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Inuyasha Comes to America
from Animerica Vol. 9 No. 6 June 2001
Interview by Toshifumi Yoshida with translation by Andy Nakatani
Question: Let's start with a question about Ranma ½. The martial arts are used quite a bit in Ranma. Where di dyou get the idea to use martial arts?
Takahashi: Ranma was originally [conceived] to be a martial-arts manga- connecting all aspects of everyday life to the martial arts. Ranma makes martial-arts connection even to things that would normally have nothing to do with them. That's why all these strange types of martial arts keep coming up in the show.
Question: Connections are often made between martial arts and food.
Takahashi: That may just be because I love to eat.
Question: You love to eat... does that mean you do a lot of cooking?
Takahashi: I cook occasionally.
Question: What is your favorite food?
Takahashi: Just the normal- rice and something to go with it (okazu). I'm not too picky- I eat anything.
Question: Do you make okonomiyaki?
Takahashi: I've never made it myself, but I like it.
Question: Have you ever practiced the martial arts?
Question:Or perhaps do you watch a lot of kung fu movies?
Takahashi:I used to watch a lot of Jackie Chan movies. There is also, of course, Bruce Lee and Enter the Dragon.
Question:In previous interviews, you have mentioned that you live to watch professional wrestling and sumo. Do you have any favorite professional wrestlers or sumo wrestlers?
Takahashi:In sumo, I like Akebono, because he seems to win the tournaments.
Question:And in professional wrestling?
Takahashi:As for wrestling, I've never watched male professional wrestling- never gone to a live wrestling match. But with female wrestling, I really like a wrestler named Manami Toyota.
Question:Are there any characters in Ranma that are based on people you know?
Takahashi:No, there aren't.
Question:You originally created all the characters?
Takahashi:I've never thought, "Oh, I want to use this person [as a character]."I don't think I've created any such characters.
Question:Akane's character says that she doesn't like boys. Why is this?
Takahashi:Well, as you read the story, you discover that this isn't true. She has unrequited feelings for a man, but this man has feelings for Akane's sister. So I think Akane's unresloved feelings become expressed as "I don't like boys." I think it is easy to understand if interpreted in this way.
Question:When you were younger, where you a tomboy like Akane?
Takahashi:No, when I was a kid, I was always drawing. I was never very athletic.
Question: Always manga.
Question: Ranma is a bit standoffish and cool, and each of the characters seems to have an odd flaw. Could you comment on that?
Takahashi: What sort of comment should I make?
Question: Well, all the characters are flawed and...
Takahashi: I think that perfect people are not very interesting. Particularly in the case of a comedy, each person has a flaw and this ties the laughs together or perhapsy draws sympathy from the reader. That's not the reason for this, but most of my characters have a sort of foolish side to them. It could just be a habit of mine.
Question: Let's move on to Inuyasha. There are many grotesque monsters that appear in Inuyasha. Are the monsters you create based on old myths and legends?
Takahashi: There are some that are: the design of the ghosts, demons, dragons, and the hebi no bakemon kappa demon ("snake kappa demon") are all from Japanaese legend. But over half are my original creations.
Question: The Inuyasha story is darker and more serious than Ranma. Is this a change within yourself, or because you wated to do something new?
Takahashi: I wanted to do something that was not a comedy. And I'm doing it to head in a new direction.
Question: Are there any particular reason that you set the story in the Sengoku Era?
Takahashi: Perhaps because it is relatively easier to extract a ghost story from that time period. I didn't think that deeply about it. It's just that in the Sengoku Era, there was war, and lots of people died.For a ghost to appear and kill a lot of people in the present day- although I guess there are some manga like that- but for one of my manga, I thought that if I set it in the Sengoku Era, it could be portrayed more softly. The cruelty becomes softer, I think.
Question: To set the story in the Sengoku Era, did you gather material and research for this purpose?
Takahashi: It's not that I did that much research for the purpose of Inuyasha, I just used the knowledge that people would know even as a child, such as the image of samurai wearing armor and riding horses- from that type of perspective. Also, for example, say castles from a certain time took a popular type of form. There are many different forms of castles, but after a certain period of time passes, castles become more grandiose and I can say that Inuyasha is set before that time.
