Rumiko Takahashi (1957-) Biography
Personal, Addresses, Career, Member, Honors Awards, Writings, Adaptations, Sidelights
Born 1957, in Nigata, Japan. Education: Attended Nihon Josei-dai (Japan Women's University); attended Gekiga Sonjuko (manga school); studied with Kazuo Koike.
Agent—c/o Author Mail, VIZ Communications, P.O. Box 77010, San Francisco, CA 94107.
Manga artist and writer.
New Comic Artist award, Shogakukan (publishers), 1977, for "Katte na Yatsuma"; Inkpot Award, 1994.
Ranma 1/2, 32 volumes, VIZ Communications (San Francisco, CA), 1995–2005, 2nd edition, 2004—.
Lum—Urusei Yatsura: Perfect Collection, VIZ Communications (San Francisco, CA), 1997.
Return of Lum, 8 volumes, VIZ Communications (San Francisco, CA), 1997.
Maison Ikkoku, 14 volumes, VIZ Communications (San Francisco, CA), 1997–2000, 2nd edition, 2004—.
Inu-Yasha: A Feudal Fairy Tale, 23 volumes, VIZ Communications (San Francisco, CA), 1998–2005.
Contributor of short manga to Bibitto (magazine). Contributor of manga series "Urusei Yatsura" to Shonen Sunday, 1978-87; "Maison Ikkoku," to Big Comic Spirits, 1982-87; "Ranma 1/2," to Shonen Sunday, 1987-96; "Mermaid Saga," to Shonen Sunday, beginning 1987; "One-Pound Gospel," to Young Sunday, beginning 1987; and "Inu-Yasha Sengoku Otogi Zoushi," to Shonen Sunday, beginning 1996. Short stories also published in Big Goro, Petit Comics, and Heibon Punch.
"MERMAID SAGA"; COLLECTED MANGA
Mermaid Forest, VIZ Communications (San Francisco, CA), 1994.
Mermaid's Scar, VIZ Communications (San Francisco, CA), 1996.
Mermaid's Gaze, VIZ Communications (San Francisco, CA), 1997.
"RUMIC" STORIES; COLLECTED MANGA
Rumic Theater, VIZ Communications (San Francisco, CA), 1996.
Rumic World Trilogy, VIZ Communications (San Francisco, CA), 1996.
Rumic Theater: One of Double, VIZ Communications (San Francisco, CA), 1998.
"ONE-POUND GOSPEL" SERIES; COLLECTED MANGA
One-Pound Gospel, VIZ Communications (San Francisco, CA), 1996.
One-Pound Gospel: Hungry for Victory, VIZ Communications (San Francisco, CA), 1997.
One-Pound Gospel: Knuckle Sandwich, VIZ Communications (San Francisco, CA), 1998.
"Urusei Yatsura" was adapted as a Japanese television series, 1981-86, five animated feature films, and three original videos; "Maison Ikkoku" was adapted as a Japanese television series, 1986-88, as an animated feature, and as a live-action movie; several short stories from "Rumic World" were adapted as original video animated movies; "Ranma 1/2" was adapted as a Japanese television series, 1989-92, and for several animated feature films; "Inu-Yasha" was adapted as an animated Japanese television series, beginning 2000, and as several animated feature films. Other television series based on Takahashi's works include Takahashi Rumiko Gekijyou, 2003, and Ningyo no mori (based on "Mermaid's Forest"), 2003.
Well known to fans of manga—Japanese comics—throughout the world, Rumiko Takahashi is also one of the planet's top-selling authors, with over one hundred-million books sold in her native Japan and internationally. Takahashi's four major manga series have been translated into English, and her work has been adapted for both anime—animated—television series and feature films. Her "Urusei Yatsura" series appeared between 1978 and 1987, and was followed from 1982 to 1987 by "Maison Ikkoku," a "romantic soap opera with comic elements," according to Charles Solomon writing in the Los Angeles Times. Takahashi's biggest success has been her offbeat martial arts-focused "Ranma 1/2" manga, which ran from 1987 to 1996. "Inu-Yasha Sengoku Otogi Zoushi," Takahashi's epic manga about a modern girl who suddenly finds herself thrust back in time to feudal Japan, known to English-speaking readers as Inu-Yasha: A Feudal Fairy Tale; the series extended over twenty volumes of approximately 200 pages each by 2005. In addition to the many books comprising her four major series, the prolific Takahashi has written and illustrated numerous short stories, making herself one of Japan's most published authors.
Born in 1957, Takahashi began her love affair with manga at a young age, and by high school she was publishing her own comic-strip in the newsletter of the school manga club she founded. Despite her obvious talent, manga remained a hobby while the studious Takahashi concentrated mainly on her academics.
Attending a women's college on a full-time basis, Takahashi also decided to enroll in evening classes at a Japanese manga school run by famous artist Kazuo Koike, author of "Crying Freeman." Because there were no Japanese women then creating manga, she did not consider manga as a possible career. However, the popularity of the manga she published through her university's manga club between 1976 and 1977 gained her a following. Word spread regarding Takahashi's talent, and she published her first professional story, "Katte na Yatsura" ("Those Selfish Aliens") in the boy's magazine Shonen Sunday, winning that magazine's new comic artist award in 1977. She also worked as an assistant to Kazuo Umezu, author of "Makoto-chan."
"Urusei Yatsura" began running in Shonen Sunday that same year, and that magazine has continued to publish most of Takahashi's major series. "Urusei Yatsura" follows Ataru Moroboshi, a young man who is chosen to compete against an alien princess named Lum. Their competition is a game of tag, but one with serious consequences: the fate of the world rests on its outcome. Ataru wins the contest, and the two opponents also fall in love during the course of their high-stakes game. A strong female character, Lum stands as a contrast to the typical portrait of the docile Japanese female seen in most manga. As Takahashi explained to Seiji Horibuchi in Animerica, she designed "Urusei Yatsura" as a "school comedy/romance with some science fiction and whatnot, based on a foundation of slapstick." The puns, metaphors, and other wordplay in the series, as well as the presence of strong female characters, have become characteristic of Takahashi's mangas.
