Let's put weird and weird together/and make it even weirder!/Weird, weird space is/su-u-pe-er-weird!
Darling no BAKA!An early work by Rumiko Takahashi, Urusei Yatsura is often considered the original Magical Girlfriend parody, enough that the bumbling well-meaning Magical Girlfriend has become an archetype in its own right. The show's poster girl, a cutesy alien named Lum who habitually wears a tiger-striped bikini, is easily one of the most recognizable anime characters in history.The show centers around Ataru Moroboshi, an Ordinary High School Student who happens to be both the unluckiest and most perverted man in the world, possibly the entire universe. He is chosen by lot to challenge a band of alien invaders in a game of tag to decide the fate of the Earth. His opponent: the lovely Princess Lum, daughter of the invaders' leader, Mister Invader. After several false starts, it takes a promise of marriage by his long-suffering girlfriend and childhood companion Shinobu to bolster him to victory. Unfortunately, after his triumphant declaration of "Now I can get married!", Lum thinks Ataru wants to marry her, falls instantly in love with him... and the rest is history. Lum moves in with her "Darling" Ataru, and before long, the district of Tomobiki has become a hotbed for intergalactic weirdness involving Lum's friends and relatives, with Ataru stuck in the middle.Unlike most Unlucky Everydudes who were only Accidental Perverts, Ataru actually was an unrepentant pervert, and generally found his loyal "fiancée" to be little more than a hindrance to his more lecherous pursuits, though even he wasn't below the occasional Pet the Dog moments.If Maison Ikkoku is the first Pretty Freeloaders-style comedy, UY is one of the earliest tongue-in-cheek harem comedies, combining its outlandish premise to spice up deceptively typical plots, as well as parody the genre nearly a decade before the fact. It even manages to invert the genre it helped create (instead of one low-key guy being chased by every girl in sight and in the end choosing one, it's about a perverted guy who chases every girl in sight... except for the one girl in the universe who can actually stand to be around him).The manga ran weekly from 1978 to 1987. It spawned an anime that aired 196 episodes between 1981 and 1986, as well as 6 theatrical movies (4 produced during the anime's run, one shortly after it ended, and a tenth-anniversary movie, the unusually offbeat Always My Darling), and a dozen OVA's on top of that. The anime is notable for being the first major project helmed by acclaimed director Mamoru Oshii; indeed, the second film in this franchise, Beautiful Dreamer, is considered by many fans to be one of his finest.
Urusei Yatsura provides examples of:
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Absolute Cleavage: A lot of Sakura's off duty outfits, also a feature of the outfit Oyuki wears under her winter Kimono.
Abusive Parents: Mr Fujinami and Ran's mother. Ataru's mother could also be seen as verbally abusive (Her "I wish I never had him" comments and the like).
Accidental Proposal: During a competition to determine the fate of the Earth, Ataru's girlfriend promises to marry him if he wins. After defeating his female alien competitor Lum, he says how glad he is that he can get married. Lum thinks he's talking about marrying her, falls in love with him and accepts his "proposal".
Adaptation Dye-Job: A very triumphant example: Lum originally had iridescent (constantly shifting, rainbow colored) hair. It was changed to the iconic green (which was originally just Ten's) in the anime, which was so popular that it was retconned back into the later manga pages. You can see this in the color manga covers likethese◊ for◊ example. It's also the source of the very odd highlighting in the monochrome versions.
Interestingly, this◊ anniversary image implies that (to Takahashi) Lum's hair is still meant to be rainbow-colored despite the influence of the adaptations. Compare it to Female Ranma, who's had red hair ever since the anime made it popular.
Aliens Speaking English: The chapter where Lum gets hit in the head and loses her memory of Japanese and can only speak the oni language is a Crowning Moment of Heartwarming when Ataru, allowing the tears to flow freely for the first time, embraces her and begs her to remember it.
Mostly averted in the early episodes (a lot of mileage was gotten from Rei's inability to communicate with Earthlings) but the problem just seems to be forgotten about later on.
All Just a Dream: In one episode, Kitsune watches a movie about a fox who uses magical nuts to turn the human woman he loves into a fox. Kitsune does the same to Shinobu (as well as Lum, Ataru, Cherry, and Kotatsu-Neko, by accident). In the end, however, he wakes up to finds himself in the open field where he saw the movie, revealing that the night he turned Shinobu into a fox was just a dream.
Played with very cleverly in the second movie.
All Love Is Unrequited: And if it isn't (the rare examples being Tsubame and Sakura and, eventually, Inaba and Shinobu), the rest of the craziness conspires to keep them apart. Arguably, Ataru and Lum also love each other, but analyzing that would require a separate page altogether. Even the author had to do it in the last volume of the latest version of the manga.
