Ranma 1/2, Vols. 37-38

By Rumiko Takahashi. Released in Japan by Shogakukan, serialized in the magazine Shonen Sunday. Released in North America by Viz. Translated by Kaori Inoue, Adapted by Gerard Jones.

And so at last we come to the end of the great Ranma 1/2 reissue. Inu Yasha may have had a broader reach, Urusei Yatsura may have had a bigger impact on Japan itself, and Maison Ikkoku may have had more maturity and resolution, but Ranma will still be THE anime gateway for many fans, along with Sailor Moon and Bubblegum Crisis. Having read the series again, I am able to see why it was so wildly popular, as well as why revisiting it can be frustrating. Ranma does not have depth – in fact, it actively leaps out of the way of depth – which makes it perfect for creative fans who want to give it that depth. It’s no coincidence that more than AMVs or fanart, it was fanfiction that was the biggest part of the mid-90s Ranma boom. Still, this does not mean that Takahashi’s manga is not good. It’s very good indeed.

Please do not be fooled by the cover – yes, there is a wedding at the end of the book, but we don’t even get to the ceremony before everything is completely destroyed and we return to the status quo. Well, status quo except that it seems that if there had not been chaos, Ranma and Akane might have gone through with the wedding. But there is always chaos in Ranma, it’s practically the main cast member. This manga ends much the same way that many of the classic UY anime episodes ended – with more and more of the cast showing up, each trying to beat up somebody else, until everything finally turns into a giant pile of destruction. Ranma 1/2 is not a romantic comedy, or a harem manga, or even a martial arts comedy. It’s pure slapstick.

The martial arts gets a good workout in the main part of this volume, though, as we return to China to battle another major villain. You get the sense that Takahashi is trying to figure out a way to top Herb, and she doesn’t manage it, really, but A for effort. The whole main cast is there (poor Ukyou, guess you were supporting after all), and there’s lots of cool fights and dramatic kicks and Akane and Shampoo in distress a lot of the time. That said, even when captured or dehydrated down to the size of a doll, Akane is still thinking hard and trying to get herself out of her predicament. Shampoo, alas, is merely mind-controlled most of the time. (I will note that Akane not noticing Ryouga transforming several times in this beggars belief, but hey.)

And so Ranma ends with our main couple waving goodbye to the readers as they head off to school again. It’s never quite confirmed that they do have mutual feelings for each other, mostly as I think Takahashi hoped people could read between the lines and see that she’d had them show their love without saying their love several times. (UY did this too – Ataru in particular was the poster child for “show, don’t tell”.) It didn’t quite work, and fans who disliked Akane were always quick to point out the open-endedness of the ending meant that they didn’t end up together. Takahashi later did one of those “character relationship charts”, filled with one-sided arrows, except for two – Ranma and Akane, and Ryouga and Akari. So she knew they loved each other.

But we don’t read Ranma for resolution of romantic tension. We read it for genderswapping and bizarre martial arts contests and so many fights and “Ranma no baka!” and in order to flesh out our 800,000 word epic fanfic with smatterings of actual canon. And we read it because we love the characters, flat as they are. Of course, we may not always love the SAME characters, but any Ranma fan is obsessed with at least one of them (except Happosai). Ranma 1/2 was a roadmap to modern anime fandom, and the road may be less traveled these days but it’s worth walking back over.

Did you enjoy this article? Consider supporting us.


  1. Pata Hikari says

    I’m honestly baffled a bit by the way Ranma 1/2 ended.

    It’s clear that the series had reached the point where the status quo could not continue, and in fact the series seemed to be starting to end it with resolving a handful of plot lines. But then, just when the series hits a breaking point and you feel like things are going to come to a conclusion, it just ends.

    And it’s so easy to see how it will end too, but Takahashi doesn’t seal the deal.

    The ending, I feel, is the biggest reason why there’s still plenty of fanfic even today. More then anything you can see the ending the series could have, and you can imagine it so vividly, why not try and put it down? Give the characters you love the last bit of closure they need.

    • Erin Tarver says

      When it comes too the ending of the Ranma 1/2 series many people were disappointed about the end of the series and some may even regard it as inconclusive, but you have to really pay attention to the ending even the whole series and then it will make a lot of sense; I’ll explain it to you. Ranma 1/2 isn’t about Ranma and Akane getting married, but rather a couple who are in love with each other but don’t want too admit because their too shy and stubborn to admit it. Because their denials about being in love with the other one and the suitors that suppose to be comic foils, they have a lot of misunderstandings ,insecurities , and tension in their relationship. Once Akane heard Ranma’s confession and Ranma this time didn’t deny saying that he loved but rather he denied saying it out loud ( which she responds that she heard it somehow ), the tension in their relationship is gone therefore ending the series. All they have to do is mature and somehow get rid of the other suitors, then they’ll get married. If you want confirmation that Ranma and Akane will get married, then I suggest you look at the Leaves that Bind story that states that Ranma and Akane are destined for each other and Takahashi’s announcement about the canon pairings. Hopes that helps.

      • Pata Hikari says

        Oh don’t get me wrong. It’s made very clear that Ranma and Akane are in love and will get together. Heck, high-five on mentioning the “Leaves that Bind” story. I’ve only seen myself bring that chapter up when arguing with some people about Ranma and Akane.

        The problem I have with the ending is that we had *build up* to some resolutions. As entertaining as the Saffron Arc is, I think I would have rather had the last two volumes dedicated to further resolutions. Maybe some more chapters focused on Konatsu to make Ukyo/Konatsu feel like a more legit pairing, something involving Shampoo’s feelings for Ranma in a way that lets things *end*

        The series even kind of lampshades the non-resolution with how Mousse tells Shampoo that the game is over, and Akane won.

        • Erin Tarver says

          Ah I see the point your getting at and I think I know why Takahashi didn’t develop the girls to the point to move on and find someone else ( like Ryoga ). I think she didn’t develop them because she needs them to crash the wedding in the final chapter, because again Ranma and Akane are still immature to marry. But however I think she was preparing the girls to find love on their own in a way, because I notice that Mousse developed to the point that he may never get a chance to be with Shampoo. And he actually demonstrated that he actually cares about Shampoo’s well being when he let her have her free will even though he had the chance to enslave her without being reprimanded ( it was Ranma’s idea in the first place and nobody was stopping him ). And Konatsu never have this issue to begin with, he was never obsessive. So in a way, I think Rumiko is designing suitors for the other girls that actually care about them.

          But I think that the problem with the other girls and no resolution for them is that Rumiko puts too much focus on Ranma/Akane pairing. Which this is what the series is about but, it’s kind of glaring that Ryoga received development to the point to protect Akane no matter who she’s chooses and to finally find love on his own, and but not the other girls. So I get where your coming at.

  2. RanmaFan says

    I really would’ve loved to see the anime crew tackle the Phoenix arc as a final OVA, I imagine they would’ve added Ukyo, Soun, and Kuno. There also probably would’ve been a joke on the Phoenix.

    I imagine the wedding scene would be a bit more opportunistic, probably ending on a Ranma/Akane kiss, this is similar to how several UY scenes were more uplifting, like showing the guests at Ataru’s wedding as genuinely wishing him well when in the manga they were angry at him!

Speak Your Mind