota ka no." "Chikushoodoo" is "the way of the animal," one of the "Rokudoo," or "six ways" of Buddhist reincarnation. The six ways, in descending order, are: Ama (heaven), Ningen (human), Shura (where the constantly warring Ashura creatures exist), Chikushoo (animal), Gaki (the "hungry ghost," a skinny devil with a throat so constricted that it has great difficulty eating and drinking), and Jigoku (Hell). In Buddhist mythology, the acts one performs in life will determine which level one will be reincarnated into. If one does really good or bad things, then one will be reincarnated on a higher or lower level than in the previous life. Thus, when Cherry thinks that Ataru has eaten food he picked up off the ground, he says that he's not only been reborn as an animal, but as a Gaki as well, to add insult to injury.

Catch the Heart

The word "Dakkontoo," or "Heart-stealing candy," is a pun on "Kakkontoo," a well-known brand of cold medicine.

The book Mendou is reading when he first appears in this story, "Tako to Watashi--seishunhen," translates literally as "Octopi and Me--the Youth Edition." Note that the octopus is the crest of the Mendou Clan, and Shutaro in particular has an obsession with them.

Megane's lines, "Oh come quick, oh Spring! Come soon, for Megane, who has started to walk," are a take-off on a popular children's song, "Haru yo koi, hayaku koi, arukihajimeta Miyo-chan ga akai hanao no jojohaite, ommo ni detai to matteiru." It basically means that a little girl named Miyo is anxiously awaiting the arrival of Spring, so she can go outside wearing her new shoes, which are similar to geta (traditional Japanese wooden clogs). Megane substitutes his own name for that of Miyo.

Ten asking the two girls, "Would you like oshiruko or ammitsu?" refers to the following: oshiruko is hot anko (bean-paste) soup with mochi (rice cakes), and ammitsu is a mixture of kanten (seaweed made into gelatin) with fruits and anko mixed in. The reason Ten offers them is that they may be desserts that high-school girls supposedly like to stop and eat on their way home from school.

Goat and "Cheese:"

The title of this episode is a pun. Goats produce cheese, and "Cheese" is universally used to signify that one is about to take a photograph. That is the connection.

The reason why Lum is surprised that the statue on the hill isn't an octopus is because the octopus is the crest of the Mendou Clan, and is normally the only animal that would be so rendered on the Mendou Estate.

The captions in the old photographs are as follows:

Photograph 1: Yookan: Western-style Building; Zangiri-atama: Western-style haircut, specifically, cutting off a samurai's topknot; Gastoo: Gaslight.

Photograph 2: Jinrikisha: Rickshaw; Ijin: Foreigner; Yooshu: Western liquor; Rikujooki: Steam locomotive.

Photograph 3: Denwa: Telephone; Rokurenpatsu: Six-shooter; Rokumeikan: place where Japanese aristocrats in Meiji era would dress up and dance as Westerners in order to show Japan's civilization by Western standards, so that they could undo the unfair (to Japan) treaties imposed by the West. Rokumeikan is a Government building, and normally could not be owned by an individual, but the joke is that, even back then, the Mendou family was so rich that they could even buy Rokumeikan. Teikyuu: Tennis; Aisukurin: Old-style pronunciation of Ice Cream; Sukiyaki: See TV set 4, Episode 15, Story 29, "The Great Spring War."

Photograph 4: Tsuma: wife; Ko: son; Aruji: Master; Shashinki: camera.

The scene with the newspaper is a reference to a long-running occult manga series, "Kyoofu Shimbun" (Terror Times), created by Tsunoda Jiroo. Each time the main character reads an edition of Kyoofu Shimbun, it shortens his lifespan by 100 days. The expression on Ataru's face when Mendou picks up the paper is much the same expression as that on the face of Kyoofu Shimbun's main character when he reads that paper.

What Cherry and Kotatsu Neko are Tayaki (Tai: "red snapper"), a sort of pancake with anko (red bean paste) inside, baked in the shape of a red snapper.

The special effects and muzzle design of the phantom-exorcism raygun are those of Hadoo Hoo (the Wave-Motion Cannon) from Uchuu Senkan Yamato.

The goat ghost becoming gigantic and breathing fire to shoot down the Mendou fighter jets is straight out of any film by Tsuburaya Productions that you care to name.

In the credits, you may notice that Sakura gets credited twice. This is due to a misprint in the original titles on the part of Maki Productions, the title makers. Just goes to show that nobody's perfect.

Date with a Spirit:

"Jibakurei" is a term that has no easy English equivalent. It means "a spirit bound to a specific place," and unable to leave it, for whatever reason.

Sakura's comment about every one of her dates with Tsubame being plagued with interference is a reference to their luckless dating history.

