Okay, sort of "cheats" to do a Blu-ray, but it's a lockdown Sunday, and I wasn't sure whether I'd "officially" done this one already*, just to sound out other secret closet fans, or spark a few more Amazon Prime streamings...But, since I've been working down my new-unwatched-Blu-ray pile with the library closed, it counts as "Just watched":
Urusei Yatsura: Beautiful Dreamer (1984) - 👍
I'm assuming some have already well heard of this one, and the rest...haven't, so thought it might spark discussion: If there was ever a "JFI 100" of great Japanese anime films on the level of live-action Kurosawa classics, this is literally considered to be in the top 5, if not actually #2 or 3. Unlike most folks' attempt to jump into "the kids' new Anime thing", only to land feet-first in either some dreary, impenetrably surrealist arthouse-import like Akira or Paprika, or get stuck in the cute Studio Ghibli canon and never find their way out again, this one's absolutely approachable (and yes, funny) for those neophytes new to the genre, and a lot more fun to sit through--But still with a touch of classic-status style that will allow first-timers to hold their own in a snooty discussion with uber-fans hammering them to watch "Grave of the Fireflies" or "Neon Genesis Evangelion" for their own "good".
It's usually not recommended for first-timers because it's the feature spinoff of a long-running, and very eccentric wacky sitcom, and requires knowing the pilot-episode setup (which is necessary for understanding a key moment of the climax), and being able to recognize some of the oddball supporting-characters' running gags (although first-timers should get the idea fairly quickly). The TV backstory, for those who tuned in late: Ataru, the high school's resident wisecracking, girl-chasing troublemaker-irritant, is picked as an "average Earthling" by aliens to defend the Earth in a race against the space commander's cute, and very Barbara Eden-like daughter Lum. Long story short, he wins by cheating, only to discover the "prize" involves an alliance marriage, and, in the true spirit of Maj. Nelson and Jeannie, she's all for the idea--While our hero tries to flee, she moves into his house, tells everyone they're "engaged", and even enrolls at his school, where, to put it mildly, the new alien in class may be the most "normal" one there.
Series director Mamoru Oshii, who later moved on to more famous artsy-anime classics like Ghost in the Shell, said he wanted to take a break from our wacky couple, and do a feature focusing on the "normal" school life of the underappreciated B-players on the series: Here, he takes the characters (almost) out of their chaotic comedy, and puts them in an eerie, X-Files like mystery, where the characters first feel as if their never-ending preparations for the school's festival have sunk into a Groundhog's Day-style time loop--And emerge from their long camp at the school grounds only to discover that everyone in the city, or possibly the world, may have mysteriously disappeared overnight. It's strange, but don't worry, it's all explained in the end, with both funny and imaginatively eerie/surreal scenes in a comfortable 50-50 ratio, and (with above backstory) a good first introduction to the series. Unfortunately, the remainder of the original TV series, and four other movie spinoffs, were originally licensed by a small US company, fell out of print fifteen years ago, now making it a "lost" classic, and the second feature fell between the licensing cracks to stay on as last remaining artifact. (The other four movie spinoffs have been just been picked up for next year on Blu by another company, but that's looking ahead.) However, it's now playing everywhere on Amazon Prime and other streaming services along with a package of other fan-archival 80's anime features, so that those first-timers who want to brag about having watched That New Anime Thing don't have to contain themselves to discussions of Hayao Miyazaki or Dragon Ball Z.
(* - I know I've alluded to its Amazon availability before, but when I did a past-discussion search for "Lum", I found only Abner. Guess this one's new, and if it's not, I'll delete and make note for the record. 😉)