Manga Review: Ranma 1/2 Omnibus Volume Nine

Ranma 1/2 Omnibus Volume Nine is a new release for the Ranma 1/2 franchise, which includes the 17th and 18th 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 Nine
Written by: Rumiko Takahashi
Publisher: Shogakukan
English Publisher: VIZ Media
Release Date: July 14, 2015

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 10 chapters of Volume 15 and all of Volume 16 of VIZ Media’s release of Ranma 1/2.

The first four chapters finish off the martial arts dining storyline that started in the previous volume. This storyline is one of my least favorites in Ranma 1/2, so I was glad to get it finished off early on in this volume. Basically, Ranma figures out the Parlay Du Foie Gras and attempts to use it at a contest against Picolet, but it turns out he knows how to counter it. While Ranma does come out victorious in the end, it’s not due to any secret techniques or anything. Obviously, Ranma would have to win in order for the series to continue, but it was just seeing how exactly he (as girl-type Ranma) would beat Picolet.

The next six chapters see Akane getting in a fight with Nabiki, who keeps taking Akane’s clothes without asking. Akane is already ticked off about this, so when she sees Ranma used the sports towel she hand embroidered as a washrag to clean the dojo, she loses it. After some misunderstandings, Akane blurts out that Ranma should marry Nabiki instead. Nabiki takes her up on this, although we see that Nabiki, true to character, is just toying around and not serious. Akane and Ranma, however, don’t figure this out for a while. While it was a little frustrating just how long this story arc lasted, I was glad to see Nabiki get a storyline. Nabiki is one of the characters in the series who tends be overlooked and utilized more as a background character. While I appreciated getting a storyline featuring Nabiki, I think Takahashi let this run a little too long. If it was just a tad bit shorter, I think I would have liked it a little better.

This is followed by a one-chapter story that sees Ranma accidentally removing a seal from a cursed scroll. This causes the “cursed monster,” which is a crudely drawn female panda, to come out of the scroll. In the anime, the way the panda is depicted caused me to refer to it as the “scribble panda.” It’s up to Ranma to convince the panda to return to her scroll, and the condition she has is that she wants to have a date with Ranma that night. It’s a nice, short, sweet story to give a reader a break after finishing off the martial arts dining storyline and making it through the Nabiki storyline.

The remaining eleven chapters in the volume see someone stealing the guest book from Jusenkyo and tracking down the characters from the series who have been to Jusenkyo. The attacker’s M.O. is to attack using pantyhose. Ranma is the last one to be targeted, and in the battle it’s discovered the attacker is a young man who transforms into a demon when he’s sprayed with cold water. It turns out this young man (who remains nameless until near the end of the storyline) is seeking out Happosai for revenge. It turns out Happosai was at Jusenkyo when the young man was born and washed him in one of the cursed springs (one where around 2,500 years ago, a yeti riding an ox while carrying an eel and a crane drowned). But, as it’s revealed later, there’s more than one reason why this young man wants revenge on Happosai. Even though Happosai is the main target, he’s still fighting Ranma and the others. Eleven chapters may sound like a lot for this storyline, but it’s actually the right length for this particular story. While the Nabiki storyline felt like it was dragging, I didn’t feel the same way about this one. It probably helps that this particular storyline has a lot more action going on than the Nabiki one.

Even though the Nabiki storyline felt a little long, I still thought it was better than the four chapters of the martial arts dining story. Even with the martial arts dining and the slightly long Nabiki storyline, I still enjoyed reading Ranma 1/2 Omnibus Volume Nine.

Even with its weaknesses, I still feel that this particular 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.

Additional posts about Ranma 1/2:

Manga Review: Ranma 1/2 Omnibus Volume Eight

Ranma 1/2 Omnibus Volume Eight is a new release for the Ranma 1/2 franchise, which includes the 15th and 16th 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 Eight
Written by: Rumiko Takahashi
Publisher: Shogakukan
English Publisher: VIZ Media
Release Date: May 5, 2015

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 seven chapters of Volume 13, the entirety of Volume 14, and four chapters of Volume 15 of VIZ Media’s original release of Ranma 1/2.

The first three chapters of this volume is a storyline featuring Tatewaki Kuno. He goes to a competition to pull out a sword from a stone. The sword, The Wishbringer, will grant its liberator three wishes. Lo and behold, Tatewaki is the one who pulls out the sword. I found it interesting that Takahashi would take the Arthurian legend idea of a sword in a stone into a Japanese setting. Of course, it turns out that he was only able to pull it out was because he was the one millionth sword puller, not because he was the “chosen one.” That was such a Ranma 1/2 twist, and I absolutely loved it.

However, the sword does seem to possess an ability to grant wishes. Fortunately, Tatewaki is too stupid to utilize the sword to its full potential. He wastes his first wish on asking the sword to humble Ranma. Genma, who happens to be wandering around in his panda form, recognizes the Wishbringer. He and Ranma cook up a plan to take the Wishbringer from Tatewaki. Funnily enough, it just so happens than when Tatewaki tells the sword that he wishes to date the pig-tailed girl (i.e. girl-type Ranma), Ranma uses an arrow to send a message to Tatewaki from the pig-tailed girl asking him out on a date. The rest of the story focuses on girl-type Ranma trying to get the sword away from Tatewaki, and all the hijinks that happen during the date. It’s actually a rather amusing story.

The next four chapters sees the Gambling King arrive, and he wants a debt from ten years ago repaid. Ten years earlier, Ranma and Ukyo took on the Gambling King, who had been playing games of chance and taking money from kids. Ukyo wagered her family’s okonomiyaki cart (you know, the one Genma and Ranma stole) against him and lost. Ranma, meanwhile, wagered the Tendo Dojo. While he didn’t own it then, he said he would in the future. The Gambling King has come to collect on this debt. He’s dismayed to learn that Ukyo no longer has the cart. When Soun finds out what Ranma did with his dojo, though, he’s not pleased. Ranma goes to stay with Ukyo, so he can train in order to beat the Gambling King and win back the dojo. Unfortunately, it turns out Ranma is pretty bad at these kinds of games, and it looks almost impossible.

