Rumiko Takahashi


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Animerica Interview

Taken from Animerica Vol 5, No. 5 1997 Interview by Seiji Horibuchi, translated by Takayuki Karahashi.

Animerica: Inuyasha, your new work that the entire world's been waiting for, has finally begun serialization in Japan, and the English translation is already underway. Can you tell us the basis for the idea or story inspirations when you were creating Inuyasha?

Takahashi: Well, that's difficult to say, but for one thing, 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 started with.

Animerica: Compared to your previous work, Ranma , were there aspects or trends in the story that you intentionaly tried to change?

Takahashi: It's not intentional, but Inuyasha is less comedic that Ranma . Actually, I would like to get a few more laughs in, but I think that can wait until I can organize it better myself.

Animerica: That certainly feels the way it's going. I've read the manga up to the fifth installment. I did feel it's less comedic, and I kept on waiting for the laughs to come up. I don't remember which story, but the main character Kagome makes Inuyasha quiet down by chanting a mantra... and it's "sit!" I laughed out loud there.

Takahashi: I'd like to have more of that sort of thing myself.

Animerica: So right now, you're more at the level where you're setting up the story?

Takahashi: Well, yes... that's the current stage.

Animerica: Inuyasha's setting is purely Japanese. I'm sure that after the story has been translated into English, it will also be translated into various other languages of the world. Now, I'm sure world readership wasn't the first thing you had in mind when you were creating the story. How do you feel about a purely Japanese story going out to the world?

Takahashi: Well, some aspects of Ranma and Urusei Yatsura were truly universal, but I wonder how it will work out in Inuyasha. For example, I must wonder how much of historical Japan foreign readers will understand. But of course, when I'm drawing the story, I'm drawing it for the Japanese readers, and historical settings don't matter to them. Instead, I have to draw a piece that will register to them as manga. In that sense, I think it will work out.

Animerica: The serial's just started, and we're all interested in how the story will develop. As one of your readers, I'd be happy if you could tell me what I should look for in the story and keep in mind to enhance my enjoyment of the manga. Of course, I'm sure you have story spoilers that you don't want to give away just yet.

Takahashi: Well, I'm not really sure about it myself yet, but if I could, I'd like to depict a bizarre world view.

Animerica: Okay... well, the serial's just started, but how far have you planned out the story?

Takahashi: Well, I have a rough idea of how the personal relationships should work out, but that's all. I'm hoping the plot will follow. But I'm wondering about getting too tied up in relationships. So, I'd really like to be able to improvise as I go.

Animerica: So you're just preparing the characters and their relationships and letting the plot develop by itself?

Takahashi: You could say that. So I don't want any premeditated conclusions.

Animerica: It looks like there will be more characters introduced over time, but do you plan of having, say, so-and-so many characters at such-and-such point in the plot? Would that be in response to the plot development?

Takahashi: Of course, it would be in response to the plot, but currently, there are only antagonists, so I would like them to find friends soon. I am hoping for that.

Animerica: You're just hoping and don't have specific ideas for such characters right now?

Takahashi: Right, I don't have specific characters for that yet. I'll probably come up with one the week I have to draw the story.

Animerica: It must be tough work to do a weekly serial.

Takahashi: It truly is tough.

Animerica: Do you almost never get time off?

Takahashi: You can say that. Once it starts, it's difficult to get time off.

Animerica: There was quite a while between the end of Ranma and the beginning of your current serial when you didn't have regular work. Were you able to have some leisure time during then?

Takahashi: You could say that. (LAUGHS) I went to Mexico. It was my second time, but it had been a while. I'm glad I was able to go.

Animerica: Where in Mexico did you go?

Takahashi: I went to the Yucatan Peninsula again. I saw the ruins and the pyramids.

Animerica: Did you stay in Cancun in Yucatan?

Takahashi: I went to Cancun and then to Mérida for a total of ten days.

Animerica: I hope you can find time to come to the U.S. again. When you came to the San Diego Comic-Con two years ago, it was such a big event, for the fans and probably for you as well. We were glad you came.

Takahashi: It was fun.

Animerica: I hope we can invite you to San Diego again, but I'm sure you have something else to concentrate on while you have a serial.

Takahashi: I'll say. That does tend to become the case.

Animerica: Society and times have changed since you first started Ranma , haven't they? And naturally you're older and more experienced as well... How are your feelings different now that you've started Inuyasha from how they were when you began Ranma ?

Takahashi: Well, I didn't realize it myself when I started Ranma , but I must have been under pressure to match my previous two works, and I think I was rushing. I was thinking I had to create memorable scenes as soon as possible. In that sense, I think I feel like now I'm free to do what I can do.

Animerica: Are you that much more relaxed?

Takahashi: I wouldn't say I'm more relaxed. I wonder how you'd describe it...

Animerica: You've grown up?

Takahashi: I wouldn't say "grown up" either. I'll always be a kid. (LAUGHS)

Animerica: But you don't feel the pressure like last time?

Takahashi: I do feel the pressure, but I'm starting to wonder if I'm at the age when I can keep on drawing shounen manga ("boy's comics") forever. But I do... I do want to keep on drawing shounen manga until I die.

Animerica: I certainly hope you'll go on for a long time yet. (LAUGHS) Inuyasha is just starting its run in the U.S., but we'll be doing our best to take painstaking care with it, so I hope we can have your blessing. Now, I'd like to ask a few more questions on something besides Inuyasha. Your American readers learned last year the news that you've sold a cumulative total of over one hundred million tankoubon copies ["compilation books," or graphic novels - Ed.]. It's hard to imagine what the number one hundred million copies means, but how do you feel about that?

Takahashi: It's really, really hard to have a feel for it. I didn't suddenly make one hundred million copies - it was the result of many years of steady work. But it really made me happy too.

Animerica: It averages out to every person in Japan owning a copy of your book. That's monumental.

Takahashi: But I do have the great mentor in Mitsuru Adachi [another manga artist to sell over 100 million copies, author of Nine, Slow Step, Miyuki, Touch, etc. - Ed.]. I could always see what Adachi's done and I would know how to follow in his footsteps.

Animerica: So tentatively, your next goal is two hundred million copies?

Takahashi: Two hundred million copies would be tough. I've only recently realized how tough it would be to make one hundred and fifty million copies.

Animerica: In creating your works, is there a particular place that inspires you the most, or do you have a unique way of coming up with ideas?

Takahashi: Well, I basically think at home, which is my workplace. But I'm thinking about my serial work whenever I go out. Especially in Inuyasha, the task of observing minute details in very important, so I keep an eye out for what's going on in newspaper columns and what-not.

Animerica: Do you mean you often get ideas from daily observations?

Takahashi: Yes. Although, that's true whenever you're drawing manga.

Animerica: Do you read books or see movies when your serial is going on?

Takahashi: I read books. I see more plays that movies, though.

Animerica: Do you have a recent favourite play?

Takahashi: Well, I've been going to see Takarazuka. (LAUGHS)

Animerica: That you very much for your time today. I really hope you can come again to the U.S. when you have the time.

Takahashi: Thank you. I really made fond memories last time.

Animerica: I hope you'll be able to make new fond memories.

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