Ranma 1/2 is an anime that any worshipper of classic anime should at least know off, it was one of many anime titles that help to boost the popularity of anime in the 90's, and for fans of the harem genre, it is very important due to defining the "lovers in denial" storytelling portion of it.
The story of Ranma 1/2 revolves around a 16-year-old boy named Ranma Saotome, who is raised to be a man among men, forced into marriage with a girl of the same age named Akame Tendo, youngest daughter of Soun Tendo, by a deal shared between the fathers of both (Genma Saotome and Soun Tendo), it seems like an easy cruise for Ranma but he is faced with the burden the curse of turning into a girl when faced with cold water. It doesn't just place a burden on his relationship between Akane Tendo, it also places a burden on his martial arts training.
That's barely touching the surface of what goes on in this series, the series is very bizarre yet it's also crushingly entertaining, and creative, one of the major plot focuses in the series is a class of martial arts where anything goes and fighters of crazy, made-up styles for Ranma Saotome and co. to challenge. I'm quite amazed by the balance between the action, comedy, and romance however the plot suffers from many pitfalls. the main plotline lacks diversity, it's almost always follow like this:
Akame being a damsel in distress or a guy trying to win her heart, Ranma gets offended and tries to end it, once he does the first time, Akame sees that Ranma does hold affections for her, Ranma denies it, they bicker, Ranma insults Akame harshly, Akame gets uspet, and leaves bringing herself and even others around her in danger, Ranma goes to defeat the man while leaving time to kiss n' make up with Akame. End.
It may be endearing the first several times but it loses much of it's allure afterwards. Another problem is that there's plenty of cookie-cutter filler material like when Moose decides to go back to his hometown but doesn't, and wasting all the emotional tension for a whole episode of stupid, mean-spirited slapstick involving him getting beat up. That's not it, the series doesn't even have a real conclusion, it doesn't decide if Ranma and Akame get together or not, it just ends with Ranma hiding from his mom when she came to see his face again.
Let me start off by saying the art is very well done, I always thought Rumiko Takahashi was a talent artist and it shows here, it gives out the fun and quirkiness of the series with the bright, vibrant colors and fluff character designs however the art shows a lack of diversity, I mean just by comparing Ranma and Ryoga alone shows how really similar the characters tend to look like to each other.
The flow of animation in general isn't exactly something to brag about, although the animation looked great on the first season it declines significantly after that, and Season 3 (Hard Battle) in particular was really badly and cheaply animated; the characters were like crude, cloppy blobs with washed-out color palettes but the animation does pick up some steam though by season 4, and is near on par with season 1 by the end. This all may have been passable at the time but looking at it by today's standards, it isn't exactly the best visionary experience.
The sound is brilliant. It's amazing how the voice actors can bring out the characters' personalities in a wide range, they sound can sound happy, cool, angry, cute, and sad. With big name seyiuus like Megumi HAYASHIBARA, and Noriko HIDAKA rocking the set you can't go wrong, even the English Dub voice-acting isn't half bad either.
The musical score is mostly a mixture between Traiditional Japanese and Traiditional Chinese style OSTs with some occassional Jpop thrown in. The music is well put in places like in the comedic scenes where I helps encourage you to laugh or at least chuckle and when the action begins, it helps you get excited, and expire you to try some martial arts.
The characterization is probably one of the things that will make you overlook the plot's many pitfalls, I found all the characters to be loveable in their own way but with a small exceptions like Happosai. The characters are rather complex with the way they act, and their relationship. Personally I found the Ranma Saotome X Akame Tendo relationship to be some of the most well-written potiential couples in fiction writing, the chemistry between the two is just amazing. The only problem with the characterization is that the characters themselves barely grow, like I said before it would have been nice to say Ranma and Akame seal the deal or not.
Despite it's many issues, Ranma 1/2 is a entertaining, cute, and light-hearted series that will keep you watching all the way to the end and get totally addicted to.
Do I recommend it? If you're a lover of classic anime, the harem genre, or action/comedy shonen, definitly watch it.