Many, many stories involve a love square with Lum, Ataru, and two other characters. The two other characters are often Shinobu and Mendou or Ran and Rei. You'll ''never'' take them seriously.
All Men Are Perverts: Ataru, in spades. In the 10th anniversary movie Always My Darling, Princess Lupika's computer pinpoints him as the most lecherous man in the universe.
Hell, every teenager in the series (and Ten) is a pervert except Inaba, Rei, Tobimaro, Nagisa and certain one-shot characters.
Animation Bump: There's a noticeable bump between season one and two, especially if you look at the chase scenes.
Arranged Marriage: Lum's great-grandfather promised his daughter to Rupa's great-grandfather in exchange for an antidote. Once the latter found out that there is no daughter, he vowed to wait until a girl was born in the oni royal family. As it turns out, his great-grandson is apparently the correct age to marry Lum, and had been brought up with the idea that he would marry her.
Also, Ryuunosuke and Nagisa, courtesy of their fathers.
As Long As It Sounds Chinese: The oni language, which Lum's mom speaks, is portrayed in the manga as mah-jong tiles and as gibberish in the anime, complete with weird subtitles that make no sense. The first chapter also features a French announcer saying stock phrases like, "Where is the pencil?" "It is on the table." The Chinese announcer, meanwhile, is listing items from a Chinese take-out menu.
The big example was the the Inaba the Dreammaker story where the characters started exploring the room of destiny where all their possible futures were created. They were not at all pleased with anything they saw, but the capper was when Ataru was able to check out the future he'd hand crafted where he had a harem, but on learning that Lum had left him and why, he beat up his future self and threw the future away.
Balloon Belly: Happens to multiple characters, but Ataru and Cherry are the most prone to it. Inverted by Sakura, who literally eats a restaurant out of business and doesn't gain an ounce.
More accurately Sakura doesn't gain an Inch. In the manga, after completing the "Full Course From Hell" (which near the end featured the cooks offering her whole roasted duck, pig, and cow, which Sakura ate without difficulty), Sakura was shown in the pool wearing a bikini and clearly with the exact same figure as before the gigantic meal. Then she decided to have a nap on the same inflated mattress she had been laying on in the opening splash page, and sank like a rock.
Battle Cry: Shinobu always evokes her super strength by getting worked up about boys. "MEN BE DAMNED!"
Be Careful What You Wish For: Ataru is constantly chasing every girl around... only to have the one that can keep up with him and zap the living crap out of him if he gets out of line decide to keep him. Whoops.
Also the second movie has a moment when Ataru is given the harem he's always dreamed of, and then rejects it because Lum isn't there.
Belligerent Sexual Tension: A strange case. Ataru and Lum fill the character types, but they don't really display this trope. Rumiko Takahashi intended for the Official Couple to be Ataru and Shinobu... until the editor and the general public made it known to her that they preferred Lum to Shinobu. While Takahashi herself has stated her great liking for Lum since, and has no ill-feelings towards the Lum & Ataru pairing, she created the Belligerent Sexual Tension in every manga since to prevent any fan/editor hijacking of her romantic interests (ironically, though, everyintendedcouplesince has been the favorite of fans and editors anyway, so one has to wonder if there's really a need at all for her to do this, and if she just didn't realize the storytelling gold she had with Ataru and Lum at the beginning).
Berserk Button: In the "Kotaru the haunted kotatsu" storyline, information from Mendou is required. He arrives, in full samurai garb, katana at the ready, 0.1 second after Ataru yells out, "MENDOU YOU SISSY!!!"
Big Little Man: In the first episode, after being knocked down by a ball, Ataru appears to have an enormous monk towering over him; it's only when he gets to his feet again that we realise the monk is half his size.
It's been noticed that Ran's attitude towards Lum softened as the series went on and Rei started spending more time with her. In regards to Lum, it may have been due to her realization that Lum has never actually meant to cause trouble for her.
Bishōnen: Rei, Lum's former fiance, draws squees from every female who sees him (his human form anyway). Mendou also qualifies, which is basically his most obvious difference from Ataru.
Blunder Correcting Impulse: In one anime episode, Ran has a bad cold, and Lum comes by to help out. Among other things, she tries to cook some food, only to have the first dish overspiced. Directed to follow a recipe from "365 Recipes for the Terminally Ill", Lum finds it way too bland and tries to "improve" it. Ran catches her, and sees that Lum is not very good at vegetable chopping either. Soon, Ran's taken the whole cooking chore over, working herself back into exhaustion.
Charles Atlas Superpower: Shinobu, after Lum arrives (in one movie, when Lum left the Earth, she lost her power). Also Asuka, though she inherited this from her mother and is able to run 100 meters in a few seconds while wearing 200 kgs worth of medieval armor.
Ataru might also qualify, given his ability to survive crushing, severe beatings and sundry other trauma, and of course Lum's electric shocks, as well as performing some epic gymnastic feats to avoid them.
