Manga Review: Ranma 1/2 Omnibus Volume 15

Ranma 1/2 Omnibus Volume 15 is a new release for the Ranma 1/2 franchise, which includes the 29th and 30th 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 15
Written by: Rumiko Takahashi
Publisher: Shogakukan
English Publisher: VIZ Media
Release Date: July 12, 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 27 and all of Volume 28 of VIZ Media’s release of Ranma 1/2.

The first two chapters tell the story of Kuno acquiring the egg of the phoenix, which is supposed to help master the Phoenix Sword, also known as the “magical sword of terror.” The shopkeeper who sells it to him says that whatever he does, he should not put it on his head. Unfortunately, Ranma puts the egg on Kuno’s head. The egg hatches, and the first thing the baby phoenix sees is Ranma. And with this imprinting, the phoenix keeps attacking Ranma as either boy-type or girl-type. The humor in this story comes from how Ranma tries to defeat the phoenix in order to get it off of Kuno’s head. This is an amusing story, and it’s one that was adapted as a short film for the Ranma 1/2 anime. In some respects, seeing the story in motion in the anime makes it even more amusing. It’s one of the more memorable stories in this volume to me, but I think that’s because I know it from the anime.

The next five chapters introduce two new characters, Link and Pink, a set of twins from China. One is a poisonous plant wielder, the other is a medicinal plant wielder. When Shampoo was young, Pink used her as a guinea pig for her poisonous plants. When Link came along and healed her, Shampoo thought it was the same person and punched her. The twins have come to Japan to get their revenge on Shampoo. The newspaper in Shampoo’s amazon village recently published an article about Shampoo and Ranma getting married, so they have also come to attack Ranma as well. Things get so crazy that Cologne enlists Akane’s help by giving her items to help counteract Pink’s poisonous mandrakes. Of course, it wouldn’t be a Ranma 1/2 story without hijinks and misunderstandings. Honestly, this isn’t among my favorite stories from the series. I found Pink and Link’s way of talking (always saying “please” at the end of each sentence) rather annoying and having to read this over and over for five chapters became tedious. And I found the storyline itself to be more unbelievable than usual. Yes, Ranma 1/2 includes plenty of fantastical stories, but at least I could find many of them to be at least somewhat believable. But with this one, I’m having a much harder time utilizing my willing suspension of disbelief.

This is followed by a one chapter story about the Tendo dojo being asked to bring a demon under control. Just as they’re about to place a new seal on the box, Happosai comes along and snatches the new seal and uses it as a tissue. The demon escapes and starts possessing anyone nearby and making them act evil. The only way to make it leave is to punch the person. After possessing a couple of characters, it ends up possessing Kasumi… and nobody wants to punch her. It’s hilarious how Kasumi turns “evil.” This was one of the stories that was animated for the Ranma 1/2 OVAs, and it’s one of the OVAs that I really enjoy. While the manga telling is good, I think the animated version makes it even better.

The next three chapters tell a story that focuses on Nabiki. She is sent a letter of challenge, with the meeting place being a fancy restaurant. She sends girl-type Ranma to answer, but she and Akane accompany Ranma to see what happens. It turns out the “challenge” is a date with Kinnosuke Kasha-o, a seventh generation of the Kasha-o dojo. He appears to be rich, so Nabiki pops out and sends girl-type Ranma away. It turns out that the Kasha-o school makes it so people are forced to spend money on them, while the Kasha-o spend nothing. On their date, Nabiki keeps shifting costs to Akane and Ranma, who continue to accompany her, because Kinnosuke has supposedly forgotten his wallet. But so much money is spent that the repo men come to the Tendo house to collect the unpaid money. Nabiki is determined to suck Kinnosuke dry, while Kinnosuke is dissatisfied because he couldn’t make Nabiki spend any of her own money. The next time they meet, Nabiki issues a wager: the first to spend even ten yen pays for all of this date as well as the charges from the previous one. The rest of the story sees the two of them trying to get the other to spend ten yen. I loved the ending of this story, especially after how ridiculous things get leading up to the conclusion. This is one of those stories that I wish had been animated for the Ranma 1/2 anime. It’s such a perfect story for Nabiki, who hardly had stories focusing on her to begin with, and I think the animators would have had a lot of fun animating this one.

