This one is the 400 page Perfect Collection released by Viz. Sadly it’s the only volume I own of this series. I never bothered tracking down the Return of Lum stuff when I found out about the missing chapters and, you know, the fact they stopped about a third of the way through the series.
This is the largest volume on my shelves at home, so when I was looking for something to read that wasn’t Oh My Goddess, this one just kinda stood out. Unfortunately this was among the Viz books of mine with bad binding, so I kind of have to hold it together so the pages don’t fall all over… but it’s worth it.
I really, really like this series. Part of me does want to track down the English volumes I don’t have, but part of me knows that what I have is a sufficient enough taste unless Viz plans on rereleasing UY in its entirety. There are no plots or anything in this volume, each chapter is just a one-shot. Admittedly, 400 pages of Urusei Yatsura in one go is a bit much, but I still really like it a lot. Each of the one-shots is really bizarre in its own way, from Cherry and Sakura’s warring auras, yellow ribbons that seal Oni powers, time-travel finding Moroboshi with an ugly wife, Disco Wars that summon Western Monsters, runs through the park with Rei, and just a ton of weird stuff in every chapter. The only parts that wear on me are the inevitable fights between Shinobu and Lum, Shinobu always being mad at Ataru, and Lum constantly reaffirming their relationship.
Granted, there are some things that appear in every chapter that I love. Ataru’s girl-chasing, his slight fear of Lum, and the neighbors constantly blaming him for everything are all really funny each and every time. The other repeated elements just get on my nerves for some reason. They’re all necessary though, and they’d all probably be fine with the more developed plots that I believe surface later in the series (not developed in the traditional sense, but storylines that span 2-3 chapters… I’m not positive they appear, but I think they do).
My favorite chapter is sadly one that does not even mention or contain Lum, the second chapter in the series where a devil pops out of a mirror and terrorizes Ataru and his mom with Cherry. I still really like that little devil. Other highlights include the appearance of Kurama and Benten, the two chapters with Rei, and the one where they time-travel. No matter how many times I read the volume, those ones will always strike me as quite funny.
The translation is kinda weird here, and granted this was translated some time ago. There are plenty of Japanese jokes and puns, and instead of footnoting them or translating them with no joke in English, they all get BAD jokes. I absolutely adore that, because you know they’re bad jokes just for the English edition, and I know that the Japanese jokes were no better. When a devil is pointing at its teeth with a sad face, you can tell whatever joke you want and it still wouldn’t make much sense.
But yes. I adore Lum and Ataru both. I really, really wish that since Ranma 1/2 is finished, Viz would just start over with this one and release it in its entirety. I’ve seen parts of the anime and read this plus other parts of the manga, and I like it a lot. A LOT. It differs from Ranma 1/2 in that Ranma had to make sense, and this one doesn’t. It makes things up as it goes along, and as long as Lum and Ataru are themselves, everything else works beautifully, particularly since there are a number of straight characters as well. It’s still funny, after all these years. Man, I wish I could have more in English.