Meanwhile, Soun and his family is trying to win back the dojo and wagering parts of their house. At one point, Nabiki nearly wins everything back, but loses the dojo when the Gambling King cheats. But Nabiki does get credit for the fact that she’s the first person to beat the Gambling King. But there’s a truth that’s revealed about the Gambling King that’s actually quite hysterical, and it makes it even worse that people like Soun and Ranma can be beaten by him. Everything turns out all right in the end, but it happens in a comical manner.

The next four chapters, which encompass the remainder of the first half of this omnibus volume, is a story about the Dragon’s Whisker. While in China, Ranma accidentally ate rice porridge made with the Dragon’s Whisker. He did this while he was girl-type Ranma, so the shopkeeper thinks everything is OK. However, when Ranma changes into a boy and his hair starts growing like crazy, he is given another Dragon’s Whisker to tie his hair back in the braid that we’ve seen Ranma with all this time. That Dragon’s Whisker acts as a seal, keeping Ranma’s hair from growing out, because he could potentially lose all of his hair if the effects of the porridge haven’t worn off. A group of men with bald, pork bun-like heads come to Japan to track down Ranma in order to steal that Dragon’s Whisker to make the porridge for hair growth. When Happosai and Genma learn the truth about the Dragon’s Whisker, they also want it for themselves. Ranma has to try to avoid all of these people wanting to take the Dragon’s Whisker from him. This is another storyline full of the hijinks and hilarity that readers have come to expect from Ranma 1/2.

A little over half of the second half of this omnibus volume contains one storyline. Some of the characters win a lottery, with the prize being a ticket for two to a hot springs festival obstacle course race. The contestants are competing for an all-expense paid trip to any hot or cold spring in the world. Akane wins one of the tickets and offers to take Ranma, but before she can tell him what the prize is, they are interrupted by Soun. Because he doesn’t hear about the prize, he turns Akane down. Mousse also wins a ticket and asks Shampoo to go with him, but she turns him down. Instead, she turns him into a duck and takes his ticket. Shampoo asks Ranma to go with her, and since she says what the prize is, he happily goes with her. Ryoga, who has also won a ticket, wants to ask Akane but loses his nerve. Akane, meanwhile, joins forces with Mousse so they can go together. By accident, Ryoga asks Ukyo to go with him, and she accepts.

It turns out that the city putting on the race has made the obstacle course so difficult that they don’t expect anyone to win. They only announced what the prize was in order to draw people to their festival, because they don’t have the money to actually pay out the prize. They’re quite surprised when our characters keep making it past obstacles that should have been impossible to get through. The chairman of the festival committee gets really fired up about the whole thing, and this adds another layer of humor to an already hilarious storyline. Because of events and disagreements that take place during the race, it’s like a game of “musical chairs” when it comes to who’s partnered with who. The ending of this storyline is hilarious, and it’s completely unexpected.

The final four chapters of this volume begin one of my least favorite storylines in Ranma 1/2: martial arts dining. This storyline introduces a character named Picolet, who has an abnormally wide mouth and is from the La Belle France School of Martial Arts. Apparently, when Soun and Genma were younger, they took on the school’s martial arts challenge… and lost. Soun promised his unborn daughter as a bride, and Picolet has now come to collect on that debt. Ranma, who was humiliated by Picolet during a contest at school, decides to turn into girl-type Ranma and pose as one of Soun’s daughters. But Ranma gets more than he bargained for when he goes to Picolet’s to train in the art of martial arts dining. He finally gets his first victory, albeit a minor one, in learning the technique, right near the end of the volume. Unfortunately, this storyline will continue in the next volume. But at least I got through some of it here, but it makes me less eager to move on to the next volume.

For the most part, I enjoyed Ranma 1/2 Omnibus Volume Eight (with the exception of the martial arts dining storyline, of course). Everything else, though, was a fun read and included the humor, hijinks, and hilarity that is associated with this franchise.

Even though this volume includes my least favorite storyline of the franchise, I still feel that this particular 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.

Additional posts about Ranma 1/2:

Manga Review: Ranma 1/2 Omnibus Volume Seven

Ranma 1/2 Omnibus Volume Seven is a new release for the Ranma 1/2 franchise, which includes the 13th and 14th 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 Seven
Written by: Rumiko Takahashi
Publisher: Shogakukan
English Publisher: VIZ Media
Release Date: March 10, 2015

The volume numbers used 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 six chapters from Volume 11, all of Volume 12, and five chapters from Volume 13 of VIZ Media’s original release of Ranma 1/2.

The first twelve chapters (or roughly a little over half of this volume) focuses on one storyline. In this story, Happosai becomes so angry with Ranma that he puts a burn mark on him, which is the “Ultimate Weakness Moxibustion.” According to legend, anyone burned with this moxibustion has their strength reduced to that of a baby. And this appears to be the case when even Kuno can easily defeat Ranma and declare that he can barely feel Ranma’s attacks. Happosai doesn’t help matters when he blankets the town with the message that Ranma is weak, because this leads to various characters he has defeated in the series up to this point trying to gang up on him.

The main focus of this storyline, though, is on Ranma trying to find a way to reverse the curse of the moxibustion. In the process of this, Ranma, Akane, and Ukyo discover that the chart that shows how to cure the moxibustion was stolen by Happosai. Why am I not surprised that Happosai created a hurdle to make Ranma’s situation harder to overcome? We get a few chapters of Cologne trying to teach Ranma a technique he can use to defeat Happosai and retrieve the chart. But trying to defeat Happosai with this new technique is harder than it seems.

The moxibustion storyline is an interesting one, and in a lot of respects, you don’t truly realize how much of the volume focuses on it until you finish the arc and realize you’re already a little over halfway through. This is not a typical thing for these Ranma 1/2 omnibus releases. Usually, the story arcs up to this point have been at least somewhat shorter in length, so the reader ultimately was experiencing more stories in the previous volumes.

