Rumic World Trilogy 1

December 19, 2014

Rumiko Takahashi – Viz – 1996 – 3 volumes

Protip:  If you’re looking for volumes of this trilogy, there’s two versions of volume 1 floating around.  This one (from 1996) has two extra stories that the other (from 1993) does not.  The two stories are Those Selfish Aliens and Time Warp Trouble.  The former is Takahashi’s professional debut, so you’ll probably want to see it if you’re bothering to seek these volumes out.

Unfortunately, I can’t distinguish them much more than that.  Both are black (though the older is black and purple, and the newer is black and red), and both have cover illustrations from The Laughing Target.  The newer volume also has the archers from The Laughing Target in the illustration, and the older just has the girl’s portrait.  They’re also titled slightly different things – Rumic World (1993) versus Rumic World Trilogy (1996), though that may not mean much in the world of bad internet data.  Here’s a link to my LibraryThing account with the data and covers for both.

Anyway!  These are among the oldest of Takahashi’s short stories, and as such… are a little rough.  The aforementioned Time Warp Trouble was my least favorite in the collection.  A chemistry experiment goes awry and some folks in period costumes rush the school and steal the lunches.  Much is said/yelled about food and farming preservation.  The interlopers escape back through a time warp.  There is a twist on the last two pages that made this somewhat more interesting, though not necessarily worth the price of admission.  It reads a lot like the characters are continuously belaboring a current event that I am unaware of.

Those Selfish Aliens isn’t much better, although I enjoyed the cute premise of a delivery boy becoming the ultimate weapon of three different races, unbeknownst to anyone but the reader.  This is also where the fishman in the spacesuit comes from, who appeared regularly in Urusei Yatsura (kind of like a Tezuka cast member).

Fire Tripper was probably the best story in the collection, about a girl who is spirited away to the distant past after a gas explosion in the present.  She befriends a local teen boy and realizes a young boy who’s hand she was holding during the explosion was also brought over with her, and tries desperately to find him.  There’s some more back-and-forth time travel, and the ultimate explanation was… a little mind-blowing, honestly.  I had to put the book down to process the crossing paths properly.  Basically, the plot of the story is very sound, but the development is a little harder to sit through.

The Laughing Target is a good horror story, very Mermaid Saga-esque.  A woman is promised in marriage to her cousin at a young age, and re-enters his life as a teen obsessed with him.  She begins terrorizing his current girlfriend, and we find out later she has some rather wicked powers.  This one didn’t have very interesting characters, but was still a good story.

Finally, Maris the Chojo was a very Urusei Yatsura-esque comedy story about a burly alien trying to get out of debt.  Cute.

An interesting collection, but the other two I’ve read have better stories.  Still, a must for the huge fan of Takahashi, as “Those Selfish Aliens” is her first, and “Fire Tripper,” “Laughing Target,” and “Maris the Chojo” were all animated as 90s OAVs.  Still available on VHS!

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