HOME ABOUT SUPPORT US SITES WE LIKE FORUM Search Fanboyplanet.com | Powered by Freefind FANBOY PLANET
Graphic Depictions Today's Date:

Ranma 1/2

I tend to get a little close-minded at times when it comes to comic books. I have my own personal tastes, which can lead to me dismissing a comic, even a whole genre, out of hand.

One example would be my love/hate relationship with manga. In past articles, I've espoused about Lone Wolf and Cub being the "…only manga I'll ever read…" as I've rarely found myself able to like other manga titles. Sure, I've thumbed through my way through my share of Kare Kano, Chobits, and GSC while perusing the racks at my local bookstore, but none have ever caught my eye.

The ironic thing is that I very much like anime. Shows like Inu-Yasha and Cowboy Bebop and movies like Princess Mononoke and Spirited Away are everything that is right with the animated medium and I love every second of them (and if the damn DVDs didn't cost more than a kidney transplant, I'd own all of them). So, I had to ask myself, "How do I bridge the gap between manga and anime?"

Then I met Ranma.

For those that are unaware, Ranma ½ is the creation of Rumiko Takahashi, the story of two star-crossed lovers, Ranma Saotome and Akane Tendo…if "star-crossed" meant, "violently opposed to co-habitation or being within line of sight of each other."

I came to the manga series by way of the animated DVDs that are currently for sale (six seasons worth of greatness so far), and having enjoyed the DVDs so much, the manga was a must-have.

Takahashi's story is as follows: Ranma and Akane are engaged by their fathers so that Ranma might someday take over Tendo's Martial Arts School of Indiscriminate Grappling, which is as much as a surprise to Ranma as to Akane. Unhappy, Akane awaits the day when she will meet her supposed future husband, when one day a red haired girl shows up. Not two seconds later, the red-haired girl is attacked by a giant panda, eventually defeated, and placed before the Tendos as the much awaited Ranma.

Believing that a tragic mistake has occurred, Daddy Tendo goes into something of a tear-filled coma, while Akane attempts to make friends with Ranma: sparring, joking, and even sharing a bath. Imagine Akane's surprise when she goes to hop into a nice warm bath, and the red-haired Ranma has become the black-haired Ranma, complete with male sexual characteristics.

Confused? Then all is right in the world.

Turns out that while training in China, Ranma's father Genma brought them both to the Legendary Training Ground of Accursed Springs. While fighting on top of bamboo poles, both Saotomes are knocked into said springs: Genma into the Spring of Drowned Panda and Ranma into Spring of Drowned Girl. Now whenever either of them are doused with cold water, they turn into a panda and young girl, respectively. Hot water changes them back into their original forms.

Let the zany adventures ensue.

The book is absolute hilarity packaged on paper, and it's meant for adults (there is plenty of upper-chest nudity, and a lecherous character here and there), or at least mature young adults, so the jokes always hit and never seem too juvenile. Takahashi writes and incredibly well balanced combination of martial arts, comedy, and teen romance (the weakest theme but still present throughout) and makes them all flow into a cohesive story.

Besides her hilarious dialogue and spectacular touch for slapstick artwork, Takahashi has created some of the most interesting and engaging characters that I've ever read.

Ranma is a tactless teenage boy with his heart in the right place, but his mouth in the next zip code. He's a great martial artist, but that doesn't stop Akane from beating on him when he opens his mouth when he shouldn't. Akane herself is "a homicidal maniac" (according to her sisters), but she has her tender moments as well, and is a damn strong fighter, which comes in handy.

Even the supporting cast is expertly rendered: Dr. Tofu is a wonderful doctor that turns into the biggest spastic in the world when Akane's sister Kasumi enters the room. Nabiki, Akane's other sister, is an unscrupulous girl, who will sell burlesque pictures of her own sister and even girl-Ranma to make a few extra yen. And Tendo's penchant for passing out and weeping like a little schoolgirl is comic gold, and I love it every time he does it. The list goes on.

I have had few chances to read good humor comics (Barry Ween is still my benchmark for "funny") and I can say I've never found a manga that succeeded in blending action, visual humor, and dialogued humor so well into one work. Takahashi has created a singular work among manga, which all fans of sequential art should be aware of.

I'm not the first to notice the brilliance of Ranma ½, obviously; with over 34 volumes published in Japan, and with six box sets of the anime, Ranma ½ has become a best selling property (over 100 million copies sold of the manga). It is definitely worth the $16.95 that Viz Graphic Novels is charging, especially since you get 300 pages of sweet, sweet comedy for that price. Go out and buy it, and laugh until you cry. Then, after you've calmed down after those first 30 pages, keep reading and laugh some more.

Robert Sparling

Our Friends:

Official PayPal Seal

Copyrights and trademarks for existing entertainment (film, TV, comics, wrestling) properties are held by their respective owners and are used with permission or for promotional purposes of said properties. All other content ™ and © 2001, 2014 by Fanboy Planet™.
"The Fanboy Planet red planet logo is a trademark of Fanboy Planetâ„¢
If you want to quote us, let us know. We're media whores.
Movies | Comics | Wrestling | OnTV | Guest | Forums | About Us | Sites