Ranma ½ Book 2

As we learned in the first volume, Ranma Saotome, while undergoing martial arts training with his father, fell into a magical hot spring. Now, whenever he gets wet, he turns into a girl (because the spring was cursed when a young girl drowned in it). To change back, he has to be dowsed with hot water.

Conveniently, there were hundreds of these cursed springs. Ranma’s father, for example, turns into a panda when he gets wet. It’s a flexible gimmick that allows for funny variations on the main theme.

Ranma ½ Book 2 cover
Ranma ½ Book 2
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When he was a child, his father promised to marry Ranma to Akane, the daughter of the father’s best friend. Akane, an accomplished martial artist in her own right, doesn’t even like boys, let alone “pervert” ones that are girls half the time. Even so, Ranma and panda dad have moved in with Akane, her father, and her two sisters at their martial arts school.

So, now that we know the backstory, this volume opens with a new character arriving at Ranma’s home. Ryoga has vowed revenge on Ranma for refusing to duel him. He had followed Ranma to China, where he also fell into a cursed spring. Since it’s a rainy night, he is cleverly carrying an umbrella, but that doesn’t save him from eventually getting wet.

Ryoga’s transformation is into a cute little black pig, who’s adopted by Akane as a pet, although she doesn’t know who he really is. He’s just another source of potential jealousy for Ranma. Whenever Akane and Ranma have a touching moment, some new rival will show up to provide ample reason for misunderstandings, although usually Akane’s the one getting jealous. Just about everyone either falls in love with some version of Ranma or wants to kill him or both.

Everything in this series can become a fight, including rhythmic gymnastic wrestling and combat figure skating. Sometimes I get so caught up in the story that the most outrageous ideas seem plausible — it’s only when I stop to think that the wit and imagination come through. For example, during the gymnastic match, Ranma winds up chained to Ryoga-as-pig, which leads to the competitors throwing furniture at each other. It’s a cuter, more graceful version of professional wrestling.

Dad seems to spend most of his time in panda form, maybe because he’s more fun and distinctive to draw that way. Although pandas can’t talk, Takahashi gets around that limitation by giving him signs to hold with his comments on them.

The cartooning is great, as expected. There’s some nudity, but it’s played for comedy, not titillation. Lots of exaggerated fighting is punctuated by comedy bits, and elements like the skating are drawn beautifully yet convey the danger of battle. Ranma ½ is an enjoyable, entertaining read, justifiably a manga classic.

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16 Comments

  1. Johanna, This is the series that got me hooked on manga. I love it and enjoy each new volume. I admire Takahashi’s ability to make anything and everything a form of martial arts.

  2. I liked the idea, but I found that I tired of the continued revisiting of the same concepts over and over. If the series had been 10 volumes, I would have stuck with it — 30+, no thanks.

  3. I’m another one that got hooked on manga through Ranma, and I still enjoy it.

  4. I’m also in the same boat and this is a great series to read. Though it is very slow at least any one volume can be read without reading all the others to know what should be happening.

  5. I really like this series. It is the first manga in this genre I’ve ever read so i think it pretty good. I f u are the type who love slapstick action, comedy, budding romance, marshal art fantasy and cute characters then this is your kind of series.

  6. If I were to start reading this series but I don’t want to start from the beginning, which volume should I start with?

    Or is it better that I start from the very beginning?

  7. I don’t know, I’m afraid — I only read a few starting at #1, and I gave up early. I’m guessing that you could start pretty much anywhere, once you knew the basic premise, but you might enjoy it more if you knew the character history.

  8. Kevin Lighton

    Personally, I’d suggest starting at the beginning, since I feel it gets weaker as it goes on. After the first Shampoo story, the percentage of “Ranma must learn/invent a new technique to defeat a powerful new opponent/returning powered-up opponent” stories increases pretty strongly, and they pretty much take over the book once Pantyhose-Taro shows up.

    I’m not sure exactly where either of these stories are volume-wise. I think the first Shampoo story ends around volume 5 and Pantyhose-Taro starts in volume 17 in the Japanese editions, but the original (flipped) Viz release had different breaks between volumes, and I don’t know about the unflipped release.

  9. Ed Sizemore

    Pengu, I suggest starting with volume 1. The first five volumes are perhaps the best. They explain the background for each character and what the various relationships between the characters are. Also, in the first volumes there is some great commentary on gender roles in Japanese society. One of my favorite scenes is when Ranma and Akane go to an ice cream parlor while Ranma is in female form. He orders a parfait and Akane is shocked. Ranma confesses to always wanted to try one, but considered them too girly to order as a male.

  10. [...] The artwork in the book is well done and, unlike hentai or typical American porn, the characters are drawn with realistic body types. However, I found the art very derivative of Rumiko Takahashi’s work, especially Masion Ikkoku and Ranma ½. [...]

  11. [...] and most beloved as they do over military tactics. Mao-Chan reminds me of the first volumes of Ranma ½ where Takahashi used the series to satirize gender roles, romantic relationships, martial arts [...]

  12. [...] the most successful manga-ka in the modern era, author of such classics as Maison Ikkoku and Ranma ½, has started a new [...]

  13. [...] Dragon Girl is a light romantic fantasy tale. It’s not hard to draw parallels to Ranma ½. Both Momoka and Akane are masters in martial arts, and their fathers own a dojo. Ryuga’s [...]

  14. [...] longest-running series of the modern era, including such classics as Maison Ikkoku, Inuyasha, and Ranma ½. Rin-Ne Book 1 [...]

  15. [...] (1991) — The character designs let you know this was written while Takahashi was working on Ranma ½. It’s a funny story about a housewife who finds herself being a penguin-sitter. The catch is that [...]

  16. […] manga artist in the west as well as the best-selling in Japan. Her works include Maison Ikkoku, Ranma 1/2 (currently being re-issued in the US), Inuyasha, Rumic World, Lum Urusei Yatsura, and Rin-Ne. Chan […]

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