Manga Review: Ranma 1/2 Omnibus Volume Five

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

Ranma 1/2 Omnibus Volume Five
Written by: Rumiko Takahashi
Publisher: Shogakukan
English Publisher: VIZ Media
Release Date: November 11, 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 7, all of Volume 8, and six of the chapters of Volume 9 of VIZ Media’s original release of the Ranma 1/2 manga.

The focus of this omnibus is on some of the potential love interests for both Ranma and Akane. The first four chapters of this volume focus on Kodachi. Kodachi makes cookies in her home economics class and decides to skip school in order to find Ranma and give him her cookies. Meanwhile, Akane has also made cookies in her home economics class, and she feels these are the best ones she’s ever made. She wants to give them to Ranma. But just as Ranma is about to try Akane’s cookies, Kodachi shows up and snatches them away. As Ranma chases Kodachi, he accidentally falls on top of her… and Gosunkugi happens to be there to take a picture that looks like something is happening that really isn’t. This leads to hijinks of Ranma going to the Kuno house to try to get the negatives, being followed by Akane, and Kuno becoming excited to see the pig-tailed girl after Ranma turns into a girl.

This storyline manages to get Kodachi, Kuno, Ranma (both boy and girl type), Akane, and Gosunkugi involved in some way. Gosunkugi was ultimately a minor player, but everyone else was crucial. Why was I not surprised to learn that Kodachi has a pet alligator? Or that she would hide the negatives in the alligator’s collar that’s electrified and can only be disabled by hot water? Both Kodachi and Kuno are eccentric enough that I can believe the various things that we see at the Kuno household.

The next three chapters introduce a new character name Ukyo, who is an okonomiyaki chef. It turns Ukyo is someone that Ranma knew when he was young… but had no idea at the time that Ukyo was a girl. Genma made an agreement with Ukyo’s father that she and Ranma would be engaged, and then ran off with Ukyo’s family’s okonomiyaki cart. Ukyo has tracked Ranma down to get her revenge on him. Poor Ranma. Not only does he find out that Ukyo is a girl, he also learns that his father had set him up in a second engagement. But Ranma seems to think that Ukyo is cute and starts referring to her as the “cute fiancée.” He starts calling Akane the “un-cute finacee.” Ukyo manages to get over her feelings of anger and now sees herself as Ranma’s fiancée.

Oh boy. Great one, Genma. He managed to make poor Ranma’s life even more complicated than it already was. So now Ranma has two arranged engagements, and he’s picked up potential love interests in both Shampoo and Kodachi. The already complicated love triangle has evolved into something else… but I’m not quite sure what to refer to it as. Oh, the tangled relationship webs that are woven in this series…

The next four chapters see Ryoga meeting Ukyo and fighting her, not realizing that she’s a girl. Ranma manages to break up the fight and send Ryoga flying. Later, Ukyo sees Ryoga worked up and realizes that he’s in love with Akane. Ukyo cooks up a scheme to try to set up Akane and Ryoga on a date, in the hopes she can get Akane out of the way and have Ranma all to herself. Unfortunately, when Ukyo sends the date invitation, it sounds more like a challenge than a date. So Akane goes with the wrong idea, and the resulting storyline is kind of amusing. In the end, Akane does goes on a date with Ryoga, but she thinks Ryoga is just trying to make her feel better over the current situation. It doesn’t help that girl-type Ranma puts on a disguise and pretends to be a fiancée for Ryoga. As expected, hijinks ensue and only come to an end when Ukyo finally interjects herself into the situation.

At this point, Ukyo is already showing how she will create new layers to the overarching story of the series. And having another character with a connection to a food location is also kind of fascinating. Shampoo helps her grandmother at the café, and Ukyo is running her own okonomiyaki restaurant. You know what they say about a way to a man’s heart is through his stomach? It looks like that’s one area where Shampoo has competition now that Ukyo has arrived.

The next three chapters take place at the beach. Happosai, being his perverted self, is bothering the young women. Ranma tells Happosai he’ll introduce him to someone with long hair and big eyes, and he assumes it’s Shampoo. Happosai brings along a bracelet as a gift. The woman in question is Shampoo’s grandmother, Cologne… and it turns out Cologne and Happosai already know each other from their youth and had been in love at one point. Happosai stole the bracelet from Cologne’s village, and the bracelet has a secret. There are love pills embedded in it, each with a different duration. The person who takes one will fall in love with the first person of the opposite sex that they see. Not surprisingly, this leads to various hijinks, especially after Akane swallows a pill… and it’s not known which duration it will last for. Poor Akane. Once again, she’s placed in a weird situation that could potentially have dire consequences. But, even though Akane and Ranma don’t seem to get along, Ranma tries to stay by Akane’s side throughout this ordeal. This is one of those rare moments in the series where it seems Ranma actually cares about Akane more than he’s willing to admit.

The next five chapters in the volume involve Mousse, who is in love with Shampoo. He’s gone back to China and gotten some water from the Spring of Drowned Duck. His plan is to use this water to force Ranma to give up on Shampoo. It culminates with Mousse kidnapping Akane and threatening to turn her into a duck with the spring water. Something goes awry with his plan, but it’s hilarious what happens. Ranma almost finds himself in an embarrassing situation because of a misunderstanding.

The final three chapters of the volume focus on a character named Tsubasa Kurenai, who has an interest in Ukyo. Tsubasa comes to find Ukyo and ends up competing with Ranma over her. There’s a twist to this story, and it totally changes the meaning of what the reader sees happening in this storyline. When I first saw this story in the anime years ago, I hadn’t expected this particular twist. While I knew it was coming when I read this volume, I still found myself shaking my head over it. I personally find the character of Tsubasa Kurenai to be annoying. The good news is that in the manga, Tsubasa is just a one-off character, so that at least helps with dealing with a character who I found to be rather annoying.

In this volume, we’ve seen stories featuring Kodachi, Kuno, Ukyo, Ryoga, Shampoo, Mousse, Akane, and both girl-type and boy-type Ranma. Like I said earlier, this volume has a strong focus on the various love interests that appear in this series. While Gosunkugi made a brief appearance in the first chapter, there wasn’t an actual story about him in this volume. If there had been a Gosunkugi story, it would have made this even more complete. And having the story of Tsubasa helped give Ukyo a little bit of character development. Yes, Tsubasa was annoying as heck, but the twist at the end gives the reader a little more insight into where Ukyo had been prior to tracking down Ranma in Tokyo.

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.

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