The Invisible Web

Your Trip Into the Chapel Perilous

Happy 51st Birthday Rumiko Takahashi

Posted by invizweb on October 10, 2008

誕生日おめでとう 高橋 留美子 !

Decades ago when This One was still but a child of 10 or so, a subsidiary magazine of Electronic Gaming Monthly introduced me to the concept of anime, Japanese animation. Sure I watched a Doraemon movie but I thought animated media was for kids. The concept of cartoons for teenagers and adults was one foreign to my parents still to this day, and there was no Adult Swim then (yes I know there was Heavy Metal but that film was not in my awareness for another decade).

The particular anime that video game otaku introduced me to was a show entitled Ranma 1/2, based on a manga by Rumiko Takahashi of Nerima, Japan. Ranma Saotome was a teenage Martial Artist who was trained by his father, Genma, to be “a king amongst men.” Although the two were financially impoverished, they got by working marks. Along their journeys, they caught word of “the ultimate training grounds,” the purportedly cursed Jusenkyo Springs in China (probably in Yunan somewhere I would guess). Apparently, these springs were haunted by the spirits of those who drowned in them. If one was to fall into the springs, they would be cursed to assume the form of the fallen whenever s/he touched cold water. Not heeding the warnings of their bilingual Guide, they jumped on rail thin bamboo shoots overhanging the springs to spar. Ranma brutally knocked his father into a pool. He was startled seconds later when a rabid panda in his father’s now tattered gi pops up and paws him into a body of water. The brunette Ranma comes up for air and is started to find that he is now a buxom redhead girl. After some brief adventures in China, Ranma and father head to Japan to join the household of Genma’s good friend Soun Tendo as a prospective son-in-law to one of his daughters. Youngest daughter Akane Tendo also happens to be a very strong martial artist. And thus Ranma and Akane’s paths meet and chaos ensues~!

Sure it was not a perfect story. Ranma would announce his transformations as a curse until he needed to use them for a gainful purpose. No resolution one way or another was ever made of how he genuinely felt over his body and of his feelings towards Akane Tendo. The show/comic was homo- and transphobic at times (though in addressing the change in Ranma’s anima and animus, some transfolk may identify with this martial arts comedy fairy tale). And although the series was not Nietzsche, or even Jack Kirby’s Fourth World, Ranma’s coming of age story was like many of its kind: a young boy’s body changes drastically and he is confused over the metamorphosis to adulthood. He will be self-conscious and resentful at times. And thus like many other Hero’s Journeys, Saotome’s work as an allegory (the water which changes his gender is also representing of life and death) on many levels while providing hours of entertainment on end. And thus This One’s life was enriched if by a bit. So This One extends his most cordial and sincere wishes to the Queen herself, Rumiko Takahashi.

And for your edutainment intent, here are 5 articles throughout the 10 PM hour to commemorate 51 years of Rumiko Takahashi.


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