We make a return to the shorter arcs with the next two. The first of these arcs, which only lasts for two chapters, sees Shampoo returning from China with two bells. She keeps one and leaves the other with Ranma, because legend has it that the bells will bind a couple together. However, what actually happens is that a large cat comes out of the large bell to look for the girl with the smaller bell. He wants Shampoo to be his bride, because the bells are actually a charm to bring a girl together with the cat. Fortunately, this storyline is resolved at the end of the second chapter. It’s a storyline that just simply would not have worked if it went for any longer than two chapters. I’ve got to say that this storyline, which I’m also familiar with from the anime, was a little on the annoying side. I found the large cat to be an obnoxious character.

The next two chapters sees Principal Kuno learning that Akane is unable to swim, and he takes it upon himself to teach her how. Unfortunately, he decides to utilize some bizarre ideas, and, not surprisingly, none of then work. I don’t know why Akane keeps going along with these crazy ideas, unless she just wants to learn to swim so badly that she’s willing to try anything. But there’s a twist at the end, when the principal finally does decide to try to do something normal to help.

The next story is one chapter long, and it’s one where Ranma is out training and Genma turns up missing. Ranma (in girl form) finds Genma, in panda form, hanging out at a mansion. A supposedly weak boy has told his mother that he won’t go outside unless his mother gets him a panda. When she comes across Genma in panda form, she takes him home. Even though all Genma does is lounge around inside the house with the boy, the mother won’t get rid of him. The mother makes Ranma hang out with the boy, and Ranma makes it his mission to make the boy go outside. This is a story I remember from the anime, and I have to admit that it isn’t one of my favorite stories from the series. The boy comes across as a brat, and the mother is just plain annoying and just panders to her son’s wishes. For me, at least, the stories in this kind of a vein don’t work as well in Ranma 1/2.

The next four chapters sees Ryoga encountering a martial arts calligrapher, who puts a mark on Ryoga’s stomach to draw out his strength and make him the strongest martial artist in the world. Unfortunately, Ryoga discovers that he can’t get the mark off unless someone defeats him. The mark is actually rather embarrassing, so I can’t blame Ryoga for wanting to get rid of it. He enlists Ranma’s help, and it takes a little while for Ranma to figure out a way to defeat Ryoga. Meanwhile, Akane finds P-chan with the same mark on his belly, and it seems like she may be finally cluing in to Ryoga’s secret. This was one of those storylines where it almost looked like the status quo was going to change, but unfortunately, that ended up not being the case here.

The final chapter tells the story of two kids looking for Happosai. They had encountered him at Christmas and thought he was Santa Claus. The kids want to be his disciples, and he teaches them things that probably really aren’t appropriate by taking them along on underwear raids and Ranma tries to stop him. But poor Ranma ends up being blamed for what Happosai tries to do at each stop. There’s a good ending to this story, though.

Overall, I thought that Omnibus Volume Seven was a little stronger than Omnibus Volume Six. It probably helped that having a strong storyline lasting for a little over half of the volume included in it minimized the potential for weaker storylines to be mixed in. The moxibustion storyline and Ryoga’s storyline were the strongest ones included here. For me, at least, the shorter stories included weren’t as strong as these two, but I think most of them were enjoyable. My least favorite story was the one featuring panda Genma and the spoiled little boy.

Even with its faults, I feel that this particular 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 unflipped and remastered version is a much needed upgrade.

Additional posts about Ranma 1/2:

Manga Review: Ranma 1/2 Omnibus Volume Six

Ranma 1/2 Omnibus Volume Six is a new release for the Ranma 1/2 franchise, which includes the 11th and 12th 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 Six
Written by: Rumiko Takahashi
Publisher: Shogakukan
English Publisher: VIZ Media
Release Date: January 6, 2015

The volume numbers used 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 six of the chapters in Volume 9, all of Volume 10, and five chapters of Volume 11 of VIZ Media’s original release of the Ranma 1/2 manga. This volume can be broken down into stories featuring Ryoga and Shampoo, a story featuring Happosai, a story featuring Akane, and a story about the return of Furinkan High School’s principal.

The first story is one that was never adapted for the anime series. In it, Ryoga’s dog, Checkers, appears on TV asking for Ryoga to come home and see her puppies. Akane wants to go see the puppies, and on the day she’s supposed to go, Akane leaves before he does. Ryoga has to get Ranma to take him to his house because he has such a bad sense of direction. But as we learn in this story, both of his parents are hopelessly directionally challenged as well. You can definitely see where he gets it from. When Ranma realizes that Ryoga has asked Akane over, Ranma changes to girl-type and puts on a disguise, claiming to be Ryoga’s sister, Yoiko. Unfortunately, Ryoga is so gullible that he thinks he could have a sister he’s never known about. To me, this wasn’t one of the better stories that Rumiko Takahashi came up with for the Ranma 1/2 manga, and I can see why it was skipped over for the anime adaptation. Yes, Ryoga can be clueless and gullible, but this just pushes his cluelessness and gullibility to unbelievable levels.

The next three chapters focus on Happosai and his ultimate technique, the Happo-Fire Burst. The story starts out with Happosai frustrating his disciples and their newest attempt at trying to beat him. Happosai tries to use his ultimate technique, but then realizes he’s forgotten how to do it. He reveals that he buried a scroll with the instructions, which causes Soun, Genma, and Ranma to go on a journey to try to get the scroll before Happosai can. Of course, when you consider the type of character Happosai is, it’s not surprising where the burial spot for the scroll is located at. The story provides the usual hijinks the reader has come to expect from Happosai, but somehow, Akane inexplicably ends up at this location as well. I guess she was needed for some of the hijinks to happen, but the coincidence that was required to make this happen forces the reader to use their willing suspension of disbelief.

