(this fake interview appeared in Let's Anime #3 and is totally fake and is presented merely for comedy purposes. Because it's fake.)
WE (DON'T) INTERVIEW TUMIKO RAKAHASHI
The JAL 747's tires squeal as it lands on the runway at Narita International Airport. In Japan. Through immigration the line did crawl, but I wasn't perturbed; I was here to see none other than Tumiko Rakahashi, creator of some of the most popular manga (Japanese for "manga") in all of Japan. Soon, a sleek limo deposited me at the gates of Rakahashi-san's estate, a modest affair of only 589 square acres somewhere south of Makurazaki Prefecture. Entering through the ornately carved main doorway, I suddenly felt a stinging pain as a large aizuwakamatsu (Japanese for "bowling ball") crashed into my unprotected skull. Through a red haze of pain, I made out a mischievously grinning figure, whose mirth changed suddenly to concern.
This was my first meeting with Tumiko Rakahashi.
"Holy cow, I thought you were one of the servants!" she exclaimed in perfect English. "Are you OK?"
I assured her that a mere brain concussion was a minor injury, and with that, the interview got under way.
Born in 1950 to a humble, unassuming electronics genius, and her husband, Tumiko's first memories are of using indelible crayon to deface General MacArthur's portrait on the Occupation Currency then in use in Japan. "Moustaches, mostly. I really jam on moustaches!" she recalls with glee. After an uneventful school career and a short stint as an onomichi, or department store escalator hand-rail buffer ("A very unrewarding job. I mean, how dirty can those damn things get, anyway?") she realized that her only chance at fame and fortune lay in the lucrative field of manga, or as we Americans would say, "comic books printed backwards in foreign languages starring people with big eyes and speed lines." And after three weeks training at the special chichibutama (manga training school) in Nakaoaka Prefecture, she was at last ready.
"I felt that the world of manga needed more comics with a woman's touch... manga that women could read and relate to... manga that would make me filthy rich..." her first story, Minami Tori Kanazawa, or "Life Of Pathetic Bastard", was serialized beginning in 1969 in the popular manga weekly, Shonen Drip. It wasn't a hit, to say the least, but it garnered a cult following, and to this day a "Pathetic Bastard" fan club operates in Japan, to the obvious dismay of the authorities.
Next from her prolific pen was the stirring saga of two brave agricultural extension service officials and their dramatic struggle against the forces of plant lice and those darn monkeys who steal corn and stuff, or as millions of devoted Japanese readers knew it, Daisetsuzan Towada Hachimantai, or in English, "Eat Club, You Stupid Monkey!" During a promotional tour for the Daisetsuzan TV cartoon show, she had the first glimmerings of an idea for a new series; a series that would break new ground, firmly establish her name as one of the greatest in the world of manga, one that would have so many characters that nobody, not in a million years, would ever be able to keep track of them all.
And thus was born Urusei Matsuda, or as it is fondly known in the West, "Those Obnoxious Noisy Characters Whom We Can't Keep Track Of Even With A Scorecard, From The Stars." This lovable high-school comedy features approximately 35,000 characters, all of whom are sexually harassed by the lovable, friendly Atari Mitsubishi. The story became an instant hit, mainly because Tumiko bribed all the distributors into buying millions of copies, in a move that later spurred public outcry and led to some of the most comprehensive antitrust legislation ever enacted in Japan. This was probably unnecessary, because the series would have been a hit anyway, appealing as it does to wimpy Japanese high school freshmen who must wait until they are salarymen to begin sexually harassing their female Japanese coworkers. Appearing in the weekly "Shonen Saturday Night Fever", Urusei Matsuda was soon turned into a popular animated TV show (by Gritty Films).
Tumiko-san was now very wealthy and could do things undreamt of by most Japanese - install central heating, outfit her bathroom with special Western-style toilets with special talking attachments, and even begin to think about taking a vacation.
I asked Tumiko-san if her own high school experiences had contributed to the story of Urusei Matsuda. "Hell, I dunno," she replied. "I smoked so much weed in high school, I don't remember anything!"
It was during the height of Urusei Matsuda's popularity that she began work on what has become known as her second great success. The tender and emotional love story of an apartment house full of sadistic, mentally depraved psychopaths and the despotic landlady who forces them into degrading and humiliating experiences, and who is also an alien plant woman from the Crab Nebula, Mazone Ikkoku was a hit before it even appeared, thanks to skillful advance publicity work on the part of Shonen I Don't Like Mondays. Mobs of Tumiko devotees slaughtered each other in the millions outside manga specialty shops in a desperate struggle to gain even a ripped corner of the latest masterwork from the pen of Rakahashi. Once again she was a multimillionairess several times over, and in fact was forced to purchase the nation of Thailand as a tax dodge. That's why Lum is on all their money.
Anyway, it was a character from Urusei Matsuda that provided the inspiration for her next hit. Matsuda featured a character who was actually a girl but whom dressed as a lumberjack. Tumiko took this switcheroo philosophy to heart and created a story about a closet case who manages to convince everyone around him that because of a curse, he turns into a girl, which allows him to explore the more feminine side of his personality without threatening his masculinity. This series, Ramen Nibonouchi, or "Ramen Bi-Half", was yet another instant hit, thanks to skillful advance publicity in the way of mass hypnotism and subliminal messages inserted into episodes of Sazae-San and Kamen Rider Super-One.
Anyway, now that Tumiko is sitting on top of the anime and manga world, what's next?
"Well, right now I'm concentrating on keeping my assistants in line. Those goofballs slack off every chance they get, and I'm sick of it!" She pulled a wicked-looking glove over her left hand. "This is a toy that never passed the safety requirements - I call it a "Lum Glove" - and it really whips those lazy bums into shape!" Turning suddenly, there was a crackle of electricity from her fingertips, and a hapless butler was reduced to a charred ruin. Tumiko laughed gaily. "What a gas!" she said.
Reeling from the stench of burning flesh, I asked her which piece of merchandising from one of her creations was her favorite.
"Well, I must admit I always loved the Urusei Matsuda Flaming Trash Postcard Book (postcards featuring lovely photos of dumpsters and landfills which burst into flames upon delivery). And the Mazone Ikkoku Household Plaster Repair Kit certainly has its uses. But my absolute favorite is the Fat Roger Ebert Barbecue Sauce. It has real pieces of Roger Ebert in it!"
Yes, it certainly seems as if the entire universe is just waiting for the chance to put a few hundred thousand million more yen into Tumiko Rakahashi's bulging bank account. So here's to you Tumiko! Keep those manga masterworks coming, and how!