Let me start off right away by saying; no, I haven't read the manga. Although I had heard about Ranma 1/2 before, it was only since very recently that I came in contact with it. And it just so happens that I prefer watching anime than reading manga.
Besides, everybody keeps saying that the manga is superior, so why would you need me to confirm it for you? And if it is true, than I must truly adore the manga should I ever read it. Though the manga may be better, I will remain ignorant of that for this review.
Story - 7/10
This is the deciding factor whether you are going to like Ranma 1/2 or not. Let me put it this way; if you were expecting your typical long-runner shounen anime with story arcs of 30 episodes (or more) each, with multiple, powerful bad-guys, then you are looking in the wrong spot. Ranma 1/2 is not like Naruto, One Piece, Dragon Ball or Bleach. It simply doesn't take itself serious enough for that. Basically, it's an 161 episode long, episodic romantic comedy with a good dose of action. There are no major villains, no battles to decide the fate of the world, no casualties and no story arcs. That being said, if you enjoy these collections of short, silly, light-hearted scenarios, then you'll probably enjoy Ranma 1/2. If not, I suggest you skip this one completely.
So storywise, there's not much going on here, but naturally there is a plot. It follows 16 year old Saotome Ranma, who, during a training journey through China with his father, Genma, falls into a cursed spring at Jusenkyo. It was in this spring that a young girl tragically drowned some 2000 years ago. Now, a curse rests on Ranma, and whenever he is splashed with cold water, he transforms into a red-headed girl! He transforms back when doused with warm water. I don't think I need to tell you what awkward situations this can bring. But he is not the only one. His father, Genma, fell into a spring where a panda drowned, thus causing him to turn into a panda. A little later, they both return to Japan, where Genma has made a promise with his old fellow trainee Soun Tendo that his son was to marry one of his daughters and inherit the Tendo Anything-Goes-Martial Arts Dojo. Ranma's fiancée turns out to be Akane Tendo, a tsundere prototype. And you guessed it! They don't get along at all, and constantly deny their engagement to one another.
More characters pop up as the show progresses, such as Ryoga Hibiki, the directionally challenged rival of Ranma, who transforms into a black piglett, dubbed by Akane as P-chan, and Shampoo, an Amazon sworn to kill girl-type Ranma (for a little while at least) and marry boy-type Ranma. She turns into a kitty when splashed with cold water.
For pretty much the rest of the anime, several boys fall in love with Akane, several girls fall in love with Ranma, and even girl-type Ranma (aka the pigtailed girl) gets some attention. Ranma strives to lift his curse, is challenged by a whole array of goofballs to some bizarre forms of martial arts (dining martial arts?) and struggles with his relationship with Akane. And that's pretty much all I can tell you. Really, there's not many risks for spoilers.
Animation - 7.5/10
Taking into account that this anime is relatively old (around 20 years), I really don't feel like I can complain about it. I haven't seen many anime of this age, so I can't compare it all that well. But to me, at least, the art and animation is satisfactory. I have noticed some small errors, such as Ranma's hair being colored black in certain shots while he was in girl form. These errors are fairly rare though. Lipsynching is a little sloppy most of the times, but that's not such a big bother. Animation does what it needs to do, albeit a bit on the simplistic side mostly. In short, if you like this kind of old-school style, you should appreciate it.
(Also, though it might not look like it, this anime contains nudity, so be warned)
Sound - 9/10
For an oldie, I found the sound quality to be really good compared to others like Dragon Ball. The casting and voice acting is spot on, nearly every character, period. Overacting is not an issue, since it's generally a comedy. The soundtrack consists of some very memorable, recognisable and fun tracks. Wether they're battle themes or play during the funny slapstick scenes, they will always stick to you. Then again, if you've watched 161 episodes, you are at least going to remember some music anyway.
Since this is a long-runner, there's multiple OP's and ED's. Some are very catchy, while others are rather forgettable. But no matter what, you will never in your life forget about the very first opening theme and the second season's ending. It's physically impossible!
