Ranma 1/2 30th anniversary anime retrospective, all 7 seasons, 3 movies, 11 OVA, and 161 episodes (ongoing).

KojiKnight

Member
Oct 25, 2017
8,992


I meant to start this earlier in the year, but do to a lot of circumstances and time investment, I'm just now getting to it. I'm not an English student, so I won't be able to really deep dive a lot of themes and story elements, but I did want to reflect on this series. Growing up and being non-binary (though not realizing I was, or even being open about it till very recently) I connected a ton with this series. Even before I started my rewatch, I knew a LOT of this show was not going to hold up to modern scrutiny or even to myself, but something about this show stuck with me in a big way growing up and I'd often rewatch it especially if I was feeling down.

Before I go any further, I want to explain the setup: I'm currently rewatching the entire series on Hulu, which has the anime broken up into 7 equal length seasons of 23 episodes each. They also rearranged the episodes to be in production order which isn't hugely different from airing order, but it does fix some continuity errors introduced by airing the first Shampoo arc early. A move that was 100% a synical move because of her overwhelming popularity in the Manga. For the purposes of simplicity, I'll also be sticking to this for my take on entire seasons.

I don't plan on reviewing individual episodes unless there is something huge plot wise, or a particular episode really had a big impact on me growing up, or perhaps even a stronger impact looking back on it. I'll also go over my thoughts on individual characters as they are introduced (if they are reoccuring). I'll probably review about a half seasons worth at a time (13ish episodes, give or take in case it happens in the middle of an arch)

I also plan on watching the series in it's original 90's dub in all of it's stilted, sketchy glory. Baby Koji didn't understand the anime terminology or like reading subtitles. While that changed over time, I wanted to stay true to my original memories and experience on this retrospective. I will say, while the dub itself is questionable at times, the commitment to not overly localize and at times even teach the tropes and concepts in the dub itself was very ahead of it's time. No character names were changed, concepts and food items are explained instead of being "donuts", etc etc. There are a few times when this was applied a little wantonly, an example being keeping P-chan, P-chan but deciding to localize "Little Azusa" but in general I'm impressed with those efforts even if at times it made some dialogue more stilted than necessary.

Here's Ranma / The Strange Stranger from China: As far as single episode length pilots go, this is pretty much perfect. Introduces the primary characters, conflicts of the series (Ranma and Genma's transformations, the betrothal of Ranma and Akane), as well as setting up the love/hate dynamic of Ranma and Akane. We're shown straight up that Akane is hot headed, but overall a nice person and even treats Ranma well until the bathroom scene. And that line... "I'm better built to boot!" savage, and Akane's reaction just as much so.

School is No Place for Horsing Around: Introductions and some expansion on a lot of our side characters. Nibiki starts to show her personality, and the total Non-threat that is Kuno is also introduced. We're also told why Akane hates boys so much, the answer? Kuno made a declaration that any boy that could defeat Akane in battle would date with her. Kuno is the absolute worst, even if he's played up for comedy.

A Sudden Storm of Love: We find out that Kuno is an idiot and doesn't know that boy and girl Ranma are the same person. A reoccuring theme that will be constantly played up for comedy. Nabiki is best girl, I always forget just how much she is best girl since she often gets put on the back burner... but her sarcasm, her wit, and her ruthless attempts to extort money from Kuno, and just about everyone else is always endlessly entertaining. Especially since she's at her heart, not a bad person. She cares about her family, and even the Saotome's to an extent. That said, she definitely does some things outside of a comedy setting that are pretty gross. We also get Ranma's first love confession, and it's of course from Kuno.

Ranma and... Ranma? If it's Not One Thing, It's Another.:
I-love-you-I-would-date-with-you I-love-you-I-would-date-with-you I-love-you-I-would-date-with-you I-love-you-I-would-date-with-you I-love-you-I-would-date-with-you. The opening nightmare is pretty amusing, putting aside some "you can't date me, I'm a guy!" otherwise very slow. A reoccuring problem in the first half of the first season is that it's actually focused more on the Drama than the comedy.

