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ANIMERICA: Since there are so few female readers in this American market, it would certainly make us and the comics industry in general very happy if Ranma 1/2 could increase the number of women reading comics. In my opinion, the concept of a man changing into a woman and a woman changing into man could be taken as an effort to enlighten a male-dominated society. After all, Ranma never knows what gender he'll be next. Did you intend this?

TAKAHASHI: It's just that I came up with something that might be a simple, fun idea. I'm not the type who thinks in terms of societal agendas. But being a woman and recalling what kind of manga I wanted to read as a child, I just thought humans turning into animals might also be fun and mä know, like a fairy tale.

ANIMERICA: In a previous interview you said that you often use Japanese folklore as a motif in your work. Do you ever receive inspiration from other media, such as contemporary movies or novels?

TAKAHASHI: Well, I've always liked Yasutaka Tsutsui's slapstick novels. I read them often. I've wished I could draw manga that was as absurd as that.

ANIMERICA: Could we say then that Yasutaka Tsutsui has had a great influence on your work?

TAKAHASHI: Yes, very much. I just happen to use folklore as a basis, but that's because it's easy to twist tales that everyone knows. As for movies, I only see them for entertainment.

ANIMERICA: Disney animation later influenced the story-oriented manga of the late Osamu Tezuka, which in turn became the basis of Japanese comics. Has animation ever influenced you?

TAKAHASHI: Not in particular. But then, Tezuka saw Disney animation and created the manga of today, and we as a generation grew up reading that, so I very much think I'm in that school.

ANIMERICA: This is an open-ended question, but I'd like to ask just how busy are you...? I'll bet American artists probably can't imagine what it's like to be drawing over one hundred pages a month.

TAKAHASHI: Isn't American comic production done in a division of labor? So the artist is infinitely talented in drawing, and the writer is infinitely talented in making stories....

ANIMERICA: Yes. In America, there are very few artists who both draw and write stories.

TAKAHASHI: ...and so, Japanese manga comes from a completely different form, where the artist does everything alone. It's not possible to excel in all tasks, but one can't succeed without a balanced combination of talents. In that sense, it's difficult to strive for perfection, but the kind of perfection that is striven for by Japanese artists is different.

ANIMERICA: Are you ever dissatisfied with your stories?

TAKAHASHI: No, I'm always fully satisfied. [LAUGHS]

ANIMERICA: It would seem that it takes a vast amount of talent to succeed as a manga artist in Japan.

TAKAHASHI: I think so. If you can draw really well but can't write a story, you'd have to become an illustrator. Even with the help of a writer, if you can't come up with good layouts, you can't make it as a manga artist. You might become a wonderful illustrator, but not a manga artist.

ANIMERICA: Do you have a message for your American fans?

TAKAHASHI: I'm grateful that you read my works, and it gives me encouragement to know that you enjoy them. My best regards to every one of you.