Born October 10, 1957, in Nigata, Japan. Education: Attended Nihon Josei-dai (Japan Women's University); attended Gekiga Sonjuko (manga school); studied with Kazuo Koike.
Home—Japan. Agent—c/o Author Mail, VIZ Communications, P.O. Box 77010, San Francisco, CA 94107.
Manga artist and writer.
New artist award, Shogakukan (publishers), for "Those Selfish Aliens," 1977; Inkpot Award, 1994.
Ranma 1/2, twenty-two volumes, VIZ Communications (San Francisco, CA), 1995-2004, 2nd edition, 2004—.
Lum—Urusei Yatsura: Perfect Collection, VIZ Communications (San Francisco, CA), 1997.
Return of Lum, eight volumes, VIZ Communications (San Francisco, CA), 1997.
Maison Ikkoku, fourteen volumes, VIZ Communications (San Francisco, CA), 1997-2000, 2nd edition, 2004—.
Inu-Yasha: A Feudal Fairy Tale, VIZ Communications (San Francisco, CA), 1998.
Contributor of short manga to Bibitto (magazine). Contributor of manga series "Urusei Yatsura" to Shonen Sunday, 1978-87; "Maison Ikkoku," to Big Comic Spirits, 1982-87; "Ranma 1/2, " to Shonen Sunday, 1987-96; "Mermaid Saga," to Shonen Sunday, beginning 1987; "One-Pound Gospel," to Young Sunday, beginning 1987; and "Inu-Yasha Sengoku Otogi Zoushi," to Shonen Sunday, beginning 1996. Short stories also published in Big Goro, Petit Comics, and Heibon Punch.
"MERMAID SAGA "; COLLECTED MANGA
Mermaid Forest, VIZ Communications (San Francisco, CA), 1994.
Mermaid's Scar, VIZ Communications (San Francisco, CA), 1996.
Mermaid's Gaze, VIZ Communications (San Francisco, CA), 1997.
"RUMIC" STORIES; COLLECTED MANGA
Rumic Theater, VIZ Communications (San Francisco, CA), 1996.
Rumic World Trilogy, VIZ Communications (San Francisco, CA), 1996.
Rumic Theater: One of Double, VIZ Communications (San Francisco, CA), 1998.
"ONE-POUND GOSPEL" SERIES; COLLECTED MANGA
One-Pound Gospel, VIZ Communications (San Francisco, CA), 1996.
One-Pound Gospel: Hungry for Victory, VIZ Communications (San Francisco, CA), 1997.
One-Pound Gospel: Knuckle Sandwich, VIZ Communications (San Francisco, CA), 1998.
"Urusei Yatsura" was adapted for a television series in Japan, 1981-86, five animated feature films, and three original videos; "Maison Ikkoku" was adapted for a Japanese television series, 1986-88, and for an animated feature as well as a live action movie; several short stories from "Rumic World" were adapted for original video animated movies; "Ranma 1/2" was adapted for a Japanese television series, 1989-92, and for several animated feature films; "Inu-Yasha" was adapted for an animated Japanese television series, 2000—, and for several animated feature films.
Work in Progress
Continuing work on "Inu-Yasha" and other short stories and series.
Reputed to be among the richest women in Japan if not one of the best known, Rumiko Takahashi is also one of the world's top-selling authors, with over one hundred-million books sold in her native Japan and internationally. Takahashi is the creator of four major manga, or comic book series, all of which have been translated into English and are available in the United States. Beginning with her popular adventure fantasy, "Urusei Yatsura"—collected in English translation as Lum—Urusei Yatsura: Perfect Collection—in 1978, Takahashi has had a string of successful series that ran for years in Japan and have also been adapted for anime—or animated—television series and feature films. "Urusei Yatsura" appeared in a Tokyo magazine from 1978 to 1987, and was followed by "Maison Ikkoku," a "romantic soap opera with comic elements," according to Charles Solomon in the Los Angeles Times. That series lasted from 1982 to 1987 and was, like all the rest of Takahashi's major works, adapted for television and/or feature films. Her biggest success came with the offbeat and gender-bending martial arts series "Ranma 1/2," which ran from 1987 to 1996. This in turn was followed by "Inu-Yasha Sengoku Otogi Zoushi"—collected in English translation as Inu-Yasha: A Feudal Fairy Tale—a sprawling epic about a girl who falls down a well and ends up in feudal Japan where she and the half-demon, half-human Inu-Yasha go on a quest for the missing Shikon Jewel. In addition to the scores of volumes in these four major series, Takahashi—a prolific artist who produces about one hundred comic book pages per month—has written and illustrated numerous short stories collected in several other volumes, putting herself in the forefront of the manga scene in Japan.
