【Interview】 Rumiko Takahashi Talking about past manga production


On New Year’s Day, 2022, the whole of Japan was astonished by a piece of news. The Return of Lum will be broadcast as a new anime. It has been about 40 years since this work was broadcast as an animated TV series, and this time, the voice actors will be completely new. Rumiko Takahashi, the author of the original manga and creator of such hits as Ranma 1/2 and Inu Yasha in addition to The Return of Lum, told us about the secret story behind the creation of The Return of Lum, her thoughts on the new anime, and about MAO currently serialized in Weekly Shonen Sunday.

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Origin of Rumiko Takahashi work

-Next year will mark the 45th anniversary of Rumiko Takahashi’s manga career. She has been active almost without a break, and her serialized works have all been big hits. She was awarded the Medal with Purple Ribbon in 2020. When did you first become interested in drawing manga?

I have been reading manga magazines since I was a child. I remember that when I was in the sixth grade, I submitted my first four-frame comic I drew to Weekly Shōnen Sunday and my name appeared in the magazine. I started drawing story manga when I was in the second year of high school, and was a college student when I made my debut in 1978. I loved reading and was particularly influenced by the novels of Mr. Yasutaka Tsutsui. The slapstick science fiction elements of Mr. Tsutsui’s novels are still at the root of my manga creation.

   Yasutaka Tsutsuiwiki

-The Return of Lum, Ms Takahashi’s first serialized work, is just such a work. It is a romantic comedy with strong science fiction elements, featuring the main character Ataru, who loves girls, and many characters centering on the alien Ram. This work, which caused a social phenomenon in both manga and anime, is to be broadcast this year as a new anime with different voice actors. What did you think as the author of the original work when you heard about it?

I was surprised to hear that they were going to do it in this day and age! I was happy to feel the presence of people who were working to broadcast a work that was created more than 40 years ago as a new anime. When I read the scenario of the anime adaptation, it was more interesting than I had expected, and I felt that both old-time anime viewers and newcomers would enjoy it, which made me even more excited about the broadcast.

As for changing the voice actors, the people who played the main characters are still active today, so I would welcome their continued work, but I also thought it would be good to renew the voice actors and the portrayal of the story as “The Return of Lum from the year 2022. As many of you may already know, Ataru is voiced by Hiroshi Kamiya, Lum by Sumire Uesaka, Shinobu by Maya Uchida, and Mamoru Miyano by Mendo. The voice actors who fill the supporting roles are all gorgeous, and all of them are leading actors. Many viewers will be surprised by the end roll, so please look forward to the announcement.

Rumiko Takahashi debut as a manga artist

-Did you have an original idea for The Return of Lum?

Before my debut, I attended the manga school 「Gekiga-murajuku」of Mr. Kazuo Koike, who is famous as an original manga author, and we had an assignment to submit a story scenario once a week. When I got my first serial, I decided to use one of the scenarios, and it became the original idea for the first episode of The Return of Lum. As a result, it became a manga in which I put everything I wanted to draw. For example, science fiction closely related to daily life, slapstick gags, and school stories. ……The world of The Return of Lum can be anything.

   Kazuo Koike wiki

-How did you set up the characters?

First of all, the main character, Ataru, became a womanizing character after submitting seven times storyboards to the editor. Shinobu, who was the heroine in the beginning of the story, was made to be a common high school girl because I wanted her to exist to highlight Ataru’s normal-ness, and Ram was an invader from outer space, and the image of his character design was an incarnation of lightning.

-that’s why she wears a tiger print bikini. Other than that, Ram’s “~dacha” speech style is now world famous.

When I was thinking about giving the character’s speech style more personality, I was reminded of (Aoba Shigeru), a coming-of-age novel set in Sendai (by Hisashi Inoue, Bungeishunju). And since the aliens in my debut (Selfish People) use the Chiba dialect “~decchia” which is similar to the Sendai dialect, I decided to make Ram’s way of speaking similar to that

Initially, The Return of Lum was to be a five-episode serial, with Lum appearing only in the first episode, but we realized that we could bring him back in the third episode, and from there the love triangle between Ataru, Shinobu, and Lum became the The love triangle between Ataru, Shinobu, and Lamu became the axis of the five-episode serialization. I learned that The Return of Lum had been a big hit after the series was finished, and my editor told me that readers loved all three (and many people were wondering what would happen to this love triangle,” so when a long-term serialization was decided, Lum was to appear as a continuation of the series.

Why Rumiko Takahashi made Lum a heroine

-Why did you change the heroine from Shinobu to Ram?

Since I was more concerned with the fact that the main character is Ataru than the heroine, I did not initially consider whether Ram or Shinobu would be a couple with Ataru, and during the serialization, Ram naturally took the heroine’s place. The turning point may be Mendo, a new character from the long-running series. It was strange that the surroundings did not react to him even though he was supposed to be handsome, so I included a description of Shinobu’s attraction to Mendo.