Typically, just when they are about to get into a serious clinch, Lum, Ataru, Mendou, Shinobu, and just about everyone else comes by to watch. When Sakura and Tsubame notice, the mood is immediately shattered. For an example in a video recently released by AnimEigo, see Urusei Yatsura OVA #1.

The card Sakura wields in her first attempt to dispel Maiko is called an "Ofuda" in Japanese, and it is the string of Kanji written on it that give it its power: they translate as "banish evil spirit."

The Gyokuro Tea to which Cherry refers is the brand name of the highest grade of ocha (Japanese green tea). Gyokuroen is the name of the company which manufactures it. The scene is essentially a parody of product placement in movies and TV shows.

Mamoru saying, in the subtitles, that he doesn't "know Tsubame from chopped liver," was our best effort at finding an English equivalent for a Japanese idiom. The term Mamoru uses in the original, "Kimpiragobou," is Japanese for chopped burdock root cooked in soy and sesame oil. His meaning is that he doesn't know who Tsubame is, and couldn't care less.

Terror of Girly Eye Measles:

The "communicable disease" joke was an attempt to deal with another pun that has no convenient English equivalent. The original term, "Densenbyoo," literally means "contagious/communicable disease." But the word "Densen," which means "contagious/ communicable," can also mean "(Electrical) power line(s)," when written with different Kanji. Since it's often hard to tell a power line from a telephone line, we took a liberty with the dialogue and made it a "communications disease." Also, on one of the poles appears the kanji "bun," which, when displayed in such fashion, indicates to drivers that a school is nearby, and that they should drive with caution.

When Lum first expresses her full concerns about the spread of Girly Measles, saying what might happen if Cherry, Ryuunosuke's Father, Onsen-Mark or the Principal were to catch it, the sound that the four of them make in the original, "Uru-uru," is a Japanese onomatopoeia roughly equivalent to "limpid" in English, when used to refer to someone's eyes. It's a common device used to indicate the twinkly, limpid eyes of young girls in girls' manga, the sort of thing which this story is parodying most brutally.

Lum's line, "What kind of sickeningly-sweet cliches are you spouting?" is another attempt to deal with an idiomatic expression in Japanese. The original, "Nani ha ga uku uwagoto o itteru," literally comes out as "What sort of nonsense that makes your teeth float out of your gums are you saying?"

The statue with which Ataru saddles Lum in one of his attempts to escape her is a "Shiragataki-yaki Tanuki," a type of good-luck statuary originally made by the reknowned potters of Shiragataki.

Mah Jongg terms:

Pon: Picking up a tile just discarded, whether or not it is one's turn. You must be able to use tile at time of drawing.

Ron: Same as Pon, except when it is one's turn, and one picks up the tile just discarded by the person whose turn just ended. Again, you must be able to use the tile.

Lichi: said when one is only one tile away from completing a hand and winning. Saying it enables one to double one's score.

"Menchin ittsuu ii peh kou doradora banban!" is an extremely high hand, roughly equivalent to four-of-a-kind or a royal flush in poker. It's nearly impossible to achieve, and isn't the kind of thing one normally talks about, if one actually has it. Ryuunosuke's Father actually saying that he does is mere boasting, trying to scare the others off. The joke is that everyone knows that that combination is effectively impossible (the odds against are ridiculously high), but he's saying it just to be saying it, deliberately trying to get a laugh. Describing the exact combination would require a fairly detailed description of the rules of Mah Jongg, as well as graphic depictions of the markings on Mah Jongg tiles, both of which are, conveniently for us, beyond the scope of these notes.

Nagisa's Fiancz

Hama Teashop (Hamajaya) is used in Urusei Yatsura both as a proper name and as a descrip-tion of a type of shop. "Hama" is Japanese for "beach," which is generally where one finds such shops, but Ryuunosuke's Father isn't particularly discriminating about where he sets up. When Ryuunosuke starts attending Tomobiki High (in the TV series), her Father sets up shop there.

Another related pun is the name of the Hama Teashop which Shiowatari and Nagisa set up. "Uni ga suki" literally means "I love sea urchins," and is a pun on "Umi ga suki," or "I love the sea," a phrase Ryuunosuke's Father is rather fond of repeating.

Nagisa's name is also somewhat meaningful. A girl's name (the way Ryuunosuke is a boy's name), when used by itself it means "seashore."

Ryuunosuke's Father saying to Nagisa's Father that he is "as funny as ever" is itself funnier in the original Japanese. Ryuunosuke's Father refers to Nagisa's Father as "Ochamena," which is normally used to refer to little girls who are funny and charming without intending to be. Used to refer to a grown man, it may seem funny, but can take one aback if unprepared.