Born in 1957 in Nigata, Japan, Takahashi was attracted to comic books at an early age, sketching in the margins of popular manga during high-school classes, and publishing an early story in her high school manga club newsletter. However, she did not forego the scholastic side, either, as she was able to successfully take the difficult university entrance exams, earning a place at Nihon Josei-dai, a woman's college. Manga continued to be something of a hobby during Takahashi's college years, and she enrolled for nighttime classes at Gekiga Sonjuko, a manga school run by famous artist Kazuo Koike, who stressed on his students the importance of character to story.
For Takahashi, manga school was more like a social evening than career training. Young women in Japan did not grow up to be famous manga artists, as Takahashi's parents kept reminding her. In 1976 and 1977 she published some of her work in her university's manga club publications, but still she did not think of actually opting for an uncertain career as a comic-book artist. In Japan, if a college graduate does not immediately enter the job market, he or she might be permanently unemployed. However, Takahashi's talent eventually won out. Approached by the publisher Shogakukan, she published her first professional story in their weekly boy's magazine, Shonen Sunday, and won their new comic artist award in 1978.
In September of that same year the first installment of "Urusei Yatsura" appeared in Shonen Sunday; the magazine that has continued to publish Takahashi's major series except for one. "Urusei Yatsura" features a young man named Ataru Moroboshi, who is chosen to compete against an alien princess, Lum. Their competition is a game of tag, but one with serious consequences: the fate of the world rests on its outcome. Ataru wins the contest, but falls in love with Lum during the course of their high-stakes game, and asks her to marry him. Speaking with Seiji Horibuchi of Animerica, Takahashi described this series as a "school comedy/romance with some science fiction and whatnot, based on a foundation of slapstick.… Add in the play on words such as the puns and metaphors and allusions." Such comedy has become a hallmark of Takahashi's mangas. While she initially intended Ataru to be the lead character of the story and Lum only a minor actor, over the years Lum increasingly became the focus of the story. A strong female character, Lum is only the first of many such creations, cutting against the stereotype of the docile Japanese female.
Takahashi at first had trouble meeting deadlines, so "Urusei Yatsura" did not become a regular weekly until 1979. The first years were difficult for her, despite audience approval: she lived in a tiny apartment, with most of the space taken up by art supplies, and slept in a closet. However, by 1981 even her parents felt that she had made the right decision, for that year "Urusei Yatsura" was adapted for an animated television series by filmmaker Mamoru Oshii, who, like Takahashi, has gone on to great success, directing numerous other animated series. The series lasted five years with over 200 episodes, making Takahashi's name a household word in Japan. Sales also increased on the series books, with twenty-two million sold. Further feature films were produced using material from the thirty-four published volumes of Urusei Yatsura and fan clubs sprouted up all over Japan. Takahashi, still in her twenties, had arrived.
From Young Romance to Martial Arts
While still penning "Urusei Yatsura," Takahashi launched her second major series, "Maison Ikkoku." This manga appeared monthly in Big Comic Spirits, and was Takahashi's only major series not to appear in Shonen Sunday. For this second tale, she left the world of fantasy behind for contemporary Japan, focusing on a love triangle in an apartment house. It is the story of a college student, Yusaku Godai, who falls in love with his older, beautiful, widowed landlady, Kyoko Otonashi, battling not only her reluctance at becoming involved with a much younger man, but also the attentions of the suave tennis coach, Shun Mitaka, who is his chief rival for Kyoko's affection. Aimed at an older audience than her first series, the story "brims with slapstick hijinks, misunderstandings, and, possibly, love," according to a reviewer for Publishers Weekly. The love between Godai and Kyoko grows amid the antics of the other tenants of the apartment house, a "crew of outcasts," as the same contributor noted. Writing in Library Journal, Steve Raiteri felt that the published collection Maison Ikkoku is a "wonderful true-to-life romance" that ranks as one of Takahashi's "finest works." Once again, Takahashi's manga became a popular television show and spawned animated features as well as a live-action feature film.
The year 1987 was a turning point for Takahashi. She ended her first two series that year and began several other works. At polar opposites in terms of content are the books encompassing her "Mermaid Saga" series and those of "One-Pound Gospel," both of which Takahashi has returned to off and on over the years. The first eschews her usual humor and replaces it with a graphically violent story line, while "One-Pound Gospel" deals with another topic unusual for a Japanese writer: Christianity. The tale deals with the romantic temptations of a novice nun, Angela, who is strongly attracted to a boxer.
