When did you first get to know Rumiko Takahashi?
Well, let's see. Ever since Urusei Yatsura
started in Shonen Sunday, I guess. The
largest project we worked on together was Maison
Ikkoku, a work which of course is also among her most representative
What was your first impression of her, as an artist?
She's soft-spoken and gentle, of course... but she's also
very strong, and she's just brimming with passion for manga. As far
as I know, she's been like that ever since she first became a manga
artist. She has the kind of passion you find only once every ten or
(Takahashi) knows what her readers are thinking; like
any good manga artist, she appreciates her readers and tries to give
them equal value for the time and money they spend on her work. Her
readers come first with her; if we as her publisher don't keep that
in mind; she'll scold us of it. That she has all the celebrity, fame,
and acclaim in the world right now and still makes it a point to put
her readers first is something to be respected, I think.
So fame hasn't changed Rumiko Takahashi?
No. She's a big star in the comic industry, but her love
of manga, and her love of her readers both here in Japan and abroad,
is the same as when she first debuted back in the late '70's. I think
But her art style has changed since her debut.
Well, it's become more polished, that's true. her panel
layouts have become more sophisticated. And the characters have, overall,
become much more attractive... her female characters especially. her
art has become more refined. There was a certain tendency to pack
too many ideas into a single story, for example. Maison
Ikkoku is definitely one of her more mature works, I'd
say; you could say Ranma ½ is the next
step in her artistic development.
Which, according to what Takahashi said in a previous
interview, seems to be more popular among girls than boys in Japan.
I'd say the appeal is universal. Male or female, young
or old- Takahashi isn't an artist whose work is difficult to read.
She's not an esoteric artist, not a... what do you say, obsessive?
Not an obsessive artist, who has a special world which appeals to
a select few readers and not to a larger audience. I'd say boys in
Japan probably see (the character of) Ranma as an ideal female figure.
Speaking of Ranma... how long do you think
the series will go on? I've heard rumors that it might surpass Urusei
Yatsura in terms of volumes published.
Urusei Yatsura ran for thirty-four
volumes. At the moment there are twenty-six volumes of Ranma
½. I'd say it's a safe bet Ranma ½
will catch up. In fact, Ranma may actually
go a little farther...
So tell us... how will the story end?
[LAUGHS] However it ends, I don't think the conclusion
should be stretched out too long. A really satisfying ending is so
difficult to create for a long series. In most series, there's usually
a first climax around the twentieth volume, with another story arc
concluding around the thirty-sixth or thrity-eighth volume. Takahashi's
not the type of artist who'd just stretch it out for the sake of filler,
though; she's always up for new challenges. I think it's possible
that she may already be preparing a final chapter to Ranma.
As an artist, is she easy to work with? Or is she...
dare I say it? Difficult?
Well, what can I say? [LAUGHS] As her editor it's fun
to work with her; she loves everything about manga. Her favorite editors
are probably those who talk manga with her. So long as you remember
that, you'll get along fine.
How about the "D" word? How about deadlines?
Well... she isn't particularly punctual, but by the same
token she never makes her editors nervous that they'll miss their
absolute last-minute deadlines. She's the type who delivers... in
In manga parodiees especially we see scenes where
editors go right up to the artist's front door and say that's that
there's only two hours left to make the deadline. Takahashi's not
that kind of artist, you say?
Oh no, she's never gone that far.
Even though she's usually working on 100+ pages
That's right. She never goes that far. She's got the self-discipline
to pace her time. She'll be the first to tell you outright if she
can't don something. She'll say, "Oh that won't be possible" in her
soft-spoken way. And since she's one of our most important artists,
we try not to push her too hard with too hectic a schedule. All of
our manga magazines would like to have a story by her... Right now,
she's got a serial in Sunday only, but
Spirits would like one too, as well as
several other Shogakukan publications. Naturally, she has an affinity
for Shonen Sunday, where she first made
it big, so she's got an interest in continuing to publish stories
there. Also, heaven forbid she should fall ill from the pressure of
carrying two continuing serials- she's an important asset in the manga
industry; we need to take care of her and not let our egos get in
We've talked about the workday Takahashi- are there
any interesting anecdotes or behind-the-scenes stories abouther you'd
be willing to share with us?
Hmm, what might be an interesting story? She's involved
in any number of different things, and she's full of curiosity...
well, she does like to go to sumo matches, and she also likes to go
to the beach.
Takahashi likes sumo?
Takahashi likes sumo. She'd attend every single tournament,
if she could.
I don't think it would surprise you if I told you
that her English-speaking fans would love to see her in person at
an overseas convention. How likely do you think that is?
I think it's a great idea. I think she should definitely
go to America as soon as her schedule allows it. I'd enjoy setting
up something like that in the near future.
Is there anything you'd like to say to the English-speaking
fans of Ranma ½ and Urusei Yatsura? As an editor, I
Let's see. I hope that you are reading Japanese manga
not only for the novelty or because it's something exotic but rather,
to experience the excitement of youth, or to relive the feeling of
falling in love... those feelings are universal, after all. Keep reading
the stories, and keep supporting your favorite artists. As an editor,
it's my dream that the number of manga fans in Japan and the number
of manga fans in America are someday in number.
Interview conducted by Toshifumi Yoshida
Originally Published in:
Animerica Vol 1. No. 10