The Princess of Manga18 February, 2010 by Yan
One of the most affluent mangaka in Japan – Takahashi Rumiko (高橋 留美子) is one of my favorites. Therefore, I would like to introduce to our dear readers. Born in 10 October 1957 Niigata, Japan. At 52 years age young, she has been faithfully publishing out chapters and chapters of manga in Shonen Sunday magazine.
So, how popular is she? Do you know of Inuyasha? Or if you belong to one of the older generations, how about Ranma 1/2 or even Urusei Yatsura? Those were her major works that have been adapted into animations. As you would probably know, only really popular and well received mangas make it into the anime scene (for example, Naruto/Bleach/One piece, but those are really big names in the manga world).
For the last 30 odd years, she has drawn up 4 major works (currently working on the 5th major work) and countless short stories. I would like to guide our dear readers through each of her major works one by one.
First up, her first major work: Urusei Yatsura. It is a romantic comedy series that premiered in Weekly Shonen Sunday in 1978 and ran until its conclusion in 1987. “A slapstick combination of Sci-fi, fairy-tale and ghost-story elements with plenty of cute girls” is a very good summary for this manga. Its 374 individual chapters were collected and published in 34 tankobon volumes. As her first few works and her first major work, her drawing style was still quite rough on the edges even though it slowly refined through the course of the series. I would like to give a little warning to readers that the drawing styles could be quite different from what you would see in the anime version. Still it’s a very good read once you have a little experience with Rumiko’s drawing and storytelling style.
Secondly, her next major work: Maison Ikkoku. It is a bitter-sweet comedic romance series that was serialized in the manga magazine Big Comic Spirits from 1980 through 1987. It tells the story of a group of madcap people who live at a boarding house in 1980s Tokyo. 15 tankobon volumes have been collected and published for this particular series. Unlike her first major and other subsequent major works, Maison Ikkoku is a Seinen manga, which is generally targeted at an 18–30 year old male audience. Her art style by this series has been reasonably refined to what people knew of Rumiko’s style, but if you are looking for a Shonen manga to read, this would not be a good choice to begin with. I would recommend this to readers who have sufficiently read through Rumiko’s other works and are craving for more of her works to digest in.
Thirdly one of her more famous major works, Ranma 1/2. I would say this series was my first interaction with Takahashi Rumiko’s works and my favorite series. It is a gender bending, martial arts, romantic comedy series that was serialized in Weekly Shonen Sunday in 1987 and ran until its conclusion in 1996. The story revolves around the misadventures a 16-year old boy named Ranma Saotome, who as a result of an accident during a training journey, is cursed to become a girl when splashed with cold water, but hot water will change him back into a boy. 38 tankobon volumes have been collected and published for this particular series. Ranma 1/2 was extremely popular with overseas anime fans in the 1990s, especially the western countries. Ranma 1/2 and Inuyasha would be the 2 best works from Rumiko-sensei that I would recommend to readers who are interested in starting on Takahashi Rumiko mangas. But I would like to recommend this series to out dear readers first for the fact that this is the slapstick comedy style that I have came to know and love of Rumiko-sensei’s works.
The next major work is also known as her most famous work, Inuyasha. It is an adventure, sword and sorcery romance series with the time line focused at Sengoku era. It was serialized in Weekly Shonen Sunday in 1996 and ran until its conclusion in 2008. The story revolves around a time traveling female high school student who met a half demon when she got warped into the Sengoku era by a demonic artifact she held. 56 tankobon volumes have been collected and published for this particular series. It is Rumiko-sensei’s current longest standing manga series and also the most popular, spawning heaps of animes, films, games and trading cards. Inuyasha is a very good read that readers will most likely start out with Rumiko-sensei’s works. It has a good blend of adventure, swords, sorcery and demon fighting elements, combined with a hint of Rumiko’s style of comedy and romance twists.
So for the million dollar question, should you read Inuyasha or Ranma 1/2 first? If you like a more serious adventure story, go ahead and pick up the first volume of Inuyasha. If comedy and slapstick is your choice, pick up the first volume of Ranma 1/2 instead. If you do find yourself liking Takahashi Rumiko works, do take your time to read both of her best works she has to offer.
Her now current major work which is still ongoing is Kyokai no Rinne. It is a supernatural, comedy and romance series serialized in Weekly Shonen Sunday in 2009. The story evolves around a girl who was able to see ghosts due to a childhood incident, and has since gotten involved with a shinigami who also happens to be her classmate. So far 37 chapters and 2 tankobon volumes have been collected and published for this particular series. This new series is actually good and worth reading if you don’t mind reading and chasing for a new chapter every week for the next few years to come by. It has good elements of seriousness, Rumiko’s comedy and slapstick, combined with a good setting of the underworld and spirits.
Now that i have covered on all her major works, I will now give our dear readers a little coverage on one of her numerous short stories she has done, The Mermaid Saga. It is an action, horror and romance series serialized in Shonen Sunday since 1984 and ended in 1994. 3 tankobon volumes have been collected and published for this particular series, each book with a different name. The first book was Mermaid’s Forest, the second was Mermaid’s Scar and the last book was called Mermaid’s Eye. The Mermaid Saga tells the tale of Yuta, an immortal who travel across Japan who meets others whose lives have been ruined by mermaid flesh, each book consists of a different story on a different time line, but the focus is still on the main character.
To sum it all up, Takahashi Rumiko’s storytelling always has heavy elements of Japanese culture and a whole lot of folklore thrown into it. Not to mention that even her art styles have heavy Japanese influence. It is those elements that have made her popular in and outside of Japan. A lot of westerners have used her work as a very good cultural reference to get to know about Japan. Just a word of caution, almost all of her works have a little bit of nudity thrown into it, so I hope our dear readers could exercise some caution and be of legal age to purchase her works. If you like reading manga that is heavy in Japanese culture/folklore, with elements of comedy and slapstick, Takahashi Rumiko works are definitely the choice for you. Do pick up a series and start reading!