"The Web's #1 News and Information Network celebrating the works of Rumiko Takahashi"
Rumic World is one of the most complete English guide to the works of renowned female manga artist Rumiko Takhashi.
The large fansite consists of 7 series-specific subsites: Tomobiki-cho, Life at Maison Ikkoku, Ranma ½ Perfect Edition, The Inuyasha Companion, Mermaid's Flesh, The Ring & The Rosary and Rumic Theater.
Over 10 years old (counting its subsites), Rumic World is one of the oldest site of its kind, and it continues to grow as new works from Rumiko Takahashi are published every week in Japan.
Rumic World is a big site, why did you decide to make it?
Dylan: In 2001 Harley purchased the furinkan.com domain outright as well as web space to move his Ranma ½ Perfect Edition site off Geocities. He offered to host my Maison Ikkoku site on furinkan.com as well, but I didn't see the point of moving at that time.
Eventually we began to work on the Inuyasha Companion and by that point we realized we had covered three of Takahashi's four major series, and that we should start thinking about merging them all into a site that could function as a one-stop shop for any and all information on the works of Rumiko Takahashi. At about that same time Mason responded to an e-mail we'd sent him months earlier and came on board, and so Rumic World was born.
Harley: We just needed something that would tie them all together and would offer us a place to write about how her works interconnect with one another.
Mason: Even at the beginning I had wanted to create a comprehensive web site that covered all of Rumiko Takahashi's works. However, Tomobiki-cho was so much work on its own that I gave up on that idea and just decided to focus on one series. When I met the other guys, I saw an opportunity to make Tomobiki-cho a part of something bigger.
What were some initial reactions when Rumic World was first launched?
Dylan: Well, Harley's Ranma ½ Perfect Edition had a very loyal following and an established community of messageboard members. Over the course of a few hours, we reorganized his Ranma ½ Messageboard into the current Rumic World Messageboard.
I think initially there was some confusion, as Ranma ½ fans aren't necessarily interested in Takahashi's other works. That still holds true actually. The community who visits our messageboard is fairly fragmented; Inuyasha fans stay on the Inuyasha section, Maison Ikkoku fans stay on the Maison Ikkoku section, etc. etc.
Often it seems as though many American critics of Takahashi try to label her works as being extremely similar to one another, but I don't think that's true because the fans just don't mix in most cases.
Harley: We don't ever get a lot of reactions to Rumic World in general. It's usually more site specific. I have gotten overwhelmingly positive responses to the articles I have written about the end of Ranma ½ in the United States.
Mason: Even though it was still centered on Ranma ½, it was "Rumic World" before I even joined, so I have no impression of that time. All I remember is an outpouring of relief from Urusei Yatsura fans that my site was online again.
Is it hard to maintain? How to you keep everything together and organized? Tell us how are you running the site?
Dylan: I find it quite easy. The major work is all done now. Every chapter and episode of every series has been summarized, and all the character sections are up-to-date. Basically everything within the series that there is to cover has been covered. That isn't to say that the site is dead by any means. Our week usually finds us going through Japanese fansites looking for news on her series and posting anything we find. On Wednesdays we summarize the newest Inuyasha chapter from Shonen Sunday and get that up, and then whenever Harley and I get together we plan upcoming contests or discuss articles that explore unique areas of fandom or merchandise or what have you.
Mason: I'd say it's pretty easy to maintain now, especially since I barely touch it anymore. Harley and Dylan will take it upon themselves to do all updates. At this point I trust them with my work. I'll only step in for the more complicated changes.
But now and in the past, there's never been any system for organization. We'll communicate over the big issues, but it's mostly unspoken. It just comes together organically since we all trust each other and have all been at this a long time.
Harley: There are aspects of the maintenance that can be tedious such as keeping up with release dates.
The current layout looks great! How did you make it, especially that round menu?
Dylan: That's all Mason. It helps to have a professional web designer working with you!
Mason: When I first joined, I had this picture in my head of Rumic World being a globe with satellite moons orbiting its perimeter. Each moon represented one of Takahashi's manga. It was just a vague concept and I didn't do anything with it right away. It was a couple of years later when I felt like redesigning the main site that I brought back the idea.
I made it the same way I make all web sites. I just start with some pencil sketches of the design, create a mock-up in Photoshop, and then once that's finalized build it using Flash and HTML.
