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.
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
" 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.
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
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."
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.
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
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.
Then all is right in the world.
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.
zany adventures ensue.
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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.