Characters - 8/10
There is barely any character development. Yeah, since this anime is episodic, don't count on the characters' personalities changing. With the exception of Ranma and Akane growing towards eachother more, and perhaps Ranma's and Ryoga's relationship, what you see in the beginning is what you gotta deal with for the rest of the series. Akane is the perfect tsundere, and possesses all necesarry qualities, 'nuff said. Ranma's personality doesn't change when he turns into a girl, but he's not afraid to take advantage of his curse. He's just as stubborn, thick-headed and arrogant as his fiancée Akane, so they usually end up squabbling. In a way, Ranma is a tsundere too. Shampoo is a sneaky girl that wouldn't mind resorting to dirty tricks to win Ranma all for herself. Ryoga is quite resentful towards Ranma, mainly because he too has a crush on Akane. When facing Ranma, he's aggresive, but when with Akane, he turns into a major softy. Mousse is a short-sighted fighter who is in love with Shampoo, and has a few bones to pick with Ranma. Kuno has a crush on both Akane and girl-type Ranma. He's arrogant, and possibly the biggest imbecile of the show. Both Genma and Soun are birds of the same feather. They're cowards and appear to be completely useless in a real fight. And the last one I want to adress is Happosai, Soun and Genma's old master. He is the resident "ero-jiji", whose main hobby is stealing women's underwear. He's also a total jerk, and the most hated resident of the Tendo dojo.
Ranma 1/2 has a huge array of characters, and though they may be stereotypical and extreme, they are the driving force behind the anime. It's those over-the-top character traits that make the show fun to watch, and put our main hero in yet another sticky situation.
Conclusion - 8/10
I found Ranma 1/2 to be a fun ride, and I'll definitely check the OVA's and movies later. However, though it has good qualities, it will not appeal to everyone. Heck, I'm not even sure what demographic this anime tries to target, but I suppose it's largely a shounen. If you don't mind episodic, romance mixed with martial arts and overall silliness, give this one a whirl.
Ranma is a truly amazing manga, one of my favourites, one of the best. Funny as sin and quite a good story too with some nifty action scenes. I love it.
The anime meanwhile....ack...Well...the anime is a different matter.
Its decent. Don't get me wrong but....it just doesn't work. With the first series they concentrate far too much on the romance and miss out the fun. They can't decide if their target demographic is girls or boys so fall flat aiming for either.
When the anime was being made still this was recognised as a problem. It was not a great success early on. As such they shook things up. Introduced Shampoo early and made the whole thing sillier.
But still...I dunno. It just doesn't work in the same way the manga does. Its plot arcs are too long for how silly they are. It shows its age badly too.
I would definitely recommend you check out Ranma. Though stick to the manga. Not the anime.
This show is mainly held together by the comedy for me. Its got it's cute romantic moments, and key points. But aside from the main theme being fighting, the comedy is just astounding. There are parts where you just have to laugh because some of the things said or done is just so silly. The characters are whacky, and unique, and the anime is very clever. For a harem, it really wasn't all that bad compared to others I've seen. The main love interests weren't fickle and it was clear who Ranma and Akane loved despite everyone elses' advances. This anime is a real mood lifter for those who've had a bad day.
After the huge success of Urusei Yatsura (I made a review about it as well), mangaka Rumiko Takahashi decided to make an equally queer series, with more focus on action and characters. And the result was Ranma!
ART SECTION: 5/10, SOUND SECTION: 8/10
Art Analysis: General Artwork 1/2, Character Figures 1/2, Backgrounds 1/2, Animation 1/2, Visual Effects 1/2
Sound Analysis: Voice Acting 3/3, Music Themes 3/4, Sound Effects 2/3
- Very old style but will stay adorable no matter how many years pass. This series has memorable character figures, distinguishable voices and behaviors, a huge heart-warming variety in backgrounds and humor that still gets to you without needing realism, CG graphics or unbelievable visual effects.
- Most episodes make several image and sound references to very known movies, traditions and myths (of the 80’s and before, that is) making most episodes a parody of every renowned title you can think of. The rest are funny, every day situations, with the characters experiencing new pleasures or taking part in weird games and contests. So, this department has no significance over the real value of the series.
- Production values are rather bad and become much worse as the show goes on but rejecting the series because of the old graphics and sound is NOT an excuse. Jerky movements and more crude graphics make the series less interesting later on but if you got all the way up to the turning point, it means you liked the series and this is not a major problem anymore.