Childhood Friend Romance: Ataru and Shinobu in the early chapters. She ceases to care roughly around the time Mendou shows up.
Childhood Marriage Promise: The plot of the first movie, Only You, where a six year old Ataru plays shadow tag with Elle, who he later learns comes from a planet where stepping on someone's shadow is considered a marriage proposal.
Comforting Comforter: In an episode, Lum is trying -trying- to taking care of a bedridden Ran. However her efforts get Ran's house and kitchen wrecked and Ran -who has grown increasingly angry- tells her cleaning her mess and leaving, and goes to bed. Lum, though, stays by Ran's bed and fall asleep on the chair. When Ran wakes up at midnight she notices Lum and covers her with a blanket.
Crazy-Prepared: Lum nearly always carries around some kid of weird alien device is useful to the situation at hand (and usually it makes the trouble one hundred times worse). It is also lampshaded: during one Christmas party in Mendo's manor, Ryoko -Shutaro's little sister- has planted several dozen of bombs around the place (in revenge for not getting invited to the party by her brother). Lum says she has an explosive detector, and Ataru asks if she always carries one around.
Blessed with Suck: ...Who can fly, is a Clingy Jealous Girl, and has a built-in taser that she uses repeatedly on him if he so much as looks at another girl. Shit, they can't even sleep in the same bed together without him getting electrocuted every few seconds (accidentally, for once).
The other girls seem to regard Ryuunosuke's...peculiar...upbringing this way.
Dartboard of Hate: Parodied, Kurama has one of Ataru. She throws a dart at it, however the image catches the dart in its teeth and eats it.
Also one of the Spice Girls tried highlight Ataru as a potential "Weak point" of Lum by throwing a dart at a board with pictures of Lum, Oyuki, Benten, plus Ataru on it. The dart of course missed forcing her to walk over to the dartboard and move it over.
Deal with the Devil: Ataru forms one entirely by accident with a repeated running pattern matching a demon's personal crest for 13 days and a V Sign, if you'll believe that.
Defeat by Modesty: Lum, in the first storyline. Ataru uses a suctioncup gun to pull her bra off. She was so desperate to get it back she flew close enough for Ataru to grab her horns.
Dirty Old Man: When he's not pining for his lost wife, and sometimes even when he does, Mr. Fujinami really creeps the girls out. Then again he tends to creep them out anyway, mainly because the guy is also batshit insane!
Disposable Fiancé: Rupa in the 5th movie, once Lum finally gives Ataru the ultimatum to say he loves her or she's staying on the World of Darkness. In a subversion, she obviously doesn't like him as anything more than a casual friend, and that's after he stops trying to force her into marriage. In a twist, Lum is actually his Disposable Fiance as well.
Disproportionate Retribution: While Lum did get Ran into trouble as a child (sometimes on purpose, most of the time accidentally, but never with the intent to harm her), Ran swore a vendetta against her childhood friend after she hooked up with the guy Ran liked... and then dumped him.
Double Standard: Really messed with in some of the Ryuunosuke/Nagisa bits: Culminating in the fight between Ryu (Girl raised as a boy, and looking really masculine) and Nagisa (Boy raised as a girl wearing a dress and looking feminine in it).
Drunk on Milk: Lum and Ten wreak havoc when they get extremely drunk on umeboshi (pickled plums, usually regarded as a hangover cure). It turns out that alcohol actually cures them of being drunk, though all this is somewhat justified by Bizarre Alien Biology.
Dude Magnet: The male population of Tomobiki High School would all give an arm and a leg to have a chance with Lum, not counting her various alien suitors.
Not to mention how the tradition of her people even started.
Dude, Where's My Respect?: Ataru may be a pervert, but the very first chapter of the manga and episode of the anime saw him saving the world from an Alien Invasion. Yet, he's treated as a pest and an idiot by everyone, got dumped by his girlfriend (that he should have married right after he twarted the alien invasion) for a rich guy who's about as perverted as him, the alien girl he defeated to twart the invasion is now in love with him and will electrocute him every time he look another girl, is persecuted by a jinxing monk who's so ugly his face makes people vomit and his mother is fond of saying she'd be better off if he was never born. Comes to think, in the manga he wasn't that perverted in the first chapters...
Ear Cleaning: Lum can occasionally be seen cleaning Ataru's ears, at home or even at school (episode 17, for example). This is intended to be one of the signs that Ataru does care for her, but is unwilling to commit to her.
Epunymous Title: Takahashi replaced "urusai", which means annoying or loud, with "urusei", writing it with the kanji for "star". That makes the title mean something like "Those Obnoxious Aliens" or "The Annoying Space Guys".
