Manga Review: Ranma 1/2 Omnibus Volume 17

Ranma 1/2 Omnibus Volume 17 is a new release for the Ranma 1/2 franchise, which includes the 33rd and 34th 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 17
Written by: Rumiko Takahashi
Publisher: Shogakukan
English Publisher: VIZ Media
Release Date: November 8, 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 appears in this volume correspond with all of Volume 31 and all of Volume 32 of VIZ Media’s release of Ranma 1/2.

The first story to appear in this volume lasts for one chapter. A young man named Densuke is in the hospital, and he refuses to take his medicine. He sees girl-type Ranma going by his window and throws a stool to get her attention. Girl-type Ranma tries to help Densuke take his medicine, but he insists it has to be done mouth to mouth, explaining that he’s never dated a girl before. Girl-type Ranma agrees to go on a date but tries to use any opportunity to slip medicine to Densuke… but to no avail. In the end, the medicine is given to him in the hospital, although it’s left ambiguous as to exactly how to it was pulled off. Reading this story, though, gave me flashbacks to a previous story about girl-type Ranma encountering the old man in the hospital who insisted on going on a date with her because she looked like his first love. To me, this story kind of felt like a retread of that one. The situations may not be exactly the same between the two stories, but the basic plot of girl-type Ranma going on a date with a hospitalized man gave me another impression that Takahashi was starting to run out of ideas for the series. I know this isn’t the first time I’ve made this kind of a comment in my more recent reviews of these Ranma 1/2 volumes, so this wasn’t an isolated incident at this point in the series.

This is followed by another one-chapter story. Kasumi is busy fixing dinner for her family and for the Saotomes while they’re out. The other Tendos and the Saotomes run into each other and have dinner out. When Soun calls Kasumi to tell her they won’t be needing dinner, she reacts curtly, which makes Soun think that she’s upset. Everyone panics, because mild-mannered Kasumi has never been angry before and they don’t know what to expect. They try to do things to cheer her up, but they keep having accidents that could make Kasumi even angrier. This was an amusing story, and I liked the twist at the end for why Kasumi seemed to be upset. Kasumi is a character who doesn’t get a lot of stories focusing on her, so this was a nice change of pace. It was also a breath of fresh air after reading the previous story that felt like a retread.

The next three chapters focus on the Mushroom of Time. Ryoga accidentally eats a Mushroom of Time that shrinks him down to a kid. The Mushroom of Time will change your age according to its size (for example, a five centimeter one would make someone five years old). Ranma finds Ryoga and learns the tale and takes him to the Tendo house. At first the idea is to hide the fact that the kid is really Ryoga, but once Ranma accidentally ingests a mushroom and shrinks in front of the Tendos, Akane takes it on herself to help them grow mushrooms to the right height so they can return to their normal age. But this is easier said than done, because these two have their intense rivalry and are worse about it as little kids. It’s a little disappointing that we don’t actually ever see the two of them consume the mushroom to return to their normal age. Instead, we see Ranma back to his regular self in the next chapter, so the reader has to assume that Ranma and Ryoga ate the mushrooms. But, seeing the chibi versions of both Ranma and Ryoga throughout these chapters helps to make up for the fact that we don’t actually see the two of them return to normal at the end of this story. This is one of those stories that I wish could have been animated for the OVA series, because I think this would have been a fun one to see in an animated form.

The next two chapters see Mousse trying to give a scarf to Shampoo, but she turns her nose up at him like usual. After Mousse drapes the scarf around a Bodhisattva statue, it’s so grateful to him that it tries to transform into Shampoo’s likeness and at night entices him away on “dates.” Mousse is up all night and can’t focus on his job during the day, so Shampoo asks for help from Ranma and Akane to figure out what’s going on. But when Shampoo does find out, she’s not interested in trying to make Mousse realize that there’s two Shampoos… she likes the idea of the statue distracting Mousse from her. But Ranma and Akane are determined to help Mousse. How the spell is ultimately broken at the end of the story is actually kind of amusing. I liked getting another story focusing on Mousse, since he tends to be more of a background character.

This is followed by a one-chapter story about prayer tablets being destroyed at a temple. Ranma, Akane, Miss Hinako, and Ukyo are caught up in this story when they are asked to help. It turns out the culprit is a sacred horse that the temple keeps, because it doesn’t like the drawing of it that appears on the prayer tablets (although it is an accurate representation). To be honest, this was among the weaker stories that appeared in Ranma 1/2 Omnibus Volume 17. This story kind of has the same vibe that the scribble panda story from earlier in the series had, and that was one I felt was rather “meh.”

