Ranma 1/2, Vols. 9 & 10

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

This particular omnibus is very illustrative of the perils and pitfalls of being a Ranma fan, both in terms of its ongoing tendency towards “everyone is terrible, comedy trumps everything”, and in terms of the fact that it was written in 1980s Japan, and is, shall we say, a little less than progressive. We’ve already seen Ranma’s treatment of Shampoo fall into the typical Chinese stereotype, complete with broken English. Now in this volume we get two characters introduced as boys who may (or may not) turn out to identify as someone else. I’m not asking a 1980s ‘aquatranssexual’ comedy to be progressive on LGBT issues, but even for that time this is pretty bad. But let’s begin with brighter stuff, and the first of our two gender-confusing newbies.


Ukyou Kuonji is the last of the major Ranma cast members to join us, even if her role decreases as the series goes on. She’s also the last of the major antagonists in the battle to win Ranma’s heart, one that begins the moment that she realizes he never knew she was a girl, and he actively calls her the “cute fiancee” to Akane’s “uncute fiancee”. She’s a lot like Ranma, which makes them very believable as childhood friends, and clearly her chasing of him has less to do with her family honor and more due to the object of her “revenge fantasy” becoming a crush.

She also provided fandom with what seemed, at the time, to be a more “reasonable” choice than the hyperviolent Akane (note how violent Ukyou is in her introduction and the Tsubasa chapters), and thus became very very popular among fanfiction writers, who were frustrated by Akane and Ranma’s denial, and Akane’s tendency to hit Ranma, which was taken very seriously. Not that Ranma really returns any affection – even if he does enjoy teasing and mocking Akane, he does pick up when she’s seriously hurt and works to correct it. This doesn’t really happen with Ukyou, though he at least offers to let her get revenge for the idiocy his father perpetrated. (Also, asking a 6-year-old to choose between a friend they knew for maybe 3 weeks and food – wtf?)

(As for Ryouga and Ukyou, a very popular fan pairing, I will remain mostly silent, except to note that within minutes of meeting Ryouga, Ukyou is screaming at him in frustration.)

This volume also sees a very funny Kuno and Kodachi runaround, which balances Akane and Ranma’s love/hate relationship just right, as well as a beach episode featuring Happosai and Cologne (who ran into each other in their youth – big surprise), which does not get the balance right. Mousse returns, and has a Jusenkyo curse now to boot – one which he immediately tries to give to Ranma (or Akane – he claims he’s just bluffing about cursing her, but I doubt he’s care much if it happened). I’ve talked before about my dislike of Mousse, but I will note with amusement Shampoo’s rejections of him are immediate and incredibly blunt. Mousse is not a man that will take a vague answer. “Shampoo, do you hate me so much?” “Yep. Hate you.”

And then there’s the introduction of Tsubasa Kurenai. I believe we’ve seen the last of Tsubasa in the manga, though I think he becomes a recurring character in the anime like most of Takahashi’s one-shot antagonists. Tsubasa is from Ukyou’s old school, and is chasing after her out of love and to destroy Ranma, the one she is engaged to. Tsubasa’s gender reveal comes right at the end (which leads to some awkward translations – in Japanese, it’s much easier to hide gender pronouns) and for about a chapter and a half they think he’s a girl – and a lesbian. Then we also have the fact that Tsubasa makes a cuter girl than Ranma in her girl form – something that deeply stings his pride. (It’s also explicitly mentioned here, by the way, that the entire school bar Kuno knows Ranma can change.)

So Ranma decides to “date” Tsubasa. The line that is the worst in the volume comes after Akane tells (male) Ranma she assumed he was taking Tsubasa on a “girl-girl” date. He responds that he’s “trying to set her on the correct path”. There really isn’t much that I can add here except “ugh.” Takahashi frequently uses “uh oh, they may be a lesbian” for comedy, and yes, I realize Takahashi uses absolutely everything in the world for comedy, but this doesn’t mean she shouldn’t be called out on stuff like this, particularly when it makes the cast look homophobic. The whole thing isn’t helped by a wacky reveal ending where we see Tsubasa is just a guy who likes to cross dress, and Ukyou tells the others “I thought everyone knew that already”.

So, for me, this omnibus consisted of one excellent to good first half, and a mediocre to bad second half. The danger of omnibuses. Next time we’ll meet another incredibly annoying antagonist, but at least he’s more fun than Happosai. And surprise, he’s another abusive, horrible father! Find out why the Kunos are not just another insane brother and sister duo, but from a family of insanity!

Did you enjoy this article? Consider supporting us.


  1. I honestly feel 50% of the early Ranma fandom consisted entirely of frustrated fans building their own headcanon out of dissatisfaction with the catch-22 no-win terminal runaround that was the actual source material.

Speak Your Mind