She may be one of the biggest names in the manga/anime world, but Takahashi hasn’t forgotten her roots.

With the announcement of a new Ranma 1/2 anime coming on the heels of the finale of the Urusei Yatsura remake, original creator Rumiko Takahashi is back in the pop culture spotlight. Not that Takahashi is ever all that far from that spotlight, though, being one of Japan’s most successful manga artists of all time, with at least one series in serialization for the better part of four decades.

But as we wait for the reveal of more information about the new Ranma project, people have rediscovered a piece of Takahashi artwork that’s been hiding in plain sight for at least 25 years.

Seen on Google Street View above is Inagaki Veterinary Clinic, located in the suburbs of Niigata City. The understated sign on the front of the building lists their hours of operation and phone number, and also features a drawing of a dog and cat.

This particular dog and cat, however, will look very familiar to Takahashi fans. The cat is clearly Ranma 1/2’s martial artist Shampoo, in the feline form she takes whenever she’s splashed with cold water. The dog, meanwhile, is Soichiro-san, the pet of Kyoko Otonashi, the female lead of Maison Ikkoku, yet another Takahashi series.

With Takahashi being a Niigata native, one might mistakenly assume that the vet slyly copied some of the hometown hero’s artwork to curry favor with local customers. The Niigata connection runs deeper than that, though, because it turns out that not only is Takahashi fully aware that Inagaki Veterinary Clinic has a sign with her illustrations on it, she drew it specifically for them!

As explained on the clinic’s website, Inagaki’s owner and Takahashi are childhood friends, having been schoolmates in both elementary and junior high school. Takahashi’s stardom eventually took her away from Niigata and off to the big city and big publishers of Tokyo, but when Inagaki’s owner got back in touch with her and the topic of Takahashi drawing a piece of artwork for the clinic came up, she agreed.

The posting on Inagaki Veterinary Clinic’s website explaining the sign is from 1999, but it’s unclear if it was posted at the same time as the sign went up or sometime after. Takahashi’s artwork appears to have been gracing the building ever since, though, with photos shared on social media stretching back several years, and experiencing a new batch of attention recently.

As we’ve talked about before, though, Takahashi has an insanely busy work schedule. When she agreed to do the drawing for Inagaki’s sign, it had been six years since she’d had three days off in a row. Nevertheless, the manga star was happy to help out, because no matter where your adult life takes you, your childhood friends will always be special.

Source: Inagaki Veterinary Clinic
Top image: SoraNews24
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