Manga Review: Ranma 1/2 Omnibus Volume Four

Ranma 1/2 Omnibus Volume Four is a new release for the Ranma 1/2 franchise, which includes the seventh and eighth volumes of the series. These omnibus editions are the first “unflipped” release of Ranma 1/2 in North America. These editions has also been “remastered,” with sharper images and a “spiffed up” translation.

Ranma 1/2 Omnibus Volume Four
Written by: Rumiko Takahashi
Publisher: Shogakukan
English Publisher: VIZ Media
Release Date: September 2, 2014

The volume numbers used for this release are for the Japanese manga, not the original VIZ Media manga release for Ranma 1/2. The chapters that appear in this volume correspond with four of the chapters in Volume 5, all of Volume 6, and seven of the chapters of Volume 7 of VIZ Media’s original release of the Ranma 1/2 manga.

The volume opens with the Miss Martial Arts Delivery Race, which sees Akane, female-type Ranma, and Shampoo competing for the title. Thanks to a random drawing, the contestants have to make their delivery to Tatewaki Kuno’s house. Clueless Kuno, however, thinks Akane and female-type Ranma are racing to decide which one will get Kuno’s affection, especially since he was wrestling over his feelings between the two of them before the race was announced. These chapters contain the hijinks and hilarity readers have come to expect with interactions between Akane, girl-type Ranma, and Shampoo. And throwing Kuno into the mix makes the storyline even more amusing. Of course, the whole reason Akane and girl-type Ranma are in the race is also funny, because it their respective fathers wanting to win free food. Yes, Soun and Genma are once again scheming and plotting things for their own selfish reasons.

This volume also sees the return of Happosai, Soun and Genma’s martial arts master. He’s a very lecherous old man, and his hobbies include stealing women’s underwear and trying to spy on women who are undressing or are trying to enjoy themselves at the bathhouse. Happosai wreaks all kinds of havoc after his arrival, and his antics include: causing a commotion at Ranma and Akane’s school, battling with Ranma at the local bathhouse and nearly destroying it, and attempting to kidnap Akane. It all comes to a head after Happosai creates a stir with panty raids that gain the attention of the volunteer neighborhood watch program. Soun is asked to apprehend the thief, but he ultimately leaves it up to Genma and Ranma. Ranma puts a Chinese “woman repellent” on a patch that Akane sews onto Happosai’s clothes, which causes women to run away from him. This all culminates with a fight between Ranma and Happosai. With the introduction of Happosai, Takahashi is able to utilize some of her best comedic writing to help bring him to life.

The next storyline in this volume intertwines two plot points. First, a dojo destroyer who takes the sign from the Tendo Dojo (this is a fake story set up by Soun and Genma at first to force Ranma and Akane to work together) becomes real when a real challenger comes to the dojo for the sign. Shampoo also has an herbal remedy that will turn Ranma into a boy that she uses as bait in order to get him to go on a date with her. The date coincides with the challenge from the dojo destroyer, and Ranma has the struggle of going on the date with Shampoo for a chance at the remedy or helping Akane fight the dojo destroyer. The struggle for Ranma is real, and he tries to find ways to do both, but of course, Shampoo keeps seeing through his tricks. And at the end of the chapter, there’s a twist regarding the herbal remedy. As a reader, you knew there had to be something about the remedy that wasn’t exactly what it seemed.

In the next story arc, the Furinkan High School drama club asking Akane Tendo to be the lead in its upcoming play. At first, she steadfastly refuses, until she discovers the role is Juliet in Romeo and Juliet. Kasumi explains to Ranma that when Akane was in elementary school, she was cast as Romeo in her class’ production of the play, since she was such a tomboy then. However, Akane has always wanted to play the role of Juliet. Kuno, Gosunkugi, and Happosai all want to audition for the part of Romeo. Ranma only ends up vying for the role after overhearing that the winner of the upcoming drama competition between high schools will get an invitation to see China. Hilarity and hijinks ensue as the drama club attempts to perform Romeo and Juliet for the competition. But even among the humor, I found myself feeling sorry for Akane because all of the guys competing to be Romeo causes a mess for the play and really affects her dream of playing Juliet. Her dream becomes a bit of a nightmare, to be honest.

The final story in this volume sees Ryoga obtaining a map that shows where the Japanese branch of the cursed Chinese springs is. Ryoga wants to find it in order to be a whole man again, instead of changing into the little black pig P-chan when he’s doused with cold water. Ranma finds out about the map, and teams up with Ryoga. They realize that the spring they want is under the girls’ locker room at Furinkan High. Misunderstandings and comedy occur as Ranma tries desperately to get to the spring. And during all of this, Ryoga turns on Ranma instead of teaming up with him after getting hugs and attention from Akane in his pig form. The ending of this story has a humorous twist to it, and it was a great way for this volume to end.

To me, this remastered version of the Ranma 1/2 manga is worth picking up and adding to your manga library, even if you already own a copy of this series. This unflipped and remastered version is a much needed upgrade, and it’s a better version of the manga to share with others to introduce them to the Ranma 1/2 franchise.

Additional posts about Ranma 1/2:

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