Urusei Yatsura: The Folly of Romance

Here’s a post I originally intended for my column on Beneath the Tangles.  However, I forgot that the site is concentrating on Key visual novels for Holy Week.  But, the article came out decently well and it have a perfect screencap for April Fools’ Day, so I’m posting it here.  Next week, I’ll go back to writing about Ashita no Joe for the column Examining Old School Anime.  Hope that you enjoy it!

This April Fools’ Day, let’s take a break from Ashita no Joe and delve into Urusei Yatsura instead.  I wished to write about something more humorous than usual and figured that romantic love made for the perfect topic.  But, just how is romantic love a religious topic?  Why, moral theology concerns itself with romance, especially the sins of lust, more than any other topic!  Consider that two out of the ten commandments prohibit lust, one of the Six Precepts of the Roman Catholic Church bids us to follow Church laws on marriage, St. Paul singles out fornication as the sin to avoid most (1 Cor. 6:18), fornication was a prominent issue at the very first Church Council in the Acts of the Apostles, romance stands as the chief difference between the ordinary vocation (marriage) and the other three vocations (single, priestly, and religious), and Christ’s very relationship with the Church is described as a kind of romance with the Church as the bride of Christ.

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But, the Church deals with romance as a grave matter; however, that’s the least helpful way to deal with romance in one’s personal life.  Imagine proposing to someone by saying that they wish to marry them in order to build up the Body of Christ and cool the flames of lust.  How quickly would anyone run away from such a proposal!  St. Francis de Sales puts the matter much better: “If a man and woman love each other, they should marry.”  Love itself has been described in Plato as “divine madness.”  When one considers all the absurdities and misunderstandings concomitant with romantic love, the idea of divine madness applies to this form of love more perfectly than the others.  Traditionally, these misunderstandings are said to have been caused by the Fall.  Yet, since Adam and Eve did not realize the simple concept that they should talk over major decisions before making them, the relationship between the sexes could not have been too much better in the state of Original Justice.

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Urusei Yatsura highlights well the dysfunctional relationship between men and women.  Focusing on Ataru and Shinobu’s relationship, you’ll notice that the latter’s mind turns to every handsome man as easily as Ataru becomes distracted by beautiful women.  Even as both of them claim to want a relationship, they desire every beautiful person in the world besides!  Is it any wonder that religion has so many rules pertaining to romance when the desire is so unregulated?  Ataru appears even more ridiculous to the audience as he has Lum, a bikini wearing beauty, in the palm of his hand but desires hundreds of unattainable women over the girl he has.

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Ah!  People want what they want in the way they want and become vexed at the slightest restriction!  Such is human nature!  People from the beginning of time have wanted the pleasure of marriage without the duties of marriage; though, one imagines that this hubris has become inflamed since the sexual revolution, of which culture Urusei Yatsura derives.  Samuel Johnson says, “Marriage has many pains, but celibacy no pleasures.”  However, trying to reap the pleasures of marriage without its pains holds more pain than either of the above states; yet, people still persist at doing so!

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In any event, the man’s absurd desire for unrestricted pleasure creates most of the foolishness one sees in romance.  Perhaps the idea is better observed in action than explained?  For that reason, give Urusei Yatsura a shot, as Rumiko Takahashi has a keener eye for man’s foibles than myself!

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One comment on “Urusei Yatsura: The Folly of Romance

  1. […] Romance is discussed often in the bible, the absurdities of which are on full display in Urusei Yatsura. [2] […]

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