Anime Meta-Review


Ranma 1/2, First TV Season


By Date




Title Info

  • seen: 1-4,7-10 of 18
  • type: TV
  • grade: watchable
  • people: Takahashi
  • made: 1989
  • Review created: Recently, but I didn't record the date.
  • mod: none

I'm a fan of the original Rumiko Takahashi Manga, so I expected to be fairly cruel to this. And while many may still think I am being, I have to admit I found this series eminently watchable. The story involves Ranma Saotome who is amongst the worlds greatest martial artists, despite being a young teenager. In addition he simply cannot resist a martial arts challenge, no matter how strange the challenge (ever seen martial arts figure skating before?). At the start he has just been engaged to the agressive and headstrong akane, which has challenges he isn't that well equipped to handle. Complicate things further with an immense cast (many of whom are martial artists) some of whom want to kill him, or her or marry him, or her and things get interesting. Add the fact that many of the cast have shapechanging curses triggered by water and things start getting silly. And since Ranma changes into an attractive girl, able to have another set of enemies and attracted men (who he is even less equipped to handle) and you have the chaotic fun, humor, character and strange martial arts of Ranma 1/2.

Whew...attempting to summarise Ranma 1/2 in one paragraph is a fool hardy venture. One thing that needs expressing is how the comedy springs from a strong `mundane' environment. There are normal people in the cast and environment, and we spend as much time watching the weird social aspects of the characters as their martial arts skills. There are 28 manga volumes chronicalling both the adventures of the cast and Takahashi-sama's fertile imagination (and amazingly deft touch for character). There's a lot i've left out. However this does present a problem when the time comes to consider an anime, should you re-tell the story, extend it, or faithfully recreate it? In this case the anime seems to be fairly close, at its core, to the atmosphere, character and events of the manga. Certainly manga fans will recognise some direct equivalences to the manga. In addition some extensions are done. Some of these are to `join' or extend scenes from the manga. While others are original additions. Sadly, to my mind, many of the original additions are less than successful. As an example the addition of the `chem club' in episodes 7'ish is a pointless attempt to add `humor' to the manga story. Balancing this are some scenes that do work, and offer new treats for those familiar with the manga. This certainly works wonders for some of the lesser characters, with Nabiki, Soun and Genma having a lot of character scenes some of which are very good. Indeed Nabiki comes close to being a star character. In summary this is very watchable stuff, capturing most of the character, story and humor and the sheer weirdness of the whole thing...but the manga is still better. If you have the chance perhaps watch this first, then seek the manga out.

Of course seeking it out means you have to deal with Viz pricing. The Ranma anime series is long, with many seasons. However Viz still charges high prices for 2 episodes a tape released at a slow pace. Thus the Viz series is still incomplete, and expensive, while the material has aged. Don't get me wrong, this is solid animation but it was never high budget and it isn't that new (supposedly other seasons are worse!). This combines with the light hearted humourous nature of Ranma to make one wonder about the value being offered. And while the action of Ranma is quite well represented, and still fun to watch, it is not technically astounding. Thus I suggest you try and find some tapes (avoid the movies) to get a feel for the animation and style before you start collecting. I must also mention that I don't like the dub much, largely because western voices don't do cute...which hurts akane, female ranma (and presumable shampoo) a lot but favors Nabiki and Kuno. Admittedly the longer run of the TV series lets you grow accustomed to them in a way the movies do not.

The fine folks at THEM have a wonderfull review which indicates that the first season is best, good fun is to be had, and reminded me that the opening track goes straight to the cute bone and gets it warmed up (and thankfully left in Japanese even for the Dub). There are a number of other reviews around, but many of them don't take it seriously enough to put much time into the review.


Words by Andrew Shelton, Web by Ticti, Last Compile: Wed Aug 5 12:39:24 WST 2009