Ranma 1/2 TV Season 1 Anime Review
Ranma Nibun no Ichi
US Release By
Gender-Bending Martial Arts Romantic Comedy
18 25-minute episodes
1989-04-15 - 1989-09-16
One day, Soun Tendo, owner of the Tendo Dojo of Anything-Goes Martial Arts receives a letter from his old friend, Genma Saotome. As they had agreed years before, Genma is bringing his son, Ranma, so that he can be engaged to one of Soun's daughters to carry on the dojo. When Genma turns out to be a giant panda, and Ranma turns out to be a short, busty, red-headed girl, Soun is, to say the least, surprised.
Eventually the truth is revealed--both of them are cursed, after falling into a cursed spring in China. Cold water changes them into their alternate forms, hot changes them back. Soun's youngest daughter, Akane, is nominated to become Ranma's fiance, and they immediately begin to get along like a house on fire (ever been in a burning house?). And things all go downhill from there.
Ranma 1/2 is the most popular romance comedy ever to come out of Japan, and this is where it all started. I dearly love the Ranma 1/2 universe and all its wacky characters, and this beginning is as great as I had been expecting. It is seriously a laugh a minute as Ranma arrives at the dojo, has his first "proper" meeting with Akane (in the bathroom), goes to school, enters a rhythmic gymnastics martial arts tournament, gets hunted down by enemies from his past, makes snide remarks to Akane, and gets beat up for it, and a hundred other things. It's great to see the characters as they are originally, especially the first meetings (or rematches) between Ranma and some of his opponents (Ryoga, Kuno and Shampoo in particular) because they are taken more seriously as martial arts opponents than in the OAVs or movies.
Ranma 1/2 is driven by characters, and these characters are great. They are not particularly deep, but they don't really need to be--depth would detract from the silliness of them. Depth goes about as far as hidden feelings for people, which is really pretty obvious. But watching the characters grow as the series goes on, especially Ranma and Akane, is most of the fun.
Now, don't expect this to be in any way conclusive. There are about six or seven TV series' of Ranma 1/2 in Japan (4 1/2 are out in America as of this writing, and I had to pay a fortune to import this one to Australia) and the story goes on almost forever. People who have seen the OAVs or movies will notice a marked lack of Happosai, Mousse, Cologne and Ukyo, among others, because they are introduced in the second series--the "Anything Goes Martial Arts" series (except Ukyo, who doesn't appear until the third series, "Hard Battle").
The dubbing is first rate, as usual, although the animation is a little lower in quality, at least to my eyes, which had previously only seen--you guessed it--the OAVs and movies. But it still does the job well, and does the characters proud.
If you liked the OAVs or movies, this is essential viewing. If you are a Ranma 1/2 fan, then you should have seen this already! If you haven't seen any Ranma 1/2 yet, then you won't know what you're missing until you see some, and here is the best place to start.
Notes and Trivia
Based on a 36-volume comic series by Rumiko Takahashi creator of a variety of incredibly popular manga and anime spanning both the shoujo and shounen genres; Urusei Yatsura, Mezon Ikkoku, and Inu Yasha, to name a few. The comic version is available in English from VIZ.
The first 18 episode run was followed shortly afterward by a much longer series subtitled "Nettouhen" ("Fierce Fighting Tournament"). Ranma 1/2 was originally shown along with the popular series Yawara, which was largely unknown in the US, although is now being translated by AnimEigo.
Ranma 1/2 is one of the first video releases of VIZ, and was one of only a handful of subtitled VHS they released.