Rumiko Takahashi, Takashi Shiina Discuss the Manga Craft

posted on by Kim Morrissy
Both creators emphasize the importance of fast-paced openers and well-developed characters

Manga artists Rumiko Takahashi (Inuyasha, Ranma ½, Urusei Yatsura) and Takashi Shiina (Zettai Karen Children) participated in an interview together in the March issue of Weekly Shonen Sunday S, which shipped on Tuesday. The two artists discuss the manga craft and the way they approach storytelling.

The two-page interview begins with Takahashi sharing her thoughts on Shiina's manga adaptation of the Yashahime: Princess Half-Demon (Han'yō no Yasha Hime) anime spinoff of Inuyasha. She said that she was highly impressed with Shiina's skills, and the appeal of the characters came across very clearly.

Shiina responded that he sees himself as something like Takahashi's apprentice, even though he never received any formal training under her. He said that he has studied her works diligently, especially the narrative pacing in her short stories. Both artists agreed that the opening is vital for manga, and that the stories need to develop at a brisk pace.

Takahashi said that whenever she draws a new oneshot or chapter in a serialization, she always tries to make sure that the characters and the situation are firmly established 6-7 pages in. If the story does not present a strong hook by that point, then readers aren't likely to stick around even if it improves.

The two manga artists also discussed the importance of developing strong characters, with Takahashi stating that they can make or break a manga. She commented that it is important to develop characters not in isolation, but through their relationships with one another. Shiina said that his trick for writing characters is to make sure that he empathizes with their situations and gets in touch with something similar he has felt in his own life when depicting their feelings. When it comes to depicting villains, he tries to relate on at least some level so that they don't come across as flat characters.

Shiina has made his appreciation for Takahashi's manga evident by drawing fanart of her characters. Takahashi and Shiina also recently discussed their mutual respect for each other in an interview published by Comic Natalie last Tuesday.

The Yashahime: Princess Half-Demon manga launched in the November issue of Shogakukan's Shōnen Sunday S magazine on September 25. The first compiled volume shipped last Tuesday. Shiina drew the illustration below to celebrate the announcement, which brings together the sister protagonists of Yashahime: Princess Half-Demon and the protagonists of Shiina's own Zettai Karen Children.

Shiina only recently ended the Zettai Karen Children manga on July 14, 2020 after a 16-year run. The sci-fi comedy series began in Shogakukan's Weekly Shonen Sunday magazine in 2005. The manga inspired a 52-episode television anime series in 2008, as well as a 2010 original video anime adaptation and a 2013 spin-off anime focusing on the series antagonist Kyōsuke Hyōbu.

Yashahime: Princess Half-Demon is an anime spinoff of Rumiko Takahashi's Inuyasha series. The first season premiered in Japan in October 2020. Yashahime: Princess Half-Demon - The Second Act (Hanyō no Yashahime: Ni no Shō), the second season, premiered on Yomiuri TV and NTV on October 2. The anime is streaming on Crunchyroll, Funimation, and Hulu.

Sources: Comic Natalie, Weekly Shonen Sunday S March Issue

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