This episode is a little gross for another reason though, and that's Nibiki taking risque pictures of female-Ranma in his sleep to sell to Kuno. Though it does lead to a funny part where Ranma things he's wet the bed from his nightmares (Nibiki poured warm water on Ranma to change him back into a boy before he woke up). Still even with that bit of scummy behavior, Nibiki is still the absolute star of this episode and still best girl.



Love Me to the Bone! The Compound Fracture of Akane's Heart:
A pretty boring episode, we learn more about Dr. Tofu, who mostly serves as a plot device in occasional episodes going forward. In this episode, he serves as a means for Ranma to see the nicer side of Akane. Dr. Tofu throws out Ranma's hips so he can't walk and Akane pig backs him home (after a bit of pointless whining and then turning Ranma into his girl-type). The boys in Akane's class give up on trying to fight her though at least.

Akane's Lost Love... These Things Happen, You Know:
A direct continuation of the previous episode, and easily the slowest, least interesting episode of the first season. The primary vehicle for comedy this episode is from Dr. Tofu and his slapstick routine every time he runs into Kasumi. We do see Ranma and Akane having an actual discussion about their feelings in general which is rare in this series as it goes further and further to comedy over drama.

We're also introduced to the brief running gag where something bad happens and it'll be better "by next week", a meta joke on the time between episode airings. It's not funny, and it doesn't last long.

Enter Ryoga! The Eternal 'Lost Boy':
Enter best boy, or at least I remembered him as such. We share the same basic trait of being unable to read maps, or find where we are going. Luckily I was born in the age of GPS, so I had that going for me at least. Needless to say, most of the humor in this episode revolves around this trait, but as Ranma's primary bro/antagonist we probably learn more about him than anyone else besides Ranma and Akane over the course of the series.

Also he can't find the empty lot behind his house. Also also... "I'll get you for sure by next week!"



School is a Battlefield! Ranma vs Ryoga:
Another direct continuation, This episode is mostly a battle/comedy episode with just the last few minutes being really important going forward. There is also a minor continuity error before the curse reveal, where Ryouga swims across the China see to Japan in a flashback without him transforming. This episode also contains what I'd consider the first real good use of Sakuga (good animation) for fight choreography. Akane also ends up the victim of Ranma and Ryoga's fight, spelling the end of her long hair style for the rest of the series. Also Genma gets sent to the Zoo as an escaped Panda, the first of many times throughout the series.

True Confessions! A Girl's Hair is Her Life:
The aftermath of Akane's unwitting hair cut as well as the reveal that Ryouga is also cursed. He's also probably the least lucky of all of the characters in this series, but as we go further into the series we see a lot of it is simply karma. He's not exactly a good person, a theme that we see a lot. Very few characters in Ranma 1/2 are what we'd consider truly 'good' people but it's done so intentionally. It's a lot easier to see the constant slapstick against those we feel deserve it versus a truly good character constantly getting beat down.

The only bright side for his piggy self is Akane finding and adopting him, naming him P-chan. He gets his first kiss from her (even if he's a pig at the time) and is smitten for the rest of the series. This one-sided love triangle between Ranma, Ryouga and Akane has a very different flavor from the Ranma/Kuno/Akane in that it's clear that Akane both thinks of Ryouga as an actual friend, while still also being clear that that is all she'll ever see him as. This itself leads to some really interesting scenarios later on.

P-P-P-Chan! He's Good For Nothin:
Ryouga has already assumed Ranma had ruined his life by abandoning their duel, the first few minutes of this episode confirms it's much more direct than that with Ranma being the one to knock Ryouga into the cursed spring. It's been awhile since I've read the manga, but I do think this is the first bit of anime filler in the series. Most of the episode is ranma and ryouga/pchan hijinks, but there is a small 7-8 minute subplot where P-chan ends up being adopted by an old couple to become the heir of their fortune. This leads to a strangely well animated fight between Ranma and a couple paid butlers/thugs that Ranma almost loses to. Like some of the best in the entire first season.