Takahashi's third project of 1987 turned out to be her most popular. She had long wanted to fashion a martial-arts adventure similar to those in many of the manga she read as a child. However, in her rendition, there is nothing derivative about her story. Ranma Saotome is a young practitioner of martial arts who returns to Japan after several years spent studying in China. Falling in love with one of the daughters of the family he is staying with—herself a competent practitioner of martial arts—he discovers a dark secret about himself: if splashed with cold water, he turns into a girl. Splashed with hot, he becomes a man again. All this is a result of an accident in China, when he fell into a magic hot spring. Difficulties compound when the female Ranma begins to attract suitors. "Ranma 1/2," the title of the ongoing manga, became an instant success, early issues selling a million and more copies in a month. More action-oriented than Takahashi's other creations, it attracted a wide spectrum of readers, from young boys to middle-aged women. This manga ran until 1996, comprising thirty-eight volumes, and inspiring both television shows and feature films. In 1995, with volume thirty-four of Ranma 1/2, Takahashi sold her one hundred millionth book worldwide. Raiteri, writing in Library Journal, called Ranma 1/2 "among [Takahashi's] best loved works."
Inu-Yasha Sengoku Otogi Zoushi
In late 1996 Takahashi began another successful series in Shonen Sunday, featuring the teenager Kagome Higurashi, who falls down a well and into the world of feudal Japan. "Inu-Yasha Sengoku Otogi Zoushi" takes its name from the half-demon Inu-Yasha, whom Kagome encounters in this otherworld. Inu-Yasha loved a woman named Kikyo long ago, and believes she betrayed him. Now, with the arrival of Kagome, he encounters what is in effect Kikyo's new incarnation. However, when Kikyo herself comes back from the dead and discovers her place taken by this teenage minx in short skirts, a classic love triangle has been set up. Critics have noted that Inu-Yasha, the title given to the English translation of the collected series, is much darker than her other work, similar perhaps to "The Mermaid Saga." Takahashi's usual antic comedy is largely missing from the story. As the author told Horibuchi in Animerica, Inu-Yasha "is less comedic than Ranma 1/2. Actually, I would like to get a few more laughs in, but I think that can wait until I can organize it better in myself." Speaking of the inspiration for the story, Takahashi told Horibuchi, "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 start with." What she came up with is an action/adventure romance, with some elements of the horror genre. As the reincarnation of Kikyo, she possesses the Jewel of Four Souls, the very jewel that caused Kikyo's death and the enchanted sleep of Inu-Yasha. This jewel, however, is soon lost again, and the series details the efforts of Kagome and Inu-Yasha to recover it, battling the evil Naraku and finding love along the way.
U.S. publication of the story began in 1998, and despite doubts on the part of Takahashi about how Americans would receive a story detailing elements of historical Japan, the series proved as successful as her earlier efforts. Several Japanese movies were also produced as spin-offs to Inu-Yasha, and numerous Web sites worldwide devoted themselves to either translations of the stories as published in Japan, or fan discussion. Takahashi's goal, as she told Horibuchi, after her first hundred-million books, is to "make one hundred and fifty million."
If you enjoy the works of Rumiko Takahashi
you may also want to check out the following:
Love Song, a graphic novel by Keiko Nishi, 1998.
"Dragon Knights," a manga series by Mineko Ohkami.
"Mars," a manga series by Fuyumi Soryo.
Biographical and Critical Sources
Masaki, Enomoto, Noda Hideki to Takahashi Rumiko, Sairyusha (Tokyo, Japan), 1992.
Ranma 1/2 Memorial, Shonen Sunday (Tokyo, Japan), 1997.
Animerica, February, 1993, Seiji Horibuchi, interview with Takahashi; May, 1997, Seiji Horibuchi, interview with Takahashi.
Library Journal, September 1, 2003, Steve Raiteri, review of Ranma 1/2, Volume 1: Action Edition, p. 144; January, 2004, Steve Raiteri, review of Maison Ikkoku, Volume 1, p. 82.
Los Angeles Times, August 17, 2000, Charles Solomon, "A Worldwide Comic Book Success Story," p. 54.
New York Times, September 17, 1995, Andrew Pollack, "Japan, a Superpower among Superheroes," section 2, p. 32.
Publishers Weekly, March 22, 2004, review of Maison Ikkoku: Book One, p. 65.
Virginian Pilot, May 23, 1997, F. Daniel Valentini, Forget the Flintstones! Japanese Animation Has Verve, Vision, and Variety, p. E1.
Furinkan.com,http://www.furinkan.com/ (October 24, 2004), "Rumic World": "Rumiko Takahashi—The Princess of Manga."
Shogakukan,http://www.shogakukan.co.jp/ (October 24, 2004).
VIZ Communications,http://www.viz.com/ (October 24, 2004).*