Failure Is the Only Option: Nearly every character is in love/obsessed with one of the other characters, and their actions are usually driven by this. But no one is ever, ever allowed to get together with the object of their affections, since that would kill their motivations. Hints may be dropped, and there may even be temporary romances, but no one ever "officially" gets together, and any attempts at doing so will result in a breakup by the end of a given episode.
Applies most heavily to Lum's eternal quest to get Ataru to admit he loves her. The very last story in the entire series ends with an angry mob threatening to beat Ataru senseless if he doesn't say it. Ataru chooses the beating.
Fangirl: Mendou has a formal organization of fangirls following his every move, ready to punish Ataru for any perceived infraction against him.
Fan Boy: Lum has much the same. The subtitles refer to them as Lum's Stormtroopers, a term that also caught on with the fandom.
Both groups are equally horrified when it seems that Lum and Mendou are going to get together; they actually turn to Ataru for help, because a) Lum is the one girl Mendou shows serious interest in throughout the whole story (in the Destiny Production Bureau Arc, one future shows him and Lum happily married, with Ataru as their retainer) and b) outwardly, Mendou is close to perfection in looks, intelligence, and money, making it harder to constantly point out how unsuitable he is for Lum. Again, this proved to be a misunderstanding.
Fingertip Drug Analysis: In a late chapter, Shutaro Mendo is trying to show his classmates why they should think that his pool -located next to the beach- is so impressive, and he shows them two cups filled with water (one of them picked from the pool). Ryuunosuke's father dips his forefinger in them, tastes each one and determines one cup is filled with Japan Sea water and the second is filled with Pacific Ocean water (hence, they are swimming in Japan Sea water as watching the Pacific Ocean, something that Shutaro thinks it is utterly and unspeakably awesome. His classmates disagree...)
Franchise Zombie: A rarity for a Takahashi series, which are usually far more likely to be Cut Short after catching up to the source material and devolving into filler. This show has the biggest episode count of any Takahashi series to date (196 episodes) and ended about the same time as the manga did. OVA's continued to be produced for years after the series ended, as were two more movies.
Gag Dub: The BBC made one in 1998 called Lum the Invader Girl. Only two episodes are known to exist.
Gag Sub: Anim Eigo's DVD subtitles would often do this with characters that speak the Oni language. From about Season 2 onward, Oni dialogue—complete gibberish in Japanese—was written in the Windows "Symbol" font (i.e. Greek letters, easily decipherable). Oni subtitles tended to say things like "If you can read this, you are a true otaku." (from Movie 1) and "That Star Wars reference was pretty cool." (from an episode that had a minute-long Star Wars-themedcrack sequence)
Genius Loci: What is implied to be the mass consciousness of Tomobiki, that is, the city itself rather than the people, manifests in the fourth film Lum the Forever after the cutting of a gigantic and ancient cherry tree seems to have woken it. Tomobiki's spirit than becomes entranced with Lum's presence as a foreign entity brimming with life and substance and starts trying to draw her into it, first by extracting the memories of those who care about her, then by extracting their dreams about her. On the latter regard, every time the dreams are drawn out they manifest as gigantic, frozen structures suddenly appearing among the city. When Lum finally is drawn into Tomobiki's consciousness, Mendou and the others launch a military-grade strike against Tomobiki's physical form in order to weaken it, the city decides to let Lum go, stating it has enough memories and dreams to live on and doesn't need Lum to spend eternity with it. This, however, is all up for debate as the fourth movie was even more of a Mind Screw than Beautiful Dreamer.
Gonk: Cherry, especially emphasized by his sudden entrances and close-ups. Sakura's mom, who looks like Cherry with hair. And, of course, Shinobu's highly persistent suitor, Soban from Busumetsu High, who raises this trope Up to Eleven.
And in just about every theme song: "Dancing, dancing star"; "You are watching me, I am watching you"; etc. Some of the theme songs are sung partially or entirely in English (i.e. "Rock the Planet").
Gravity Is a Harsh Mistress: In one manga chapter, Ataru rushed out of his home through the nearest exit. Instants later he noticed: that exit was not a door but a window; and he could not fly. After he has hit the ground, Lum floats down to him and states: "For one second I believed you had learnt to fly."
"Groundhog Day" Loop: The second movie, "Beautiful Dreamer," revolves around this trope. Note that it actually came out nine years before the movie Groundhog Day.
Hair Decorations: Early on, Ataru forces Cherry to give him a set of yellow ribbons that, if tied around Lum's horns, make her lose her powers.
In an early Manga episode, Lum decides to try visiting Ataru's class looking like a normal human girl. Part of her disguise was to use a liquid that softened her horns so they could be flattened to look like ornaments. This was also used in the Date episode.
Handsome Lech: Though rich, popular and good looking, Mendou is just as big a pervert as Ataru.
Hello, Nurse!: Sakura, even though she doesn't have the personality of one. Lum also qualifies, though with her being (probably) underage, older men aren't shown lusting after her... most of the time anyway.
