Born October 10, 1957
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. Takahashi is also the best selling female comics artist in history; as of February 2010, over 170 million copies of her various works had been sold. She has twice won the Shogakukan Manga Award: once in 1980 for Urusei Yatsura, and again in 2002 for InuYasha.
She was born in Niigata, Japan. Takahashi showed little interest in manga during her childhood; though she was said to occasionally doodle in the margins of her papers while attending Niigata Chūō High School, Takahashi’s interest in manga did not start until later. In an interview in 2000, Takahashi said that she had always wanted to become a professional comic author since she was a child. During her university years, she enrolled in Gekiga Sonjuku, a manga school founded by Kazuo Koike, manga author of Crying Freeman and Lone Wolf and Cub. Under his guidance Rumiko Takahashi began to publish her first dōjinshi creations in 1975, such as Bye-Bye Road and Star of Futile Dust.
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 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 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 to create the series. Takahashi managed to work on Maison Ikkoku on and off simultaneously with Urusei Yatsura. She concluded both series in 1987, with Urusei Yatsura ending at 34 volumes, and Maison Ikkoku being 15.
During the 1980s, Takahashi became a prolific writer of short story manga. Her stories The 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, with the final story being Mermaid’s Mask.
Later in 1987, Takahashi began her third major series, Ranma ½. Following the late 80s and early 90s 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 is popular amongst manga fans outside Japan.
During the later 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. While Ranma ½, Urusei Yatsura, and Maison Ikkoku all were heavily seated in the romantic comedy genre, InuYasha was more akin to her dark Mermaid Saga. The series featured action, romance, horror, fantasy, (folklore-based) historical fiction, and comedy. This series was serialized in Shōnen Sunday magazine and is her longest work by far, and ended in 2008. On March 5, 2009, Rumiko Takahashi released her one-shot short story Unmei No Tori. On March 16, 2009, Rumiko Takahashi collaborated with Mitsuru Adachi, creator of Touch and Cross Game, to release a one-shot story 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 the end of her previous manga series InuYasha in June 2008.
Urusei Yatsura, Maison Ikkoku, Ranma 1/2 and InuYasha manga were all published in English in the United States by Viz Comics; however, Viz’s 1989 release of Urusei Yatsura halted after only a few volumes were translated, and is long out of print.
In February 2014, she was nominated for entry into the Eisner Hall of Fame.
Comics Alliance listed Takahashi as one of twelve women cartoonists deserving of lifetime achievement recognition.
|Years||Name||Total number of volumes||Circulation in Japan||Japanese publisher||English publisher|
|1978–87||Urusei Yatsura (うる星やつら)||34||28 million||Shōgakukan||Viz Media|
|1980–87||Maison Ikkoku (めぞん一刻)||15||25 million|
|1984–94||Mermaid Saga (人魚シリーズ)||3|
|1987–96||Ranma ½ (らんま1/2?)||38||53 million|
|1987–2007||One-pound Gospel (1ポンドの福音)||4|
|1987–ongoing||Rumic Theater (高橋留美子劇場)||4|
|1996–2008||InuYasha (犬夜叉)||56||45 million|
|2009–ongoing||Rin-ne (境界のRINNE)||25||3 million|
In 1981, Urusei Yatsura became the first of Takahashi’s works to be animated. This series first aired on Japanese television on October 14, and went through multiple director changes during its run. Though the 195-episode TV series ended in March 1986, Urusei Yatsura was kept alive in anime form through OVA and movie releases through 1991. Most notable of the series directors was Mamoru Oshii, who made Beautiful Dreamer, the second Urusei Yatsura movie. AnimEigo has released the entire TV series and all of the OVAs and movies except for Beautiful Dreamer (which was released by Central Park Media in the U.S.) in the United States in English-subtitled format, with English dubs also made for the first two TV episodes (as Those Obnoxious Aliens) and for all of the movies.
Kitty Animation, the studio that produced Urusei Yatsura with animation assistance from Studio Pierrot and then Studio Deen, continued their cooperation and adapted Rumiko Takahashi’s second work, Maison Ikkoku in 1986; it debuted the week after the final TV episode of UY. The TV series ran for 96 episodes, 3 OVAs, a movie and also a live-action movie. Studio Deen also provided animation duties on Maison Ikkoku and Ranma.
Maris the Chojo, Fire Tripper, and Laughing Target were all made into OVAs during the mid-80s. Her stories Mermaid’s Forest and Mermaid’s Scar were also made as OVAs in Japan on 1991. They were all released, subtitled in English, in the U.S.
In 1989, Kitty Animation produced its last major series, Ranma ½. The series went through ups and downs in ratings until Kitty Animation finally went out of business. Ranma ½ was never concluded in animated form despite being 161 episodes and two movies in length. The TV series ended in 1992 amid internal turmoil within Kitty; Kitty and Studio Deen continued to produce Ranma OVAs until 1996.
Sunrise was the first studio after Kitty Animation to adapt a major Rumiko Takahashi series. InuYasha debuted in 2000 and ended in 2004. The TV series went on for 167 episodes and spawned four major films. The first anime ended before the manga did, thus wrapping up inconclusively. However, a second InuYasha anime series called “InuYasha the Final Act” debuted in Japan in the fall of 2009 and ended in March 2010, finishing the series.
Viz Communications has released the anime of Maison Ikkoku, Ranma and InuYasha in English, in both subtitled and dubbed formats.
The year 2008 marked the 50th anniversary of Weekly Shōnen Sunday and the 30th anniversary of the first publication of Urusei Yatsura, and Rumiko Takahashi’s manga work was honoured in It’s a Rumic World, a special exhibition held from July 30 to August 11 at the Matsuya Ginza department store in Tokyo. Several new pieces of animation accompanied the exhibit, including new half-hour Ranma 1/2 and InuYasha (Black Tetsusaiga) OVAs and an introductory sequence featuring characters from Urusei Yatsura, Ranma and InuYasha (starring the characters’ original anime voice talents), which has become a popular video on YouTube. The It’s a Rumic Worldexhibit was scheduled to re-open in Sendai in December 2008, at which time a new half-hour Urusei Yatsura OVA was scheduled to premiere. A special DVD release containing all three new OVAs was announced as coming out on January 29, 2010, with a trailer posted in September 2009. However it is not known whether any of the new episodes will ever be released outside Japan.
The latest Rumiko Takahashi TV animation adapts many of her short stories from the 80s. Rumiko Takahashi Anthology, animated by TMS Entertainment, features her stories The Tragedy of P, The Merchant of Romance,Middle-Aged Teen, Hidden in the Pottery, Aberrant Family F, As Long As You Are Here, One Hundred Years of Love, In Lieu of Thanks, Living Room Lovesong, House of Garbage, One Day Dream, Extra-Large Size Happiness, and The Executive’s Dog. Also, a TV series of Mermaid Saga was produced in 2003, animating 13 of her stories.
Popularity and impact on the western world
Many of Takahashi’s works have been translated into English, as well as other European languages. Takahashi said that she did not know why her works are relatively popular with English speakers. Takahashi said “Sure, there are cultural differences in my work. When I see an American comedy, even though the jokes are translated, there’s always a moment when I feel puzzled and think, ‘Ah, Americans would probably laugh at this more.’ I suppose the same thing must happen with my books. It’s inevitable. And yet, that doesn’t mean my books can’t be enjoyed by English-speaking readers. I feel confident that there’s enough substance to them that people from a variety of cultural backgrounds can have a lot of fun reading them.”