"One of the greatest Manga comedies of all time returns in flawlessly remastered graphic novel format. Fans and newcomers alike need to pick this up immediately."
There’s always a sense of apprehension when revisiting beloved childhood memorabilia. Can nostalgia skew our memory so much that rediscovery of the things we once loved ends up in disappointment? It happens more often then not, but when returning to something we cherished for half a lifetime feels as exciting as it did decades ago, it’s impossible not to feel like a kid again. I grew up with Rumiko Takahashi’s comics and her work was the reason I became passionate about Manga and Anime. Both Maison Ikkoku and Urusei Yatsura were one of my earliest obsessions, but nothing ever came close to my love and appreciation for Ranma ½. The mix of martial arts, humor, witty writing, and beautiful artwork fascinated me and I’ll never forget my desperate attempts at copying her drawings with cheap markers and copy paper. More than a decade later I find myself once again enamored by Takahashi’s extraordinary work. Ranma ½ is a timeless classic that’s as exciting today as it was back in the early nineties. With Viz Media’s latest re-mastering, Ranma’s quirky adventures are bundled in a flawlessly reproduced graphic novel with over three hundred pages filled with hilarious writing and charismatic characters.
Ranma Saotome’s training journey to the Bayankala Mountains didn’t go as planned. The cursed springs at Jusenkyo surprised Ranma and his father Genma with an unwelcoming gift of transformation when coming into contact with cold water. The Spring of the Drowned Panda turned Genma into an oversized fluff ball, while Ranma had the misfortune of changing genders by falling into the Spring of the Drowned Girl. Transforming back required hot water, but every drop of cold water turned them back.
"Witty writing, lovable characters, and a beautiful art style make Ranma 1/2 as exciting today as it was decades ago."
After the training fiasco, they both decide to leave China and settle down at the Nerima, Tokyo Tendo Dojo with Genma’s old pal Soun Tendo, a fellow martial artist who lives with his teenage daughters: Kasumi, Nabiki, and Akane. A few years back, Genma and Soul agreed that their children would marry to carry on the dojo legacy. Since Akane is close to Ranma’s age, she’s appointed his fiancée, which unsurprisingly turns to chaos as neither one of them is consulted on the matter. It’s hard to categorize Ranma ½ within a particular genre because it flawlessly transitions from comedy to romance with sudden outbursts of action. These transitions oftentimes occur within just a few frames, which gives each page an exciting sense of unpredictability.
Akane dislikes boys and acts like a tomboy. Her relationship with Ranma begins with an exchange of punches and kicks and their electrifying personalities leave little room for civility. They both find themselves in an awkward position and have to spend each day together, but hints of affection paint a picture much brighter than the dark bruises from their constant brawling. Life outside of home proves to be even more challenging. Since they both attend the same school, they’re faced with Akane’s admirers who challenge her to daily fights in order to win her heart. Akane’s biggest admirer, however, is the Kendo Club captain: Tatewaki Kuno. His unhealthy obsession with Akane has him spurting bad poetry and his jealoussy makes Ranma an immediate target for amusing altercations. But when Kuno encounters Ranma’s other form…let’s just say things get really tricky.
While Akane seems disinterested with boys at her school, the mere presence of their local doctor, Dr. Tofu, turns her into a completely different person. Unfortunately for Akane, the good doctor is in love with Kasumi and also tends to show different colors when she’s around. This web of hilarious relationship mishaps manages to be both satirical of melodramatic Manga clichés and effective in building the story’s characters. Takahashi doesn’t shy away from making each protagonist emotionally conflicted, but she loves poking fun at narrative-breaking bathos seen is so many Japanese dramas.
"Even if you're not a Manga and Anime fan, Ranma 1/2 is a must have for anyone who enjoys comic books and beautiful art."
Visually, Takahashi excels in conveying movement with simple line work and superb panel compositions. A single fight may consist of only 3-4 frames, but there’s always just enough information for the reader to paint a more vivid picture and fill in the blanks. Amplifying the comic’s energy are spectacular facial expressions. Takahashi’s confidence in her brush strokes radiates within every page and it’s impressive how well the style has aged over the years.
This newly released two part novel consists of 16 parts, and while the page sizes are significantly smaller from the original individual issues, the artwork quality is meticulously reproduced into a budget priced book that every Manga fan needs in their collection. Rumiko Takahashi is one of the greatest Manga artists of all time and anyone who's missed out on her masterpieces in the late eighties and early nineties should go out and purchase this right away. Viz Media made the right move in bundling the stories together and rereading my favorite Ranma tales as an adult made me feel like a kid again. Ranma ½ is a masterpiece!
Review by: Tin Salamunic | Pages: 360 | Artist: Rumiko Takahashi