AM! #2: Ranma 1/2

Anime Me! #2: Ranma 1/2

We jump right into one of my all-time favorite anime.  Pronounced “Ranma One-Half”.  Originally a Japanese manga series written and illustrated by the great Rumiko Takahashi.  In April 1989, it was adapted as a 161 episode TV series, but almost didn’t return in September 1989 after the first 18, due to low ratings.  Thankfully a month later the story was repackaged and re-released, and had it’s long run including 3 theatrical movies and 13 OVA’s.  With it’s comedic formula and unique main character, it found new life in American anime fans after it’s Japanese run in 1992.

Ranma 1/2

The story follows a 16-year old boy named Ranma Saotome who has been trained by his father his entire life in martial arts.  We learn soon enough that they have both previously suffered an accident while training.  As a result, they are cursed to shape-shift when splashed with cold water.  His father is found to transform into a giant panda, and Ranma himself transforms into a girl.  Hot water will revert them back.

We are introduced to Ranma and his father as the series opens (pictured above).  The unique story gets even stranger when even more secondary characters are added.  Which begins soon when Ranma finds out that his father Genma has arranged a marriage for him.  Thus we are introduced to the 3 daughters of Soun Tendo (Kasumi, Nabiki, and Akane, who becomes Ranma’s fiance).

Both initially, and in Akane’s case violently, refuse the engagement.  Though from that point forward they are still treated by everyone as fiance and consistently find themselves forced together and generally save each other from situations and danger.  It’s their love-hate relationship that keeps the laughs coming, and becomes the focal point of the series.

I still wouldn’t recommend this anime to children, as there is some minor nudity sprinkled throughout the series.  Nothing over-done, it’s just used as light comedic gags.  But as the anime moves from season to season, we start to see a change in the character design.  Almost as if we see Ranma, Akane, and the rest of the gang grow up together.  Later in the series, especially in the movies and OVA’s, the females of the series become more emphasised.

There are many characters that are introduced throughout the anime, and eventually it starts to take the form of a harem series.  Which is to say, a group of female characters compete for the feelings of one boy.  Ranma eventually finds himself dodging the advances of a bubbly Chinese Amazon and a cross-dressing pizza girl.  While these advances make Akane extremely jealous, she still wants nothing to do with Ranma.  lol.  Confused yet?  This isn’t even half of the wackiness that happens to him.  He even has male suitors when he transforms into a girl.  Ranma really wants no part of anybody.  But because he is willing to use his female form to attain his goals, he always finds himself in embarrassing and uncomfortable situations.  With literally dozens of in-depth characters, you will find someone that you can relate to.

Keep in mind there are 161 episodes (7 seasons), 3 movies, and 13 OVA’s (Original Video Animation’s).  There is something for everyone!  The comedy keeps you coming back for more, and very quickly you are sucked into the story.

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