The next story sees Cologne’s café getting a poisonous mushroom that wasn’t ordered. After Shampoo learns that if you add it to food, you can force the person who ate it to do as you command when you repeat a signal, she thinks it’s a good idea to use this on Ranma. Of course, it doesn’t go as she planned. The hijinks and humor come from a mishap that takes place when Shampoo tries to launch her plan. You have to feel sorry for Ranma because what he does is completely out of his control. But, to me at least, I thought that Shampoo got what she deserved.

The next three chapters see Akane accidentally eating Happosai’s super soba, which has noodles that make people super strong when they eat them. Of course, the already strong Akane becomes ridiculously strong after eating these noodles. We ultimately see Akane and Shampoo competing in a martial arts badminton match. Ranma is given the antidote and getting Akane to take it is no easy task. To me, this has been one of the less interesting stories in Ranma 1/2. While it was kind of interesting to see Akane and Shampoo facing off against each other, it kind of becomes less interesting once Akane is up against girl-type Ranma when Akane is resisting taking the antidote.

The next six chapters make up the storyline about the return of the principal. When I first saw this story when I watched the anime several years back, it never really hit me that Furinkan High School didn’t have a principal until this storyline appeared. It turns out he’d been away to Hawaii to learn American teaching methods. But from what we see, he obviously didn’t learn any effective American methods. Instead, the principal is trying to institute new ridiculous rules (such as boys must have buzz cuts and girls must have bowl cuts) and sets up a crazy hunt for a coconut that has a ticket for getting out of the school rules. Between this and other school rules he tries to implement, the principal comes off as a rather annoying character. However, there’s more to him than the audience realizes at first, until it’s revealed who the principal is related to. To be honest, this family relationship is probably the thing I like the most about the principal. Outside of that, I really can’t stand him as a character.

The remaining five chapters see Shampoo acquiring a bar of soap that will supposedly keep those who have been affected by the cursed Jusenkyo springs from changing to the form of the person or animal who fell in the same spring that they did. Once Ranma finds out about it, he’s determined to get a hold of it. But as fate would have it, Ryoga accidentally got it and washed himself with it. Shampoo is also desperate to get it back as well, and she and Ranma team up to try to trick the soap away from Ryoga… and when that fails, Shampoo tries to manipulate Akane to get the soap back for her. We get the usual hijinks that readers have come to expect from the Ranma 1/2 series, but we also get to have some Akane and Ryoga moments here.

Overall, I thought the stories included in this volume were a mixed bag. But I think that overall, the stories I enjoyed outweighed the ones that I didn’t. It’s also interesting to note just how few characters from the series were focused on in the chapters included in this volume. We saw neither Ukyo or Mousse, and instead had a strong focus on Ryoga and Shampoo.

Even with its faults, I feel that this particular 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 unflipped and remastered version is a much needed upgrade.

Additional posts about Ranma 1/2:

Manga Review: Ranma 1/2 Omnibus Volume Five

Ranma 1/2 Omnibus Volume Five is a new release for the Ranma 1/2 franchise, which includes the ninth and tenth 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 Five
Written by: Rumiko Takahashi
Publisher: Shogakukan
English Publisher: VIZ Media
Release Date: November 11, 2014

The volume numbers used 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 four of the chapters in Volume 7, all of Volume 8, and six of the chapters of Volume 9 of VIZ Media’s original release of the Ranma 1/2 manga.

The focus of this omnibus is on some of the potential love interests for both Ranma and Akane. The first four chapters of this volume focus on Kodachi. Kodachi makes cookies in her home economics class and decides to skip school in order to find Ranma and give him her cookies. Meanwhile, Akane has also made cookies in her home economics class, and she feels these are the best ones she’s ever made. She wants to give them to Ranma. But just as Ranma is about to try Akane’s cookies, Kodachi shows up and snatches them away. As Ranma chases Kodachi, he accidentally falls on top of her… and Gosunkugi happens to be there to take a picture that looks like something is happening that really isn’t. This leads to hijinks of Ranma going to the Kuno house to try to get the negatives, being followed by Akane, and Kuno becoming excited to see the pig-tailed girl after Ranma turns into a girl.

This storyline manages to get Kodachi, Kuno, Ranma (both boy and girl type), Akane, and Gosunkugi involved in some way. Gosunkugi was ultimately a minor player, but everyone else was crucial. Why was I not surprised to learn that Kodachi has a pet alligator? Or that she would hide the negatives in the alligator’s collar that’s electrified and can only be disabled by hot water? Both Kodachi and Kuno are eccentric enough that I can believe the various things that we see at the Kuno household.

The next three chapters introduce a new character name Ukyo, who is an okonomiyaki chef. It turns Ukyo is someone that Ranma knew when he was young… but had no idea at the time that Ukyo was a girl. Genma made an agreement with Ukyo’s father that she and Ranma would be engaged, and then ran off with Ukyo’s family’s okonomiyaki cart. Ukyo has tracked Ranma down to get her revenge on him. Poor Ranma. Not only does he find out that Ukyo is a girl, he also learns that his father had set him up in a second engagement. But Ranma seems to think that Ukyo is cute and starts referring to her as the “cute fiancée.” He starts calling Akane the “un-cute finacee.” Ukyo manages to get over her feelings of anger and now sees herself as Ranma’s fiancée.

Oh boy. Great one, Genma. He managed to make poor Ranma’s life even more complicated than it already was. So now Ranma has two arranged engagements, and he’s picked up potential love interests in both Shampoo and Kodachi. The already complicated love triangle has evolved into something else… but I’m not quite sure what to refer to it as. Oh, the tangled relationship webs that are woven in this series…

The next four chapters see Ryoga meeting Ukyo and fighting her, not realizing that she’s a girl. Ranma manages to break up the fight and send Ryoga flying. Later, Ukyo sees Ryoga worked up and realizes that he’s in love with Akane. Ukyo cooks up a scheme to try to set up Akane and Ryoga on a date, in the hopes she can get Akane out of the way and have Ranma all to herself. Unfortunately, when Ukyo sends the date invitation, it sounds more like a challenge than a date. So Akane goes with the wrong idea, and the resulting storyline is kind of amusing. In the end, Akane does goes on a date with Ryoga, but she thinks Ryoga is just trying to make her feel better over the current situation. It doesn’t help that girl-type Ranma puts on a disguise and pretends to be a fiancée for Ryoga. As expected, hijinks ensue and only come to an end when Ukyo finally interjects herself into the situation.