He-Man Woman Hater: Tobimaro firmly believes that baseball is no place for women... though most of his issues with the gentler sex can be directly attributed to a childhood spent running from Ryoko Mendou.
Human Aliens: Averted with every alien aside from the important characters. Most aliens look nothing humanoid: see the omiai chapter/episode and take a good look at Lum's would-be suitors aside from Uni and the Prince of the Underground.
Human Outside, Alien Inside: One episode features Lum and Ten eating pickles and realizing too late that the brine has an effect on them that alcohol does not. (Arguably a Not Himself episode, as we never see them completely drunk at any other time in the series)
Interspecies Romance: Kitsune develops a very innocent crush on Shinobu after she saves him from a pack of dogs. Also Lum and Ataru, obviously.
Involuntary Shapeshifting: Uber-bishonen Rei turns into an ushitora (a very large, goofy and stupid-looking cross between a tiger and a bull) whenever excited. And that means whenever lots of food is in front of him. Or, early on, whenever his ex-fiancee, Lum, spurns him. The only girl it doesn't bother at all is Ran... and even the girls who see both of his forms still aren't entirely against the prospect of romancing him.
Jerkass: Pretty much everyone in the series at some point.
Journey to the West: Reenacted by the whole cast as a play. It's a very, very, very loose adaptation.
Jump the Shark / Re Tool: Parodied through an In-Universe example. The episode where Lum enrolls in Ataru's school introduces a hoarde of stock high-school comedy characters in the first act, pushing Lum and Ataru to the sidelines. A new teacher is assigned to Ataru's class, and corners him during break to inquire about those odd things sticking out of Lum's head...cut to Ataru's class, with all the students howling in disbelief at the new teacher's ignorance of their world-famous classmate. (Their repeated attempts to clue him in prove utterly fruitless—turns out he's the one person on Earth with a functioning Weirdness Censor.) None of the new students ever show up again in later episodes.
Kansai Regional Accent: Lum refers to herself as uchi instead of the standard atashi, a feature of Kansai-ben.
Jariten also occasionally displays features of Kansai-ben.
Karma Houdini: Ryoko Mendou tortures everyone (especially her brother Shutaro and Tobimaro), and she is NEVER punished.
"I am such a pitiful victim of my joy in others' suffering!"
Kavorka Man: Mr. Fujinami apparently. He has photos of dozens of women with baby Ryuunosuke and doesn't even remember which one of them is his real wife, Masako. It then turns out that he never actually seduced them; he hired them to pose for the pictures because he wanted to "help" Ryuunosuke somehow.
Kawaiiko: Ran, whenever her psycho-bitch state isn't taking over. When Lum mentions that she should just be herself, Ran explains that getting back to her Kawaiiko mode is difficult.
Kid-anova: Ten charms lots of girls with his cuteness. Also, one of his dreams is marrying Sakura.
Kid Samurai: Mendou, who keeps a katana in his locker and Tobimaro, who leads a hermit lifestyle in the mountains and always wears a ragged samurai robe.
Lack of Empathy: Mr Fujinami, Oyuki, and Ryoko. Heck, everyone had this at some point.
Ladykiller in Love: Possibly subverted, since Mendou might want to marry Lum due to the prestige of having an alien princess as a wife: however, he does seem to have at least some genuine feelings for her. Subverted again in the fact that his relationships with both Lum and Asuka can be interpreted this way. The straight example is Rei; Lum is the only girl in the series who doesn't require food to get him chasing after her. If you don't see the magnitude of that achievement, you seriously need to rewatch the stories featuring him.
Late to the Punchline: So many Anime pros grew up with the show that comic Shoutouts can be found in hundreds of shows. You may not recognize some of them until you see the episode they took it from. (e.g. The lipstick commercial, Ryoko's "operation")
Leaning on the Fourth Wall: In one episode, Ataru is seen reading an animanga version of Beautiful Dreamer. In another, they pass by a movie theater with a poster for Remember My Love. Lum even glances at it briefly.
In the library episode in season 2, a Freeze-Frame Bonus reveals that one of the students is reading Urusei Yatsura, with the title written in romaji. More freeze framing shows Urusei Yatsura and Maison Ikkoku on the shelves (with normal, non-romaji titles).
There are only three instances where she's seen with her hair down: twice are shower scenes, the third is when she uses the chain that holds her hair in place to disarm Ran (she puts it back up seconds later).
Four, there's the episode where the Spice Gals steal her chain.
Literal Split Personality: The lecherous aspect of Ataru's personality gets split off in one chapter/episode... but the remaining non-lecherous portion of his personality is so weak that it can't even wake up.
