Is Rumiko Takahashi the same in every language? One man may know: Gerard Jones. English rewriter of INU-YASHA, RANMA 1/2, and LUM*URUSEI YATSURA, among other manga, Jones has also written American comics such as the classic THE TROUBLE WITH GIRLS and OCTANE. Now he talks about Takahashi's new title. How do you feel INU-YASHA compares to Takahashi's other work? Where's she going with it?

Jones: She's heading into a whole different style of narrative. For the most part, each chapter tended to be rather self-contained in her previous work, whereas here she's doing a big, intriguing, ongoing narrative. I've rewritten three issues, and it's very interesting and a strong start, but I'm much less certain of where it's headed than with the others.
: How have you made the characters' voices sound distinct?

: The tricky part is, I'm trying to make the characters in the past speak in a sort of faraway voice. I don't want them to sound like 20th century people or to use a lot of stilted archaisms. Kagome is a fairly familiar sort of Takahashi person, the teenage girl of the present. Inu-Yasha is much more complicated. He's far removed from the present, mysterious, and sort of a romantic object; I want him to be intriguing without having a 1997 voice. Kaede's a little bit of the same challenge, but since she's older and the head of the village I can allow her to be a little more formal and portentous sounding. And with the villagers, I can play up the quasi-archaic speech pretty heavily to keep us in historic context. Once the readers are comfortably in the narrative that may fade away, which I guess could mean Kagome is being more accustomed to their manner of speaking.
: Often there are big decisions about the translation of certain words, such as the title...

: (laughs) There's a sort of call between translating and not. I thought the protagonist's name should be untranslated, for that comes off as the proper name of a running character. Readers can pass on the information that "Inu" means "dog", and stuff like that. But a monster, in that case I'd rather have it in English, so that the meaning is explicit. I think once or twice I've found ways to slip the translations into the dialogue.
: Have you had to look up many historical elements? It's always a question whether to 'Anglicize' things.

: I felt it was better to keep it neither too Japanese or too Western and try to convey the gist of what the story contains. I'm afraid if I do too much research it'll get in the way. Fortunately the literal translator [Mari Morimoto -- Ed.] is pretty good as far as telling what Takashashi means and suggesting how to translate it. One example is a crow which goes inside bodies and animates them. The translator suggested 'zombie crow', but that is so hooked into the Caribbean thing, I decided to use 'demon crow' instead. I'll be using 'demon' a lot as the series goes on.
: How much time do you spend on sound effects?

: I was feeling in a rut, so I'm shifting my whole approach and testing it on INU-YASHA. It finally occurred to me that in American sound effects there's a tendency to stick with onomotopaeiac nouns, "crack" and "snap" and stuff, whereas the Japanese stuff functions almost more like a soundtrack, kind of a music track of tones. So I'm paying more attention to the sound of the original sound effects as opposed to the narrative function. There'll be more sound effects in there that seem odd to American readers, but I think as you get used to it as you go along.
: Do you prefer working with continuing stories, such as INU-YASHA, or episodic stories, such as URUSEI YATSURA?

: Episodic's easier for me, because I don't see the material unless the art shows up. I get them month by month. The more episodic it is, the more I know where I'm heading and what to set up. As it becomes open-ended, there's the danger of missing a pun that turns out to be important, that kind of thing. Luckily Toshi saved me on this long thing in RANMA -- everyone thought they were competing for a chance to visit China, and it turned out to be some bizarre pun on some guy's name which wasn't revealed for six or seven issues. [RANMA 1/2 Part 4 No.s #6-8 -- Ed.] Toshi noticed it and told me "Wait a minute, when you mention the trip to China, you have to set up the gag." It's a little more difficult, and requires the editor to be thinking ahead. Do you prefer scripting humorous stories?

: It's harder, but I think I like the challenge.
: Do you feel rewriting Japanese comics has affected your own writing at all?

: I don't think I've stolen any jokes but I've taken a certain attitude towards character humor from Takahashi. I think I do more with repeated gags with exaggerated characters. She's shown me how to spin a joke so it's still funny four times in the same issue, which American comics don't do.

Inu-Yasha ©1997 Rumiko Takahashi/Shogakukan, Inc.
©1997 Viz Communications, Inc.