At this point, Ukyo is already showing how she will create new layers to the overarching story of the series. And having another character with a connection to a food location is also kind of fascinating. Shampoo helps her grandmother at the café, and Ukyo is running her own okonomiyaki restaurant. You know what they say about a way to a man’s heart is through his stomach? It looks like that’s one area where Shampoo has competition now that Ukyo has arrived.

The next three chapters take place at the beach. Happosai, being his perverted self, is bothering the young women. Ranma tells Happosai he’ll introduce him to someone with long hair and big eyes, and he assumes it’s Shampoo. Happosai brings along a bracelet as a gift. The woman in question is Shampoo’s grandmother, Cologne… and it turns out Cologne and Happosai already know each other from their youth and had been in love at one point. Happosai stole the bracelet from Cologne’s village, and the bracelet has a secret. There are love pills embedded in it, each with a different duration. The person who takes one will fall in love with the first person of the opposite sex that they see. Not surprisingly, this leads to various hijinks, especially after Akane swallows a pill… and it’s not known which duration it will last for. Poor Akane. Once again, she’s placed in a weird situation that could potentially have dire consequences. But, even though Akane and Ranma don’t seem to get along, Ranma tries to stay by Akane’s side throughout this ordeal. This is one of those rare moments in the series where it seems Ranma actually cares about Akane more than he’s willing to admit.

The next five chapters in the volume involve Mousse, who is in love with Shampoo. He’s gone back to China and gotten some water from the Spring of Drowned Duck. His plan is to use this water to force Ranma to give up on Shampoo. It culminates with Mousse kidnapping Akane and threatening to turn her into a duck with the spring water. Something goes awry with his plan, but it’s hilarious what happens. Ranma almost finds himself in an embarrassing situation because of a misunderstanding.

The final three chapters of the volume focus on a character named Tsubasa Kurenai, who has an interest in Ukyo. Tsubasa comes to find Ukyo and ends up competing with Ranma over her. There’s a twist to this story, and it totally changes the meaning of what the reader sees happening in this storyline. When I first saw this story in the anime years ago, I hadn’t expected this particular twist. While I knew it was coming when I read this volume, I still found myself shaking my head over it. I personally find the character of Tsubasa Kurenai to be annoying. The good news is that in the manga, Tsubasa is just a one-off character, so that at least helps with dealing with a character who I found to be rather annoying.

In this volume, we’ve seen stories featuring Kodachi, Kuno, Ukyo, Ryoga, Shampoo, Mousse, Akane, and both girl-type and boy-type Ranma. Like I said earlier, this volume has a strong focus on the various love interests that appear in this series. While Gosunkugi made a brief appearance in the first chapter, there wasn’t an actual story about him in this volume. If there had been a Gosunkugi story, it would have made this even more complete. And having the story of Tsubasa helped give Ukyo a little bit of character development. Yes, Tsubasa was annoying as heck, but the twist at the end gives the reader a little more insight into where Ukyo had been prior to tracking down Ranma in Tokyo.

To me, this remastered version of the Ranma 1/2 manga is worth picking up and adding to your manga library, even if you already own a copy of this series. This unflipped and remastered version is a much needed upgrade, and it’s a better version of the manga to share with others to introduce them to the Ranma 1/2 franchise.

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My Favorite Anime Opening Themes From the 1970’s, 1980’s, and 1990’s

It’s been quite a while since I last did a Top 5 list, but I came up with an idea for one and decided that I wanted to write this up and share it. This time around, this is a listing of my six favorite anime opening themes that came out between the 1970’s and 1990’s. Yes, I couldn’t limit it to just five.

Instead of publishing the list as a Top 5 (or Top 6) list, I will be sharing my favorites by organizing them in alphabetical order. I will be using the song titles to alphabetize the list.

For whatever reason, WordPress is not allowing me to embed YouTube videos into my post. Instead, I have made the title of each song a link to a YouTube video.

Hironobu Kageyama – “CHA-LA HEAD-CHA-LA” (Dragon Ball Z)

Most readers should recognize this song as the first opening theme for the Dragon Ball Z anime. It’s hard to believe, but this theme song first came out in 1989, when the first episode of Dragon Ball Z premiered in Japan.

One thing I can say about this song is that it doesn’t sound dated at all. You can’t hear it and immediately go, “That sounds like something that was written and recorded in the late 1980’s.” It sounds just as fresh now as it did 31(!) years ago. And I can’t neglect to mention that this song is extremely catchy.

Yoko Takahashi – “A Cruel Angel’s Thesis” (Neon Genesis Evangelion)

When I watched the first episode of Neon Genesis Evangelion, this song grabbed me the first time I heard it. I love how catchy and upbeat this song is, but it doesn’t prepare you for the content of the series or how the story evolves over the course of the series. LOL!

In all seriousness, though, I like how the song starts out kind of slow and minimal, and then it explodes into such an upbeat and catchy tune. Unlike “CHA-LA HEAD-CHA-LA,” though, “A Cruel Angel’s Thesis” does sound a bit dated when you listen to it now. While this sound worked for an anime theme song in the mid-1990’s, you wouldn’t hear something like this as a theme song in today’s anime. Sounding dated doesn’t make it a bad song, though.

Etsuko Nishio – “Don’t Make Me Wild Like You” (Ranma 1/2)

This was the first opening theme song for the Ranma 1/2 anime when it premiered in Japan in 1989. Sonically, this song works so well with the images that accompany it. Also, the sound of this song perfectly captures just how crazy and chaotic the Ranma 1/2 anime can get.

Of all the opening themes for the Ranma 1/2 anime, this one is by far my favorite. Sure, it sounds dated, but it’s still incredibly catchy and fun. You can’t help but move in time with it when you hear it.