Morphic Resonance: Kitsune transforms into the other characters by essentially becoming slightly more human-like, losing the tail and putting on the same outfit and hairstyle as the person he wants to turn into. It never fools anyone, but everyone plays along since he's so cute.
The Movie: Six of them (the most of any Takahashi series to date).
Lampshaded a bit in the episode where Lum wound up getting drunk on pickled plums. Her first response was to start taking off her school uniform, then the camera cut away to the guy's staring and drooling over the view they were getting, and only cut back to Lum when Shinobu reminded everyone that Lum was just wearing her usual tiger striped bikini.
Well most of the alien girls like outfits that are very swimsuit like: Ran occasionally dons a pink bikini outfit, Oyuki has a crystal surfaced one with Absolute Cleavage (though she usually wears a kimono), and Kurama a black one piece front laced corset type outfit.
One musical cue for the series resembles the chorus of The Beatles' "Your Mother Should Know" quite closely.
Another musical cue used in mood-establishing shots beginning around halfway through the series is pretty much a slow piano rendition of The Beatles' "Fool On The Hill".
Actually, Urusei Yatsura as an anime started airing in 1981 and Kinnikuman in 1983, so the issue about which pieces as stated in the example are original and which ones are remixes may be debatable. I guess YMMV on that.
My Sensors Indicate You Want to Tap That: Kuruma's 'spiritual make up' machine was supposed to reveal what made Ataru's personality so rotten but it inadverently ended up doing this. Out of all the women he obviously lusts after the machine says that he loves Lum the most. Then it said he loved Shinobu the most. Then it blew up. Apparently, who Ataru wanted to tap the most created a Logic Bomb.
Ninja: In addition to the Kyoto story arc featuring a run in with an actual Ninja clan, during Mendo's introduction, Ataru not only used a Ninja style bare handed sword catch, but he also pulled the Ninja Log trick.
Not So Different: Part of the humor is that no matter how frequently Ten and Shutaro call out Ataru on his lechery, they're invariably shown to be just as bad, if not worse, than him. Lum, meanwhile, is similar to both Shinobu and Ataru.
Elle in Only You, the first movie, is a more succesful female Ataru.
Not-So-Harmless Villain: The Big Bad of the second film, Mujaki. Once revealed about three-quarters of the way through the movie, he comes across as an Ineffectual Sympathetic Villain who is only trying to do good (his character design reflects this, as he's drawn as a shrunken old man). However, he tricks Sakura and Mendou through this act (trapping them in an aquarium), though he ends up cornered by Ataru of all people. He proceeds to put Ataru through a series of increasingly cruel Mind Rape scenarios, culminating in a threat that he will never allow him to leave the dream world. He's only defeated when he decides that keeping up with Lum and Ataru is too much trouble, and leaves of his own accord.
Oh Crap: Several. One of the most memorable being Megane when he sees Oyuki's yeti friend in episode 8.
Off Model: Too many instances to name. Not surprising considering it was a traditionally-animated TV series from the early 1980's (i.e. no time & no budget). Especially notable during production of the movies (which have no excusenote except that the first 4 films were being produced by the same crew as was doing the TV series, AT THE SAME TIME as the TV series).
Our Vampires Are Different: Well, they have the same drink-blood mentality, powers, and weaknesses, but they are far more pathetic than most people are used to...
Ran and Dracula each peg the other as an ideal unsuspecting victim; when they both choose the same moment to strike, it gets...awkward.
Parental Abandonment: Ataru's parents wish they could invoke this trope, but really the best example would have to be Jariten, whose mother briefly shows up in just one early episode and then is never seen again.
Prophetic Names: Metaphorical; Ataru's full name translates to "struck by a falling star" (which happens to him in several of the openings). One of the readings for Mendou is "trouble". Shinobu means "to endure". And Lum, well... Agnes Lum, after whom she is named, was a bikini model...
Public Execution: Averted in episode one, as it is reported on the TV news that a lynch mob is coming for Ataru and his family after his early attempts to beat Lum at tag and save the earth end in failure.
Puny Earthlings: Lum, a teenage female Oni, easily beats Mendou's private army twice, unarmed. Jariten, a toddler, can fight a large gang of human high-school punks to a draw. Earth's armed forces are completely routed by an irate mob of alien taxi drivers, who proceed to confiscate all of Earth's fossil fuels, which, on the Galactic market, are altogether worth just enough to cover one single unpaid cab fare.
Reality Ensues: In a manga chapter the Tomoboki teachers are confiscating all stuff their students are forbidden of bringing to school. Ataru and their schoolmates threaten with a revolt, when their teachers flatly state whoever lifts one finger against them will get expelled. Instantly they reluctantly back off.
Say My Name: All together now! "DAAAAAAAAARLIIIIING!!!" "AAAAAAATARUUUUUU!!!" "MOROBOSHIIIIIIIIII!!!" "LUM-SAAAAAAAAAAAN!!!" "MASAKOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!" "I DON'T KNOW WHAT WE'RE YELLING ABOUT! LOUD NOISES!!!"