Ranma Meets Love Head-On! Enter the Delinquent Juvenile Gymast!:
These next 3 episodes makeup a 3 parter. We're introduced to Kodachi. It's amazing just how many tropes Ranma 1/2 would go on to standardize going forward, including the 'Oujo'... though this prototype example is different from most later varieties since she's both hands on, and the exact opposite of a tsundere. She also rivals Kuno as worst reoccuring character, fitting since they are siblings.

The episode starts with Ranma learning not only that he can cover his embarassment trying certain things by 'hiding' in his girl form, but that he can take advantage of it by getting free treats from vendor stalls by acting cute. While this is pretty morally dubious, it does mark a small change in his perspective on his ability to transform. There are benefits, and he's allowed to do and act in certain ways that he normally wouldn't because of how the world views men and how men are supposed to act (obviously the term toxic masculinity isn't used here, but it's pretty clearly implied). While Ranma 1/2 never fully addresses this topic, throughout the series Ranma does become more and more comfortable expressing himself as female Ranma, even if that is sometimes used against him by his rivals. But that's to be covered much later, for right now this was an interesting 'first step' that was clearly and totally his own that I found intriguing.

But the main point of this episode is that Kodachi, the Black Rose, is an awful cheating cheater who tries to remove her rivals from competitions before the matches start. Her school is undefeated simply because she makes every other school they compete against forfeit. Now she's aiming at Ranma and Akane's school mates. They are injured and Akane steps up. It's here we learn that while Akane practices martial arts, she's not very graceful to the laughs of many. Ranma inadvertently saves Kodachi from falling as she escaped an attack on Akane, only for her to fall madly in love with Ranma and it's at this point that we're now fully committed to this show being a Harem. (For the record, Akane, Kuno, Kodachi make up Ranma's current harem, once you escape the triangle and go 4 or more sides, you're in a harem)

A Woman's Love is War! The Martial Arts Rhythmic Gymnastics Challenge:
Akane formally accepts the challenge against Kodachi, and the stakes are upped with Ranma being the prize. Much tsundere follows, as well as a training montage where Akane inevitably gets injured. "Where are we going to find someone who's good at Martial Arts, knows gymnastics, and looks good in a leotard?" Another training montage ensues, with Ryoga 'training' Ranma, but really trying to intentionally injure him so he'll lose and be forced to give up Akane for Kodachi. He fails, and the match begins the next day.

A Tear in a Girl-Delinquent's Eye? The End of the Martial Arts Rhythmic Gymnastics Challenge!:
Everyone is dumb. Ranma announce (in girl form) he's Ranma, and all of the students from both schools don't figure out that Boy and Girl Ranma are the same person. Not just the Kuno siblings... my god, so dumb. The rest of the episode is just an enjoyable silly fight. Making up a good 15 minutes or so of the episode, and easily the longest single fight so far in the series. Of all of the fights I remember, this one probably has the best mix of cool choreography, unique moves, and just funny moments. Later Ranma episodes tends to separate out the action from comedy, but here we have a beautiful blend of the two.



So there we are, the first 13 episodes and roughly half of the first 'season' of Ranma one half and I got to say, the first episode not-withstanding, it's a sloooooooow start. The first episode knew to keep moving, giving a good blend of the action, comedy, world building, etc but everything else up to the introduction of best boy Ryouga is a slog and even his arc would have worked as a 2-parter instead of being stretched out over 3 episodes. I've watched a bit beyond this point (up to about episode 28) so I'll probably knock out the second half of season one sometime in the next few days and it gets much much better.