Sasaki Isao & The Royal Knights – “Space Battleship Yamato [Opening Theme]” (Space Battleship Yamato)

This is the opening theme for the first Space Battleship Yamato anime in Japan, and this is the oldest song to appear on this list. Of course, I first heard this in the American version back in the early 1980’s when I watched Star Blazers as a kid. Years later, when I got to hear the original Japanese version, I loved the song even more.

Both versions utilize the same music, which has a sound reminiscent of a military march fused with a 1970’s disco feel. Between the English and Japanese versions, I prefer Sasaki Isao’s vocal performance over the English singer. Isao has a great voice, and you can hear why he continues to be a voice associated with the Space Battleship Yamato franchise all these years later.

Seatbelts – “Tank!” (Cowboy Bebop)

This anime theme song, composed by Yoko Kanno, is a standout for so many reasons. For one, it’s a jazz sound instead of the usual rock or pop sound associated with anime opening themes. And second, it’s an instrumental, which is on the unusual side for an anime opening theme song.

But it’s not just those differences that make this stand out. It’s also a great and catchy song in its own right. It’s really not surprising that “Tank!” is considered to be a standout anime opening theme song.

Hiroshi Kitadani – “We Are!” (One Piece)

“We Are!” is a song strongly associated with the One Piece franchise and has had several different versions used as an opening theme during its run, but the original version by Hiroshi Kitadani remains my favorite. It’s hard to believe that this song, along with the first episode of One Piece, premiered in Japan in 1999(!).

This song gets the viewer pumped and excited for what’s to come in the series. It’s just so catchy and so memorable, and it easily gets stuck in your head. Not that I’m complaining about this being an earworm, though. If I have to get a song stuck in my head, “We Are!” is one I wouldn’t mind hearing over and over.

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Manga Review: Ranma 1/2 Omnibus Volume Four

Ranma 1/2 Omnibus Volume Four is a new release for the Ranma 1/2 franchise, which includes the seventh and eighth volumes of the series. These omnibus editions are the first “unflipped” release of Ranma 1/2 in North America. These editions has also been “remastered,” with sharper images and a “spiffed up” translation.

Ranma 1/2 Omnibus Volume Four
Written by: Rumiko Takahashi
Publisher: Shogakukan
English Publisher: VIZ Media
Release Date: September 2, 2014

The volume numbers used 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 four of the chapters in Volume 5, all of Volume 6, and seven of the chapters of Volume 7 of VIZ Media’s original release of the Ranma 1/2 manga.

The volume opens with the Miss Martial Arts Delivery Race, which sees Akane, female-type Ranma, and Shampoo competing for the title. Thanks to a random drawing, the contestants have to make their delivery to Tatewaki Kuno’s house. Clueless Kuno, however, thinks Akane and female-type Ranma are racing to decide which one will get Kuno’s affection, especially since he was wrestling over his feelings between the two of them before the race was announced. These chapters contain the hijinks and hilarity readers have come to expect with interactions between Akane, girl-type Ranma, and Shampoo. And throwing Kuno into the mix makes the storyline even more amusing. Of course, the whole reason Akane and girl-type Ranma are in the race is also funny, because it their respective fathers wanting to win free food. Yes, Soun and Genma are once again scheming and plotting things for their own selfish reasons.

This volume also sees the return of Happosai, Soun and Genma’s martial arts master. He’s a very lecherous old man, and his hobbies include stealing women’s underwear and trying to spy on women who are undressing or are trying to enjoy themselves at the bathhouse. Happosai wreaks all kinds of havoc after his arrival, and his antics include: causing a commotion at Ranma and Akane’s school, battling with Ranma at the local bathhouse and nearly destroying it, and attempting to kidnap Akane. It all comes to a head after Happosai creates a stir with panty raids that gain the attention of the volunteer neighborhood watch program. Soun is asked to apprehend the thief, but he ultimately leaves it up to Genma and Ranma. Ranma puts a Chinese “woman repellent” on a patch that Akane sews onto Happosai’s clothes, which causes women to run away from him. This all culminates with a fight between Ranma and Happosai. With the introduction of Happosai, Takahashi is able to utilize some of her best comedic writing to help bring him to life.

The next storyline in this volume intertwines two plot points. First, a dojo destroyer who takes the sign from the Tendo Dojo (this is a fake story set up by Soun and Genma at first to force Ranma and Akane to work together) becomes real when a real challenger comes to the dojo for the sign. Shampoo also has an herbal remedy that will turn Ranma into a boy that she uses as bait in order to get him to go on a date with her. The date coincides with the challenge from the dojo destroyer, and Ranma has the struggle of going on the date with Shampoo for a chance at the remedy or helping Akane fight the dojo destroyer. The struggle for Ranma is real, and he tries to find ways to do both, but of course, Shampoo keeps seeing through his tricks. And at the end of the chapter, there’s a twist regarding the herbal remedy. As a reader, you knew there had to be something about the remedy that wasn’t exactly what it seemed.

In the next story arc, the Furinkan High School drama club asking Akane Tendo to be the lead in its upcoming play. At first, she steadfastly refuses, until she discovers the role is Juliet in Romeo and Juliet. Kasumi explains to Ranma that when Akane was in elementary school, she was cast as Romeo in her class’ production of the play, since she was such a tomboy then. However, Akane has always wanted to play the role of Juliet. Kuno, Gosunkugi, and Happosai all want to audition for the part of Romeo. Ranma only ends up vying for the role after overhearing that the winner of the upcoming drama competition between high schools will get an invitation to see China. Hilarity and hijinks ensue as the drama club attempts to perform Romeo and Juliet for the competition. But even among the humor, I found myself feeling sorry for Akane because all of the guys competing to be Romeo causes a mess for the play and really affects her dream of playing Juliet. Her dream becomes a bit of a nightmare, to be honest.

