I’ll Review Anything: Ranma 1/2 (Anime)

What was your very first anime series?

Technically, like most Filipinos of my generation, it would be something like Voltes V or Astro Boy. But this isn’t what I’m asking for because these were animes that stripped out some of the things that made them anime. They changed the names to make them sound more American (in Voltes V, they changed the Go family into the Armstrongs and Astro Boy was called Tetsuwan Atom or Mighty Atom) or censored some stuff that wouldn’t be kid friendly. No, I’m asking you what was the first series you watched that you knew was an anime. The series that kept all of the Japanese names intact and all of the weird, quirky and sometimes risque content in. I’m talking about the anime series that made you exclaim, “Wow! Anime’s awesome! I really should watch more anime!”

For me, that would be Rumiko Takahashi’s Ranma 1/2. It was the anime that launched my love for “Japanese cartoons.” And I actually find it kind of sad that a lot of anime fanatics nowadays seem to not know it even exists. Well, this is precisely why I decided to review the entire Viz Media run of 161 episodes!

Ranma 1/2 is about Ranma Saotome, a boy who has been trained in the Anything-Goes School of Martial Arts style by his father, Genma, ever since he was a boy. During a training expedition to the cursed springs of Jusenkyo, Ranma falls into the Spring of Drowned Girl and now, whenever he gets splashed with cold water, he turns into a girl while hot water turns him back into a boy. Throughout the series, Ranma gets into all sorts of messes and encounters all sort of characters who either want to date him or beat him up.

Honestly, the summary I just wrote is just the tip of the iceberg as, while Ranma 1/2 does revolve around the titular character and his search to find a cure for the curse, there are other characters that turn into all sorts of creatures. Ranma’s father, for example, turns into a panda. His best friend/arch rival Ryoga turns into a cute black piglet and one of his many fiancees, the Chinese amazon named Shampoo, turns into a cat.

Besides the weird transforming characters, Ranma 1/2 is chock full of anime tropes. You have the standard “harem” anime gag where numerous girls fall in love with the main character and fight for his attention. There’s the main character getting jealous whenever his “true love” gets a lot of attention from guys. There’s also a lot of fighting and martial arts techniques as there is a lot of weird martial arts schools and styles in the world Rumiko Takahashi! And, honestly, it’s all awesome. Generally, Ranma 1/2 has something for everyone.

As Ranma 1/2 is an incredibly long series and has a huge cast of characters, I guess it would be best to just mention the highlights and lowlights. Let’s go tackle the characters first…

I pretty much like all of the supporting characters as each and everyone has their own quirks that makes them stand out. Amonmg the male characters, my favorite would definitely be the rather dense, egotistical upperclassman and the “Blue Thunder of Furinken High” Tatewaki Kuno. It’s just plain fun for him to be in love with the female version of Ranma, who he calls the “pigtailed girl,” and is unable to conceive that “she” is actually his greatest rival.  For the females, it’s kind of hard to choose because they all have their good points but, if I did have to choose, it would probably be Ukyo just edging out Shampoo. She does appear much later in the series but I like how she’s a tomboy, incredibly independent and confident than the rest of the cast. As much as I love Shampoo’s more flirtatious personality, Ukyo’s rather strong sense of will makes her my favorite of all of Ranma’s fiancees.

Now, strangely among all the females, I will say the one that I like the least (not hate, by the way) is his “main” fiancee, Akane. As Ranma tells her over and over again, she is sooooo un-cute! She’s probably the least interesting character in the series as well. And, although she has been training in the Tendo School of Anything-Goes Martial Arts for probably as long as Ranma, she’s not particularly actually good at fighting as she keeps on getting captured or being a damsel in distress very often.

Among the males, the one I like the least is, hands down, Dr. Tofu. There isn’t really much to him besides being a good chiropractor and deceptively good martial artists. Oh, and he becomes a real doofus when Akane’s sister, Kasumi, is around. But that’s the extent of his personality. Thankfully, he’s pretty much forgotten by the middle of the series as he hardly appears anymore by that time.

