my P-1: Comments From Rumiko Takahashi’s Editors, Part 2: Maison Ikkoku

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.

Part 1, which you can read here, discussed Urusei Yatsura, and Part 2 covers Maison Ikkoku. Enjoy!

From Jiken (The Incident), in Volume 4 of the Big Comics Edition

myp1mi1In this chapter, Kyoko agrees to go with Mitaka to help pick out a wedding gift for his younger sister, but this truth gets twisted about at the Maison Ikkoku, leading the residents to instead believe that she has agreed to marry Mitaka. Godai doesn’t want to believe it, of course, and confronts Kyoko while at a train crossing. Kyoko answers honestly that yes, she’s helping Mitaka choose a wedding gift for his sister, but as she says this a train passes, the train crossing bells blaring. The noise causes Godai to misinterpret her answer as an affirmation of her engagement, which comes as a great shock.

When the manuscript was complete, Takahashi handed me a separate sheet with the train crossing sound effects. She asked me to place them in a way that would obscure Kyoko’s speech, thus putting the crux of the entire story in my hands. Back then we couldn’t rely on things like computers or Photoshop. We printed dialogue on paper using a process called phototypesetting, then cut out each line individually and glued them into the text bubbles of the manuscript. At the time, this was a normal part of a manga editor’s duties. I returned to the then empty editors department and, armed with scissors and glue, began my search for the ideal placement. I tried to line the sound effect up in a way so that the reader could understand how Godai would misinterpret Kyoko’s statement as he did, and through a process of trial and error, I arrived at the placement you see here.

Working with Takahashi was always a fun, fruitful experience, but with this chapter I was able to go a bit beyond my normal duties and contribute to the creation of the manuscript. It was thrilling.

— Maison Ikkoku’s 3rd Editor, Ichiro Suzuki

From P.S. Ikkokukan (P.S. Ikkoku), in Volume 15 of the Big Comics Edition

myp1mi2When I took over editing duties for Maison Ikkoku, it wasn’t just a significant title for Spirits, the magazine it was published in, but for the entire manga industry as well, having already secured its reputation as one of the great romantic manga of the 1980s. Previous to myself, the series had been handled by a number of experienced editors, and I felt tremendous pressure going in knowing that I might be the series’ last. As the story reached its conclusion, there was a lot of indecision and confusion on my part. When Mitaka takes Kyoko out on a date in an attempt to woo her, I had trouble imagining what kind of place he would take her. And during the whole Akemi charade, when Kyoko and Godai’s relationship is on the verge of collapse, I didn’t even know what a Love Hotel was supposed to be like. Sometimes our work found ways to embarrass me like that.

At the time I was also in charge of Omoi, a collection of high quality reproduction artwork from the series. The quality was such that it wouldn’t have been a stretch to see it framed, and I remember it sold over 500,000 copies. I was able to put my own personal thoughts on the series for the cover’s catch copy, which is an editor’s dream. Honestly, I wanted to choose the cover of that as my page, but of course I was asked for something from within the comic.

There are the standard choices, the scenes that would touch any person. Like that line in Yakusoku (Promises), “Because I don’t think I can bear to be alone anymore,” or in Sakura no Shita de (Beneath the Cherry Tree), when Kyoko bids farewell to Soichiro. But instead I choose this scene from the final chapter, P.S. Ikkokukan (P.S. Ikkoku), because of the surge of relief I felt as the editor who saw this series through to its completion. I felt a burden lifted from my shoulders similar to Godai’s grandmother in Katami (Heirlooms), when she says “Ah, what a relief.” (Except I didn’t fake my death afterword, haha).

— Maison Ikkoku’s 4th Editor, Makoto Oshima

That’s it for now. In Part 3 we hear from the editors of Ranma 1/2, so look forward to it!

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