By Nick Benefield / July 26th, 2019
Let’s get down to brass tacks now and talk about some of the differences between the manga and the anime. By and large, the majority of the content during the first half of the anime’s first season is copied verbatim from the manga. With the exception of one missing character (who I will address shortly), the differences that I found were very small. In fact, until chapter 11 of the first volume, all of the stories told in the manga are the same as those told in the anime. There were some times when certain characters’ roles were switched around a bit and some of the jokes were handled a bit differently, but for the most part the content was directly mirrored between both mediums. I actually appreciated this as it made me respect the anime series even more and I enjoyed noting all of the minute differences.
Perhaps the biggest difference between the first few manga volumes and the animated series is the absence of Jariten, Lum’s mischievous infant cousin. In the anime, Ten makes his debut right away at the start of episode 2. From that point forward, he acts as one of the primary characters alongside Ataru and Lum. In the manga though, Ten doesn’t show up until much later. In fact, he’s not present at all in these first two volumes (originally volumes 1-4). Since the first two volumes make up a massive chunk of season one of the anime, the stories told during those chapters differ a bit in that Ten isn’t there to make remarks or involve himself. The bulk of the content in these chapters are largely the same, but I do feel like choosing to include Ten earlier on in the anime was a pretty solid decision. The constant banter between him and Ataru was something that I found myself missing as I read through these chapters.
Another thing that dawned on me while reading was the fact that Lum refers to Ataru differently in the manga than she does in the series. Don’t get me wrong, she still refers to him as “Darling” more than 80 percent of the time, but she also refers to him by his first name from time to time. This stuck out to me because she rarely, if ever, refers to him like this throughout the anime. I can think of maybe one occasion where she did, but she’s definitely way more liberal with her usage of his name in the manga. I’m not sure which I prefer, but I do think that it makes her relationship with Ataru seem more genuine. It’s not something that I see most people obsessing over, but it was a neat difference that I took note of nonetheless.
There’s really only one thing that can be noted about the artwork here; it maintains that same level of quality that all of Rumiko Takahashi’s works are known for. This being her first serialized manga, she did an incredible job and you can definitely draw a number of parallels with many of her other well-known works. If I had to put my finger on it, I’d say that what really sells her designs for me are the facial expressions of her characters. She’s always done an excellent job of conveying both serious and seriously goofy emotions.
While the content of the manga itself is important, it’s also worthwhile to discuss the overall quality of Viz’s new releases. There were several unfortunate issues that I noted while reading through the digital copies and all of them are related directly to these particular releases from Viz. The first strange item that I noted was the presence of excessive blank pages before and after each sub-volume. As I mentioned earlier, these releases are actually comprised of several smaller volumes. With that in mind, there are extra pages thrown in to separate them accordingly. While I think that the separation is important, I would’ve been fine with just the title pages indicating this. Instead, there are four blank, white pages before and after each volume’s beginning and conclusion. This was a minor annoyance though and was by no means a deal breaker.
What did end up being a deal breaker was an incident which occurred in volume 2 where I found that pages 208 and 209 were left out of the digital copy entirely. While these pages weren’t crucial to understanding the content on page 210, this is a glaring flaw that Viz needs to address right away. This is not merely a misnumbering of pages as my print copies of these volumes do indeed include the missing pages. If Viz wants to continue pushing more of its digital sales, then mistakes like this can’t make it through into production.
My last gripe with these volumes of Urusei Yatsura has to do with the translation. While I understand that there’s no such thing as a perfect translation, some of the choices peppered throughout this one seemed a bit strange and off-putting to me. Namely, I wasn’t too thrilled with the amount of American slang thrown in. I realize that this is a comedic series and half of the jokes are play-on-word puns, but making things feel more “Americanized” seems really unnatural to me and I wasn’t a big fan.
There are also times where I felt that certain words or phrases shouldn’t have been translated. For example, Lum is a member of the Oni race and her home planet is called Oniboshi. For that reason alone, choosing to literally translate “oni” to “ogre” seems really out of place here. I would’ve much preferred a simple note in the margins denoting this instead of ignoring it outright. They do something similar when referring to Princess Kurama’s race as “crow goblins” instead of the Karasutengu. I hate to sound like a purist here, but when there’s space in the margins, I’d prefer to see the translators use it. I’m all for keeping the reader informed, but when you gloss over details like this it seems a bit counterintuitive. Admittedly, things could’ve been worse though. The original 1990s translation substituted “demon” in place of “oni” and “crow men” in place of “karasutengu”, so perhaps I should just count my blessings and move on…
Despite my issues with the translation and the missing pages in the second volume, I still appreciated my read of Urusei Yatsura Volumes 1 & 2. This is one of those series where it’s hard to sour the experience. Much like the anime, I really appreciate the fact that each chapter stands entirely on its own and can be read (for the most part) in any order. I also appreciate the heavy-handed usage of puns, visual gags, and parodies of other works. Viz has never finished serializing all of the manga, but I’m hopeful that this time around will be different. With the manga having celebrated its 40th anniversary last year and the anime’s 40th coming up in just a few years here, I feel that there’s no better time than the present for Viz to reintroduce this series to its western audience.
Both volumes are normally listed for $19.99 USD, though they are currently running for $14.99 on RightStuf. If you’d like to pick up a physical copy of Urusei Yatsura Volume 1 or Volume 2 for yourself, have a look at our RightStuf affiliate links. Alternatively, give the digital editions a look by visiting Viz Media’s official website. Finally, please give the anime series some love too. Finding a legal way to watch it may prove difficult for the time being, but if can you find a way I would highly recommend doing so.
Digital review copies were provided by the publisher. Physical review copies were provided by the reviewer.
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Pages: 1 2manga reviewRumiko TakahashiURUSEI YATSURAViz Media