Speaking of all the series in general, I would say Ranma 1/2 is mostly good. The first, I guess, 100 episodes are actually pretty good and only have a few terrible and nonsensical episodes between them. Throughout that time, the animation is also very good but you do notice a rather big dip in quality after around episode 18. Things do get rather bad after around the 100th episode. The animation style becomes rather jerky and not as detailed and the stories generally devolve into slapstick comedy.

Thankfully, like most animes, Ranma 1/2 has a great library of opening and ending theme songs. Unlike most animes today, it looks like a lot of the theme songs were written for the show and not just adapted from some real J-Pop song. All the theme songs, from the openings and ending themes are all very memorable and catchy in their own right.

I guess the biggest questions is, will anime fans today like Ranma 1/2? Well, I know I’ll be totally biased when I say that they will because it is the series that made me fall in love with anime, after all. However, I do believe that Ranma 1/2 has a lot going for it. Since Rumiko Takahashi jammed so many crazy anime tropes into Ranma 1/2, there’s bound to be something for them. I will suggest go watch, at least, the first 18 episodes of the series and, if you like what you see, just keep watching it. Who knows? Maybe you’ll actually make it to the 168 episode… and then go watch the OAVs and movies afterwards.

Have you watched Ranma 1/2? What did you think about it? Let me know in the comments section below!


7 thoughts on “I’ll Review Anything: Ranma 1/2 (Anime)

  1. Hi, I’m also a fan of Ranma 1/2, it was always my favorite series since I was young! I’m happy that someone still remembers it upto this day :).

  2. Great review. I’m glad to still see recognition for Ranma 1/2 today. I grew up with it along with Sailor Moon & DBZ, but Ranma 1/2 is personally my favorite anime to this day. I love how it always makes me laugh, & I love the characters & awkward situations they get into.
    Akane is actually my favorite female character, with Ukyo being my second. I actually thought Akane was strong minded & at times, very kind & sincere. (She reminds me a little of Rumiko Takahashi’s other female leads Kyoko Otonashi from MAISON IKKOKU & Lum from URUSEI YATSURA). I feel like Akane, Ukyo, & Shampoo are all way more intersting characters than I’ve seen in many current animes. (Girl-type Ranma is awesome too lol). So many female leads I come across in anime today seem dull & boring…not all, but many.
    Though the characters do not develop much throughout the series, I feel that Ranma 1/2 has memorable unique characters & hilarious situations that make it a classic anime. I don’t think the goal of Ranma 1/2 is to watch it for the sake of how it ends, but to enjoy the moments & stories throughout. I’ve seen many reviewers criticize this, & I don’t think they get what the point of it was. The wacky world of Ranma 1/2 is fun most of the time, & I feel the many great episodes overshadow the bad ones.
    It is an original premise compared to other animes, but offers familiarity as well. I will be watching it for years to come. 😉

  3. I believe there are a lot of more Filipino fans of Ranma 1/2. It is really a great anime series, and I love rewatching it again and again.

    • I do remember Ranma 1/2 being shown on local TV in the Philippines which was just the Viz Video dubbed versions. Then they made the mistake of showing “Shampoo’s Sudden Switch – The Curse of the Contrary Jewel” without editing out Shampoo’s shower scene. It was never shown after that.

  4. Loved the concept, the setup and the story but… A VERY BIG BUT THO…. The fact that every episode has a similar setup just added with a bit more entanglement makes the viewer feel saturated by the te u reach around episode 30 -37 range cz it’s all major scenarios covered. And, honestly speaking this not actually a romantic comedy.. it’s more like a live-mishap/miscommunication comedy.
    Now, i know the fact the characters are 15-17 year old kids… But, on a relationship standpoint I would say there were situations where u feel like it’s better fo both of them to part ways also, there are times when u feel like Akane is idiotic and hypocritical.
    Anyways, fun to watch until some extent then it gets tiring and boring. Atleast that is how it was for me.

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