In an early story, Ataru was worried because Lum had apparently disappeared. Since Shutaro seemed smug on seeing him alone, Ataru began daydreaming with Shutaro blackmailing Lum in leaving Ataru for him, in exchange for landing Ataru in a fist-rate college. Then Ataru yelled "And with that garbage you talked Lum into it, didn't you? Give back her now!" loudly to an angry and puzzled Shutaro genuinely had no idea of what Ataru was talking about.
In another story, Tomobiki's principal got knocked out while several students were cleaning his office. Onsen Mark suspected of them and started to imagine possible motives to each one of them. Lum's alleged motive was the principal had threatened with getting Ataru expelled out of school, unless she slept with him. Everyone -including Lum- said that story was stupid and ridiculous.
Scenery Gorn: The fourth movie, in spades. It starts with a lovingly-detailed junkyard full of rats, then there are all the natural disasters that follow the death of the cherry tree, an underwater skeletonized corpse, and the pointless civil war that's devastating Tomobiki at the end. Oh, and the film the characters are making starts like a slasher movie complete with creepy masks.
Screw Destiny: In what is possibly the greatest example of this trope ever, the characters physically destroyed the doors of fate and wrecked the place that creates them, thus unfixing the future.
Doubles as Author's Saving Throw: early in the manga a time travel chapter had shown that Ataru was destined to marry Shinobu, but by that point in the manga the main pairing had become Ataru/Lum and Shinobu had given up on him.
Screwy Squirrel: Ryoko Mendo enjoys pulling pranks, causing mayhem and setting people up against each other for motives boil down to "it is funny" or "only because". And she does it the whole time. Antics she deems amusing, nay, hilarious, include: shoving in the water someones does not know swimming, removing the ladder someone had used to go up a tree, putting firecrackers in the mouth of someone is sleeping, burying someone in a block of concrete, locking her claustrophobic brother into a locker, planting bombs in a building where people is throwing a Christmas party she was not invited to, goading people into climbing a giant tree and then launching it towards the atmosphere (in reality it was a rocket disguised like a tree) because they were not climbing it quick enough to her liking and above all it looked like they were getting fun without her...
In the first film, when Lum arrives at the church to stop Ataru and Elle getting married, her pounding on the glass and yelling out "Darling!" numerous times is very much like the climatic scene from The Graduate.
This gets repeated in an episode from the last TV season, this time with Mendou pounding on the glass to stop Lum and Ataru from getting married. The whole thing is a dream sequence, specifically Lum's.
Godzilla often appears in small cameos in the movies, probably because Toho was among the societies producing them.
Show Within a Show: The fourth film "Lum the Forever" features the film the students of Tomobiki are making on school grounds. It seems to be a mythology-inspired fantasy film... that starts like a slasher movie.
Stable Time Loop: When the gang tries to go back in time to cure Mendou's claustrophobia and nyctophobia, the bratty younger Mendou enrages his future self so much that he chases him into a dark room filled with large vases with a katana in hand and a rather maniacal expression in his eyes. Present-time Mendou begins smashing the vases while snarling out various threats at his child self. By the time the others get him out of there and The Men in Black find the child, little Mendou is practically hysterical in his vase.
Stalker with a Crush: Played for laughs with Rei, who, despite apparently loving only food (and whatever else can be considered food) still has feelings for Lum, much to Ran's chagrin and rage. How Lum managed to get him to fall in love with her remains a mystery. With a few exceptions, the girls Ataru pursues consider him this.
Also, played straight with Soban, the highly Gonk boss of Busumetsu High, who does little beyond charge at Shinobu yelling: "Shinobu-saaaan! I LOVE YOUUUU!!!!" Fortunately, Shinobu is stronger than him.
Star-Crossed Lovers: Parodied with Tsubame and Sakura, who never get the chance to kiss because of the constant presence of Date Peepers from Tomobiki High.
Status Quo Is God: Many stories end with the town in total chaos, or with Ataru having caused some sort of seemingly irrevocible disaster. But things are always back to normal in the next story, usually without explanation. The only meaningful change in the status-quo was Shinobu breaking up with Ataru, and that change happened in the beginning and it was forced on Takahashi by her editors.
This was lampshaded in a story arc where several characters have the chance to make a future tailored to her needs. Shinobu is unsure of what asking, and thus she decides nothing changes. Shortly after she got to see that future and she realized it was a dumb idea.
Even the final chapter adhered to this trope, with Ataru refusing to confess his feelings to Lum, even at the very end of the series.
Through His Stomach: Ran is extremely happy when Rei snarfs down her lunch with a little more dignity than those of the other girls, even saying her name reverently and responding with an enthusiastic yes when she asks if the food is good. Then Cherry shows up with a bigger bento... and Rei's reaction is exactly the same.
