Writer: Rumiko Takahashi
Rumiko Takahashi (高橋 留美子 Takahashi Rumiko, born October 10, 1957) is a Japanese manga artist. With a career of several commercially successful works, beginning with Urusei Yatsura in 1978, Takahashi is one of Japan’s most affluent manga artists. Her works are popular worldwide, where they have been translated into a variety of languages, with over 200 million copies in circulation. She has twice won the Shogakukan Manga Award: once in 1980 for Urusei Yatsura, and again in 2001 for Inuyasha.
Rumiko Takahashi was born in Niigata, Japan. Although she showed little interest in manga during her childhood, she was said to occasionally doodle in the margins of her papers while attending Niigata Chūō High School. During her university years, she enrolled in Gekiga Sonjuku, a manga school founded by Kazuo Koike, author of Crying Freeman and Lone Wolf and Cub. Under his guidance, Takahashi began to publish her first dōjinshi creations in 1975, such as Bye-Bye Road and Star of Futile Dust. Koike often urged his students to create well-thought-out, interesting characters, and this influence would greatly impact Rumiko Takahashi’s works throughout her career.
Takahashi’s professional career began in 1978. Her first published work was the one-shot Katte na Yatsura, for which she was awarded the Shogakkan New Comics Award. Later that same year, she began her first serialized story in Weekly Shōnen Sunday; Urusei Yatsura, a comedic science fiction story. She had difficulty meeting deadlines to begin with, so chapters were published sporadically until 1980. During the run of the series, she shared a small apartment with two assistants and often slept in a closet due to a lack of space. During the same year, she published Time Warp Trouble, Shake Your Buddha, and the Golden Gods of Poverty in Weekly Shōnen Sunday magazine, which would remain the home to most of her major works for the next twenty years.
During 1980, Takahashi started her second major series, Maison Ikkoku, in Big Comic Spirits magazine. Written for an older audience, Maison Ikkoku is a romantic comedy, and Takahashi used her own experience living in an apartment complex to create the series. Takahashi managed to work on the series on and off simultaneously with Urusei Yatsura. She concluded both series in 1987, with Urusei Yatsura ending at 34 volumes, and Maison Ikkoku at 15.
During the 1980s, Takahashi became a prolific writer of short story manga. Her stories Laughing Target, Maris the Chojo, and Fire Tripper all were adapted into original video animations (OVAs). In 1984, during the writing of Urusei Yatsura and Maison Ikkoku, Takahashi took a different approach to storytelling and began the dark, macabre Mermaid Saga. This series of short segments was published sporadically until 1994.
Another short work of Takahashi’s to be published sporadically was One-Pound Gospel. Takahashi concluded the series in 2007 after publishing chapters in 1998, 2001 and 2006. One-Pound Gospel was adapted into a live-action TV drama.
Later, in 1987, Takahashi began her third major series, Ranma ½. Following the late 1980s and early 1990s trend of shōnen martial arts manga, Ranma ½ features a gender-bending twist. The series continued for nearly a decade until 1996, when it ended at 38 volumes. Ranma ½ and its anime adaption are cited as some of the first of their mediums to have become popular in the United States.
During the latter half of the 1990s, Rumiko Takahashi continued with short stories and her installments of Mermaid Saga and One-Pound Gospel until beginning her fourth major work, Inuyasha. Unlike the majority of her works, Inuyasha has a darker tone more akin to Mermaid Saga and, having been serialized in Weekly Shōnen Sunday from 1996 to 2008, is her longest to date. On March 5, 2009, Rumiko Takahashi released her one-shot Unmei No Tori. On March 16, 2009, she collaborated with Mitsuru Adachi, creator of Touch and Cross Game, to release a one-shot called My Sweet Sunday. Her latest manga series, Kyōkai no Rinne started on April 22, 2009. This is Rumiko Takahashi’s first new manga series since her previous manga series Inuyasha ended in June 2008.
Urusei Yatsura, Maison Ikkoku, Ranma ½, and Inuyasha manga were all published in English in the United States by Viz Comics, but their 1989 release of Urusei Yatsura halted after only a few volumes were translated, and it is long out of print.