The final story in this volume sees Ryoga obtaining a map that shows where the Japanese branch of the cursed Chinese springs is. Ryoga wants to find it in order to be a whole man again, instead of changing into the little black pig P-chan when he’s doused with cold water. Ranma finds out about the map, and teams up with Ryoga. They realize that the spring they want is under the girls’ locker room at Furinkan High. Misunderstandings and comedy occur as Ranma tries desperately to get to the spring. And during all of this, Ryoga turns on Ranma instead of teaming up with him after getting hugs and attention from Akane in his pig form. The ending of this story has a humorous twist to it, and it was a great way for this volume to end.

To me, this remastered version of the Ranma 1/2 manga is worth picking up and adding to your manga library, even if you already own a copy of this series. This unflipped and remastered version is a much needed upgrade, and it’s a better version of the manga to share with others to introduce them to the Ranma 1/2 franchise.

Additional posts about Ranma 1/2:

Manga Review: Ranma 1/2 Omnibus Volume Three

Ranma 1/2 Omnibus Volume Three is a new release for the Ranma 1/2 franchise, which includes the fifth and sixth 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 3
Written by: Rumiko Takahashi
Publisher: Shogakukan
English Publisher: VIZ Media
Release Date: July 8, 2014

The volume numbers used 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 the chapters in Volume 4 and nine of the chapters of Volume 5 of VIZ Media’s original release of the Ranma 1/2 manga.

At the beginning of this volume, we meet a character named Gosunkugi, a boy who is infatuated with Akane. He also harbors a grudge against Ranma, since Ranma is supposed to be Akane’s fiancé. Gosunkugi teams up with Kuno to try to find Ranma’s weakness. A weak spot is found, and what it is comes as a surprise to most of the cast. However, there is a strange side effect when Ranma is around what causes his weak spot for too long. Gosunkugi doesn’t come across as being the sharpest tool in the shed, though. Some of the antics that he tries to pull on Ranma are incredibly stupid, and he’s genuinely surprised when they don’t work. Gosunkugi also comes across as being a bit of a klutz.

We also learn a secret about the character of Shampoo in this volume. It turns out that she also fell into the Cursed Springs of Jusenkyo, and she turns into a cat with cold water. Considering that Rama’s weakness turns out to be cats, this adds another layer to the already crazy relationship between Ranma and Shampoo.  Cologne, Shampoo’s great-grandmother, makes her first appearance here, as well as a character named Mousse. Mousse has had a crush on Shampoo since childhood, which makes him a rival for boy-type Ranma since Shampoo has been pursuing him. Shampoo’s great-grandmother insists that Ranma marry Shampoo, while Mousse fights Ranma to try to win Shampoo.

Shampoo’s great-grandmother uses her abilities to make it so even lukewarm water feels scalding to Ranma, which means he has to stay as girl-type Ranma. But Cologne has an antidote: the Phoenix Pill. Ranma must get the Phoenix Pill from Cologne in order to reverse what she has done. As part of this, Ranma must learn the “Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire” technique.

But after Ranma succeeds in getting the Phoenix Pill, Cologne decides to train Ryoga on how to use the Breaking Point. This culminates with Ranma and Ryoga fighting each other and utilizing the new techniques they have learned. It’s an amusing fight.

This volume includes one more arc, which introduces the character of Sentaro and the concept of the martial arts tea ceremony. Sentaro kidnaps girl-type Ranma in the hopes of marrying her instead of the girl he is betrothed to. Girl-type Ranma must train in the ways of of the martial arts tea ceremony and defeat Sentaro’s betrothed. Fortunately, this particular arc ends at the end of this volume. Personally, I think the martial arts tea ceremony arc is one of the weaker ones in the Ranma 1/2 franchise, and it’s not one I enjoy all that much. It lacks the humor and the action that I enjoy in the franchise, and it comes across as one of the more ridiculous martial arts styles to appear in the series.

To me, this remastered version of the Ranma 1/2 manga is worth picking up and adding to your manga library, even if you already own a copy of this series. This unflipped and remastered version is a much needed upgrade, and it’s a better version of the manga to share with others to introduce them to the Ranma 1/2 franchise.

Additional posts about Ranma 1/2:

Manga Review: Ranma 1/2 Omnibus Volume Two

Ranma 1/2 Omnibus Volume Two is a new release for the Ranma 1/2 franchise, which includes the third and fourth volumes of the series. In addition to making these releases omnibus editions, VIZ Media has also made these to be the first “unflipped” release of Ranma 1/2 in North America. These editions have also been “remastered,” which means better quality scans have been used for the images to make them appear sharper and clearer than in previous releases. The translation has been “spiffed up” a little but tends to remain somewhat close to the translations used in the previous release of the series.

Ranma 1/2 Omnibus Volume 2
Written by: Rumiko Takahashi
Publisher: Shogakukan
English Publisher: VIZ Media
Release Date: May 6, 2014

Even though the release says it includes Volumes 3 and 4 of the series, it should be noted that the two volumes included here don’t entirely correspond with Volumes 3 and 4 of VIZ Media’s original release. It includes most of Volume 2 from VIZ Media’s original release and all of the chapters from Volume 3 from VIZ’s original release. It appears that these “remastered” omnibus editions are using the volume designations from the original Japanese manga releases.

This volume opens with Akane trying to train for the upcoming rhythm gymnastics competition against Kodachi Kuno, Tatawaki’s younger sister who has become obsessed with boy-type Ranma. Unfortunately, Akane is injured, so girl-type Ranma takes her place for the match. The match between Kodachi and girl-type Ranma is amusing and becomes absurd as it goes on. It gets to the point where characters like P-chan and Tataewaki are used as weapons. The ending to this chaotic match is quite amusing.