Once you get over that hump though, it's still an enjoyable watch. Lots of this series does not hold up to modern social standards, but for the time it wasn't anywhere near the worst. There is certainly a large element of "look at me! I'm a boy! We couldn't date because you are also a boy!" when it comes to Ranma and Kuno. Nibiki too taking near-nudes of an asleep Ranma to sell are pretty icky though it is dulled a bit by what I was saying earlier... every character in Ranma 1/2 has issues and nearly all of them are morally bad people and it makes their comeuppance all the more hilarious when it happens. That said, outsides of that instance Nibiki is a joy to watch. Her dubbed voice is perfect aside from a couple awkward line readings to try and better match the lip flaps. Perfectly capturing that snark.

Back to the social topic though, there is something to say about the fact that the family unit that the Saotome's and Tendous form. While there is a lot of teasing all around, everyone there cares for each other and aside from Genma being an awful dad to Ranma, the rest of the household's teasing of Ranma is pretty minor and they accept him completely for who he is (even Akane, in her own Tsundere way).

Obviously I've got a lot more episodes to go, but taking just these 13 episodes, I'd say it's all worth a watch. I'd almost recommend skipping over episodes 3-6, but they do provide some context and story elements for Ryouga's arc so I'll just say, know it gets a lot better.


Some things to look forward to in the next batch: Ranma's first kiss, Pelvic fortune telling, the introduction of a lot of people's favorite character; Shampoo, Cat-Fu, and the first fully anime original episode (heads up, it's bad, and sets the template for 98% of all future anime original episodes).
 

Liyfda

Member
Oct 27, 2017
165
Thank you so much for this! It's bring up all these warm feelings I have for Ranma 1/2. Definitely gonna rewatch it now, that you've made this post!
 

Ixian

Member
Nov 25, 2018
62
Didn't have access to the anime when I was growing up but was lucky enough to be able to read the manga. I was probably too old by the time I actually saw the anime and I wasn't really impressed by it against the source material. Urusei Yatsura also had a big change in vibe in the adaptation too.
 

PlanetSmasher

The Abominable Showman
Member
Oct 25, 2017
31,696
Ranma is such an absurdly '90s anime. I remember watching a ton of it as a young teen and I'm just floored that something like that was allowed to last as long as it did.

Despite being a much creepier show altogether (thanks Kuno, Happosai, and like half the supporting cast) it never bugged me nearly as much as InuYasha did. Probably because the cast was way bigger?
 

absolutbro

Member
Oct 25, 2017
2,158
This was one of my favorite series when I was younger. Never did finish it because I had to buy the super expensive VHS tapes.

"One Flew Over the Kuno's Nest" (the third movie/OVA) remains one of the funniest things ever.
 

KyouG

Member
Oct 26, 2017
97
I loved Ranma 1/2 in my teens. Couldn't afford the bootleg VHS tapes (dude was asking $24 bucks for shitty quality copies!) so I started reading the manga in French from my local library. Good times.

Ranma-chan best character.

Megumi Hayashibara forever~
 

Strike

Member
Oct 25, 2017
10,625
Fun show, but like Inuyasha it went on way longer than it probably should have. Then it just kind of ends.
 

PlanetSmasher

The Abominable Showman
Member
Oct 25, 2017
31,696

DiK4

Member
Nov 4, 2017
565
Best anime ever. Love this show despite all its weirdness, a true treasure. I found the middle and later seasons way better than the first though. 1st and 2nd seasons are a slow burn to the great zany wackiness of 3 thru 6. Still haven't watched all of the final season. And the OVAs, dear God best OVA ever.

Demon Kasumi is one of the greatest things ever in the history of animation.
 

Choppasmith

Member
Oct 25, 2017
3,157
Beaumont, CA
I've also been rewatching the series on Hulu too. I'm much further than you. It we one of my first anime series back in the day. Passed on by a very passionate school friend who really liked Ryoga.

The new HD transfer is GORGEOUS especially for that first batch. There some stuff that's aged poorly like the Happosai junk and the sexuality aspect (I'm a guy, and you're a guy too so you absolutely can't date me). But it's fun, and like you said, the dub really holds up well, though some of the random pop culture references are kinda weird compared to modern anime dubs. Also, it's probably borderline offensive but Cathy Weseluck's Shampoo is just as cute as I remember.
 
