Manga Movable Feast: The Takahashi pupu platter

April 27th, 2011
By

Voice actor Kappei Yamaguchi is visiting Hawaii this weekend.

I bring this up because, by coincidence, this week also marks the latest round of the Manga Movable Feast, that monthly delight where manga bloggers gather for a weeklong discussion of a particular series … or, in the case of this month’s topic, multiple series by a single manga artist, Rumiko Takahashi. (Update 4/28: Here’s a link to more links from this month’s MMF, hosted by Rob McMonigal over at Panel Patter.) Yamaguchi was the anime voice of two of Takahashi’s creations — Ranma in Ranma 1/2 and InuYasha in InuYasha.

So you can understand that tag-team partner in fandom Wilma J. and I have quite a bit on Takahashi on the mind this week. For Wilma, meeting Yamaguchi will very likely be one of the highlights, if not the highlight, of the convention. And for me, Yamaguchi’s visit, combined with this month’s MMF, reminds me just how much Takahashi’s work has intertwined with our brand of anime/manga journalism here at the Star-Advertiser.

Back in the old days, when our paper was known as the Star-Bulletin and the Advertiser was our esteemed competition up South Street — more specifically, about a decade ago, when the Star-Bulletin editorial staff moved into its present offices at Waterfront Plaza — there was a column that ran on Sundays, “Drawn & Quartered,” that focused on various comics. Several of Wilma’s earliest contributions to that column focused on Takahashi works:

But the lion’s share of articles were produced under the banner of “Project T,” a six-part “D&Q” miniseries published between November 2005 and March 2006. Looking back on it now, that was our best and most favorite “D&Q” collaborative project. Why did we call it “Project T”? We’re also fans of Initial D, and this was around the time Initial D Fourth Stage was being released in Japan. So we took the name of the crew Ryosuke Takahashi assembled in that series — Project D — changed the “D” to a “T” and referred to the project by that name every time we discussed it internally. The name stuck.

And to think the idea for “Project T” was born out of these.

Meet the ubiquitous-for-the-mid-2000s “From the creator of InuYasha” sticker, plastered on the covers of every Takahashi volume coming out at the time. Ranma 1/2 reprints. Maison Ikkoku reprints. Mermaid Saga reprints. If Viz had decided to put “From the creator of … oh, you know, this series” on the cover of InuYasha itself, we wouldn’t have been surprised. The stickers were appropriate, perhaps, because InuYasha was hyuuuuuuge at the time, but still … we wanted readers to know that the creator of InuYasha was so much more than, well, just the creator of InuYasha.

Plus those stickers really irritated us. Here, have a look at this One-Pound Gospel cover with one of them on it.

Bright yellow? Really? And may God help you if you ever wanted to cleanly remove the things to de-clutter your cover … you needed a jackhammer, a steamer and a whole lot of prayer, and even then it wouldn’t guarantee that you’d get all the residue off. That’s probably why the cover of Rin-ne looks like this…

… and probably also why we’ve never seen garish yellow stickers proclaiming “From the creator of Dragon Ball Z!” on Dr. Slump covers, or “From the creators of Death Note!” on Bakuman covers, or “From the creator of a hundred gazillion other series with huge, glittery-eyed characters!” on the covers of Arina Tanemura manga.

It’s because of this sticker grudge and the fact that everyone knew about InuYasha at the time that the remains the only Takahashi series that we’ve never formally reviewed for the Star-Advertiser. Perhaps we will sometime down the line for the nostalgia value, but with 56 manga volumes and two rather lengthy anime series, it’ll probably take us a while. But here’s the complete “Project T” archive of what we did cover:

Quite a bit has happened in the Takahashi universe since the last installment of Project T ran. One-Piece Gospel was finally completed, with its English-translated volume arriving in 2008. InuYasha did as well, its final translated volume landing on shelves earlier this year. As for Rin-ne, Takahashi’s latest series and the last one we’ve written anything about to date (http://archives.starbulletin.com/content/20090609_Rin-ne_looks_like_another_hit_for_artist), if shelf space at local bookstores are any indication, it’s a good series, but it doesn’t look like it’s selling anywhere near the numbers that InuYasha drew in its heyday.

But there’s no denying this: Over the years, Rumiko Takahashi’s works have had quite the impact for manga fans in the U.S. They’ve certainly made a difference in the lives of two otaku journalists on a small rock in the middle of the Pacific. that’s for sure.

Update 5/1: Postscript: At Kappei Yamaguchi’s Kawaii Kon panel on April 30, I asked him what it was like getting to meet Rumiko Takahashi during the recording for InuYasha (a meeting chronicled in The Art of InuYasha and reprinted on the Rumic World website) and how he felt about Takahashi enjoying his performances. I think something may have been lost in translation from English to Japanese back to English — no offense, and I don’t know enough Japanese to be totally certain, but it seemed like the volunteer staffer doing the translating was a bit nervous and was missing quite a bit of the nuance of what Yamaguchi was saying. Because here’s the translated answer:

He was happy and honored to play the lead role in both anime … those roles are very important to him.

Any of you out there want to take a stab at this? Here’s the audio:

Kappei Yamaguchi at Kawaii Kon 2011

And yes, Wilma did got some of her Ranma 1/2 CD singles signed by Yamaguchi. She was thrilled. Pictures of that encounter to come.

3 Responses to “Manga Movable Feast: The Takahashi pupu platter”

  1. Diane:

    Well, you know the only reason Inu Yasha sold THAT many is because it was on Cartoon Network’s adult swim. Maybe if Rin-ne had been on Cartoon Network it, too, would have been ubiquitous…


  2. Hawaii News - Staradvertiser.com:

    [...] blurb helpfully pointed out (and in a manner much more subtle than those Rumiko Takahashi stickers I dissected back in April, at that) — but I had yet to experience a single moment of Saiyuki, although it was on my [...]


  3. Otaku Ohana - Hawaii News - Staradvertiser.com:

    [...] was stamped with the words “From the creator of Fruits Basket!” We’re talking Rumiko Takahashi-level marketing of other series by the same artist based on the huge success of one title. Except without those [...]


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