Manga Review: Ranma 1/2 Omnibus Volume Eight

Ranma 1/2 Omnibus Volume Eight is a new release for the Ranma 1/2 franchise, which includes the 15th and 16th 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 Eight
Written by: Rumiko Takahashi
Publisher: Shogakukan
English Publisher: VIZ Media
Release Date: May 5, 2015

The volume numbers 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 seven chapters of Volume 13, the entirety of Volume 14, and four chapters of Volume 15 of VIZ Media’s original release of Ranma 1/2.

The first three chapters of this volume is a storyline featuring Tatewaki Kuno. He goes to a competition to pull out a sword from a stone. The sword, The Wishbringer, will grant its liberator three wishes. Lo and behold, Tatewaki is the one who pulls out the sword. I found it interesting that Takahashi would take the Arthurian legend idea of a sword in a stone into a Japanese setting. Of course, it turns out that he was only able to pull it out was because he was the one millionth sword puller, not because he was the “chosen one.” That was such a Ranma 1/2 twist, and I absolutely loved it.

However, the sword does seem to possess an ability to grant wishes. Fortunately, Tatewaki is too stupid to utilize the sword to its full potential. He wastes his first wish on asking the sword to humble Ranma. Genma, who happens to be wandering around in his panda form, recognizes the Wishbringer. He and Ranma cook up a plan to take the Wishbringer from Tatewaki. Funnily enough, it just so happens than when Tatewaki tells the sword that he wishes to date the pig-tailed girl (i.e. girl-type Ranma), Ranma uses an arrow to send a message to Tatewaki from the pig-tailed girl asking him out on a date. The rest of the story focuses on girl-type Ranma trying to get the sword away from Tatewaki, and all the hijinks that happen during the date. It’s actually a rather amusing story.

The next four chapters sees the Gambling King arrive, and he wants a debt from ten years ago repaid. Ten years earlier, Ranma and Ukyo took on the Gambling King, who had been playing games of chance and taking money from kids. Ukyo wagered her family’s okonomiyaki cart (you know, the one Genma and Ranma stole) against him and lost. Ranma, meanwhile, wagered the Tendo Dojo. While he didn’t own it then, he said he would in the future. The Gambling King has come to collect on this debt. He’s dismayed to learn that Ukyo no longer has the cart. When Soun finds out what Ranma did with his dojo, though, he’s not pleased. Ranma goes to stay with Ukyo, so he can train in order to beat the Gambling King and win back the dojo. Unfortunately, it turns out Ranma is pretty bad at these kinds of games, and it looks almost impossible.

Meanwhile, Soun and his family is trying to win back the dojo and wagering parts of their house. At one point, Nabiki nearly wins everything back, but loses the dojo when the Gambling King cheats. But Nabiki does get credit for the fact that she’s the first person to beat the Gambling King. But there’s a truth that’s revealed about the Gambling King that’s actually quite hysterical, and it makes it even worse that people like Soun and Ranma can be beaten by him. Everything turns out all right in the end, but it happens in a comical manner.

The next four chapters, which encompass the remainder of the first half of this omnibus volume, is a story about the Dragon’s Whisker. While in China, Ranma accidentally ate rice porridge made with the Dragon’s Whisker. He did this while he was girl-type Ranma, so the shopkeeper thinks everything is OK. However, when Ranma changes into a boy and his hair starts growing like crazy, he is given another Dragon’s Whisker to tie his hair back in the braid that we’ve seen Ranma with all this time. That Dragon’s Whisker acts as a seal, keeping Ranma’s hair from growing out, because he could potentially lose all of his hair if the effects of the porridge haven’t worn off. A group of men with bald, pork bun-like heads come to Japan to track down Ranma in order to steal that Dragon’s Whisker to make the porridge for hair growth. When Happosai and Genma learn the truth about the Dragon’s Whisker, they also want it for themselves. Ranma has to try to avoid all of these people wanting to take the Dragon’s Whisker from him. This is another storyline full of the hijinks and hilarity that readers have come to expect from Ranma 1/2.

A little over half of the second half of this omnibus volume contains one storyline. Some of the characters win a lottery, with the prize being a ticket for two to a hot springs festival obstacle course race. The contestants are competing for an all-expense paid trip to any hot or cold spring in the world. Akane wins one of the tickets and offers to take Ranma, but before she can tell him what the prize is, they are interrupted by Soun. Because he doesn’t hear about the prize, he turns Akane down. Mousse also wins a ticket and asks Shampoo to go with him, but she turns him down. Instead, she turns him into a duck and takes his ticket. Shampoo asks Ranma to go with her, and since she says what the prize is, he happily goes with her. Ryoga, who has also won a ticket, wants to ask Akane but loses his nerve. Akane, meanwhile, joins forces with Mousse so they can go together. By accident, Ryoga asks Ukyo to go with him, and she accepts.

It turns out that the city putting on the race has made the obstacle course so difficult that they don’t expect anyone to win. They only announced what the prize was in order to draw people to their festival, because they don’t have the money to actually pay out the prize. They’re quite surprised when our characters keep making it past obstacles that should have been impossible to get through. The chairman of the festival committee gets really fired up about the whole thing, and this adds another layer of humor to an already hilarious storyline. Because of events and disagreements that take place during the race, it’s like a game of “musical chairs” when it comes to who’s partnered with who. The ending of this storyline is hilarious, and it’s completely unexpected.

The final four chapters of this volume begin one of my least favorite storylines in Ranma 1/2: martial arts dining. This storyline introduces a character named Picolet, who has an abnormally wide mouth and is from the La Belle France School of Martial Arts. Apparently, when Soun and Genma were younger, they took on the school’s martial arts challenge… and lost. Soun promised his unborn daughter as a bride, and Picolet has now come to collect on that debt. Ranma, who was humiliated by Picolet during a contest at school, decides to turn into girl-type Ranma and pose as one of Soun’s daughters. But Ranma gets more than he bargained for when he goes to Picolet’s to train in the art of martial arts dining. He finally gets his first victory, albeit a minor one, in learning the technique, right near the end of the volume. Unfortunately, this storyline will continue in the next volume. But at least I got through some of it here, but it makes me less eager to move on to the next volume.

For the most part, I enjoyed Ranma 1/2 Omnibus Volume Eight (with the exception of the martial arts dining storyline, of course). Everything else, though, was a fun read and included the humor, hijinks, and hilarity that is associated with this franchise.

Even though this volume includes my least favorite storyline of the franchise, I still feel that this particular remastered volume of the Ranma 1/2 manga is worth picking up and adding to your manga library, even if you already own a copy of the series. This release of Ranma 1/2 is a much needed upgrade from VIZ Media’s original release of the series.

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