There are quite a few projects going on at Rumic World, please tell us a little about them.
Mason: I dabbled a little in community efforts when I was flying solo. But since joining Rumic World, all of these projects have been initiatives Harley or Dylan has come up with.
Dylan: Well, the first thing I ever did in regards to a side project was "Alone Again, Naturally" in order to raise awareness of Maison Ikkoku and lobby Viz to release it on DVD. I was really thrilled at the results of that and thought it would be good to try and make some more things happen with regards to Takahashi's works in the United States.
Harley: A lot of those stem from things that were available in the past such as Urusei Yatsura or the Rumic World OVAs that are no longer readily available. We're just trying to make the public aware of their existance and hopefully encourage companies to know that there is a market for them. If series like Reborn or Eiken Club can be released in America I have no idea why Urusei Yatsura is deemed unmarketable.
It seems that Project ILM is finally "over." Care to comment on that? And what was it like to finally take down something you've worked on for many years knowing that it has served its purpose?
Harley: Mason handled the site design for that and I did the majority of the translations along with some of the people from our messageboard. The guy that was paying for the hosting finally had enough I suppose and didn't renew it. Since we built it though, I have a copy of the site, and still enjoy reading our scanlations of Urusei Yatsura regularly. Hopefully while it was up it satisfied the curiosity of people who were unfamiliar with her first series. Until I translated it, it still seemed very mysterious, even to me.
Mason: I don't think about it much. It was a site I did partially as a college web design project, and mostly to satisfy my own curiosity about the vast chunk of Urusei Yatsura that was never translated. I understand enough Japanese to get about 60% of what I read, but finally understanding the other 40% was a revelation. I'm glad other people got to enjoy it, but since I already got what I wanted out of it, I'm satisfied.
The Encyclopedia on Rumic World is great, but why did you bother making one when you already have similar sections in each series' subsites?
Dylan: It was just something we thought would be interesting. It was more for us than anything else. But we used to visit a Japanese website, Kota-chan's Rumic Fanpage, and he had something sort of similar on a much, much smaller scale. That was where we initially got the idea to showcase all these great characters, many of whom are overlooked or so extraneous that some fans might not be familiar with them.
Any big crisis Rumic World faced in the past?
Harley: Although I have to say that there was never a time when the site was in danger of going away. We have always updated it multiple times a week.
Mason: I'm sure I explained it before. Failed webhosts in combination with failed hard drives were a double-whammy that almost destroyed Tomobiki-cho for good.
Dylan: Webhosts! We went through some really awful ones.
Any interesting stories on Rumic World you'd like to share?
Mason: I'm drawing a blank. There have been countless moments between us webmasters where we'd lean on one another in times of crisis. We're like brothers (two of us actually are). But other than the aforementioned server troubles, running a web site itself is pretty humdrum.
It is weird to run into strangers in real life who know you from your web site. One young lady I took Japanese classes with became downright stalker-ish.
Dylan: I think all the stories I've talked about so far can fall under the "Rumic World" banner. Stories unique to that part of the site itself are hard to think of at the moment. I remember rewriting our Takahashi biography in a hotel room right before a hurricane made landfall a few years ago.
Harley: I've met a lot of people in real life through the site. I've had some good friendships, especially with Mason, that has formed. I remember at Otakon 04, we shared a hotel room with three girls from our messageboard, that was fun! They weren't fat cosplayers either!
Dylan: That reminds me! I met my girlfriend of three years through the website. She began as a member of our messageboard and we decided to meet one another. I moved out to Texas for graduate school and to be closer to her and we've been together for three years now. That's all due to the site.
Any last words to our readers?
Mason: Thanks for digging our web site. We're pretty proud of it. And thanks for reading through all this drivel we wrote. I can't imagine anyone being interested in some dopey webmasters, but we're grateful for the attention.
Dylan: Thank you for taking an interest in our website. We've been around for awhile now, and I can promise you that we'll be around as long as Rumiko Takahashi still produces a weekly series. Readers of Comipress are exactly the kind of well-informed anime and manga fans that we've built the site for. The positive responses we've received for our coverage of our favorite mangaka are what keep us going. Thank you all so much.
Harley: What I hope for the most is that our site will encourage the development of other mangaka dedicated websites. We plan to be around for a long time and continue to bring you the whole story on Takahashi from what she did in college thirty years ago to what she did this week.