Foreign Friday: Ranma 1/2

This week’s Foreign Friday title is Ranma 1/2 by Rumiko Takahashi.

The Story

Following a training accident in China, Ranma Saotome has the unusual ability to transform into a girl whenever doused with cold water. Hot water reverses the effect, but with a father eager for him to marry, and staying as a guest in his father’s friend’s dojo (complete with 3 daughters), how long can the secret last?

The Characters

More than anything, Ranma wants the curse he got when falling into the “spring of drowned girl” to reverse and leave him a man for good. Bullheaded and occasionally devious, Ranma gets into trouble wherever he turns. His favorite bickering partner is Akane, the youngest of the three daughters whose dojo he and his father are permanent guests in. Akane is tough and straightfoward, but she’s no match for Ranma. Along with a school full of weirdos and some truly unusual circumstances, the cast is diverse but heavily comedic.

What I Thought

This series is Takahashi at her most comedic. For the first half of the series I looked for a serious vein, or an overarching plot, but aside from their attempts to return to China and dunk in the springs, there really isn’t one. In terms of character development, the only ones that really make any sort of progress throughout the series are Ranma and Akane themselves. The series really is a long situation comedy, with the focus on the ridiculous. Ranma’s condition makes cross dressing a highlight. It’s funny, and that’s its purpose. The series is complete in 36 volumes, all available in the U.S.

An anime adaptation of Ranma 1/2 was made. I thought it was mediocre, but if you prefer watching anime to reading manga, I’d check it out.

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