Sea urchins are typically used in sushi or sashimi. The mere thought of putting them in a sno-cone is disgusting. However, currently there are a lot of bizarre ice-cream flavors being made, like "ham sherbet" (yes, you read that right), so it may not be entirely inconceivable.

In the original Japanese, Nagisa's Father refers to his "daughter" as his "Kamban Musume," something which has no easy equivalent in English. "Kamban" means "sign (as in for a shop or restaurant)," and "musume" means "girl" or "daughter." Essentially, this is a girl who works in a shop (usually her parents') and who is herself an attraction for the shop, bringing in customers who want to see her because she's so pretty.

When Ryuunosuke says, "A...Are you gay?" the original Japanese entails a somewhat more complicated concept. "Okama" is slang for a man who dresses and acts like a woman, but who is not necessarily homosexual. However, the concept is not equivalent to the western "transvestite." "Okama" is also often used to insult a man's masculinity.

The Electric Household Guard

Mendou's Father's joke about what a guardian is, is funnier in the original Japanese. The puns involved are the following:

1: There's no pun in his first choice; it is there to set up the next two puns.

2: "Niwa no Banchoo:" "Banchoo" is a leader of a gang of high-school toughs. So "niwa no banchoo" is the leader of a gang of high-school toughs in the garden.

3: "Niwa no Bandai:" "Bandai" is the person at a public bath who collects money. So "niwa no bandai" is the person who collects money at the public garden baths.

Both of the above are nonsense, of course.

The scene with Mendou and his Father poking the ceiling and floor is a play on a long-standing ninja (and ninja movie) tradition. Ninja would often hide in the ceilings of houses, and people sitting in the regular rooms of those houses would throw sharp objects like shuriken or daggers into the ceiling. Blood would then slowly start to drip through the hole, as the ninja, silent to the last, met his end. Of course, in Urusei Yatsura, the ninja are never where you expect them to be, and never around when you want them to be, especially if you want them to be around so you can kill them.

Moral: if your Japanese host's ceiling is full of knife cuts, use any excuse to leave early.

Kuroko were originally stagehands in Kabuki and performers in Bunraku (Japanese puppet shows). Dressed all in black, they are officially "not there" to everyone else in the theatre.

Ryooko's mispronunciations of the word "oniwaban" (guardian) are amusing as well. She ends up saying "obanniwa" and "obaniwan," both of which mean nothing in Japanese.

Shingo's attempt to read Ryooko's letter fails because he cannot read kanji. What he says out loud is the hiragana in the message, which is all he can read. However, this is not nearly enough to enable him to make sense of the message. In the subtitles, we tried to connote this same sense by having him "say" only the small words or small, simple parts of larger words in the message's translation.

Ryoko's September Tea Party

Kuroko, Ryoko's ever-devoted servants, originated in Kabuki theater and Ningyoo Jooruuri, or Bunraku (traditional puppet shows). In Kabuki, they did all the actual stage and prop work, often right in the middle of an ongoing scene. In Jooruuri and Bunraku, they were the puppeteers. Their all-black garb, including their veils, signified to the audience that they were officially invisible.

The line with which Ryoko starts her letter, "In this time when the dead leaves dance...", or, "Sozoro ni kareha mau kono goro," in the original, is an example of "kisetsu no aisatsu," or "seasonal greetings," often used as the opening of traditional, proper, Japanese personal letters. When writing such a letter, the correct way to begin is with an old, flowery, poetic phrase regarding some facet of the season in which one is writing it. And Ryoko is nothing if not traditional, when it suits her to be so.

To explain Mizunokouji Asuka, a/k/a "Yoroi Musume" (Armor Girl), and her family in full would probably be beyond the scope of these notes. For now, suffice to say that the Mizunokouji family is the second richest in Japan (behind the Mendou clan, of course). Asuka's mother raised her apart from boys and men for some 16 years (when she first joins the series, she's never seen her father, and neither she nor her brother Tobimaro, Mendou Shutaro's eternal rival, know that the other exists), the result being that she flies into a panic at the sight of men, throwing heavy objects and leaping great distances to get away from them. To keep her from killing her brother, and her intended betrothed, Mendou Shutaro, her mother invents a special category of men called "Oniichan," or "Big Brothers," and all men in this category are non-threatening to Asuka. Unfortunately, all these good intentions only serve to further confuse Asuka about male-female relationships. If you are still confused (and we hope you are), then our advice is to just keep watching the TV series tapes for the next few years, and all will become clear -- or, at least, as clear as anything in Urusei Yatsura gets.

Oshiruko is hot anko (bean-paste) soup with mochi (rice cakes), and ammitsu is a mixture of kanten (seaweed made into gelatin) with fruits and anko mixed in.

