May 1, 2011

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Takahashi Manga Movable Feast: Like Takahahi's Stories, No True Ending

Hello again, everyone!

You'll have to excuse if my tie is loose and my sleeves are rolled up and I lost my Tux jacket somewhere in Linda's blog. We are here at the end of the Feast, and while several folks sip coffee and others debate if they want yet another piece of cake (not unlike Kosaku!), I thought it might be a good time to make a quick closing statement.

First of all, I am quite pleased that the Feast was a big success. We had great conversation from a large volume of contributors, including some folks who may have been manga blogging for the first time. We discussed everything from Anime to Urusei Yatsura and just about any other topic in-between.

There was a lot of talk about how Takahashi was an early influence on our manga reading. There were several character studies. There was a lot of love for Mermaid Saga, and a lot of tepid tiptoeing on the subject of Rin-Ne. Overall, a wide variety of opinions were shared, and as with any good discussion, we didn't all agree.

On a personal level, I was happy to have my first interview as part of the Feast as well as offering up my blog as a hosting site for a guest post. I also had a wealth of support from the blogging community, with people getting the word out about the Feast, keeping the conversations going on Twitter, and of course in their own posts. I've had quite a bit of kind words directed at me this week, and that is both humbly appreciated and also makes me a bit proud of what I've done here. Seeing it all come together was extremely satisfying, even on those days when I fretted a bit about making sure things went smoothly.

I tried very hard to be the best host I could be, and I could NEVER have done this without all of you. You are the true people who make the Feast what it is, and I thank you for making this week a very special one for me. It is a blogging experience I will never, ever forget.

But let us now turn back to the point of this gather, Rumiko Takahashi. As Sean said to me earlier today, for better or worse, Takahashi has been a huge influence on the English-speaking manga world. She was here before the boom, helped Viz ride the wave of manga popularity, and is still out there with Rin-Ne. While her star may not have the luster it once did and while current trends and tastes may be quite a bit different from her frantic, off-the-cuff, romantic dysfunctions, there will always be a place for Rumiko Takahashi's manga, as long as she wants to keep making it.

In that way, the story of Rumiko Takahashi is as unfinished as many argue her manga series are! Like any ongoing project, Takahashi's place in the manga world here in the English-speaking world has some points of certainty and praise (sales, awards, critical acclaim), some negative points of varying degrees of agreement (relevance, quality, repetition), and things we cannot yet know (will Takahashi's manga stand the test of time, will there be more stories after Rin-Ne, will she ever try something really new and daring?).

I'm sure we all have our opinions on those future questions, but they are not for today. Those questions are for the conversations we will take away from this Feast. They are ideas ad arguments that will play out on the fields of Twitter and Blogger and Wordpress and personal sites and other forms of communication not yet dreamed of. I'll be carrying some of this on in my Year of Takahashi, and I hope you'll join me there for more breakdowns of series like Ranma 1/2, Rin-Ne, and Mermaid Saga, as well as anything else I can manage before 2011 turns into 2012.

Like Takahashi's stories and Takahashi's legacy, the conversation about her work will never really end until people stop caring. In a way, blogging about a creator is like writing fanfiction without the presumption that you can do a better job with the characters. It's a chance to take a part of the story and make it your own. I encourage each and every one of you who either wrote for or read about the Rumiko Takahashi Manga Movable Feast to keep that discussion going.

I now turn over the invisible hosting baton (or is bat a better analogy?) to Darik of the recently moved The Panelists, who will use the Feast to discuss Cross Game. I've got my copies at the ready, and I hope that you all do, too. We've had a great first third of the year, and I'm sure the remaining two-thirds of the year will make for many more memorable Feasts. Darik, I wish your Feast all the success possible, and I warn you that the caterers do charge for overtime and don't take kindly to broken dishes.

Now, for the final time this week, everyone raise your glasses and salute Rumiko Takahashi. May her story continue for many, many years to come!!