Rumiko Takahashi Love of Manga

-Ms Takahashi also began serializing the romance mangaMaison Ikkoku in the middle of the serialization ofThe Return of Lum. Was it difficult to serialize both at the same time?

I was still in my twenties at the time, so even though I was tired, it didn’t feel impossible. I didn’t feel particularly sleepy or stiff-shouldered, and my heart was boiling because I was enjoying my work as a manga artist.

-What was the decisive factor for the completion ofThe Return of Lum?

The decisive factor was Shinobu’s presence. As the story progressed, Ataru and Lum became like a couple, and I began to think about how I could make Shinobu happy. I came up with the idea of an episode in which Ataru, Lum and Shinobu find many doors to the future in parallel worlds. I decided to complete The Return of Lum because I felt that Shinobu could see a bright future with this episode. I was able to make an ending where all the characters are happy and the readers are glad to have read the book.

-I thinkRanma 1/2, which started after the completion ofThe Return of Lum, was like that. The main character Ranma was set up to become a woman when she covered herself with water, and there were both gags and battles, and there was a long episode that was equivalent to more than two volumes, which also left an impression on me.

In Ranma 1/2, it was possible to use spreads and large panels. Ranma’s forgiving wife Akane is rarely said to resemble Shinobu from The Return of Lum, but Akane is unrelated to Shinobu because she is a heroine that was decided upon while writing the storyboards. There are times when characters from other works naturally become similar to each other, but I have never until now dared to connect them to characters from the past.

-The Mermaid series is a serious story about the journey of the main character who has become immortal. Inuyasha is about a junior high school girl who travels back in time to the Warring States period and meets and travels with the half-demon Inuyasha. The school comedy RINNE of the Boundary is about a boy who is a god of death and a girl who is psychic. Ms Takahashi’s serialized manga are always a hit, and almost all of them have been adapted into anime.

I always put all my energy into a serialized work, and I start thinking about the content of a new serial after it is completed. I have not decided how the story will end. But I always want to end the story in a way that readers will want to read it over and over again.

I am often asked, Isn’t it hard to create new works one after another?However, my feeling is that I am very grateful and happy to have a place to draw manga, with a new serial slot prepared for each completed story. What has not changed since my debut is my enthusiasm for creating manga. I have continued to draw by hand for a long time.

Points that Rumiko Takahashi keeps in mind when drawing her manga.

-You are currently serializingMAO in Shonen Sunday. The heroine, who lives in the present day, travels back in time to the Taisho Era, meets Mao, an Onmyoji, and fights to solve the mystery.

The know-how cultivated in “The Return of Lum” to make readers feel the tempo is alive in MAO as well. To give an example, there was a time when, after drawing one panel in “The Return of Lum,” I had a hard time for a couple of days because I couldn’t move on to the next development. Then, I took the plunge and deleted the panel, and the story began to move in a different direction. Through these experiences, I have honed my compositional skills, and now I don’t have to stop and worry while drawing anymore.

-What exactly do you mean by compositional skills?

In every episode of every manga, I place importance on the introduction, which is the deciding factor in whether or not the reader will read the rest of the manga. For a regular episode, the first seven pages, and for a manga like The Return of Lum, where each episode is short, the first two or three pages fall into that category. After that, something happens by the 00th page. In the second page, the situation changes and the story picks up toward the end This kind of manga structure is ingrained in me. When I am drawing, I intuitively feel that it is about time.

Rumiko Takahashi manga MAO

In my previous serialized works, Inuyasha had a relatively tense story, but MAO has an even darker atmosphere. It also has a strong mystery element, and while I was conscious of the female readers, I also created many male characters that I thought were cool because I am also a woman. It is a work with a strong mystery element, with many mysteries that have yet to be solved.

Also, the female characters have a tendency to lean too much toward fantasy if they reveal too much skin like Ram, so I dressed them in school uniforms, kimonos, and Taisho era clothing.

-The work also shows the difference between the Taisho Era and the 2022 Era in terms of language and behavior.

Since I was a child, I always felt that women in the Taisho and early Showa periods used beautiful language. People living in the Taisho era use language appropriate to the times, while Nabana, a high school student in Reiwa, speaks the language of today’s youth. The point about being conscious of language is also in keeping with Lum in The Return of Lum.

-What are your plans for the future?

Right now, I would like to devote all my energy to drawing MAO; volume 12 is now on sale, and I hope you will read it. Also, I have a short story manga “Rumiko Takahashi” in “Big Comic Original” No. 8, which will be on sale on April 5, so please pick up a copy if you like.

As for the anime The Return of Lum, it will start airing this year, and I hope it will be an anime that people who have problems at work, school, or in their daily lives can laugh without thinking and feel at ease. Various news will be announced in the future, so I hope you will look forward to the follow-up news.

Thank you for watching. See you soon. (*‘∀‘)b

Works by Rumiko Takahashi


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