Chibi saying to Megane, "Am I pretty?" is a reference to an urban legend which circulated among Japanese children in the mid-to-late 1970's, about a woman known as "kuchisake onna," which roughly translates as "the woman with a slashed mouth." Supposedly, this woman, who wore a veil over her face, would walk up to schoolchildren (up to and including high-schoolers) and say, "Atashi kirei?" (Am I pretty?) No matter what answer she got, she would keep asking it over and over again. Eventually she would take off her veil, revealing a mouth the corners of which were slashed back to her ears. She also supposedly carried a kama, or grain sickle, which might have been used as a weapon. No confirmation has ever surfaced as to this woman's existence.

The Kuroko calling out "Yo! Tamaya!" at the sight of the fireworks is a sign of appreciation for a good pyrotechnic show. Tamaya is the name of one of the two major Japanese fireworks manufacturers. The other one isn't slighted, as often, people call out "Yo! Kagiya! Tamaya!"

Ataru shouting at Ten, "It's common sense to visit with a gift, even just once, isn't it?!" refers to two related Japanese customs, Temiyage and Aisatsu. Basically, Aisatsu is visiting someone, especially someone who has done something for you. When you go on such a visit, you bring Temiyage, usually cake, cookies, or some kind of food, typically wrapped up in a nice box.

Ten saying, "That's Mother's personal express courier robot, you jerk!" is a reference to an Edo-Period institution called "Hikyaku." Hikyaku were high-speed (for the time) mail couriers, who would run for miles, delivering messages when they needed to be delivered (relatively) quickly. They carried their messages in boxes at the ends of heavy poles, just as the Hikyaku Robot does.

Ten's mother is revealed to be a woman firefighter in the subtitles. The original, "Hikeshi," was a term used specifically in the Edo Period, to describe someone who bears a staff of the type she is bearing. Such staves are signs, which the bearers carried up atop houses on fire to attract others to pour water on them, as well as to pull down the houses around those houses which they had been paid to protect, so that fire wouldn't spread to them. Firefighting techniques were extremely primitive in those days, and fires were an extremely common hazard, because most structures were made out of wood. Such rudimentary firebreaks were about the only effective way of keeping a fire from spreading once it started.

Ten and his mother both speak Japanese in the distinctive Osaka dialect.

Memorial Album: I'm the Shuu-chan

Mendou's back tattoo, in the cyborg war scene, is the logo of a famous candy in Japan, Morinaga Caramel. The pose that the figure in that logo strikes is the pose that Mendou strikes in that same scene. Also, note Mendou's flying fists, or, more accurately, "Rocket Punch," which is a nod to Nagai Goo's giant robot classic, "Majinger Z." The pose Mendou strikes when the fists return to him is also identical to that of Majinger Z's in the same circumstances.

In his "Testament," Megane mentions several Japanese foods: "Natto" is the infamous fermented soybeans, "Sudako" is pickled octopus, and strangest of all, "Sukiyaki no aburami" is the "Sukiyaki fat," chunks of pure fat separated by the butcher from cuts of meat and used primarily for greasing the pan in which the sukiyaki will be cooked. However, some people also like to eat the chunks themselves.

"Beef-bowl Mask's Bigfoot Beef-kick!" is a reference to the legendary Japanese pro-wrestler Giant Baba, at one time the tallest Japanese, at some 205cm, and possessing an equally impressive pair of feet. His unique special technique was called the "Juurokumon kick," or "16-mon kick" (one mon roughly equaling 2.64cm), after the reputed size of his feet, 16 mon, or some 42cm. What the technique consisted of was Giant Baba throwing his opponent into the ropes, and sticking out his big foot so that said opponent would smack into it when he came bouncing back. In the video, the word "Juurokumon" is changed to "Gyuurokumon," where "Juu" means "10" and "Gyuu" means "beef," (as in "Gyuudon," or "Beef-bowl") making a pun that is, as usual, almost impossible to translate.

"Beef-bowl Mask's Cobra Twist" is another wrestling in-joke. The "Cobra Twist" was the special technique of Antonio Inoki, a pro-wrestler equally as famous as Giant Baba. Inoki later went on to become a member of the House of Councillors, the Upper House in Japan's Diet, as a member of the "Sports Party," which he founded. Recently, however, he has become entan-gled in a corruption scandal (an occupational hazard of being a Japanese politician).

Technical Note:

This video was the first piece of Urusei Yatsura anime to be recorded in stereo. For the portions of the video which were re-edited from the TV series, the voice actors re-recorded the dialogue specifically to fit the stereo soundtrack. Also, the version of "Hoshizora Cycling" which was used here was the stereo version, not the mono version used in the original TV series.