Manga Review: Ranma 1/2 Omnibus Volume 14

Ranma 1/2 Omnibus Volume 14 is a new release for the Ranma 1/2 franchise, which includes the 27th and 28th 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 14
Written by: Rumiko Takahashi
Publisher: Shogakukan
English Publisher: VIZ Media
Release Date: May 10, 2016

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 all of Volume 25 and all of Volume 26 of VIZ Media’s release of Ranma 1/2.

The first three chapters focus on Ranma and Akane’s homeroom teacher, Hinako Ninomiya, who was first introduced in the previous volume. She has concerns about Ranma and decides to make a home visit. When she goes to the Tendo house, she has an encounter with Soun Tendo and develops a crush on him. She decides to use the Anything Goes Eight Treasures of the Deadly 5-Yen Piece technique to keep making herself look older so she can try to seduce Soun and become his wife. Since Soun sees her in both forms and doesn’t know about her ability, he thinks the two versions are two different people. Of course, Akane and Ranma don’t want to see Hinako end up with Soun, so there are hijinks galore. To be honest, I’ve never been much of a fan Hinako’s character, so I’ve always been kind of “meh” toward this particular story. It’s not bad, like say the Martial Arts Dining one, but it’s not among my favorite stories from the series, either.

The next three chapters see Mousse getting a hold of the Lens of Invincibility, a pair of glasses that is a secret treasure of the amazon tribe. Anyone who is seen through the lenses feels a need to weep and apologize. Mousse decides to use this to advantage to try to make Ranma look weak in order to impress Shampoo. Of course, Shampoo isn’t impressed, especially after she finds out about the glasses and the fact that they were invented for weaklings and children. But Mousse can’t help himself, and he continues tormenting Ranma with them. Ranma becomes so incensed that he challenges Mousse to a fight. But after Mousse sees Shampoo shed tears and tell him she’ll lose faith in him if he uses the glasses, in addition to something Cologne tells him about the glasses, he decides not to fight using them. But Ranma has come prepared, and in the end, Mousse does something unexpected. This storyline works well with the series, and it gave Mousse a chance to shine in a story focusing on him. Mousse getting a storyline focusing on him is a rare thing in Ranma 1/2.

The next two chapters see Ranma. Genma, and the Tendo family going to the beach. It turns out Soun and Genma have been called there to take care of a monster that’s lived off the shore for decades. Every summer, it drags girls into the sea. Female-type Ranma is used as bait and encounters the creature… which looks like a stone lion-dog guardian and doesn’t have a physical body. She finds herself wearing an ugly swimsuit, which has a picture of the monster on the front. The swimsuit won’t come off. It was supposed to be worn by a girl and be complimented by the girl’s boyfriend. But the boyfriend convinced her to wear another one, and this one was tossed into the sea. The swimsuit refuses to come off unless it’s complimented by the girl’s boyfriend. One of the older men that hired Genma and Soun turns out to be the boyfriend in question, but the swimsuit won’t accept a compliment from him. Well, Kuno comes along, and he happens to look a lot like the boyfriend did as a young man. So female-type Ranma has to try to convince Kuno to compliment the swimsuit so it can come off, but let’s just say that it’s easier said than done. Even though Kuno has a major crush on the pigtailed girl, he doesn’t really seem to like the swimsuit. And honestly, I can’t blame him, because it does look hideous. Fortunately, everything works out in the end. While it’s not a bad story, I’m glad that it didn’t last for more than two chapters.

The next two chapters were adapted for one of the OVA episodes for the Ranma 1/2 anime. This one sees Ukyo discovering a famous haunted spot, which is a cave where couples go through together and they break up before reaching the exit. Ukyo has Ranma and Akane pair up together, with the idea that she can have Ranma to herself after they break up in the cave. Ryoga accidentally appears at the cave, and Ukyo goes in with him. There’s hijinks galore, especially after Akane gets frustrated with Ranma and decides to go ahead with Ryoga instead. It was amusing to see Ukyo, who’s usually trying to keep Ranma and Akane apart, working so hard to get Akane and Ranma back together before reaching the exit. Of course, Ryoga is so happy about having Akane by his side that he’s not willing to cooperate with Ukyo anymore. I really liked the ending for this one, because of the twist involved. To me, this was one of the better stories included in this volume. It’s just as amusing in its original manga version as it is in the animated OVA.

This is followed by a one chapter story that focuses on Principal Kuno. He steals tests from Ranma’s homeroom teacher, and says he’ll publicly announce everyone’s bad scores at noon. However, he gives them a challenge: if they can get something from him before then, he won’t announce the scores. With this being a story about Principal Kuno, it shouldn’t be too surprising there’s a lot of crazy hijinks involved. The ending, of course, is a little unrealistic, but it shows how the situation ultimately was worse than it would have been otherwise. I’ve never been a fan of Principal Kuno and was actually quite happy to not see him in the manga for a while. But to be honest, the tone and craziness of the story just kind of felt like a retread of some of things the principal pulled when he was first introduced.

The next 10 chapters in the manga see the return of Ranma’s mother to the story. A new character is introduced, and he’s trying to pose as Ranma in order to fool his mother. He believes that Ranma’s mother has something that belongs to Genma that he wants. When Ranma learns of the impostor’s existence, he tries to take him on while at the same time, attempting to keep his own true identity secret. The young man has a connection to a dojo that Genma has encountered, and that the young man has learned one of two techniques that Genma created in order to get his revenge and to find the scroll that has information on a technique that complements the one that he already knows. Once Ranma learns the truth, he wants to learn the other technique, and at first, Genma refuses. But once Ranma picks up on some of the technique, he figures the rest on his own, and then challenges the impostor to one more duel. At one point, a hint is dropped that perhaps Ranma’s mother has figured out the truth about Ranko, but we see a twist at the end that shows that no, she hasn’t. But Takahashi did lead the reader on for the while, and I almost believed that maybe Ranma’s mother figured out the truth. However, if she had really learnedt he truth, Takahashi would have caused this conflict to be resolved much too quickly.

The final chapter in this volume sees Happosai not feeling his best and wanting to make a youth potion. However, he claims he needs “the tears of a fabled beast, at once male and female.” Of course, this means that he’s trying to collect Ranma’s tears. It’s a story featuring Happosai’s usual hijinks. It’s not necessarily a bad story, but it kind of felt like a weaker story to end the volume on. Yes, there needed to be something more light-hearted and short after a 10 chapter storyline, but I wonder if perhaps this wasn’t the best one to follow up with.

Even with the couple of stories that I felt were weaker in this volume, I still enjoyed reading Ranma 1/2 Omnibus Volume 14. It actually surprises me that the 10 chapter story was never adapted for animation, but then again, with its length, it likely would have needed to be a feature film. And at this point when the anime was adapting the manga, it seemed like the anime was focusing on shorter stories that would work for an OVA length. But that 10 chapter story is one I would have liked to have seen in an animated form.

I feel that this 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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