The next three chapters have a story that focuses on Ryoga. He defeats a large pig that has been rampaging and attacking young men. The pig belongs to a girl named Akari Unryu, who says he’s the winner and hands him a note. Akari’s family has raised champion sumo wrestling pigs, and her father will not allow her to consider any man until he has defeated the large pig. Ryoga is torn, since he has his feelings for Akane, but he’s also flattered that another girl is noticing him. But when she starts complimenting him and comparing him with pigs, he becomes offended. She doesn’t know his secret, and also she loves pigs, so to her, these were compliments. When Akari believes that Ryoga hates pigs, she trains herself to hate pigs. Meanwhile, Ranma gets a love incense from Cologne and uses it on Ryoga… with the trigger word being “pig.” Of course, you can probably imagine that the trigger word being “pig” isn’t as safe as Ranma thinks it is. This story is full of the misunderstandings and hijinks associated with Ranma 1/2, but it also provides a little bit of character development for Ryoga. Honestly, I think Akari and Ryoga would actually make a good couple, and the way the story ends, that possibility isn’t entirely ruled out. This is another story in this volume that I wish could have been adapted for the anime.

This is followed by a one chapter story, where Cologne has Ranma ask Genma to try an experimental herb for hair growth. After initially rejecting the idea, Genma tries it… and grows a towering head of hair. The tonic is stimulated by anger and turns the hair into spikes But when he starts laughing, all the hair falls out. This isn’t necessarily a bad story, but it feels kind of weak coming right after Ryoga’s storyline.

The next two chapters see the return of Miss Hinako, Ranma and Akane’s homeroom teacher. She isn’t one of my favorite characters in the series, and I tend to not like her stories as much. In this one, she wants to remain a grown-up, and she finds a way while at a festival. She scoops up two fighting fish and puts then in a round fishbowl, which she takes with her wherever she goes. The round opening, combined with the fish’s battle aura, allow Miss Hinako to remain a grown-up. Ranma wants to find out how she’s maintaining the adult look and strength and breaks into her apartment. Oh, Ranma. Why are you breaking and entering? Meanwhile, Akane finds Miss Hinako’s missing wallet and goes to the apartment to return it to her. And guess what? More misunderstandings and hijinks. While I enjoy the misunderstandings and hijinks in many of the stories in the series, there are just some characters and their stories that annoy me. Miss Hinako is one of those characters. To be honest, I’m glad only one of her stories was adapted for the anime OVAs.

This is followed by another one chapter story, and this one features Kuno. He carves his name and the pig-tailed girl’s name into a cherry tree… and the tree possesses him. The story focuses on Kuno trying to get girl-type Ranma to free him from the tree. This wasn’t a bad story, but I’m glad it didn’t last any longer than it did. It’s one of those stories that needs to be on the short side.

The next three chapters see Ranma catching a cold from Happosai, and the fever keeps him so warm that he’s not changing into a girl when splashed with cold water. At the same time, Ranma’s mother drops by looking for Ranko. But as the cold transfers between people, its effectiveness wanes for Ranma. He so wants to face his mother as his male self, but he keeps getting thwarted in his attempts. To be honest, this is my favorite story in this volume. I’m glad to see Ranma’s mother makes more appearances in the manga, and I keep rooting for Ranma to be able to see his mother as his male version. I know that it’s not going to happen, because Takahashi would want to keep this conflict going for as long as possible, but there’s still a part of me that really wishes for Ranma and his mother to truly reunite.

The final chapter in the volume runs for one chapter, and it’s about a cursed spatula. Once you see that a spatula is in the title, you know that it’s a story that’s going to include Ukyo. As I’ve been reading through these volumes, it’s really hitting me that Ukyo isn’t quite as important to the overall series as she seemed to be when she was first introduced. There’s definitely more stories featuring Shampoo than there are featuring Ukyo. Anyway, Ukyo gets a call from a friend who is an okonomiyaki chef, and she has a cursed spatula. Ranma grabs it, and it gets stuck on his hand. It’s thought he has to make a perfect okonomiyaki to get it to come off. Hijinks galore, of course, and then there’s a twist at the end. This wasn’t one of the better stories to feature Ukyo. Oh well.

Even with some of the weaker stories included in this volume, there were still enough storylines that I enjoyed that it made reading Ranma 1/2 Omnibus Volume 15 worth it. There were a couple of stories here that I wish would have been adapted for the anime in some way, because I think they would have been enjoyable to see come to life in an animated format.

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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