Question: As Kagome and Inuyasha's relationship develops, they seem to move backwards, and even now there are some ambiguous aspects. Will this ever be resolved?
Takahashi:Hmmm, yes... I would like it to be. I don't really know what will happen until I actually write it, but I am writing with the hope that it will be resolved.
Question: So you, yourself, don't know what is going to happen?
Takahashi: At this point I don't really know what will happen.
Question: Kagome is the reincarnation of Kikyo's character, but in terms of personality these two characters are very different. The same person has two personalities, and Inuyasha is attracted to both personalities- is there any deep meaning to this?
Takahashi: There isn't really any deep meaning. In terms of reincarnation, Kagome is not really a personality that is part of Kikyo. Kagome should let her individuality come out, and Kikyo is already a very original person in expressing her individuality, and I think the story will get more and more interesting as this continues.
Question: Even if Kikyo is already dead?
Takahashi: Yes, even if she's dead.
Question: What is the Shikon no Tama ("Jewel of Four Souls") that is such a key element to the plot?
Takahashi: That could possibly be made gradually clearer as we get closer to the end of the story.
Question: Is it something that is historically based?
Takahashi: No, it isn't.
Question: So when it comes to writing your stories, be it Inuyasha or Ranma, the ending are not set beforehand, are they?
Takahashi: No, they are not. It's better if I think about it on the spot. To force your characters to go in a direction that you have preconceived- that manga will most certainly not be fery interesting. What you think is best on the spot, right before you take a step and go forward and make the path- I think that is what creating manga is all about. That's the best way for me to create manga.
Question: I'd like to go back to same more general questions. Are there any manga that you are currently reading?
Takahashi: Manga that I am currently readly...? I am reading many, but most of them aren't popular in America. So maybe people won't know of them.
Question: Anime and manga are becoming increasingly popular in the United States, and your work is perhaps the most popular. What do you think about having so many fans from a different country?
Takahashi: I am very happy. That manga I originally created for Japanese children... Especially in my case, because I write a lot of comedy, I feel that comedy is very powerful. There's nothing better; I couldn't be more pleased that such a variety of people can read my work and laugh.
Question: Do you read American comics?
Takahashi: There are a number of titles that I collect. One of them is, of course, Spider-Man.
Question: Using Spider-Man as a reference, what do you think are the differences between manga and American comics?
Takahashi: Hmmm... In a certain sense, the quality, the art of American comics is very high. I think the element of storytelling through images is strong with American comics. Japanese manga are really... manga can be created even without drawing any action into them. Even boring everyday things, such as portraying that it's a really hot day or that something is really hungry- even just that is enough for manga. I guess it's a difference of how people see the world, what people think makes a story. I believe that's where the difference lies.
Question: Do you think that difference [between American comics and manga] is one of the reasons that your work is so popular in America?
Takahashi: I don't think about the difference when I am creating manga. For me, all there was since I was born was manga, and I created my manga from there.
Question: How does it feel to be one of the top manga artists of Japan?
Takahashi: Umm... I feel I must work hard.
Question: So that your popularity won't drop?
Takahashi: What I mean by that is if being at the top means that your manga sells a lot, that means that all those people are reading your manga, are enjoying your manga, and that is a wonderful thing. For that reason, in order for those readers to continue reading, I must work hard.
Question: Many manga artists are currently using such things as computers to create their work. Do you think you will use such things in your work in the near future?
Takahashi: I would like to use such things if I am able to. It's just that if you aren't able to use them well, then people can tell that you are using them- for such things as coloring. If Macs become easier to use, and cheaper, then perhaps I will use them.
Question: Do you have a Mac?
Takahashi: No, I don't. I won't get one until they become much easier to use.
Question: So you don't own a computer?
Takahashi: No, I don't.
Question: In closing, do you have anything you would like to say to your American fans?
Takahashi: Yes. Everyone in America, thank you very much for reading my manga. Currently, I am working on Inuyasha. It will be a number of years before the series ends, but in the fall Inuyasha will become an anime. If you are able to see it, please support it. I am always trying to work hard and do my best, and hope all of you are doing the same. If you get tired, please relax and read some manga.
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