Title: Rumic World Trilogy vol 1 (of 3)
US Distributor: Viz Media
Author: Rumiko Takahashi
Suggested Retail Price (SRP): $15.95
Number of Pages: 192
Reviewed: 9th May 2004
Reviewer: Rich (Webmaster)
An excellent short story collection from Ms Takahashi that
showcases her skills across comedy, drama and horror.
The first story (Those Selfish Aliens) is the story of a paperboy who
is abducted by aliens, fish-men and eventually the army whilst attempting to
complete his paper round. As soon as you start reading you realise that this is
an obvious precursor to Urusei Yatsura, with a female character that is
remarkably like the alien princess Benten from that series. This is a great
story with the lead character remaining remarkably unfazed whilst chaos reigns
around him, Takahashi’s insane comedy stylings are well represented here. Also
look out for the odd fish man that crops up randomly in UY.
The second story (Time Warp Trouble) concerns an idealistic schoolboy
named Minoru (who looks a lot like Urusei Yatsura’s Ataru Moroboshi) who ends up with a room
full of starving refugees from another time when a chemistry experiment goes
wrong. The refugees obviously cause chaos at the school as they gather food with
the aid of the crusading Minoru. This is great fun and shows Takahashi playing
with the idea of time travelling, something she has used to good effect in
series such as Inu-Yasha. The characterisation in this story isn’t that great
but it works well as a short story as you can’t see where else it could go.
The third (Fire Tripper) is an obvious precursor to Inu-Yasha with a
young schoolgirl thrown back in time by a gas explosion (they must have some odd
gas in Japan…). After being rescued from a feudal battlefield by a young samurai
she attempts to find a way home and in the process discovers some shocking news
about herself and about her rescuer. This contains none of the demons and
magical powers of Inu-Yasha but works well and comes to a surprising conclusion,
the characters are interesting and it could have been expanded further as it
was, although Inu-Yasha is a good progression.
The fourth (Maris the Chojo) is another story that has echoes in Urusei
Yatsura, with a super-strong but cashed strapped alien policewoman and her
shape-changing fox sidekick ordered to rescue the scion of a mega-rich family
who has been kidnapped. Seeing the daring rescue of a super rich young man as a
chance to get out of her financial doldrums she accepts, but things don’t quite
go to plan… This is good, the main partnership is great and it is refreshing to
see Takahashi doing a story without a main male character. It is a shame this
doesn’t go any further as I think it’d be a good series, as it is the ending is
a bit too obvious.
The final story (The Laughing Target) is quite a creepy horror story. A
young man named Yuzuru, learns that his fiancée, Azusa, a woman betrothed to him
by his parents when he was young, is coming to meet him following the death of
her mother. Yuzuru has moved on in the intervening time, he has a girlfriend,
Satomi, and attends secondary school in another part of the country. However,
Azusa’s arrival puts pressure on his relationship and the dark secret she
harbours soon threatens their safety and happiness. This is quite disturbing in
places, with a very effective creeping sense of horror – especially near the
end. However, it only falls down in that there seems to be a lot more to be said
than the short story medium will allow, it is a shame Takahashi didn’t do this
as a proper horror series rather than a one off.
In all, a competent and interesting set of stories that are well drawn and
executed by Takahashi. You occasionally get the impression that the stories have
been compressed from something longer but otherwise Takahashi proves to be a
very talented short story writer, with the characters and situations superbly
handled within a limited space. A great place to start with her work for
newcomers but also a great book for fans.
Best Bit: The final confrontation between
Azusa and Yuzuru in Laughing Target.
Worst Bit: The 'twist' at the end of Maris the