Comic Book Spotlight of the Day: Ranma 1/2 3-in-1 Omnibus vol. 1 (Volumes 1-2) – March 2014 (Viz Media)

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TITLE: Ranma 1/2 3-in-1 Omnibus vol. 1 (Volumes 1-2)

YEAR: March 2014 (USA release)

COMPANY: Viz Media

Story and Art by Rumiko Takahashi

In 1987, popular mangaka Rumiko Takashi (“Urusei Yatsura”, “Maison Ikkoku”, “One Pound Gospel”, “Mermaid’s Forest”) began working on “Ranma 1/2”, a story that was serialized in Shogakukan’s “Weekly Shonen Sunday”.

And the series would continue until March 1996 with a total of 38 tankabon volumes released.  But what made “Ranma 1/2” internationally known was the fact that the anime adaptation was among the first fan-subtitled titles in America and when it was licensed for distribution in America by Viz Media, it was one of the first series to have an English dub.

Over 25-years later, “Ranma 1/2” would be celebrated with a new Blu-ray release in Japan (and also in the U.S. slated for March 2014 release) and as for the manga series, the first omnibus feature the first two volumes, will be released by Viz Media in March 2014.

“Ranma 1/2” revolves around two families, the Saotome family and the Tendo family.

For martial arts dojo owner, Soun Tendo, he and his best friend, Genma Saotome had a deal that when their children were older, they would get married with each other.

And so, as Soun Tendo and his daughters, Kasumi, Nabiki and Akane await for the arrival of Genma and his son Ranma, they are taken aback by the appearance of a panda and a teenage girl.

And eventually, the family learns that for Genma and Ranma, the two were training in China, where the two would fall in cursed lakes where a panda had died and a young teenage girl had died.  And now, whenever they receive contact with cold water, Genma will turn into a panda and Ranma to a teenage girl.  When they are treated with hot water, they revert to their normal selves.

As Soun explains to his daughters about the arrangement, both Kasumi and Nabiki immediately point to Akane as the person to be engaged with Ranma Saotome and immediately, both teenagers are like oil and water and don’t get along.

But because the Saotome family are invited to stay with the Tendo’s, the two must try to get along with each other.  Despite how much they can’t stand one another.

Akane, a tomboy who loves to fight and practice martial arts is still the most popular girl at Furinkan High School and a rule was made by the wealthy Tatewaki Kuno that whoever can beat Akane, will be the person that will be the man who is suited to be Akane’s boyfriend.  And everyday at school, he and others try to win Akane but instead are beaten by her.

But when she starts to arrive at school with Ranma Saotome and finds out that he is her fiance, things become much more complicated as Tatewaki Kuno sees Ranma as his chief rival.

But when Ranma accidentally is doused with cold water and he reverts to a teenage girl, the fact she beats Kuno, makes him not only love Akane but now makes him also love Ranma (female form).

In the second volume, a rival from Ranma’s old high school has managed to follow him all the way to Furinkan High School.  Troubled by his bad sense of direction, Ryouga Hibiki has made it a goal to defeat Ranma Saotome. But his thirst for revenge is even heightened after he, himself had fallen in the cursed lake which transformed Genma into a panda and Ranma to a teenage girl.

Also, a rival stands in the way of Akane Tendo and that is Tatewaki Kuno’s sister, Kodachi.

The main characters of “Ranma 1/2” are:

  • Ranma Saotome – The series protagonist and martial artist who is often training with his father.  He and Akane tend to not get along and he often says things bad to her, which leads her to beat him up or get him into trouble.  Because he fell into a cursed lake where a teenage girl had died, he transforms into a teenage girl when he comes into contact with cold water and reverts back to a male when he comes into contact with hot water.  Due to his father’s arrangement with Soun Tendo, he is the fiance of Akane Tendo.
  • Genma Saotome – The father of Ranma Saotome and is often training with his son.  He is the childhood best friend of Soun Tendo and together, they made a promise that their children will marry.  Because he fell into a cursed lake where a panda had died, he transforms into a panda when he comes into contact with cold water and reverts back to a male when he comes into contact with hot water.  He and Genma were trained by their master, Happosai.
  • Akane Tendo – The female protagonist who is a tomboy that loves martial arts.  She is popular at school and many guys want her to be their girlfriend.  Due to her father’s arrangement with Genma Saotome, she is engaged to Ranma Saotome.  She also has a hot temper and is often arguing and beating up on Ranma.
  • Soun Tendo – The owner of the Tendo Dojo, he is the father of Kusumi, Nabiki and Akane.  He and his childhood friend Genma had an arrangement that their children will marry.  He and Genma were trained by their master, Happosai.
  • Kusumi Tendo – She is the most ladylike of the Tendo family, the eldest sister who is always kind, she is often seen taking care of her sisters and cooking for the entire family and also cleaning the house.
  • Nabiki Tendo – The middle child, Nabiki likes to make money and spend it! Often trying to find ways to make money.
  • Tatewaki Kuno – From a wealthy family and has a cocky attitude and because of his inflated ego, calls himself “Blue Thunder”. He is in love with Akane and female Ranma.  He is an expert with a wooden sword.
  • Ryoga Hibiki – Ranma’s rival .  Ryoga is terrible with directions and whenever he is planning to fight with Ranma, it would take him days or weeks, because he walked hundreds of miles in another direction.  One day he followed Ranma and Genma all the way to China and was kicked by a girl and landed in a cursed lake where a small black pig had died.  Whenever he comes in contact with cold water, he will turn into a black pig and whenever he comes in contact with hot water, he reverts back to his normal self.  As a pig, named P-chan, he is taken in as a pet by Akane Tendo.
  • Kodachi Kuno – The captain of the St. Hebereke School for Girls Gymnastic team and while a great gymnast, she also uses poison and other methods in combat which has earned her the nickname “The Black Rose”.
  • Dr. Tofu Ono – A very good doctor, it’s that people worry when Kasumi is around because Tofu is in love with Kasumi and he begins behaving unusually towards everyone.

While many Americans had their first exposure of Japanese animation during the 1970’s, with “Battle of the Planets” and in the ’80s through “Robotech” and “Voltron”, for the anime fans of the early ’90s, many discovered Japanese animation (anime) through a series known as “Ranma 1/2”.

I was among those who grew up with “Ranma 1/2” and discovered the series back in 1992. I credit this series for introducing me to Japanese animation but also to manga. In fact, along with “Maison Ikkoku”, “Ranma 1/2” was one of the few Japanese manga in comic book format that were released in America, that I would try to buy (it was very hard to find these comics during that time).

And while “Ranma 1/2” would eventually receive a graphic novel release in the U.S. and continue to entertain fans well-after the manga and anime adaptation had ended.

While the series has not been forgotten, a new generation of anime and manga fans would grow up with another Rumiko Takahashi series titled “InuYasha” in the late ’90s and early 2000’s, while those of us who were fortunate to have grown up with “Ranma 1/2”, “Urusei Yatsura”, “Maison Ikkoku” and other Takahashi titles, will always remember that moment of time when anime and manga was fresh and new in the United States.

Over 25-years after the manga series was created, “Ranma 1/2” is now making its return with a Blu-ray release but also a manga release via omnibus format.

Featuring the first two volumes, the manga series has the size of a three volume omnibus as it introduces us to the Saotome and Tendo families but also the rivalries which include Tatewaki Kuno, Ryouga Hibiki and Kodachi Kuno.

The manga series is just as fun and delightful as it was back when I read the manga in the early ’90s. The constant bickering between Ranma and Akane, the shenanigans that both Ranma and Genma experience when doused with cold water, Kuno falling in love with both Akane and female Ranma, Dr. Tofu’s change when Kasumi is around and Kunou’s bad sense of direction are stories that I will remember forever.

And this series was a big part of my childhood and I feel it’s a wonderful experience for today’s readers to discover or re-discover one of the more well-known Rumiko Takahashi stories that has had a worldwide impact for longtime readers.

Featuring a hilarious and delightful storyline written with non-stop humor and action and along with Rumiko Takahashi’s own creative designs, “Ranma 1/2” is at true classic that will forever entertain many generations and will forever be remembered for its characters and wild and crazy stories.

Discover this Rumiko Takahashi classic manga series today! “Ranma 1/2 Omnibus” Vol. 1 is highly recommended!


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