Ranma 1/2, Vols. 7 & 8

By Rumiko Takahashi. Released in Japan by Shogakukan, serialized in the magazine Shonen Sunday. Released in North America by Viz.

I’ve joked several times in the last few weeks about warning people that this volume features the debut of Happosai, but there’s a kernel of truth to that warning: Happosai is repugnant, and a polarizing figure both within Ranma fandom and within the series itself. Not because anyone really likes him – even his fans think he adds some fun comedy but don’t like him personally – but whether the comedy he adds to the series is really needed. Because Happi is defined by being a pervert – yes, an incredibly strong martial arts master pervert, but a pervert just the same. He feels up women, he steals their underwear, he literally gains strength through contact with females. He is a walking trigger warning. He’s meant to be the male version of Cologne, but Cologne’s actions all serve a greater purpose – at least so far – and Ranma learns a great deal from her. For all that Happi is supposed to be training Ranma as his successor, there’s no lessons, no training, and no point. He is a pox on Ranma 1/2, and will be here till the end of the series. He doesn’t even make horrible puns, like Cherry, his spiritual predecessor from UY, did.


(breaths out) I feel better. Now let’s talk about what was fun this volume. Ranma has settled into doing what it does best, which is ‘almost anything goes in the name of comedy’. (It’s not *quite* as over the top as UY, so I added the ‘almost’.) There’s lots of martial arts battles, as we see Ranma, Akane and Shampoo compete in martial arts takeout delivery, as well as Akane and Ranma fighting to defend the name of their supposed school when a Dojo Destroyer comes to town (the Destroyer himself looks like a ridiculous over the top stereotype, and barely speaks, but I’ll gloss over that for now. And there’s plenty of comedy, as Ranma’s class puts on a production of Romeo and Juliet, which means a lot to Akane (who was Romeo as a kid, but now finally gets to be Juliet), but little to any of the various competing Romeos, including Ranma. (I was highly amused to see her yelling at Ranma for not reading the play, as in the end all Takahashi takes from the original is ‘balcony scene’ and ‘kiss’.)

There’s quite a lot of time devoted to Ranma (and sometimes Genma) trying to find a cure for the curse, and there are a few temporary cures but nothing really permanent. While this will still play out across the series, as we get further in Ranma simply gets more accepting of his dual nature, and seeing the desperation shown here is interesting. As for Ranma and Akane themselves, they’re both quite attracted to each other and sympathetic to each other’s pain once they pause to think – but they hardly ever do that anymore, so when we do see such moments (Akane bringing Ranma warm food and drink in the backlot), it’s nice and heartwarming. (The box Happi hides under in that scene, by the way, has a reference to Nura: Rise of the Yokai Clan. Wrong company! Shogakukan should be turning in its grave! Don’t tell me they aren’t dead, I’ve seen what Sunday sales in Japan are like lately.)

Miscellaneous thoughts: At one point, when Genma is at his absolute sketchiest, Kasumi calls him annoying. For Kasumi, this is a devastating comment, particularly this late in the series. Both Genma and Soun come off particularly badly in this volume, both as former disciples of Happi who want to be free of him but can’t do anything about it, and as parents who try to trick their children into marrying each other. Nabiki still exists mostly as the “normal” character – we see her deny she’s related to her family more than once in this volume – and Takahashi’s habit of showing her constantly eating is in full force here. Kuno and Gosunkugi are also as loopy as ever – Gosunkugi in particular suffers so much and is loathed by so many you can’t help but laugh at his pathetic awfulness.

Another solid volume of Ranma, though those who found the series beginning to grate at this point and hoping for more plot resolution are only going to get more annoyed as it goes on. Next time around we’ll introduce our final main cast member, and one who’s even more polarizing in her own way. Not because of her own characteristics, but because of how she gave fans who hate Akane a real alternative, and the ship wars truly began in earnest. Next time, we’ll talk Ukyou Kuonji.

Did you enjoy this article? Consider supporting us.

Speak Your Mind