Manga Review: Ranma 1/2 Omnibus Volume 18

Ranma 1/2 Omnibus Volume 18 is a new release for the Ranma 1/2 franchise, which includes the 35th and 36th 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 18
Written by: Rumiko Takahashi
Publisher: Shogakukan
English Publisher: VIZ Media
Release Date: January 10, 2017

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 33 and all of Volume 34 of VIZ Media’s release of Ranma 1/2.

The first four chapters in this volume see girl-type Ranma and Genma in panda form taking shelter at an old inn while out on a training trip. While at the inn, girl-type Ranma accidentally uncovers a cursed mirror that creates a copy of the person that looks into it. A copy of girl-type Ranma is created, and the copy goes to the Tendo house with the Saotomes as the caretaker of the inn works at fixing the curtain that was covering the mirror. As expected, the copy begins to wreak havoc around the Tendo household and the surrounding area. The hijinks are kicked up a few notches when the real Ranma is given a compact mirror by the caretaker in order to trap the copy. While it works, the copy manages to get a hold of it and various people end up inside the compact, including Akane, Kuno, and Happosai. A story about a copy of Ranma could have been annoying, but this one was done in such a way that it was amusing and interesting to follow. And the hijinks involved in this story don’t feel out of place with the humor and hijinks that have previously appeared in Ranma 1/2.

This is followed by a one chapter story that focuses on Nabiki. She actually spent some of her own money for once in order to score some really good seats for a concert. Unfortunately, Ranma chases Happosai through the house, causing the tickets to fly out of Nabiki’s hands and into the burner where Kasumi is cooking a meal. On the night of the concert, Nabiki and Ranma are left alone at the Tendo house… and let’s just say that Nabiki has no qualms about giving Ranma grief over the destruction of her tickets. This leads to some awkward interactions, but they’re rather amusing, especially when Ranma tries to beat Nabiki at her own game. I always like seeing stories that feature Nabiki, since she’s usually such and underutilized character in the series. To be honest, this was one of the better one chapter stories to appear in the series for quite a while.

The next five chapters feature a storyline where Happosai takes Ranma and Genma to a “training ground,” which turns out to be a “red hot” teahouse. Unfortunately for Happosai, the women there are not attractive, and he retaliates by destroying the tea house. This particular story takes a turn into Cinderella territory, when the owner and her daughters make the beautiful kunoichi stepdaughter, Konatsu, go after Ranma to take revenge for what happened at the tea house. But it turns out Konatsu falls into habits of cleaning and other chores that she’s normally ordered to do by her family. Akane and Ukyo find themselves drawn into this story, especially after Ukyo hires Konatsu on to help out at her okonomiyaki shop. There’s a twist at the end when it comes to Konatsu, although it’s a twist that’s appeared in Ranma 1/2… to a character who has a connection with Ukyo. To be honest, it felt like Takahashi simply decided to reuse the twist and just put some new “window dressing” on it. Sigh. Like I’ve said in my reviews of the past couple of volumes of the Ranma 1/2 omnibus releases, it really felt like Takahashi was running out of ideas and was recycling concepts. Outside of that, though, the story itself wasn’t necessarily bad. It was just disappointing to see Takahashi recycle yet another idea.

This is followed by another one chapter story, and this one sees the Tendos and the Saotomes going to the star festival. Bamboo leaf amulets are being sold to couples, and if a couple writes their names and attach them the amulet, the couple will be bound together eternally. Of course, Genma and Soun insist that Akane and Ranma must do this, but things don’t go as planned when Kuno interferes. It’s not a bad story, but it feels that once again, Takahashi is recycling a concept. This time, it’s an object causing people to fall in love with each other. First, it was the fishing pole of love. Then, it was the umbrella of love. Now, we have the bamboo leaves of love. I just had a bit of a “been there, done that” feeling as I read this chapter.

Then, there’s another one chapter story, which deals with Akane’s inability to swim. However, this time, it doesn’t include a staff member at Furinkan High trying to teach her to swim in the school’s pool. When Akane nearly drowns at a beach, she is told she is the 10,000th terrible swimmer at Jellyfish Beach, and that she was won a swimsuit that will let her swim freely. She’s also handed a flyer for a long-distance swimming contest. At the contest, Akane discovers a lot of girls wearing the same swimsuit as her, and that they also all have short hair like her. The truth behind the contest is rather odd, but at least Takahashi wasn’t recycling an already used idea.

This is followed by another one chapter story. It has the Tendos and the Saotomes vacationing in the Futoraku Highlands. Ryoga suddenly appears, and upon seeing Ranma, he assumes he’s at the Tendo Dojo. After getting an explanation from Ranma, Ryoga says he’s supposed to meet Akari at these highlands. Even though Akari has drawn a map that should be easy for most people to understand, the reader knows that the directionally challenged Ryoga will still find ways to get lost. Even when Ranma tries to help Akari and Ryoga meet up, there’s still hijinks before the two finally meet up at the end of the chapter. I really liked this story, and I think it’s one of the better one chapter stories in the series. It was nice to see a story that not only featured Ryoga, but also helps to progress the relationship blooming between Ryoga and Akari. And Ryoga’s mishaps due to being so directionally challenged never get old and are enjoyable to see.

The next eight chapters see Ranma and Genma visiting the Saotome family prayer temple, because Genma wants to try to get a hold of the family treasure. While they’re there, Nodoka shows up and takes the treasure. The story starts out with Ranma and Genma hiding out as Ranko and her pet panda, but with Genma still trying to get his hands on the treasure. With some actions Ranko takes, Nodoka starts having her suspicions about her. After a bit of hijinks, Genma is accidentally revealed to his wife, and Ranma finally gets to meet his mother as boy-type when he saves her. Even though Ranma tries to hide it, it’s still discovered that Ranma and Ranko are the same. Amazingly enough, Nodoka accepts this and doesn’t insist that Ranma and Genma commit seppuku. But this leads to Nodoka taking Ranma back to her home to live with her. When Nodoka gives Ranma a present to give to Akane, misunderstandings occur, and it leads to chaos between Ranma’s various admirers. There’s one word I can use to describe this particular story: Finally! It was wonderful to finally see the storyline involving Ranma, Genma, and Nodoka finally being resolved. I thought the resolution was wonderful, and I also thought that this was a sign that Takahashi was likely starting to think about winding down the Ranma 1/2 manga. This was such a major change to the characters’ status quo, but it was needed at this point in the series.

The final story in the volume runs for one chapter, and it sees the return of Konatsu. Konatsu has been working for Ukyo and is trying to run the restaurant while Ukyo is recovering from a cold. Unfortunately, Konatsu isn’t capable of keeping the restaurant running. Ranma and Akane try to help out, but things don’t go much better after they get involved. I can’t say that this was a bad story, but it wasn’t necessarily a good story, either. It just kind of “was.” So far, I have not been impressed with Konatsu as a character, and I’m not seeing how Konatsu is truly adding anything to the series.

The highlight of Ranma 1/2 Omnibus Volume 18 is by far the story with Nodoka finally meeting Ranma and discovering his secret. This is a plot point I had been hoping to see ever since Nodoka was first introduced in the series. I also thought the story about Ryoga and Akari was also a highlight in this volume, and the Nabiki story was also enjoyable. The remaining stories featured in this volume were rather “hit and miss.”

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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