Throw the Dog a Bone: Ataru is unlucky but he wins the presidency of his class against Mendo and once he is kissed by Rin (the kiss is supposed to be bad for him, but it doesn't work).
Too Long; Didn't Dub: The series is packed to the gills with wordplay and cultural references that are dealt with differently by the various translations from different companies. Most either ignore them or resort to Woolseyisms, but AnimEigo's releases of the TV series and movies supplement their translations with comprehensive note sheets inside the video/DVD case (and later on, on-disc translator's notes), explaining in detail the gags and references for the viewer to read at their leisure.
AnimEigo also played this a bit more literally. For their original VHS/LD release in the 90's, they commissioned a dub for the first few episodes as a test. Unlike the BBC's later Gag Dub, this one hewed very close to the Japanese. Unfortunately, sales were not enough to justify dubbing 195 episodes worth of material, so AE dropped the dub.
Two-Teacher School: The only regular teacher we regularly see is Onsen-Mark. Beyond him, the only school staff we see are the headmaster and Sakura.
Ugly Guy, Hot Wife: Lum's parents, although in one flashback it was shown that before they were married, Mister Invader wasn't bad-looking. Ataru's mom seems to think this about her marriage, with her melodramatic soliloquy about her wasting her life on "an idiot son and a good-for-nothing husband" when Rei came along...
Unfazed Everyman: Ataru, though this might be a bit of a subversion, considering his superior running-away skills and indestructibility.
Mr. Hanawa is an inversion—he's the only person in the world with a functioning Weirdness Censor.
Unlucky Everydude: Ataru, taking it to epic proportions; he was actually born in the middle of an earthquake on a date that is considered extremely unlucky in both Western (Friday, April 13th) and Japanese (Butsumetsu) calendars.
Unwanted Harem: Inverted, Ataru wants a harem to the horror of all the rest of the females
Played straight with Lum's other suitors, but subverted with her reaction to them. She treats most of them (particularly those from Tomobiki) as her friends. A good example of that is how she calls Mendou by his first name without any honorific, which is pretty intimate for Japan. But then again, she's not Japanese.
Verbal Tic: Lum ends most of her sentences with "dat'cha!". Cherry ends most of his with "-ja", which is pretty stereotypical of old men in Japan.
Don't forget the Dappya Monsters!
Vitriolic Best Buds: Brought Up to Eleven by Ataru and Mendou, who have a very destructive relationship despite being the closest thing to best guy friends the other has.
Waif-Fu: Shinobu, of course. Especially when Soban is concerned.
Also, one story revolves around Lum trying to convince a younger girl that courage is all one needs to defeat her enemies. Said girl then asks Lum to defeat Soban ("Shinobu-saaan! I love yooouuu!") without using her powers. She even sends the challenge letter herself. Fortunately, Shinobu turns up before Lum loses all her super-strength pills.
Why Couldn't You Be Different?: Ataru and Ryuunosuke, though in the latter case her father chooses to completely ignore the fact she's a girl instead of openly evoking this trope.
Well, during the episode where the Tengu's wanted to blast Ryu with a sex change ray and the episode when the bluebird was granting wishes, he stopped pretending Ryuunosuke was a boy in favor of agressively making it real.
In the anime, well really Movie 4, Ataru really doesn't want to hit anybody. In the manga, he somehow managed to KO himself from preventing himself from hitting Lum.
World of Pun: The show is filled to the brim with puns—its name, for example, can be read half a dozen ways depending on Kanji, Kana, and the use of spaces, each one of them a pun or joke. There's also a lot of Punny Names.
Written-In Absence: Lum does not appear in the second manga story, because she was originally supposed to be a one-shot in the first story and that Ataru and Shinobu were originally the Official Couple but because she became so popular, Takahashi decided to bring her back.
Yaoi Fangirl: Mendou's fangirls were cheering a bit too much at the Ho Yay entry situation.
You All Look Familiar: The series as a whole loves to introduce several characters that are only the focus of one episode, but those characters often make token cameos in large crowd scenes in later episodes. This even includes characters from the first three movies appearing in TV episodes.
Several characters from popular series at the time are also snuck in from time-to-time: Kenshiro, Kei and Yuri, Ultraman's lobster rival, and Kyoko — and that's just in one episode!
The 2008 OVA continues the tradition as, at the end, Ataru is hitting on Kagome and Akane.
You Know What You Did: Subversion: since Rei talks very little aside from exclaiming "Lum!" whenever he sees her, Ran is very quick to assume that whatever situation involves the two is an attempt by Lum to get back together with Rei, much to Lum's horror.
Youkai: Many of the aliens in the series take inspiration from various youkai, with Lum most notably being based on the oni.