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Taken from Ranma ½ Memorial Book/The Art of Ranma.
Photos by Yoichi Kimura.
Question: Why did you think up the idea of a main character that
Takahashi: I thought, "If the main character is both male and female,
I can draw lots of boys and girls." It's really fun for me to draw both
boys and girls, and in terms of the drawings, it stays interesting.
Question: What made you settle on water as the agent of change?
Takahashi: I had a difficult time thinking up how I could make
the change. I did consider a change whenever [Ranma] is punched. But then
his face would be swollen... it's pitiful. I was thinking- boy... girl...
boy... girl. Then I thought of a noren (a noren is a hanging curtain at
an entrance to a place of business that often doubles as a sign. It also
often reads "man" on one side and "woman" on the other) at a public bath,
and I just thought, "a bath- it's hot water and cold water." It's a silly
creation, but I really am fond of it. It was my hope to make [Ranma ½]
a production that would give you a laugh, make you happy or energize you.
I think it was successful for some time. Fighting... love interests...
gags... Japan, but in a Chinese style. I wanted to make Ranma a manga
with no nationality.
Question: The name "Ranma" is an unusual one. What made you think
Takahashi: I thought it would be a cute [name] for either a boy
or a girl.
Question: The idea of Jusenkyo cursed hot-springs was also a unique
one, wasn't it?
Takahashi: At the time I decided water would be the agent of transformation
for Ranma, the idea of a cursed spring soon came up. It was soon decided
that China was the only place that would have such mysterious springs.
Question: From Nyannichuan to Maonichuan, various springs are introduced.
Were you thinking of the various types of cursed hot springs from the
Takahashi: I was just thinking of a place that had a lot of cursed
hot springs. So I hadn't decided on any types. In creating a new character,
I also had to think about that character's ideal transformation. So, [the
springs] just increased in unison with the characters. [laughs] I wonder
just how many there are?
Question: Imagine you had fallen into such a cursed hot spring.
What would you transform into?
Takahashi: I think something that could fly across the sky would
be good. I even introduced characters, like Pantyhose Taro and other residents
of Ho'osan, who had wings. I think it would really feel wonderful to fly
freely across the sky like that.
Question: Are there any characters whose personality came to differ
from what you originally conceived?
Takahashi: The lead character Ranma. I originally intended for
him to be a clean-cut, incredibly energetic kid who was into fighting.
But, he became somewhat indecisive and picky. I think everyone has those
kinds of sentiments. So I think my own feelings of that nature went right
through my pen and were reflected in my drawings of Ranma. Originally,
Ranma was a neater, tidier, and energetic young man. However, by the time
I realized it, he became indecisive and stingy. Even so, I like the more
normal Ranma too.
Question: Which character then is embued with the most emotion?
Takahashi: Ranma and Akane's personalities are a little more twisted
than expected... Ryoga, who would show his emotion a bit more directly,
was easy to draw. In contrast, it was difficult to understand stronger
characters such as Shampoo and Kuno. After drawing Kuno two or three times,
I thought, "I can't really follow him." [laughs] However, in terms of
creating the story, his was a convenient existence, lining up with Happosai.
He was a beneficial character in that he would force the story to move,
for instance causing trouble due to his feelings being too strong.
Question: You also introduced a lot of subcharacters: are there
any that are your favorites?
Takahashi: I like the suspicious-looking Gambling King. Kind of
Gag-like. Also, I like the Cursed Hot-Springs Guide; for some reason I
really feel at ease when I draw him. Out of the animals, it's P-chan.
I also like the Panda and Shampoo's cat, but if there were such a cute
piglet [as P-chan], I would definitely want one as a pet for my home.
[laughs] There are three essential elements to the series: Ranma, fighting,
and romance. Which story was fun to draw? I like them all. I want to draw
a manga you can laugh at and enjoy reading, so I tried to include a lot
of gags in every episode. I really enjoy drawing something like a "promise"
gag, where a character grows tired and just goes flying off. Since the
serialization was long, it could have grown tiresome if it were just "fighting,
fighting" or "romance, romance" so after a fighting sequence I might draw
a brieft gag episode, followed by a romantic story... in order to create
the freshest Ranma, I did some rotation [of the stories].
Question: Is there a love scene you are fond of?
Takahashi: I like the way Ryoga gets shy when talking to Akane...
the atmosphere when he's uneasy and can't say what he wants to. When I
write such an earnest scene, I feel shy myself, so I have to conclude
with some kind of gag. That's something that's true about other scenes
as well, not just love scenes. I might stick something gag-ish in a corner
of the frame, or such. There's a feeling that it's okay, even if no one
Question: Which episode left the strongest impression?
Takahashi: That's the episode where Ranma learns the Hiryu Shoten-ha.
Ranma is weakened by Happosai's moxabustion. Every character that had
yet to defeat Ranma came together to take him down. And, in turn, a great
many characters come to Ranma's defense. The subcharachers which had been
introduced up to this point tended to gravitate toward and collide with
this individual called Ranma. So, in this sense, I finally had a feeling
for these characters starting to moblize. This story is really significant
to me because it marks the emergence of a conclusion, where I had just
been worrying and drawing.
In terms of fighting, there's the battle with Herb. Probably beause I
was able to draw both male and female types for this character. I was
also able to enjoy the obvious confusion of Herb's subordinates.
Question: Which drawing did you spend the most time on, of those
included in this volume?
Takahashi: Of course, that's the extra-large poster! [laughs] It's
the first time I've drawn something so large! I tried to bring out a progression
from spring to summer, fall to winter... it took a lot of effort to arrange
all the characters with all the detail involved. It was also much harder
than I thought to arrange the characters with respect to the seasons.
Expecially for "winter." I hadn't really thought up anything but the martial
arts figure skating couple. After some thought, I felt that winter is
best represented by a kotatsu, [a kotatsu is generally a quilt or blanket
used to keep the feet and legs warm in winter (often a small heater is
placed in a recessed floorspace under the kotatsu blanket, as in beneath
a small Japanese table.)] so I made a "zone of idleness" crowding into
Question: Out of illustrations for the current publication, which
do you really like?
When I'm drawing I always think, "this is the best picture!" I like all
the calendar illustrations, but I especially like the illustration of
Ranma on page 66.
Question: In gathering all these illustrations, have you come to
realize anything in particular?
Takahashi: A surprising number of the cover illustrations I drew
for Sunday, a youth-oriented magazine, are similar in appearance. I do
wonder if they bear this resembalance as a natural result of the poses...
they are very energetic and look as though they might go flying off. I
didn't realize this until all the illustrations had been consolidated.
Actually, this is the first time an illustration book [for Ranma ½] is
being made available. I'm really thrilled, because there isn't normally
a way to see one's own illustrations arranged in such a manner.
Last, I have a word for the readers. Thanks for your longtime support
and encouragement on Ranma. The 9 years of serialization [in Japan] are
all due to your support. When I read your fan letters, I feel your enjoyment
of my works and your personal encouragement. This has been a great source
of motivation for me. From now on, I'll be drawing other fun works. Thank
you for your continued suport!
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