Rumic World (Viz Graphic Novel)
Rumiko Takahashi's "Fire Tripper" is one of her most popular short stories, as well as the predecessor of time travel/action/romance "Inuyasha." While smaller in scope, it's an entertaining and suspenseful little story, although the ending is a bit abrupt.
Teenage Suzuko is on her way to school when she encounters her six-year-old neighbor. But their conversation is cut short when a gas leak causes a massive explosion -- and Suzuko wakes up hundreds of years in the past, in a Japan torn by bandits and wars. She encounters brash young warriors Shukumaru, who is definitely interested in her.
While Suzuko and Shukumaru go through an awkward courtship, Suzuko struggles to figure out what happened to her, and how she can get back. But when an invading army attacks the small village, Suzuko and Shukumaru end up being shot through time again -- and Suzuko learns the shocking truth in her own past, and where Shukumaru is really from.
"Fire Tripper" is one of the best short stories that Takahashi has done, and it balances out action, romance, and a bit of mystery. Not to mention tried-and-true comedy in the Takahashi tradition. The twist at the end is surprisingly original, and it wraps up all the loose ends while giving a satisfactory finale to the romantic subplot.
Despite a scene where Shukumaru staggers in and drunkenly announces that he's going to sleep with Suzuko, he's a likably brash guy, a bit crude but essentially good-hearted. His final line is a great one. Suzuko is a bit bland until near the end, where she realizes where in time she actually comes from, and makes her decision about Shukamaru.
"Fire Tripper" is a sort of warm-up to the action/romance/fantasy of "Inuyasha," with similar leads, but it's also an excellent short story on its own merits. Dramatic, funny, and a bit romantic.