Rumiko Takahashi is a talented and prolific manga artist. Her titles have been a gateway for many fans, in both manga and anime. She has written both long titles and short anthologies, hitting several genres such as horror, supernatural, drama, and comedy. Most of her titles have also been released in English in one form or another over the last 15-20 years. Was her work a gateway for you to the world of anime and/or manga? What’s your favorite series? Do you have one you didn’t like? Why or why not?
Justin Colussy-Estes: She was most definitely a gateway for me, and in multiple ways. I think Ranma ½ was the first Japanese import I was aware of as a manga, and not as an anime. I have never been particularly drawn to anime, to be honest–and I know that’s weird and possibly a false distinction on my part, but there you have it. Her Rumic World collection published by Viz back in 1993 is one of the first manga volumes I ever bought. Her range–there were sf and fantasy, humor and horror stories–showed me what kind of possibilities there were in a broader comics market like Japan’s. I was stunned, and hooked. I think my first love, Ranma ½, is still my favorite. I like Rin-ne, but I’m somewhat justifying that to myself. If anything, it feels a little pat, maybe even staid, given everything else she’s done. But I’m sticking with it, giving it every chance to improve, based solely on Takahashi’s proven ability to deliver great characters and great storytelling.
Alex Hoffman: I am fairly “new” to manga, so InuYasha was definitely not a gateway into manga for me. I, like Justin, am not that interested in anime, so I never really watched the anime when it was on Cartoon Network. I started picking up her series after I read the first volume of the VizBig omnibus of InuYasha. My discovery of Maison Ikkoku and her Rumic World shorts came after I had already started reading InuYasha, and I think that’s when I finally fell in love with her work. Maison Ikkoku was a really big draw for me. I loved reading it, and thought it was an absolutely wonderful series.
I disagree with Justin about Rin-ne, which I think, despite its early flaws, has really developed as a series over the first five volumes. We have to remember that Rin-ne is somewhat of a grand experiment, since it still has simultaneous release in Japan and the USA. That’s a huge deal, and was part of Viz Media’s early online chapter posting initiative (which I think is very smart). The series definitely doesn’t get off to a very good start, but like most Takahashi series, I am drawn to her characters.
One of the things that I like most about Takahashi-sensei is not necessarily her art (which is serviceable and nice, but not overwhelmingly amazing) but her ability to create memorable characters. Rumiko Takahashi may only be rivalled by Mitsuru Adachi and Fumi Yoshinaga in her ability to create and develop interesting characters. She is an absolute genius who knows how to intrigue readers, show restraint in development, and pack an emotional punch when necessary.
Lori Henderson: I started reading Rumiko Takahashi manga in the late 80s, when Viz Communications (before it became Viz Media) released Urusei Yatsura manga as floppy comics. I took a break from comics and anime during the 90s, but was brought back in part because of Inuyasha, first the anime and then the manga. While I enjoy most of her shonen titles, I really enjoy her short stories, especially the horror. I think her story-telling abilities really shine in these genres. Mermaid Saga is a great horror series that also examines what happens when humans try to attain immortality. She writes some good short stories, such as “Fire Tripper”, her first short story I read, and still remember to this day. Short stories also give her the chance to expand into more genres such as comedy and drama.
I agree that her strength is in her ability to create interesting characters and great settings for her stories. Her short stories really prove that. I actually like the simplicity of her art, and think it has a certain charm all it’s own. I have to agree though with Justin about Rin-ne. The first three volumes are too pat. The only reason I stayed with the series to reach volume 5 is because it was free. It shouldn’t take 5 volumes for a series to become decent. Still, I can’t deny the appeal of her work. She has a real knack for creating stories that everyone can enjoy.
Amy: I am the fujoshi I am today all thanks to Rumiko Takahashi. I first encountered Inuyasha on the small screen late nights on the Adult Swim. When I learned about the manga, before even the term manga was added to my lexicon, my new addiction immediately kicked in. I read mainly Inuyasha before sampling some of her other works, and there are still a few others I desire to read someday. Rumiko Takahashi was my gateway into manga, then a bridge to shojo where I finally landed on delicious boy’s love. If I never sparked the interest to pick up her works after viewing Inuyasha I often wonder if I would have ever gotten into manga at all.
Though I’ve only read some of Urusei Yatsura, it’s becoming my favorite longer series that Rumiko Takahashi has created. I’ve been renting the anime on and off from Netflix for well over a year now. Sometimes I question my sanity when beginning something so long but I enjoy the characters and the storylines of her works so much that I don’t mind if it’s a few volumes, like One Pound Gospel, or over 50 like Inuyasha.
Connie: While Ranma ½ volume 1 was the first graphic novel I bought, Takahashi wasn’t really my introduction to manga. But she did keep me coming back, and was one of the most easily accessible and friendly authors available when I first got into manga. Ranma ½ is still one of my favorites, but I think her best work is Mermaid Saga. Even years after I first read it, I still find some of the stories quite haunting, and the fact that an author so skilled in character development, humor, and gags can still turn out one of the creepiest and most engrossing horror manga I’ve ever read is still amazing to me. I love what she did with the mermaid legends, and I loved watching Yuta live out his long life across the different short stories in different eras. It’s still unusual, to this day.
I have to agree with Justin and Lori about Rin-ne, which is my least favorite of her works. I, too, only read it because it was free, and even then, I only continued because I’m such a big Takahashi fan. She does have a knack for characters, but it’s taking a long time for Rin-ne and Sakura to click with me. And where I finish a volume of any of her other work wanting more, Rin-ne doesn’t move quite as fast or grip me in the same way, possibly because the humorous situations and action scenes don’t work quite as well without distinctive personalities to make them exciting. I still like it, though, and there’s still the comfortable and immistakeable familiarity of a Takahashi work in it. I’ve fallen back to reading the volumes as they come out instead of the weekly chapters, but I’m still fairly faithful.