It took a year for "Urusei Yatsura" to establish itself as a weekly series; Takahashi needed time to get used to the demands of producing a weekly strip, and the series did not generate a large income. In fact, early on her tiny apartment was filled with art supplies, and Takahashi slept in a closet. However, the manga's success was such that in 1981 "Urusei Yatsura" was adapted as an anime by filmmaker Mamoru Oshii. The series lasted five years and made Takahashi's name a household word throughout Japan. Fan clubs sprouted up all over the country, extolling the work of the twenty-something manga artist.
Because of its appeal to a young-adult audience, "Maison Ikkoku," Takahashi's second manga series, was published in Big Comic Spirits; she would return to Shonen Sunday for her subsequent work. In this manga Takahashi sets her tale in modern Japan, and focuses on a love triangle. College student Yusaku Godai is smitten by his older, beautiful, widowed landlady, Kyoko Otonashi, but for her part Kyoko must deal with both her qualms about dating a much younger man and the competing attentions of suave tennis coach Shun Mitaka. Geared for older readers, "Maison Ikkoku" "brims with slapstick hijinks, misunderstandings, and, possibly, love," according to a reviewer for Publishers Weekly. Writing in Library Journal, Steve Raiteri described the multi-volume published collection Maison Ikkoku as a "wonderful true-to-life romance" that ranks as one of Takahashi's "finest works." As with "Urusei Yatsura," "Maison Ikkoku" was adapted for both anime and feature film.
In 1987 Takahashi began her most popular manga, the martial-arts adventure "Ranma 1/2." Ranma Saotome is a young practitioner of martial arts who has a secret: due to a curse, if splashed with cold water, he turns into a girl. Splashed with hot, he becomes a man again. This condition creates problems when the female Ranma begins to attract attention from young men; meanwhile the original Ranma has fallen in love with a beautiful martial arts expert. Appealing to a wide readership, "Ranma 1/2" became an instant success, and ran until 1996. Re-released in book form, the series filled thirty-eight volumes and was adapted as both anime and feature films. Noting that with this series Takahashi had developed her writing and drawing abilities and truly established herself as a publishing phenomenon, Raiteri called "Ranma 1/2" "among [Takahashi's] best loved works."
In 1996 Takahashi's fans were introduced to Kagome Higurashi, a teen who falls down a well and into the world of feudal Japan. In "Inu-Yasha Sengoku Otogi Zoushi" Kagome encounters the half-demon Inu-Yasha. In love with a human woman named Kikyo many years before, Inu-Yasha is awakened from an enchanted sleep by the arrival of Kagome. While he believes Kagome is Kikyo, reincarnated, Kagome behaves as a modern teen, miniskirt and all, and fights the underworld's feudal traditions. As the reincarnation of Kikyo, she possesses the Jewel of Four Souls, a stone that caused Kikyo's death and Inu-Yasha's long slumber. When the jewel is broken, Kagome and Inu-Yasha must recover its lost pieces, battling the evil Naraku and finding love along the way. Their task is made more difficult when the real Kikyo returns from the dead and discovers that her place in Inu-Yasha's demon heart has been usurped by a modern teen.
Despite sharing the same plot framework as her previous manga—a love triangle—"Inu-Yasha Sengoku Otogi Zoushi" is less slapstick than her Takahashi's previous manga. As Takahashi told Horibuchi, "I wanted to draw a story-oriented manga. Also, I liked the idea of a historical piece. Something I could easily draw. That's the premise I start with." Despite its grounding in the history of feudal Japan—a history unfamiliar to American readers—the book-length collections of "Inu-Yasha" were as successful as Takahashi's previous manga, and by 2005 the series had filled over twenty volumes. Anime and feature films based on "Inu-Yasha" were also created, and Web surfers could find several sites devoted to the series.
In addition to her weekly manga, Takahashi includes a personal commentary in each issue of Shonen Sunday, continueing to foster her bond with her many readers. A baseball fan when she is not working, she is a supporter of the Hanshin Tigers and also enjoys music. To many manga fans, she truly lives up to her title as the "Princess of Manga."
Biographical and Critical Sources
Animerica, February, 1993, Seiji Horibuchi, interview with Takahashi; May, 1997, Seiji Horibuchi, interview with Takahashi.
Kliatt, January, 2005, George Galuschak, review of Mermaid Saga, p. 25.
Library Journal, September 1, 2003, Steve Raiteri, review of Ranma 1/2, Volume 1: Action Edition, p. 144; January, 2004, Steve Raiteri, review of Maison Ikkoku, Volume 1, p. 82.
Los Angeles Times, August 17, 2000, Charles Solomon, "A Worldwide Comic Book Success Story," p. 54.
New York Times, September 17, 1995, Andrew Pollack, "Japan, a Superpower among Superheroes," section 2, p. 32.
Publishers Weekly, March 22, 2004, review of Maison Ikkoku: Book One, p. 65.
Virginian Pilot, May 23, 1997, F. Daniel Valentini, "Forget the Flintstones! Japanese Animation Has Verve, Vision, and Variety," p. E1.
Rumic World Online, http://www.furinkan.com/ (October 24, 2004), "Rumiko Takahashi: The Princess of Manga."
Shogakukan Web site, http://www.shogakukan.co.jp/ (October 24, 2004).
VIZ Communications Web site, http://www.viz.com/ (October 24, 2004), "Rumiko Takahashi."*
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