Ranma 1/2 The Digital Dojo is a DVD box set of the first season of the series, which had 18 episodes in all. The first and third discs contain five episodes, while the second and fourth discs contain four episodes; the fourth disc is the only one to contain any special features.
Ranma 1/2 First Season Box Set
English Publisher: VIZ Media
Release Date: March 31, 2009
These are the episodes that started it all. Ranma and Genma Saotome arrive at the Tendo household in their cursed forms after falling into a couple of the cursed springs at Jusenkyo. We also learn that Genma and Soun Tendo made an agreement when they were younger that Ranma would be betrothed to one of Soun’s daughters. The daughters quickly chose Akane, the youngest, to be Ranma’s betrothed. Akane doesn’t like boys, so this doesn’t go over well with her.
Ranma goes to the same school as Akane and her older sister, Nabiki. It’s here that he meets Tatewaki Kuno, the kendo team captain and the self-proclaimed Blue Thunder of Furinkan High. He’s in love with Akane, and he also becomes the first potential love interest for her. Unfortunately, Ranma gets hits with the curse and Kuno sees him as the red-haired pigtail girl and falls for “girl type” Ranma without knowing that the male and female Ranma are the same person. Kuno’s cluelessness ends up being one of the major components of the humor in the series.
The eternal lost boy Ryoga Hibiki arrives because of a grudge he has against Ranma. Ryoga ends up falling for Akane, and he becomes another potential love interest for her. It also turns out that Ryoga fell into a cursed spring at Jusenkyo, and he turns into a pig when he’s splashed with cold water. In his pig form, he becomes a pet for Akane that she names P-chan. This element adds a very interesting element to the series, and this is utilized quite a bit as the series progresses.
Tatewaki Kuno’s younger sister, Kodachi, is also introduced; she falls for Ranma and becomes a potential love interest for him. Then a Chinese Amazon girl named Shampoo arrives looking for girl type Ranma to get revenge. Ranma fights Shampoo as a male and wins, but this causes a complication; in Shampoo’s tribe, the law says a man who defeats an Amazon warrior becomes her husband. While Ranma tries to tell her no, Shampoo chases after Ranma and becomes another potential love interest for him.
Most of the episodes in this set focus on establishing the Ranma 1/2 universe, as well as several of the characters that begin creating a complicated relationship web. Unfortunately, the character introductions don’t end here, so the relationship webs will only become more complicated as the series continues.
These early episodes are some of my favorites, because the humor and jokes are being shared for the first time, and the story isn’t terribly complicated at this point. The overall story is also very enjoyable at this point.
When it comes to the DVD box set release, there are only two options for special features: “Textless opening & ending” and “English Credits.” Under “Textless opening & ending,” you can choose to watch the opening, either of the two versions of the first ending, or you can watch the second ending. The two different versions of the first closing have the same song, but the animation is very different between the two. The second ending not only has different animation, it also has a different song.
Ranma 1/2 The Digital Dojo is a rather “no-frills” DVD box set; however, in many respects, this is rather understandable. These original 18 episodes didn’t fare as well in Japan as the later seasons, so there may not have been much in the way of storyboards, line art, etc. that was held on to for posterity.
Also, since Ranma 1/2 never really aired on television in the United States and was primarily seen through video releases, so there really wouldn’t be anything in the way of English commercials available to put on as extras. And since these episodes were released so long ago in the U.S., they may not have been able to get any of the English voice actors to provide commentary or an interview for the set. This probably also holds true for trying to get anything from the original Japanese voice actors as well.
If you’re a fan of Ranma 1/2 or have an interest in anime from the late 1980s and early 1990s, then you need to find a way to acquire this DVD box set for your home video collection. At the time of this writing, this box set is out of print, so you’ll need to look around at online sites and at brick and mortar stores that sell used DVDs and try to find the best deal that you can for it.
I wrote this review after watching a copy of Ranma 1/2 The Digital Dojo that my husband purchased for me as a gift.
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