Anime News Network tells that Rumiko Takahashi, now that she has finished Inu Yasha, will start a new manga this spring, and Viz will bring the first volume out in English this year. And, since Fantasiapelit never disappoints, the English translation will probably be available in Finland a week or so from that as well.
I’m all tingly with anticipation.
Inu Yasha — well, I still buy the monthly Finnish translation, but I don’t like the series very much. (The translation’s fine.) Takahashi draws oh-so-beautifully, but the story just seems to keep running in place. Fighting monsters in feudal Japan is all good and fine, but I kind of lose interest once it becomes clear the main characters won’t ever die or suffer any changes in their circumstances.
Now, Inu Yasha isn’t the best thing Takahashi has done — oh, no — so I’m hoping she’ll do something like Ranma 1/2 next. Ranma was the first manga I came across, all those long years ago (er, six years), and a few years after that it was the first “will be released in Finnish!” title that made me all jumpy and cheery and hungry to get it, even if I had most of it in English as well. (Later instances of this “I have it in English already, but I just gotta get the Finnish version”: Azumanga Daioh and Yotsuba&!.)
Ranma is, and I say this through the rosy-tinted glasses of heavy nostalgia, simply one of the funniest and most touching works I know: Ranma Saotome, a deadly serious and cripplingly self-confident young sex-changing martial artist, trying to survive with three (four? five? what?) fiancees/suitors running around him (or her), and challenges ranging from traumatic ailurophobia to careless childhood vows coming at him (her) from all quarters.
That’s a bad description, of course — for some reason most manga series are impossible to explain without feeling like a total idiot. Maybe that’s because Japanese comics can juggle comedy and tragedy really well and quickly, and make things work when (my stereotypical idea of) Western comics with similar ingredients would just descent into cheap yuk-yuks and self-parody.
Ah, Ranma 1/2 is comedy, romance, martial arts and terribly flawed people hitting sparks off each other like a handful of steel balls in a flint canister going over the Niagara Falls. The story doesn’t move much — but then again, Ranma doesn’t need the same kind of a “dramatic drive” that Inu Yasha does. The idea of “just trying to live our lives” doesn’t need to move along as much as “gotta catch the evil baboon demon!” does.
Of Takahashi’s other works — well, some short stories of hers are pure genius, Urusei Yatsura reads (to me anyway) like a more wacky and thus less funny prototype of Ranma, and One Pound Gospel just makes me think, again and again, “where does this lady get her ideas? And why do they work this well?”, while Maison Ikkoku and Mermaid Saga — well, they mostly make me think her next offering could be anything, anything at all.
But, of course, not anything dull.
I’ll post a spittle-flecked overadrenalined continuation when I come across more details about the new series. Until then, if none of the above was familiar to you, go spend a few euros/dollars on the first volume of Ranma 1/2. Any bookshop can order one for you. You won’t be disappointed — and if against all reason you are, you can come back here and rave at me. (Not that that’ll get your money back, but it might make you feel better.)
And now, I’m off to immerse myself in another superb work: seven unread volumes of Bleach that I bought (looks hastily, guiltily around) to celebrate my licentiate. Uh. Yeah, that’s it. Not because of bleeding-money-from-all-orifices hedonism. Certainly not.