on June 14, 2000
'One or Double' is the second collection of short tales that don't fit into any of Rumiko Takahashi's ongoing series. Unlike the first volume, which contained mostly recent stories, this one seems to cover a range of years, judging from the art styles. They're not all winners, but over all this book is yet more solid evidence that Takahashi is a master of the graphic story telling medium. Whether you're a fan of "manga" or not, there's no denying that she's a skilled artist and writer who deserves the accolades and success she has enjoyed.
Most of the standout stories in the book are, sports-themed. 'Excuse Me for Being a Dog!,' (a young boxer turns into a dog whenever he gets a bloody nose) 'Winged Victory,' (the tale of a rugby team that's lost 999 games in a row and the ghost who watches over it), 'The Grandfather of All Baseball Games' (a young man plays hardball with his obnoxious grandfather), and the title story (in which a kendo instructor is put in the body of the club's pretty manager) all use sports either as the backdrop or motivation for the story and its characters. The characters in these stories are Takahashi at her most charming.
'The Diet Goddess' (about a girl who buys a dress with the intention of losing enough weight to look good in it) and 'Happy Talk' (about an adoptee who embarks on a search for her biological mother) are two slice-of-life stories ala the majority of the shorts from the first 'Rumic Theater' volume, and the 'Maison Ikkoku' series. Again, Takahashi presents us with charming characters the reader can't help but care about, in stories both funny and touching.
Dissapoints in the book include 'To Grandmother's House We Go' (about a pair of hardluck cases who try to collect the large birthright of a deceased friend for themselves) and 'Reserved Seat' (a curious tale about a rock singer who is haunted by his grandmother and Tarakazuka). The first story is simply too short and it feels rushed on every level--the ending feels particularly unsatifactory--while the second is the only Takahashi story I've read where I felt no sympathy or good will toward any of the characters present in it.
Finally, there's 'Shake Your Bhudda,' a tale that appears to be early Takahashi, both based on the art style and the story's pacing. It's clear she was still mastering her craft, and there's very little to recommend this tale. In fact, I feel the book might have been better served if it had been left out all together.