The Nihon Review - Anime Reviews & Editorials

Ranma ½

Title: Ranma ½
Genre: Action/Comedy
Company: Shogakukan
Format: 161 episodes
Dates: 15 Apr 1989 – 25 Sep 1992

Synopsis: The cursed springs in Jusenyko, China each have their own tragic tale of a person or animal who drowned there. While still a popular training grounds for martial artists all over the world, little did Genma and his son Ranma know that upon falling into the springs one takes the form of whoever or whatever drowned there. If becoming a girl under cold water wasn’t enough for Ranma and his half-panda father, he soon finds himself surrounded by fiancées, rivals, and martial artists of every imaginable and unimaginable style. Yet nothing is too hard to handle for the heir to the Saotome school of Anything-Goes Martial Arts.

The Highlights
Humor: Laugh-Out-Loud funny.
Characters: The wacky, loveable type only Takahashi can create.
Story: Doesn’t satisfy all its premises; entertaining at first, but loses its glamour.
Music: Some amazing tracks, especially early on.

From the mind of Takahashi Rumiko comes another anime classic well known amongst die hard anime fans and beginners alike. With the quality and success that her previous works, Urusei Yatsura and Maison Ikkoku have shown, I expect nothing less from this one. While Ranma still had a lot of the classic elements that made its predecessors so successful, the premise is no longer predominately romance, but instead focuses more on action. The humor definitely holds your interest, but not well enough to hide the flaws that pop up as the story progresses.

While not necessarily a rom-com like I expected, for the most part Ranma proved to be pretty entertaining. Comedy is an element that Takahashi never fails to deliver, and viewers will not be disappointed here. Not only are the characters introduced unique, but their style of humor is as well. This combination of quirky antics that grows with the addition of new characters keeps you holding your sides well through the series.

The audio and visuals of Ranma for the most part are outstanding, but give out a bit towards the end. Character designs are superb, and animation for the first four or five seasons is equally satisfying. Yet in later seasons, and also here and there in the earlier ones as well, the quality suddenly changes. Is it terrible? Well… there’s bad enough of a difference that it’s worth mentioning. The soundtrack also has great numbers for the opening and ending themes of seasons one through four, with terrific vocals and upbeat, catchy melodies. The remaining seasons don’t receive the same blessing. Then of course there’s the seiyuu cast, which graces us with such talents as Yamaguchi Kappei and Hidaka Noriko, who would later go on to voice characters in popular titles such as Inuyasha(1,2) (Inuyasha and Kikyo) and Death Note (L and Near).

Because of how the first season sets up the story, I expected a romance to slowly develop between Ranma and Akane. Of course the shyness between the two and the love rivalry on both sides sets up opportunity for mishaps, misunderstandings, and random episodes, but I really counted on that premise enduring through to the end. Now obviously through indirect actions you can tell how the two feel for one another as the story develops, but nothing ever happens between them; not even a single kiss! So if you came into this anime expecting some romance, then you looked in the wrong place. The relationship between Ranma and Akane, and later Ranma and his other fiancées, serves for little more than an underlying setup for fan service. Furthermore, while you may be sitting through 161 episodes waiting for these relationships to develop, most of what you’re in for is random adventures and fighting. The action is entertaining, and as the humor keeps you laughing, but the same tricks can only be played so many times before you grow tired of them. And with no real ending, you wonder how many seasons shorter the anime could have been.

With so many talented artists bringing their expertise to this title, Ranma is definitely a must see for anime fans. Although the length does drag the series down, don’t let it turn you off from checking it out. If you want a good laugh, then Ranma ½ is definitely for you.

The Rating: 7

Reviewed by: Godai

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