Oct 25, 2017
1,442
To be fair, Shampoo in the original Japanese track also comes off as someone who is speaking in a second language.

Now if you want an offensively dubbed character wait till you get to the principal. Not sure what they were going for there but it doesn't work.
 

Deltadan

Member
Oct 25, 2017
1,104
Ahh I remember this show, it was recommended to me by a friend about 10 years back when I was looking for a good comedy anime.

I remember the early show being pretty good, but after a while (around the 3rd or 4th season) it gets stale and I dropped the show.
 

DiK4

Member
Nov 4, 2017
565
To be fair, Shampoo in the original Japanese track also comes off as someone who is speaking in a second language.

Now if you want an offensively dubbed character wait till you get to the principal. Not sure what they were going for there but it doesn't work.
Dude, I forgot about the principal..oh my gosh. I guess he could be considered offensive but I just found him hilarious. All of his weird coconut antics, shaving his students heads, and nearly inciting a riot.. Lol lol lol
 

Tanerian

Member
Feb 24, 2018
291
Wait ongoing? It's still going on?

Watched this as a teenager. It was waaaay too long for me to last. I can only play the will they or won't they game so long before I'm out. Otherwise it was pretty good
 

Bradbury

Member
Oct 28, 2017
887
Me and two other friends spent a entire weekend binge watching Ranma in HS, and still one of my happiest memories, love this goddamn show
 

mrmoose

Member
Nov 13, 2017
6,692
I'm still confused on how this landed in the childs program on TV back then with girl Ranmas breasts being exposed so regulary.
As far back as the 1970s Go Nagai stuff was animated, like Cutey Honey.

I watched the first episode with my kids the other week (figuring I could explain the nudity, because at least Happosai isn't introduced for a while) and to my disappointment, they were bored. The most interesting thing to them was the panda.

But I won't give up!
 

KentP

Member
Oct 28, 2017
310
I've watched far less of this than my avatar might suggest... Loved it when I was younger (thanks to the anime society at uni) but damn was it hard to find to watch in the UK outside of that!
 
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KojiKnight

KojiKnight

Member
Oct 25, 2017
8,992
Ranma is fire. It's awfully problematic tho.
Oh definitely, that said for the subject matter at hand in a comedy, it's a lot less offensive than it could have been. It's more insensitive than straight malicious... At least at this point. I remember the actual trans characters in the show/manga being done dirty.

I do plan on doing the manga, but I'll probably do that for the 35th anniversary in 2021 so I have at least a year of breathing room. There is considerably less filler in it, though there is still some junk stories that go no where.

I saw the entire series not too long ago and didn’t get the closure I wanted.
It would have been nice if they had squeezed out one last movie covering the final manga Arch... But even that wasn't the best in that regard.
 

Birdie

Member
Oct 26, 2017
5,432
I watched episode 1


Can't tell if those are nipples or blurs to hide the nipples but, uh...

I don't think this is for me. Unless there's an episode that turns things around
 
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KojiKnight

KojiKnight

Member
Oct 25, 2017
8,992
I watched episode 1


Can't tell if those are nipples or blurs to hide the nipples but, uh...

I don't think this is for me. Unless there's an episode that turns things around
The show wears what it is on its sleeves. If you're worried about being in a compromising position watching this when someone walks in the room... I mean yeah you'll occasionally see pink dots to represent nipples, but it's not like certain modern anime where the girls are constantly moaning and dry humping the protag.

That said, there is little doubt that Ranma 1/2 and Rumiko Takahashii's works in general created a lot of modern anime tropes, and somehow did most of them better 30 years ago.
 

Schreckstoff

Member
Oct 25, 2017
1,883
Ranma 1/2 is easily top 3 manga/anime for me. Both for nostalgia but also quality wise, I went and rewatched the whole series subbed and then later on read the whole manga being unsatisfied with the series sorta abruptly ending.
 
