First published in 1987, Ranma½ was one of
the first (and best) pioneers of the romantic comedy genre
in new Manga and Anime titles you see today. Rumiko Takahashi's
mix of action, romance and absurdity is what makes this such
a brilliant series.
To start off, the story revolves around Saotome Ranma - a
martial artist who just returned from rigorous training in
China with his dad, Genma. In Japan, they met with Soun of
the Tendo family, an old friend of Ranma's dad. Apparently,
he was betrothed to one of Soun's three daughters, that being
of Akane Tendo, the most tomboyish and "uncute" girl Ranma
had ever laid his eyes on. Of course, the arranged marriage
was a backstep for both Akane and Ranma. But, their fathers
are persistent for it to go through so that Ranma will be
able to take over the family's tradition: The Anything Goes
Style Martial Arts. And so begins the zaniest, most ridiculous
adventure you will probably ever see. That doesn't mean it's
bad, by all means.
The main factor of Ranma½ is that both Ranma and his
dad were cursed. After falling into the Jusenkyo springs during
their training in China, Ranma will turn into a girl when
coming in contact with water. Even worse, his dad would transform
into a panda! Only hot water can change them back to normal,
and this unique concept brings out a lot of hilarious moments
you'll find on the Manga. This also marks their partial quest
of finding a cure for the curses put on them.
Throughout the story, Ranma encounters other love interests.
With the exception of Akane, all the girls are absolutely
crazy over him, which brings out the annoyance of Akane and
The first being Shampoo, the girl from a Chinese tribe
Ranma encountered in Jusenkyo. After being beaten by his
girl form, it was a necessity for Shampoo to kill Ranma
as not to tarnish the tribe's name. But after finding
out that he's also a guy, Shampoo now wants to marry him.
She also sets up noodles restaurant in Japan with Cologne,
her elder from the Chinese tribe.
Then there's Kodaichi Kuno, a champion gymnast who uses
dirty tricks to help her win tournaments. After being
beaten by Ranma's girl form (in gymnastics), she became
her lifelong rival. But during a particular incident at
the Tendos, guy Ranma saved her from falling to the ground.
Of course, she fell in love with him.
Next up is Ukyo Kounji, another girl who was betrothed
to Ranma from childhood. Ranma's dad Genma once promised
Ukyo's dad to marry the two; in exchange, Genma gets the
family's okonomiyaki (a type of Japanese pancakes) stall.
But the dishonest Genma and son ran away with the stall,
leaving Ukyo behind. She first wanted revenge for abandoning
her, but Ukyo ended up forgiving Ranma and wants to proceed
with the marriage.
Of course, it wouldn't be complete without Ranma's archrivals,
all vowing to defeat him and to snatch his aforementioned
love interests. Most of the time he's just too strong for
any of them though:
The first is Hibiki Ryoga, a guy with absolutely no sense
of direction. At first he wanted to settle his childhood
rivalry with Ranma, but latter found out that it was also
Ranma who caused him to fall into one of the cursed Jusenkyo
springs; the one that turns him into a little black pig.
He was going for revenge, but he had a crush on Akane,
all the more reason to defeat Ranma. He somehow ended
up being Akane's pet (in the form of P-Chan, the cute
little pig - apparently she never realized who the pig
really was), and the two rivals had to live under the
Then comes Tatewaki Kuno, a kendo champion from Furinkan,
the same high school as Ranma and Akane's. This guy has
a crush on both Akane and girl Ranma, complemented by
his hilarious stupidity and sheer desperation. He decided
to go with both girls, and becomes the subject of much
beating from the two. Being Kodaichi's brother, the two
siblings had opposite rivals and love interests. And Kuno
always fails to realize Ranma's ability to change; he's
just too stupid.
After that is Mousse, who this time around wants to be
with Shampoo. After finding out about Ranma, he swore
to defeat him to prove his worth. Aside from the fact
that he can't see without his fly glasses, Mousse uses
lots of tools and tricks under his sleeve when fighting
Ranma. And he's another victim of the Jusenkyo springs;
his other form is that of a duck.
Aside from these characters, the story is also sometimes
focused on the exploits of Happosai, a martial arts master
who used to teach Genma and Soun. But this guy's a total pervert;
he steals underwear and likes to grab girl Ranma's breasts.
He's also practically invincible, so his two apprentices had
to let him stay with the Tendo family. Happosai is a total
troublemaker, and given the fact that he's stronger than Ranma,
it's very hard to subdue this pervert. And these are all the
regular characters throughout the story, aside from Dr. Tofu,
a doctor and martial experts, and the two other Tendo daughters,
the greedy Nabiki and the polite eldest sister Kasumi.
Now, each volume usually consists of a story or two about
Ranma and his obstacles; that being from the characters above
or from a one-off enemy. As the story progresses, it gets
more and more ridiculous, which makes it totally hilarious.
And what's so great about the Manga is that it never fails
to be funny, unlike the inconsistent Anime version, when certain
seasons range from mediocre to horrendous regarding the humor
factor. Also, Takahashi's style of drawing is absolutely great,
done with such charming simplicity. Even with the fact that
it's been more than a decade after the Manga was first published,
it's too damn good and funny to miss.
Now you may think that this is totally old/boring stuff,
but believe me, Ranma½ is a total gem. Being Takahashi's
most popular work next to Inuyasha,
it's really not too hard to find the Manga version, even in
the States. I will always prefer this over the Anime, but
the cost for all its tankoubon volumes might set you back
by a margin or two. But for me, it's a pricey yet excellent,
worthy bit of investment. Don't miss out.