Anime Review: Takahashi Rumiko’s works

April 12, 2010 at 2:03 am | Posted in Anime, Manga, Review | Leave a comment

With several popular titles under her name, Takahashi Rumiko should not be an unfamiliar name to most anime fans. Out of her 4 major works, I have not watched Urusei Yatsura and Maison Ikkoku. However, I’m otherwise pleased to say that I’ve read Ranma ½ and Inuyasha, and finished all her other more minor works recently. There are only four words I can think of to describe Takahashi Rumiko – “genius of a storyteller”.

I can’t even remember how I started watching Mermaid’s Forest, but dark as the setting is, the intriguing plot keeps you glued to the screen as you follow the adventures of a man and his female companion searching for a cure to immortality after consuming mermaid flesh. Decades take place between each story, giving rise to a non-linear plot. Different interpretations of the mermaid legend and possible explanations are offered with each new encounter, as well as how people in different time periods react to the idea of immortality. The animation leaves much to be desired, but hey, keep in mind that you’re living in the blu-ray century and the TV series was produced 7  years ago (OVAs were from the 1990s).

From there, I went on to track down Takahashi Rumiko’s elusive OVAs – Fire Tripper, The Laughing Target, Maris the Chojo and One Pound Gospel. I can’t complain about the animations from the 1980s, but I know one thing for sure  – while Takahashi Rumiko’s creativity and storytelling impress me with how she is able to make even cliché story elements fresh and interesting, she should stay far, far away from science-fic. My favourite is definitely Fire Tripper, the story of a girl who time-travels with a plot twist I should have expected but still enjoyed nonetheless. Laughing Target is essentially a horror tale, which tends to scare me too much to enjoy anything, and One Pound Gospel is so-so but not bad. Maris the Chojo (the science-fic) on the other hand… is an effective lullaby and does absolutely nothing to capture my attention.

Around a month ago, I completed her collection of short stories – Takahashi Rumiko Gekijou. Animation is notably much better, with brighter colors, crisper drawings and smoother action. If the OVAs were an experimental project for her to try out a wide range of genres, she seems to have settled on pure storytelling of everyday life in various settings in the anthology. Some situations might seem overly-dramatic and a cause of the main characters thinking too much (eg. “Hachi no Naka”, where the woman is asked to look after some potted plants and started thinking about murder schemes), but her creativity makes up for everything else and keeps the stories entertaining, no matter how simple they are. My favourite is probably “Higaeri no Yume”, the story of a widower living with his wife’s ghost under the same roof but starting to develop feelings for another younger female employee.

It is in my opinion that Takahashi Rumiko’s talent is wasted on concentrating on shounen fighting/action series. She excels in her creativity and imagination, and Inuyasha is tying down her potential. Ranma ½ does not have this problem though, since it’s basically a compilation of comedic short stories revolving around Ranma and the Tendo family, if you break it down. Nonetheless, Takahashi Rumiko’s more minor and unknown works are definitely recommended for those who appreciate good examples of timeless creativity.

PS: I really should watch Urusei Yatsura and Maison Ikkoku, but inertia to start is high. I mean, just the TV series are already 196 eps and 96 eps respectively, not considering movies and OVAs. Maybe I should take one baby step at a time and begin on Rin-ne instead.

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