my P-1: Comments From Rumiko Takahashi’s Editors, Part 1: Urusei Yatsura

It was announced in March 2017 that Rumiko Takahashi’s works had broken 200 million copies sold worldwide, and to celebrate Shonen Sunday Super printed a feature called my P-1, in which editors select a single page from the time they worked with Takahashi and share why that page is significant to them.

It’s fairly long, featuring twenty editors and all of her major works, so I will be splitting it up into seven or eight parts. It may take me a while to get through, as I am not intimately familiar with all of her works and am wary of the spoiler-y nature of this feature, but I plan to get to them all eventually.

Today I give you translations of comments from three editors, all of whom worked on Urusei Yatsura.

From the chapter Saigo no Date (The Last Date), published in Volume 24 of the Shonen Sunday Comics Edition.

myp1uy1I was put in charge of Urusei Yatsura soon after getting hired. There was a lot of pressure to deliver consistently good ideas on a weekly basis, and it was a constant battle. As we worked together, there was one thing that came to bother me. We have sayings like tade kuu mushi no sukizuki (there’s no accounting for taste) and juu nin you iro (different strokes for different folks), yet why is it that there aren’t any girls that take interest in Ataru? So one day I gathered my courage and proposed to Takahashi that we do a romantic story with Ataru and a girl, and what we came up with was The Last Date. Yes, the girl is actually a ghost, but no matter.

It has very few laughs for an Urusei Yatsura story, depicts an Ataru that can treat a lady with kindness, and the ending is actually kind of touching. Re-reading it now is embarrassing. We were so young back then! Takahashi wrote without pretension, and the result was blatantly romantic. I remember Takahashi herself saying it was so different compared to what the series usually was that she felt on edge the whole time she was writing it.

Years later, Takahashi mentioned in an interview that it was one of her favorite Urusei Yatsura stories. Reading that, and thinking about the fact that someone as lacking in talent as I could have contributed to the series like that, was really encouraging. I felt like those words would keep me going for the rest of my days.

— Urusei Yatsura’s 6th Editor, Tomofumi Aritou

From the cover of 1983’s 32nd issue of Weekly Shonen Sunday

myp1uy2Having to choose my favorite scene from the time I worked on Urusei Yatsura is no simple task. I became the editor for Urusei Yatsura after I’d been working at the company for about a year, in March of 1981, which is to say my memory is a bit fuzzy, and probably not very reliable. But I was also the series’ editor for a fairly long time, so a number of favorite characters and memorable scenes come to mind.

Like the time we got into trouble for using a senior editor’s story of getting dumped in Nyaon no kyofu nya ki o tsukero! (Chapter 73, published in English as “Meow” means “Fear”!). Or when we took cues from Fuji Yoshikawa’s novel Musashi and did a three part series on the character (with chapter titles like Super Musashi, ten made dash!, Super Musashi, dash for the heavens!). Or when Kotatsu Neko first appears and takes up residence in the stairwell in Kaidan ni neko ga onnen! (Chapter 111, published in English as Two-Story Ghost Story). Or when the Tanuki character gives out business cards that read “O-shima (pseudonym)” in Tanuki ga “Tsuru no Ongaeshi” (Chapter 134, published in English as The Grateful Raccoon). Or Lum’s sensual expression after she gets drunk off pickled plums in Yopparai Buki (Chapter 112, published in English as Pickled!). Or (in my opinion) the best Weekly Shonen Cover we did, 1983’s 32nd issue, featuring a tropical Lum. Or the cute sandogasa sporting snowman in Tabi no Yukidaruma Jowa (Chapter 115, published in English as Tales of the Wandering Snowman). Or the happy ending in Yubue ni Ukabu Zeni no Hana wo Nagase! (Chapter 132, published in English as Money Laundering). Etc etc.

Now that I think about it, we did so many stories with cute little characters that I remember Takahashi, a fan of drawing cute girls, once lamented about not being able to do any stories that involved girls in swimsuits.

But really, I love everything and have no idea what to pick. So, using my indecisiveness as an excuse, I’m going with the magazine cover, as everything else you can see in the comics themselves (sorry it isn’t in color, though).

— Urusei Yatsura’s 5th Editor, Makoto Oshima

From the chapter Ashita he Mou Iccho (Tomorrow, Once More), published in Volume 31 of the Shonen Sunday Comics edition

myp1uy3If I had to pick one page, it’d be the page where Ataru witnesses a future where he and Lum get married.

After being in publication for 9 years, Takahashi and I were preparing for the series’ ending. Amongst our preparations, there was one thing that needed to be resolved: The Shinobu problem. In the comic’s first year, there was a story that depicted a future where Ataru Moroboshi and Shinobu Miyake were married, and even went to so far as to say they had a child by the name of Kakeru.

It seemed appropriate at the time, as early in the series Shinobu was Ataru’s girlfriend, and Lum was nothing but an alien from outer space that had invaded Ataru’s life. But this became something we needed to fix before the series’ end, and to do this we had Inaba, a rabbit costume-wearing employee from the Destiny Production Bureau, make an appearance and make very clear that there are various possible futures, and that they are changeable. The image of Lum smiling in that wedding dress of hers is a representation of that.

With that, we were able to sort out the Shinobu problem, and I think it helped Takahashi prepare herself for the series’ closing. In that last story, which stretches over almost the entire length of the final volume, everything was wrapped up rather neatly, ending in a game of tag, just as the series opened.

The final exchange between Lum and Ataru on the final page of the final chapter is Takahashi at her best. Memorable stuff. (Note: He actually shares the final exchange word for word here, but I’ve decided to not include it. Because spoilers or something. If you are interested, I’m sure it’s out there on the web somewhere!)

— Urusei Yatsura’s 7th Editor, Shigeo Kubota

That’s it for Part 1! Next up is Maison Ikkoku. Look forward to it maybe?

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