Inuyasha vs. Ranma. Vs. Lum vs….a whole lot more of the most popular anime and manga stars from the past 40 years.

Like anyone in the entertainment industry, manga and anime creators see ebbs and flows to their popularity over time. Some, like Gundam’s Yoshiyuki Tomino, see their greatest success early in their careers (and pick an ever-increasing number of fights as time goes by), while others, like Devilman’s Go Nagai, experience a renaissance of respect after lapsing into a period of unimportance.

But no one’s ever had a sustained hit-streak quite like Rumiko Takahashi, the manga artist who created Urusei Yatsura, Maison Ikkoku, Ranma 1/2, and Inuyasha in a continuous string of serializations that started in 1978 and kept going for the next several decades. Takahashi is still drawing to this day, but Japanese public broadcaster NHK recently paused to take a look back at her illustrious illustration career with a massive online poll that spent six weeks collecting 210,061 votes as to what the best Takahashi anime, character, and theme songs are. The results have now been compiled, so let’s take a look.

● Best Takahashi anime:
1. Inuyasha
2. Ranma 1/2
3. Maison Ikkoku
4. Urusei Yatsura
5. Urusei Yatsura 2: Beautiful Dreamer
6. Rin-ne

Topping the list is Takahashi’s beloved tail of a time-traveling schoolgirl who falls into a well and then in love with a dog-man, which received a whopping 90.8 percent of its votes from female fans. Gender-jumping martial arts comedy Ranma 1/2 was also a hit with the ladies (getting 80,4 percent of its votes from them), while the demographics flipped as loveable-loser-male-protagonist-learns-to-be-less-of-a-loser-and-more-lovable Maison Ikkkoku got 73 percent of its votes from guys.

Voter age was also a factor, with Inuyasha’s biggest fan base being people in their 20s (57.6 percent of its voters) and Ranma 1/2 getting some surprisingly young support (37.6 percent of voters in their 30s, but also 32.9 percent in their 20s) for a 30-year-old anime. Maison Ikkoku, set during Japan’s bubble economy, was primarily popular with fans in their 40s (44.3 percent), while the cerebral, non-source-material Beautiful Dreamer theatrical feature, written and directed by Ghost in the Shell and Patlabor director Mamoru Oshii, got most of its votes from fans in their 40s and 50s (34.5 and 33.3 percent). Finally, Rin-ne, Takahashi’s most recent completed work, pulled 55 percent of its support from voters 19 and under.

● Best Takahashi character
1. Inuyasha
2. Lum
3. Sesshomaru
4. Shampoo
5. Ranma Saotome (female)
6. Kyoko Otonashi

No surprise here, as the titular star of the most popular Takahashi series is also the most popular Takahashi character, with his villainous half-brother takes the number-three slot. Urusei Yatsura’s Lum, whose yellow tiger-stiped bikini remains an evergreen anime cosplay option, finished in second place, underlining how the character has become a Japanese pop cultural icon, often overshadowing her franchise itself. Ranma 1/2’s voluminously coiffed martial artists/Chinese cafe waitress Shampoo actually outshines series star Ranma Saotome, whose female form specifically finished in fifth (with male Ranma, who shares his anime voice actor with Inuyasha, was seventh). Meanwhile, Maison Ikkoku’s top performer was young widow Kyoko, who actually spends most of the series being called “manager.”

● Best Takahashi song
1. Lum’s Love Song (Urusei Yatsura)
2. Change the World (Inu Yasha)
3. Jaja Uma ni Sasenaide (Ranma 1/2)
4. Kanashimi yo Konnichihwa (Maison Ikkoku)
5. Grip! (Inu Yasha)
6. Hidamari (Maison Ikkoku)

Similar to Lum herself, “Lum’s Love Song” is something that just about everyone in Japan between the age of 20 and 45 can recognize and identify, whether or not they’d call themselves and anime fan.

▼ “Lum’s Love Song”

“Change the World” and “Grip!” both benefit from being performed by two of the most popular mainstream J-pop units of their day (boy band V6 and rock-pop duo Every Little Thing), while “Jaja Uma ni Sasenaide” (a.k.a. “Don’t Make Me a Wild Horse” or “Don’t Make me Wild Like You”) undeniably gets a boost from it’s catchy repeated line of “yappappa,” making it instantly sing along-able.

It’s also worth noting that all of the top six are opening themes, with numbers one through four all being their series original openers, showing how deep first impressions can be.

Finally, the poll also asked voters to choose the best episodes of Takahashi’s five major anime series.

Best Urusei Yatsura episode: Episode 67: “Kimi Sarishi Ato” (“Since you Went Away”)
Best Maison Ikkoku episode: Episode 96: “Kono Ai aru Kagiri! Ikkoku-kan ha Eien ni!” (“As Long as We Have This Love! Ikkoku-kan Forever!”
Best Ranma 1/2 episode: Episode 9: “Otome Hakusho: Kami ha Onna no Inochi Nano” (“Maiden’s Declaration: A Woman’s Hair is Her Life”)
Best Inuyasha episode: Episode 26: “Ashita he” (“To Tomorrow”)
Best Rin-ne episode: Episode 25: “Target ha Sakura” (“The Target is Sakura”)

In the interest of avoiding spoilers, we’ll avoid giving any additional details on those specific episodes, since with over four decades of works to enjoy, a lot of fans haven’t gotten thorough their entire Takahashi backlogs yet (though this does prove that the time investment required to get to the end of Maison Ikkoku is totally worth it).

Oh, and before we go, here’s Ranma 1/2’s “Jaja Uma ni Sasenaide…”

…because if I’ve got to have it stuck in my head all day, you do too.

Source: NHK via Anime News Network/Lynzee Loveridge
Top image ©SoraNews24
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Follow Casey on Twitter, where he thinks it’s a crime, an absolute crime, that Ukyo Kuonji only finished 14th in the character ranking.