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Ranma 1/2, Volume 01: 10/29/11

cover art

Ranma 1/2 was my re-introduction to anime as a college student. I had watched some, untranslated and unsupervised as a preschooler on a local public access TV. As they were in Japanese I was watching only for the imagery not knowing what I was watching or even what language it was.

Flash forward about eighteen years. My new boyfriend and his two best friends were nuts about anime. In order to hang out with him and his buddies, I had to bite my tongue, get over some prejudices from my boredom with Robotech.

Among my first lessons in anime were Macross Plus, Ah! My Goddess!, El Hazard and Ranma 1/2. Flash forward another eighteen years and my son has discovered the Ranma 1/2 anime. As he was also getting into manga, I decided to bring home a copy of Ranma 1/2 volume 1 by Rumiko Takahashi.

Ranma 1/2 is for lack of a better description, a long running situation comedy with a paranormal twist. When most of the characters get wet they turn into something else. For Ranma he turns into a red haired and well endowed woman. His father turns into a panda.

Ranma and his father went to China (on the cheap) to train in karate. They go to a famous spring but not speaking a word of Chinese, they don't realize that the pools are cursed by the people or animals who died there. Both fall in and both are cursed.

The series sets up situation after situation to make Ranma (or the other characters) transform in the most embarrassing or dangerous way possible. There's a lot of sophomoric humor, much of which went over my son's head.

As the manga predates the recent popularity in the U.S., the translation is flipped to read left to right. That means all the artwork is flipped too. It feels wrong to read the manga backwards and unlike more recent books, there are no translation notes and a concerted effort to remove most Japanese cultural references.

Ranma 1/2 the anime has similar translation issues, being dubbed. So the anime and the manga in translation are a fair comparison. Neither is probably an accurate representation of the original but they are similar enough to each other for comparison.

Of the two versions, I prefer the manga. It goes into more detail of the curse and the family histories of the different characters involved. The anime episodes jump from joke to joke without much time for set up. I like the slower pace of the manga. My son, though, prefers the anime.

Four stars.

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