STORY SECTION: 5/10 (6/10 in the manga)
Analysis: Premise 2/2, Pacing 1/2, Complexity 1/2, Plausibility 1/2, Conclusion 0/2
A common trademark of all of Rumiko Takahashi’s works is the stale and unfinished scenarios (although Maison Ikkoku and Inu Yasha are exceptions). The series begins with a story, spends a few episodes introducing the characters and then has really thin continuity. All episodes are divided into stand-alone small story arks and only those introducing recurring characters or another attempt at a given situation can be called to have an on-going scenario. Beyond that, no matter what happens in the end of an ark will have little effect in the beginning of the next. Although there is an evolving story, the series is focusing on humor rather in scenario continuity. Especially, after the third season, the continuity becomes very scarce.
By the way, the manga takes the story far beyond the ending of the series and it is a must if you want to know more.
CHARACTER SECTION: 6/10
Analysis: Presence 2/2, Personality 2/2, Backdrop 1/2, Development 1/2, Catharsis 0/2
A major plus of the series. Almost all characters are hilarious albeit two are the most memorable.
Ranma: A cult figure, Ranma is a young male martial artist. He and his father fell in a cursed pond and now every time they are showered with cold water, he turns into a girl and his father into a panda! He has to hide this fact from everyone and find a cure. If that is not enough, he has been arranged to marry Akane, who doesn’t like men in general. Also, everyday he faces challenging martial artists, other cursed-pond creatures and weird people who are either in love with his male or his female side. He can be seen as the ridicule of the perfect Japanese manly stereotype, as he is supposed to act like a man, even when hiding in a dress.
Akane: A young female martial artist. She can be seen as the ridicule of the perfect Japanese girly stereotype, as she is good in beating people and completely useless at every task any typical housewife can do. She hates men and yet she is arranged to marry the queer Ranma. She is constantly chased by men who want to date her while defending her father’s dojo from challengers, as there are no male descendants to do the job.
The one theme, which stays constant in the series, is the true love between Ranma and Akane, despite their flawed nature. In many episodes they have opportunities to part ways, but always the two come back to each other. Some of the best dramatic moments in the series are in these episodes.
There are half a dozen other beautiful women that circle Ranma from time to time, giving the series a hint of harem anime. The main two are a Chinese noodle martial artist and a cross-dresser girl raised as a boy, who is also aimed to marry him. There are a hundred more secondary characters that spice up the story even more, from the pathetic fathers of the two main heroes, to their hentai martial arts master, to Akane’s day and night different sisters, to Ranma’s animal-based cursed rivals.
To sum it up, most characters are essentially reverse stereotypes of the ideal images of Japanese people. You must be well aware of Japan’s traditions if you want to “get the joke” but even if you are not, they are still very funny most of the time.
The main characters in Ranma are not totally stale as many of them change (not mature; CHANGE) as they interact with several secondary characters that are introduced later in the story. They also learn more fighting techniques and in theory become stronger. Still, they are not as memorable as those in Urusei Yatsura .
VALUE SECTION: 9/10
Analysis: Historical Value 3/3, Rewatchability 2/3, Memorability 4/4
A must-series for all retro fans who seek quality. It still is amongst the longest and better comedies of the 80’s, even if its production values betray it half way. In fact, every martial arts comedy anime in the last 20 years owes something to this series. It has a pretty high rewatch value, since you can start at any episode and you are almost guaranteed a good laugh without spoiling any story continuity (because there is almost none). Its humor is a parody of the Japanese culture and its stereotypes, becoming a sort of self-criticizing essay on Japan’s history and thus offering some food for thought as well.
ENJOYMENT SECTION: 5/10
Analysis: Art 0/1, Sound 1/2, Story 1/3, Characters 3/4
1/4th of the episodes are not funny at all. Especially after the 3rd season, the characters become more stupid and less interesting. But the rest made me laugh hard and that is all that matters. A great series, in spite of its flaws.
The accused is found … NOT GUILTY! … He is shallow, but funny as hell.