Yesterday I used a Paffooney I had stolen to illustrate my gymnasium adventures, and in the caption I gave credit to the wonderful comic artist I shamelessly copied it from. The second imitation Takahashi that I did yesterday is now displayed next to it above. I am now compelled to explain about my goofy, sideways obsession with Anime and Manga, the cartoons from Japan. I love the art style. I have since I fell in love with Astroboy Anime as a child in Iowa. Rumiko Takahashi is almost exactly one year younger than me. As a cartoonist she is light years more successful than me. She has been crafting pen and ink masterpieces of goofy story-telling longer than I have been a teacher.
Her artwork is a primary reason I have been so overly-enamored of the Japanese Manga-cartoon style. I love the big eyes, the child-like features of even adult characters, the weird poses and still-weirder comic art conventions of this culture from practically a different planet. She has created comic series that are immensely popular in Japan, and have even put down sturdy roots in this country, especially with young adults since the 80’s. She is the world’s number one best-selling female comics artist.
Just as we Westerners have to accept numerous ridiculous things to appreciate the stories told in American comics (for instance, brawny heroes running around in tights with their underwear on the outside of their pants, nearly naked ladies with super powers diving into battle next to men encased in armored suits, and talking animals), the Manga-minded must also practice a bizarre form of the willing suspension of disbelief. In Ranma 1/2, the main character is a boy marshal artist who turns into a girl when splashed with cold water. Much of the romantic comedy of that work revolves around boys and old men finding themselves in the bath house next to naked young girls. For some reason that sort of naked surprise causes the boys to spout fountain-like nosebleeds. In Inu-Yasha the whole thing is about fighting demons with swords. Inu-Yasha himself is part demon. Apparently part-demon is a good thing to be. Japanese villains are spectacularly susceptible to fits of crying rage and tantrums. And everybody looks more like American white people than orientals. Oh, and there are talking animals.
Rumiko is a master of pen and ink. Here is a sample of of her black and white work.
And she does color well too.
The little people are a special style of Manga character called a Chibi, and all regular Manga characters can turn into one at any moment.
And, of course, to read actual Manga you have to master reading backwards. Americans read left to right. The Japanese read right to left. You have to open a Japanese book in a manner that seems both backwards and upside down.
So now, by uncovering the fact that I am addicted to and seriously affected by Japanese cartoons, you have one more bit of evidence to present to a jury in case you decide Mickey needs to be locked up and medicated for a while. Japanese comics are a world of great beauty, but also a world unto themselves. It is an acquired taste that has to be considered carefully. And of all the many marvelous Manga makers, Rumiko Takahashi is the one I love the best.
3 responses to “RumikoTakahashi”
The flipping thing is interesting. It took me a while to read manga with the panels “backwards.”
I got hooked on Manga cartoons by Ken Akamatsu, Negima! and Love Hina. But I like Rumiko even better. Flipping them, however, to do it American style sometimes changes the story told by the drawings. It is better, I think, to see them the way they were drawn with only the speech balloons altered to translate it into English. I’d even prefer to read it in Japanese if I knew Japanese.
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