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.