There is another one-chapter story that sees Ranma and Genma at a hot spring. Genma has a coat that Nodoka made for Ranma when he was a child with Ranma’s name on the back… but she made it much too big at the time. Genma also has one with his name on the back. It turns out that Nodoka is at the same hot spring, and there’s the usual hijinks of Ranma and Genma trying to hide from her. But things get complicated when they’re wearing the coats in their panda and girl-type forms and are trying to hide the back of them from her. At one point, Ranma wears the coat while as a guy and Nodoka sees him from the back and wondering if that was Ranma. This isn’t the only appearance that Nodoka makes in this volume. In fact, in a later story, she will be playing a very important role.

The next two chapters see Ukyo being hounded by a boy named Hayato, who wears an octopus mask. Six years earlier, the two of them had a contest to determine whether takoyaki or okonomiyaki was better. The loser would have to wear a mask. Hayato searched for Ukyo in order to get his revenge. It culminates into a battle between the two of them once again, although it gets rather crazy. Again, I felt the basic idea of some strange person tracking down Ukyo was kind of a retread of the Tsubasa storyline earlier in the series. Again, a lot of the details are different, but that basic premise just felt familiar.

Next is a one-chapter story that sees the Tendo Dojo being asked take care of a legendary shotgun bean plant. It looks like a venus flytrap, but it shoots beans out when it senses anger. In order to keep it from shooting beans, the characters have to try to not get angry… but this is easier said than done. I loved how, at the end, it was ultimately Kasumi who figures out how to defeat the shotgun bean plant once and for all. Of the various one-chapter stories that appear in this volume, this is one of the more enjoyable ones.

The next story is another one-chapter one, and this one focuses on Valentine’s Day. Akane is trying to decide on giving chocolate to Ranma, and Ranma tells her that if she does give him chocolate, to buy it instead of making it herself. Afterward, Akane runs into an old woman holding a sickly child. It turns out Ranma saved the little girl’s stuffed rabbit when it fell out of her hospital room window. The little girl wants to give chocolate to Ranma to thank him and asks Akane to deliver it for her. Of course, this makes things awkward for Akane. This ended up being a sweet story that focuses on Akane and Ranma, and it’s another one of the more enjoyable one-chapter stories in this volume.

The next two chapters see Principal Kuno sending Ranma and a couple of his friends to the repentance room, where there’s a bust of the principal with an area in front of it for groveling. Miss Hinako accidentally ends up in the room and manages to suck up the ki from previous delinquents who were angry about having to grovel before the statue. With this ki, she not only becomes an adult, she becomes upset and wants to take down the principal. This story sees Ranma and Miss Hinako trying to take down the principal. This wasn’t a bad story, but I’m glad it only lasted for two chapters. Although, I have to admit that this was one of the more interesting stories in the series to feature Miss Hinako.

The next five chapters have a focus on Nodoka, Akane, and Ranma. It starts out with Ranma insulting Akane about her figure. Nodoka shows up and takes Akane and girl-type Ranma shopping for bras. Unfortunately, strange accidents involving hot liquids keep happening and turning Ranma back into boy-type and almost getting caught by Nodoka. While she sometimes sees the back of him, she assumes it’s some pervert and decides to start sneaking around and keeping an eye on Akane to protect her from the pervert. Unfortunately, Nodoka manages to see boy-type Ranma in a sailor suit and assumes he’s a cross-dresser. She’s actually ready to perform the seppuku, but Ranma manages to escape. However, earlier in the story, Nodoka thought Ranma was simply a pervert and seemed happy about that, so a plan is hatched to make it look like Ranma is simply a pervert and not a cross-dresser. I don’t want to give away what exactly happens at the end, but all I will say is that Ranma manages to avoid seppuku for another day.

This is followed by a one-chapter story that was adapted for a special OVA that was screened as part of a Rumiko Takahashi exhibit in 2008. In this story, Happosai makes the Incense of Spring Sleep, which he intends to use on Ranma… but Akane inhales it instead. She falls asleep in class yet is able to sense when people are nearby and attack them if provoked. This was actually an amusing story, and I think it was a great choice to adapt into an OVA. It’s too bad this OVA has never been made available in the United States.

The final story in this volume sees Mousse doing something that should make Shampoo upset. Instead, she gives a smile and says that she’s happy. Mousse assumes she gave him the Three-Year Smile of Death and asks Ranma and Akane for help to get Shampoo back in a good mood. While there are misunderstandings and hijinks involved in this story, I thought they worked to make this an enjoyable chapter to read. And having another story focusing on Mousse was appreciated.

Ranma 1/2 Omnibus Volume 17 is another volume that’s a mixed bag. There were some good stories included, but there were also weaker stories or stories that felt like Takahashi was reusing basic ideas from earlier stories in the series. There were only a couple of stories included here that actually seemed to progress the story or 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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