Oct 27, 2017
119
Pigtailed girl...I love you.

My favorite anime series and I will occasionally do a rewatch of some episodes every several years just relive the nostalgic feelings.
 

NeonZ

Member
Oct 28, 2017
4,711
The big problem with the Ranma anime is how the writers handled the filler content once they started running out of material in the second half of the third season. Rumiko Takahashi had complained about how some of the animated Urusei Yatsura ended up with an atmosphere very different from the manga, so the Ranma team was very conservative with the stories they wrote. That by itself is a mistake. Episodic shows thrive on the variation of the stories and the Urusei Yatsura anime was at its best when you could go from the usual zany Takahashi humor from a direct manga adaptation to psychedelic nonsense to a murder mystery from one episode to another. Ranma throwing that away was just making trouble for the anime staff.

However, on top of the idea itself being flawed, after a while it's obvious the anime staff is even more tied to the status quo than the manga itself was which becomes kind of weird. The anime starts adapting stories with Ranma learning some actual new special attack then in the anime original content that's all ignored and you're dealing with another pretender using tricks to fake mystical powers just like before those stories, which just makes the anime even more repetitive and tied to status quo than the manga (which by itself still could get repetitive and was obviously tied to a strong status quo). Then there was also the anime team abusing stories where Akane is about to confess to Ranma, only obviously they couldn't go through that so they had to end at an angry outburst every time.

I'm still confused on how this landed in the childs program on TV back then with girl Ranmas breasts being exposed so regulary.
I think Japan only started censoring breasts on tv (limiting to late timeslots) in the late 90s/early 00s.
 
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BlackLagoon

Member
Oct 25, 2017
1,038
Now if you want an offensively dubbed character wait till you get to the principal. Not sure what they were going for there but it doesn't work.
Like everyone else in the show he's an idiot, with his particular thing being his obsession with Hawaii, which he clearly only has a very fractured, surface level knowledge off. He's like a reverse weaboo, and sounds pretty much like you'd expect.
 

lake

Member
Oct 27, 2017
828
I never watched it at the time and it doesn't feel worth revisiting today (to me).

But as a teen, before I figured out I was trans, I was utterly smitten with the show's transformation concept and wished I could *be* Ranma. A mid-'90s porn pic someone drew of a mid-TF Ranma was probably the first time I ever saw a woman with a penis. It left an impression.
 

Old Man Spike

Member
Oct 29, 2017
984
United States
Definitely going to be watching this thread for future updates, as Ranma 1/2 was one of my favorite Japanese series to follow as a teen. At first I got into it through Viz's manga translations (the floppies, to boot), and then I discovered their VHS copies of the anime, OVAs and movies at Suncoast and would have bought them all until my father finally said "enough" and cut me off. Rumiko Takahashi a 90s anime/manga idol, I doodled her characters in the margins of my notebooks in school all the time.

More recently I picked up the Blu-ray collection of the OVAs and movies, though I haven't had time to sit down and watch them. Might have to change that this weekend.

 

BasilZero

Member
Oct 25, 2017
10,251
Omni
In the future, I plan to re-watch the entire anime and watch the movies.


I didnt watch that much though to begin with and was introduced to Ranma through its games and manga first lol.
 

jonjonaug

Member
Oct 25, 2017
1,690
Show's fine until happosai shows up and ruins everything good about the series.

OAVs/films are decent though.
There's kind of a loooooooong decline in quality in the content covered from around season 3 to season 7. It's all still good, but by the end it feels like it's running out of ideas.

Funnily enough though the manga starts getting really good again right after where the anime ends. The OVAs cover a bit of this content but there's a few really meaty arcs that never got adapted.
 

Scarecrow

The Fallen
Oct 25, 2017
1,313
Haven't watched Ranma in forever.

What's the best movie or OVA? No time for any nostalgic rewatch, but a movie is good enough.