Rumic World Trilogy vol 1 (of 3)

US Distributor:  Viz Media

Author:  Rumiko Takahashi

Suggested Retail Price (SRP):  $15.95 (approx. £10)

Number of Pages:  192

ISBN:  1-5693-1126-9

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 Chojo.


Feature:   Extras: N/A

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