After this, we transition to a martial arts ice skating competition story that introduces two new characters: Azusa Shiratori and Mikado Sazenin.  Azusa and Mikado are ice skaters who do martial arts skating. Azusa is a collector of cute things and takes what she likes and names them, while Mikado is a ladies’ man. Azusa decides to claim P-chan as her own and giving the poor transformed Ryoga a new name: Charlotte. When Mikado takes P-chan away from Azusa and returns the pig to Akane, Azusa challenges Akane to a martial arts ice skating competition… with the prize being the little black pig. After Mikado tries to kiss Akane and Ranma interferes, Mikado declares the event will be pair skating. So Akane and Ranma are forced to team up together. Like with the martial arts rhythmic gymnastics match, this ice skating competition is full of action and humor. But things take a twist when Ranma transforms into girl-type Ranma and teams up with Ryoga. With this team up, the absurdity level goes off the charts… but in a good way.

This omnibus also introduces the character of Shampoo, and the reader learns how Ranma and Genma met her in China. Because of a change made in the anime series, Shampoo’s introduction is a little different in the manga when compared to her introduction in the anime.  A rivalry develops between Akane and Shampoo over Ranma, and several confrontations take place involving boy-type Ranma, Akane, Shampoo, and girl-type Ranma.  Ryoga also has a role to play in this story as well. But at the end of it all, Shampoo becomes another potential love interest for boy-type Ranma. It’s so amusing how Shampoo hates girl-type Ranma with a passion but is obsessed with boy-type Ranma.

I really enjoy Rumiko Takahashi’s art style, and I appreciate that this remastered manga helps make her art look even better than it did before. I can also see some of the details a lot better that couldn’t be seen very well in previous editions due to the quality of the reproduction.

When it comes to the storytelling, I appreciate Takahashi’s ability to utilize humor to help tell the story she’s trying to convey with her characters. She also has a wonderful ability to bring out the qualities of each of her characters. They have very distinct personalities, and none of them seem like carbon copies of any of the other characters in the Ranma 1/2 universe.

Overall, I think that this remastered version of the Ranma 1/2 manga is worth picking up, especially if, like me, you’ve been wanting to read an unflipped version of the series. The remastered quality of the art is also worth the double-dipping for fans of the series. It’s a better quality product to use to try to introduce new people to the world of Ranma 1/2.

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My Favorite Christmas Themed Anime

‘Tis the season! Since it’s December, it seems appropriate to do a list of my favorite Christmas themed anime. While most of the entries in this list are forsingular episodes for series, one anime film also made the list.  Merry Christmas!

As usual, the list is not a Top 5 list. Instead, I am presenting my choices in alphabetical order.

Case Closed (“Karaoke Box Murder Case”)

In this episode, Conan, Sonoko, and Ran get to spend time at a Karaoke Bar with the biggest band in the land, thanks to Sonoko’s dad using his connections. But it’snot just any time of year that this is happening: it’s Christmas time. The lead singer is poisoned right in front of everyone’s eyes, and it’s up to Conan to deduce the truth.

While it may seem strange to include a murder mystery in this list, the episode still evoked a sense of Christmas. From the decorations in the background to some of the music choices (including one of the characters singing part of “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer”), this feels like a Christmas episode. I watch the series in the original Japanese, so I enjoy getting to hear part of a classic Christmas song in Japanese.

The Disappearance of Nagato Yuki-chan (“Joy to the World”)

In this alternate world version of Haruhi Suzumiya, Christmas is celebrated by the Literature Club in the first couple of episodes of the series. This is before Haruhi is part of the group, so while there is humor in the episode during the party, it’s not the zaniness that would come along later once Haruhi entered the picture.

But there’s also a sweet moment that takes place outside of the school between Yuki and Kyon during the party. Yuki’s bashfulness, especially when she’s around Kyon, is adorable. But the scene that takes place outside saw her almost admit her feelings to Kyon… but Asakura destroys the moment when she leans out the window and exclaims that it’s snowing. This episode is more in the vein of a “traditional” Christmas themed episode than anything else on this list.

Ranma 1/2 (“The Tendo Family’s Christmas Scramble”)

If I had to choose my absolute favorite on this list, this would be the one right here.

Kasumi has a dream that she’s visited by Santa Claus, who tells her to throw a Christmas party for her family and friends. But, it’s not only the main cast who are invited… we also get to see quite a few characters who were either one-off characters or ones who only appeared in a small number of episodes. In true Ranma 1/2 fashion, there are hijinks galore, especially when it comes to the various “love triangles.” But for all of its humor, there’s a nice scene between Ranma and Akane near the end that adds an element of seriousness to an otherwise comedic episode. But this works, especially regarding character development. To me, this is a Christmas themed anime that never gets old, and I look forward to watching it every December from the Blu-ray release we have for the Ranma 1/2 OVAs and movies.

Super Dimensional Fortress Macross (“Romanesque”) [aka Robotech (“Season’s Greetings”)]

It’s Christmastime in New Macross City, and almost everyone is in a festive mood… even the three former spies are operating a toy kiosk. The love triangle between Hikaru (aka Rick Hunter), Misa (aka Lisa Hayes), and Minmay (aka Lynn Minmei) plays a central role in this episode. There are some good character moments here, but not just for them. Claudia also gets a poignant moment in this episode as well.

Unfortunately, the Christmas mood is destroyed by an attack that is launched by Zentradi (aka Zentraedi). But, in the aftermath of the battle, the episode still finds time to end with a Christmas dinner for Hikaru and Minmay. As a fan of this franchise, I always enjoyed how Christmas was intertwined with both the character development and the plot progression in this episode.

Tokyo Godfathers

This film by the late Satoshi Kon is set on Christmas Eve and has a story of a newborn baby being found by three homeless people who try to reunite her with her family. In true Satoshi Kon style, this is not a typical Christmas movie. As their search for the baby’s family progresses, they find themselves thrust into situations, such as encountering a yakuza trapped under his car and getting clues about the baby’s mother, being kidnapped by a Latin American hitman, and other situations that help the trio get closer to reuniting the child with her family.

While this may not be a typical “feel good” Christmas movie, there’s still a lot of heart in the story of Tokyo Godfathers. Not only do the characters go through some zany things, but there are also touching character backstory and development moments for the three main characters as well.

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