Urusei Yatsura 2: Beautiful Dreamer (Japanese: うる星やつら２ ビューティフル・ドリーマー Hepburn: Urusei Yatsura 2 Byūtifuru Dorīmā) is a 1984 Japanese anime fantasy comedy film. It is the second film in the Urusei Yatsura film series based on the manga of the same name by Rumiko Takahashi. Like its predecessor, Only You, the film was directed by Mamoru Oshii. It was released in Japan on February 11, 1984. Although the film initially received mixed responses upon its initial release, Beautiful Dreamer was eventually better-received as an early example of Oshii's well-received style of filmmaking.
Not all is normal in Tomobiki, even by its standards. The students have been preparing feverishly for the first day of the student fair, which is scheduled to go on the next day. However, problems arise when some begin to notice that the next day simply will not come. As the students begin to try to find the reason for the problem, their beliefs about reality and the world of dreams are challenged.
Like its predecessor, Only You, Beautiful Dreamer borrows heavily from the Japanese fairy tale of Urashima Tarō. Whereas the previous film was written by Tomoko Konparu, Beautiful Dreamer was written by Oshii with no consultation from Rumiko Takahashi. Writer/director Mamoru Oshii, who was unsatisfied with how the first film had developed, rejected the idea of catering to audience expectations and decided to do the film his own way. This almost caused Takahashi to reject the script because it deviated so far from the original story. In an interview with Kinema Junpo in 2008, Oshii said that he felt joy making the film because, at that time, he finally "understood how to make a film." In the 2002 Japanese DVD commentary for Beautiful Dreamer, Oshii gave some more insight regarding his involvement with the film. According to the commentary, Oshii some of the film's design were inspired by M. C. Escher and that he wanted to create a story "from the viewpoint of a man" as opposed to Takahashi's "by the hands of women" work.
Beautiful Dreamer was released theatrically in Japan on February 11, 1984 where it was distributed by Toho. Upon its initial release, the film received mixed responses, generally from the fan community. Criticism was especially given towards Oshii, in which several of them sent him letters containing razor blades. Despite this, the film was considered to be an early example of Oshii's well-received style of filmmaking.
Central Park Media released the film on VHS in North America on November 1, 1993 and on DVD on June 8, 2004. The DVD contained a "full-length" directors' commentary by Mamoru Oshii as well as an art gallery. Beautiful Dreamer is also the only Urusei Yatsura film released in the United States by US Manga Corps and not AnimEigo, though AnimEigo is credited with doing the translation and subtitling of the film on the VHS release, as well as designing the DVD packaging to match the other movies in the series. The movie aired on the Sci-Fi Channel's anime lineup in the U.S. in the mid-1990s. In 2016, Discotek Media announced they had licensed the film in North America and will release it on DVD and Blu-ray. The next year, Discotek confirmed that they will release the film on February 27, 2018.
In Japan, the DVD of the film was released in 2002, featuring both the original mono soundtrack as well as an all-new 5.1 surround audio track, both in Japanese, as well as audio commentaries by Mamoru Oshii, associate director Junji Nishimura, and Shigeru Chiba. A Japanese Blu-ray was planned for release in March 2009 before being cancelled. The Blu-ray was eventually released on January 21, 2015, ranking in third place on the weekly Oricon charts during its release week, with 7,860 copies sold. The Blu-ray lacks the audio commentaries featured in the original DVD release.
Kinema Junpo ranked Beautiful Dreamer as the 17th best Japanese film of 1984. Meanwhile, the film was the runner-up for the "Best 10" films in the 6th Yokohama Film Festival. In the 1984 edition of the Anime Grand Prix, the film was ranked third place. The film was ranked number 38 on a list of the Top 100 anime by Animage magazine. It was also number 9 on a list by Wizard's Anime Magazine of the Top 50 anime released in North America. In February 2004, Cinefantastique listed the film as one of the "10 Essential Animations" of Japan. In 2017, Paste listed the film as number 28 on their "Top 100 Best Anime Movies of All Time" list.
In Stray Dog of Anime: The Films of Mamoru Oshii, Brian Ruh says that the "shift in filmmmaking priorities...[from] the wacky hijinks that composed a critical part of the original series...[to] placing the emphasis more on deeper philosophical issues...angered a number of viewers." Ruh also noted that the film contained an "unmistakable visual style, using quiet, contemplative shots, often coupled with long monologues or dialogues" and that the film featured imagery that would be seen in Oshii's later films such as water and tanks.
Vincent Ostria stated on Les Inrockuptibles that the film is "a series of dreams in abyss, foretelling...the virtual games of Avalon and Ghost in the Shell".
Todd French of Cinefantastique called the film a "must-see", comparing the work to Alain Resnais' "existentialist time-space displacement flicks" and the Agatha Christie novel And Then There Were None.
John Hartl of The Seattle Times compared the film's use of a time loop to Groundhog Day.
Aaron Gerow of The Daily Yomiuri referred to Beautiful Dreamer as a critique to "both the repetitive world of anime and the otaku fans who lock themselves up in that universe."
Jeff Yang of SFGate compared the film to Oshii's next film, Angel's Egg, claiming that both of the films question "whether what we think is 'real' is real and whether we're really 'thinking' at all -- or whether we're just the products of someone else's fantasy."
On mania.com, Chris Beveridge called the film "a great anime classic".
On Japanator, Hiroko Yamamura said the film "was a game changer in the world of anime feature films".
In Otaku USA, Daryl Surat said the film "is commonly hailed as one of the single best anime films of all time".
Mason Proulx gave the film 5 stars, stating that "like all Urusei Yatsura, this movie is bizarre and silly, but it somehow manages to give its audience food for the mind and the soul."