Friday, July 17, 2009

Short Review: Ranma One-Half

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Oh whatever, the business card is... So-so. It's good if we're linking to other sites but nothing impressive as a banner.

I love you all all the same.

Hello I'm the WebcomiCritic, I do it because well... Somebody has to!

Ranma ½, known as an anime classic. A legend if you will. I interpret it as the only manga that is capable of perfectly synthesizing a Harem anime and a Reverse Harem anime. Only Rumiko Takahashi's patented Takahashi Couple technique could ever produce such a masterpiece. The Premise is simple, a Jerk With a Heart of Gold and a Tsundere (A Girl who really likes the guy, but covers it up with a beatdown) are in an arranged marriage. This, combined with their mean-spirited personalities means they'll never properly admit their feelings for each other because Ranma is too much of a jerk, and Akane, his betrothed, is trying too hard to hide it.

This unfortunately, leaves too huge of an opening for them. Guys and Girls from everywhere are have some bone to pick with Ranma be it marital or martial, and half of them end up falling in love with Akane, or each other. It's a complicated web and this review is based off of the first Twelve manga volumes. That's a lot.

What can I say about this manga? Rumiko Takahashi is either a frikkin' genius or a frikkin' sadist. She has created a long-running story, that involves a Martial artist and is Martial artist betrothed fighting people off so they can still be together and never admit it!

On the Genius side, Takahashi nearly invented Martial Arts and Crafts. She has been able to turn any hobby, technique, or anything, into a form of martial arts. Don't Believe me? Tell that to the chapters about martial arts Gymnastics, martial arts Tea Ceremonies, martial arts Watermelon racing, martial arts Deliveries, martial arts ice skating, and martial arts cooking. I wish I was making this up so I could make money off such genius, but I'm not.

Next, She perfectly masters the elements of any Harem/Reverse Harem anime involving a lot of misunderstandings and idiots who can't be bothered to listen to an explanation. I'll admit, that second part is kinda stupid. Akane is so self-absorbed and so anti-Ranma she won' even listen to him tell the truth? Weak.

Additionally, the story is funny, the plots are ridiculous, but it makes sense within the show's internal logic. Obviously, Most of it revolves around Ranma and Akane Being a Stud/Studette and Studette. The Art is simple and cute and very old-age/80s anime. Heck, she may be perfect example of 80s manga style along with Akira Toriyama.

And then there are the characters, but I'll say this first: Takahashi broke the mold with harem stereotypes by throwing in a completely original characters instead of the usual mix you'd find in a harem anime. Okay, maybe you see a few that are normal, but they were original at the time! I mean look at them, Kuno the arrogant samurai guy who can't decide on a girl, a crazy cheating ballet girl, a forgettable stalker, an amazon with a commitment and her grandmother, a a dude who was really a lady that cooks, a lady that was really a dude who hides in stuff, an ancient pervert who can beat everybody, and oh so much more! It's insane. This is madness


But among all the characters, I'd have to say next to Ranma, I like Ryouga. I'll admit, I'm not a huge fan of some of his flaws like his blatant stupidity in certain situations and and the fact he wants to kill Ranma over such petty things, he's a pretty cool guy and a hard worker. He's nearly the perfect foil of Ranma in effect. What's more, He's totally honorable. He would do anything to protect Akane and couldn't bring himself to touch Ranma when Ranma lost his strength. Though sometimes, Ryouga's stupidity can be too much. For example: Ryouga finally tracks down where he lives (His horrible sense of direction I don't consider to be stupidity. The manga proves it's genetic.) to find notes made by his parents a forever agio. And As he has Akane over, Ranma comes to spoil their fun by turning into a girl and disguising himself... as Ryouga's sister! A Sister He does not have! Ryouga's logic is that He having a sister that he didn't know about was perfectibility logical becuase he's away from home for impossible lengths of time (Really terrible sense of direction). I can understand the logic, it almost makes sense, even for Ranma One-Half, and yet... He should be able to recognize Ranma! He's seen him as a girl before! And don't get me started on when Ranma and his amazon stalker, Shampoo, were disguising themselves cupids... By Only wearing different dresses and hairstyles. It's that kind of stupidity that makes Ryouga less likeable.

And while we're on the on the subject of negative things, time for me to get to what stinks about Ranma One-Half. Please don't kill me, Florence...

First of all, Killing. Everybody is trying to kill Ranma. And I mean, seriously murder him! I mean these are 15-17 year olds we're talking about literally trying to kill each other, no joke! Don't believe me? Kuno's sword is real. The stalker seriously thinks he can kill Ranma with voodoo dolls. Kuno's evil sister has hidden weapons like maces, spiked clubs, poison and shuriken. And Don't get me started on Ryouga's superstrength (Okay, I will get started. Have you ever busted down a wall with one hit your head to see if you were dreaming, and not feel it? Didn't think so.). Shampoo's granny using a shark as a weapon was taking it a bazillion steps too far. Does japan simply not have murder laws? Do the Japanese and Chinese raise sociopaths? Whatever it is, it's freaking creepy!

Next... Ranma. Not his character, his situation. I think Rumiko Takahashi is a sadist for this reason. To start off, the Japanese, unlike the western world, is big on this honor thing. Really big. Like dishonoring yourself or anybody else is a terrible terrible thing. Here's the proper definition to give you a better idea:

The best translation for this term would be "Reciprocity". On is a virtue that requires the individual to acknowledge and repay debts he owes, including debts of honor. A source of I Owe You My Life situations.


Can be interpreted as "Piety". If one owes a debt (including a debt of honor) but cannot repay it, Gimu encourages the debtor to show allegience to the debt-holder in lieu of true payment.

"Duty". Much more complicated than the Western concept of duty, Giri requires the individual to execute and balance his obligations as the highest function of an honorable life.

Usually translated as "Compassion". Ninjo requires empathy with others, and recognizes that all people are one, beneath the surface differences that karma imposes.

Mostly because of his lazy, greedy, idiot dad, Genma, Ranma has a lot of On, Giri, and Gimu on him. we find in the west find it funny because it's just silly good natured fun that to us, seem like petty debts. To the Japanese, it's funny because a million overlapping duties and honors Ranma has to fulfill that's it's either laugh or cry. Ranma's life isn't a comedy, it' a tragedy of proportions we cannot possibly fathom. And Ranma is one of the most honorable guys in the story. This means that he can't choose any one person without putting a huge dishonor on himself and a whole lot of other people that will result in probably centuries of blood feuds. You gotta laugh, or face the gravity of the situation and mourn Ranma's situation. Throw in the fact that Ranma's rivals/fiancees exploit his great honor to their advantage and the story gets sadder and sadder.

So, that bit of depressing news aside, what can I say about Ranma One-Half? This amazing,a great manga classic. And it writes very well. And I find it weird that I went through this entire thing without properly explaining that Ranma is cursed to turn into a girl every time he's splashed with cold water and turns back in hot. This makes the plots even more zany because of people who are in love with his girl side. Why would I bother? The story is that good that this important part of the plot seems insignificant. There's just so much going on.

It's the perfect story until you get to the more depressing bits about honor and stuff and you see that the story is much deeper than a zany uber-harem martial arts anime that confuses shounen with shojo. Depressing...

"I Am a Man!"-- repeated by Ryouga several times in a chapter number I froget.

-Read or Die You Uneducated Buffoons,
The WebcomiCritic

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