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"Urusei Yatsura is a title I had been dreaming about since I was very young," Takahashi says. "It really includes everything I ever wanted to do. I love science fiction because sci-fi has tremendous flexibility. I adopted the science fiction-style for the series because then I could write any way I wanted to." Takahashi's later series, Ranma 1/2, the story of a boy who changes into a girl and back again, thanks to a dunk in a "cursed" spring, was serialized in Shônen Sunday for a total of 38 compiled volumes. In 1995, Rumiko Takahashi become a member of a very exclusive club, as one of the few manga artists ever to sell over 100 million copies of her compiled works--approximately one of her books for every person living in Japan.
"I always wanted to become a professional comic creator," Takahashi says, "ever since I was a child. At first, my short stories were published in comic magazines, then I had the big chance to publish Urusei Yatsura. As you probably know, comics for girls are very popular in Japan. Most of girls' comics are created by women. Maybe that's why there are so many female comic artists here." According to some estimates, shôjô, or girls' comics, make up 30 percent of the entire Japanese manga industry--a significant figure, even though Takahashi herself works in a style more like that of shônen, or boys' comics.
Takahashi wonders what it is about her work that interests her English-speaking readers. "Sure, there are cultural differences in my work," she says. "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."
Of all the manga and anime titles translated into English, Takahashi's work is easily among the most widely available--and widely popular--in the U.S. market, with nearly all of her manga stories in publication, including Ranma 1/2, Maison Ikkoku, Inu-Yasha, Urusei Yatsura, and her more obscure short-story work from various magazines, including her "Mermaid" saga and One-Pound Gospel, and various video series based on her stories.CONTINUE