Manga Review: Ranma 1/2 Omnibus Volume 16

Ranma 1/2 Omnibus Volume 16 is a new release for the Ranma 1/2 franchise, which includes the 31st and 32nd 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 16
Written by: Rumiko Takahashi
Publisher: Shogakukan
English Publisher: VIZ Media
Release Date: September 13, 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 29 and all of Volume 30 of VIZ Media’s release of Ranma 1/2.

The first three chapters introduce a new character named Rakutaro, who is the great-grandson of Happosai’s friend, Rakkyosai. Happosai takes on the child as a disciple, and Rakutaro has no problems taking on Ranma, who he refers to as his “elder disciple.” It turns out that Rakutaro is actually with Happosai in order to reclaim the Brocade Butterfly, an object that belonged to Rakkyosai that Happosai stole. But there ends up being another twist to this story… because Rakutaro isn’t who he seems. Rakkyosai was a martial artist who uses attacks utilizing calligraphy brushes and ink, and the Brocade Butterfly has a connection to this. We’ve seen the concept of Martial Arts Calligraphy previously in the Ranma 1/2 series, but not in the way that it’s depicted here. And I can’t forget to hint at the final twist that happens at the end of the story with the Brocade Butterfly. To be honest, the zany martial arts and the twists in this story are very much the type of thing a reader of Ranma 1/2 would come to expect from this series. It’s not a bad story, but it’s not really one that stands out, either.

The next two chapters have a focus on Ryoga. He actually finds his house but gets caught in a booby trap set by his parents. He has his dog, Checkers, deliver a message to Akane saying that he cannot move due to a minor injury. He says that while he’s lonely, she doesn’t need to worry and visit him. Of course, he’s trying to use reverse psychology in order to get her to come over to his house. Meanwhile, Akari arrives at Ryoga’s place while riding on her sumo pig. Ryoga and Akari have been pen pals, and she decided to drop by. Ryoga is excited by this and has forgotten about his message to Akane. When Akane shows up at his door, Ryoga forgets about Akari. Ranma arrives, as girl-type Ranma, pretending to be the Hibiki’s maid, and reminds him about Akari. Ryoga decides he’s going to try to have both of them at his house, while hiding the fact that the other one is also there. Girl-type Ranma adds to the hijinks of this story, and the ending is quite amusing. It’s disappointing that Akari never made it to the anime adaptation, because I think she really could have added something. I wish Akari had been utilized for the OVAs instead of Miss Hinako, because I think Akari is a stronger character and helps to add to Ryoga’s character development. This really feels like a missed opportunity.

Next is a one chapter story about the “umbrella of love,” which is supposed to be one of the seven wonders of Furinkan High. Legend has it that a certain umbrella causes two people who use it together to fall in love. Of course, this ends up being a rather predictable story, but the twist at the end with Akane and Ranma was kind of amusing. While it was predictable, it wasn’t bad for a one chapter story.

This is followed by another one chapter story, with this focusing on Miss Hinako trying to teach Akane how to swim. Well, it turns out Miss Hianko doesn’t know how to swim, either, so it’s rather pointless. We already had a story of trying to teach Akane how to swim at school with Principal Kuno, so this kind of felt like a retread. Even though it may be Miss Hinako trying to teach this time, this didn’t really add anything terribly humorous to the story. This was definitely one of my least favorite stories to appear in Ranma 1/2 Omnibus Volume 16.

This is followed by yet another one chapter story, and this one sees Cologne buying a lot of a special cold summer noodles. When she, Shampoo, and Mousse sample it, they discover that the noodles taste terrible. Cologne discovers that she has a legendary noodle that is supposed to grant whoever consumes it the power of 100 men. They promote that it is hidden in the cold summer noodles, so of course characters like Ranma, Ryoga, and Kuno start devouring as many noodles as they can in order to be the one to consume the special noodle. From how it’s depicted, these characters seem to react to eating the summer noodles the same way many of them react to Akane’s cooking… yet they press onward to try to get the special noodle. This was an amusing one chapter story, and the twist and the end was kind of funny.

