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!