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The Return of Lum * Uresei Yatsura: Feudal Furor
posted January 4, 2006
 

Creators: Rumiko Takahashi
Publishing Information: Viz, $15.95
Ordering Numbers:

I'm not very familiar with Takahashi's work, beyond the occasional stumble through one of Viz's collection from this series or the Ranma 1/2 title. Takahashi is one of the '90s most popular Japanese imports, with some name recognition amongst hardcore comics fans that doesn't match the 22 million copies this Lum series sold in Japan (according to the back cover blurb), but is probably greater than most Japanese cartoonists in North America. She is, quite simply, one of the more popular comic book cartoonists in the world.

Her work consists of a cast of repertory characters with clearly defined roles and foibles, being put into situations where these foibles are manipulated for funny effect. Enjoying the work, then, is not so much an experience in finding out what happens but finding out how the situations are played through this time. Execution has precedence over novelty. It's an approach that resonates through a lot of Eastern art in general as I understand it, and shouldn't be unfamiliar to anybody who watches television comedies.

This set of stories is rather perfunctory in comparison with Takahashi's best work, including a dull and rather listless historical story in which the Lum characters take on slightly different but still recognizable roles (think of those "western" or "World War II" episodes of TV shows). What distinguishes the work, if anything, is the jaunty unpleasant nature of many of the leads, whose overreaching appetites drive stories in ways North American equivalents would never allow. Finally, it should be mentioned the art is effective without being singularly impressive.

This review was written in the late 1990s as part of a then-ongoing freelance gig; I apologize if it reads oddly or seems incomplete.