Lum (Urusei Yatsura)

Review covers every volume that is available in English

Rumiko Takahash is a famous name in Manga, both in the Western world and in Japan - mostly for the Ranma ½ and InuYasha Manga series. Not everyone in the West knows about some of her older works, however. One of those is Urusei Yatsura - known as Lum in the West, after one of the main characters.

The Manga stars Ataru, who is forever skirt chasing, and suffers from terminal bad luck. Through a random, slightly convoluted means which take up the first few chapters, he winds up engaged and living with the beautiful, bikini wearing alien princess, Lum. The twist which makes this Magna differ from bog-standard harem material is that, rather than embrace Lum, Ataru spends most of the Manga trying to ditch her.

Simmilar to the Ranma series, Lum is almost Episodic in nature. However unresolved plot elements often carry over from one story to the next, and each volume tends to have an overall theme of what they are about.

Stories focus on the relationships between the cast, and playing for laughs - unlike Ranma you won't find any action sequences here. This does quite well for the humour level in Lum, in that it's pretty much all silly situations, humour and slap-stick.

Like Ranma, most of the plot comes from introducing new characters. This is a clever way of keeping the series Episodic as it's either made obvious, or recapped, who everyone is.

Also, Takahash seems to have a knack of making all of her characters interesting. Oddballs the lot of them, but we are reading for entertainment here.

The Episodic nature of the series does take a few casualties. Given the importance romance plays in the series, and all of the complex love polygons, you would expect the character's feelings to change for one another, butTakahash never allows this - they are always reset at the end of each plot-line.

Also be aware the that the level of fan service is very high here - Lum and a few other female members of cast usually wander around in skimpy bikinis, which even come off at a couple of points - so I've rated this appropriately.

But the biggest down side of this series is that - for the Western World at least - it isn't complete. Viz got part of the way through, but then stopped translating it! As a downside this is a bit of a big one, as it means we get less comics!

If you are not bothered by the fan service, and can get over the fact that (unless you speak Japanese) you won't be able to read the entire series, I would heavily recommend picking up Lum. You'll be laughing out loud - or at least smiling with mirth - through every book.