The next two chapters of this volume were adapted for the Ranma 1/2 anime’s OVA series. The Tendos, Ranma, and Genma go to a hot spring that has a “vengeance doll.” The story goes that the doll has been handed down for generations with a soul trapped inside it, and that if you do anything bad to it, the doll remembers and gets even. Ranma and Genma run around the inn, and Ranma accidentally knocks over the doll. Ranma tries to put it back together but does it wrong. The spirit in the doll takes over Akane’s body to try to exact revenge on Ranma. Of course, the doll’s spirit doesn’t know the types of interactions these two have, so to everyone, it looks like Akane is getting closer to Ranma. Akane, who is trapped in the doll, discovers she can move and tries to regain her body. To me, this is one of the strongest stories included in this volume, and I’m not just saying that because I’m familiar with it from the OVA series. When I was first exposed to it in the OVA, I thought it was a interesting idea and that it worked well for the series.

This is followed by a one chapter story, and this one sees Ranma’s class doing a canoe class with Principal Kuno. They end up drifting to an island, where there are twenty boys, Miss Hinako, Ranma, Akane, and Ukyo. Where are the other girls from the class? Apparently, the food on the island is contaminated with the aloha virus. The boys eat it, and now they have turned into honeymooners. The boys start fighting over the girls as Principal Kuno shows up, who claims to have a vaccine. To be honest, I thought this story was among one the more ridiculous ones that Takahashi came up with for Ranma 1/2. I didn’t find it funny and it was rather illogical.

The next five chapters see the return of Pantyhose Taro, and introduced a new character named Rouge. Rouge claims Pantyhose Taro stole something from her, and it turns out that she turns into an Asura when splashed with cold water. Yes, she fell into a cursed spring at Jusenkyo. Rouge claims that what Pantyhose Taro stole was the source of her power. This story sees Pantyhose Taro and Rouge fighting each other and dragging the Tendos and the Saotomes into it. I had to feel sorry for Soun because his house kept getting so damaged throughout this story. There’s a twist to what the object is, and thankfully, Ranma figured out what it was. While I was glad to see a longer story included in this volume, I admit that I didn’t like this one as much as some of the longer stories that have appeared in some of the other volumes that I’ve read recently.

The next two chapters focus on Kodachi and introduces a new character named Asuka Saginomiya. Asuka has her white lilies to contrast Kodachi’s black roses, and is also Kodachi’s opposite in lots of other ways. 10 years earlier, Asuka challenged Kodachi to show each other their boyfriend 10 years later in order to determine which girl is better. Well, of course, Kodachi wants to show off Ranma. At first, he wants nothing to do with it, but when Asuka insults Ranma, he decides to help Kodachi. Asuka is just as shallow as Kodachi, which adds to the humor of this story. And the twist at the end is perfect.

The remaining chapters in the volume see Soun talked into buying armor that draws out power from the wearer, but the armor chooses who to accept. Soun hopes that either he, Genma, or Ranma will be chosen by the armor. Looking at the design, I suspected that the armor was more designed for a female. I wasn’t too surprised when the armor rejected the three males and chose Akane. Akane spars with Ranma while wearing the armor and beats him. The armor becomes very attached to Akane, and it’s discovered that the only way for Akane to lose the armor is for her to give her heart to another. Ranma grudgingly agrees to try to woo her, but as he’s putting on the act, he starts realizing that maybe this isn’t an act. But when Akane hears about the plan to separate her from the armor, she won’t listen when Ranma tries to explain. There is technically one other way to remove the armor, which is to touch the belt buckle, and that’s the key for how this story ends. I really liked this story since it examines Ranma and Akane’s relationship, and especially on Ranma’s feelings. This is one of the stories that I wish could have been animated for the OVA series, because I think this story would work well in an animated format. This, along with the doll story, are the two best stories included in this volume.

Overall, Ranma 1/2 Omnibus Volume 16 was a bit of a mixed bag. There were some good stories included here, but there were also a couple of real clunkers. In some respects, it feels like it was at this point that Takahashi started to have a harder time coming up with interesting stories, especially ones that helped to progress the characters.

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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