Cover of the first tankōbon volume of Ranma ½, as published by Shogakukan in 1988.
|Genre||Martial arts, Romantic comedy, Urban fantasy|
|Written by||Rumiko Takahashi|
|Magazine||Weekly Shōnen Sunday|
|Original run||September 1987 – March 1996|
|Anime television series|
|Directed by||Tomomi Mochizuki
|Original run||April 15, 1989 – September 16, 1989|
|Anime television series|
|Ranma ½ Nettōhen|
|Directed by||Koji Sawai
|Original run||October 20, 1989 – September 25, 1992|
|Ranma ½: Big Trouble in Nekonron, China|
|Directed by||Shuji Inai|
|Written by||Ryota Yamaguchi,
|Music by||Kenji Kawai|
|Released||November 2, 1991|
|Ranma ½: Nihao My Concubine|
|Directed by||Akira Suzuki|
|Written by||Ryota Yamaguchi|
|Music by||Akihisa Matsura|
|Released||August 1, 1992|
|Ranma ½: Super Indiscriminate Decisive Battle! Team Ranma vs. the Legendary Phoenix|
|Directed by||Junji Nishimura|
|Written by||Ryota Yamaguchi|
|Music by||Akihisa Matsuura,
|Released||August 20, 1994|
|Live-action television film|
|Directed by||Ryo Nishimura|
|Written by||Yoshihiro Izumi|
|Music by||Kei Yoshikawa|
|Released||December 9, 2011|
Ranma ½ (Japanese: らんま½ Hepburn: Ranma Nibun-no-Ichi?, pronounced Ranma One-Half) is a Japanese manga series written and illustrated by Rumiko Takahashi. It was originally serialized in Shogakukan's Weekly Shōnen Sunday from September 1987 to March 1996, and later collected into 38 tankōbon volumes. The story revolves around a 16-year old boy named Ranma Saotome who was trained from early childhood in martial arts. As a result of an accident during a training journey, he is cursed to become a girl when splashed with cold water, while hot water changes him back into a boy.
Ranma ½ had a comedic formula and a sex changing main character, who often willfully changes into a girl to advance his goals. The series also contains many other characters, whose intricate relationships with each other, unusual characteristics and eccentric personalities drive most of the stories. Although the characters and their relationships are complicated, they rarely change once the characters are firmly introduced and settled into the series.
The manga has been adapted into two anime series produced by Kitty Films: Ranma ½ and Ranma ½ Nettōhen (らんま½ 熱闘編?), which together were broadcast on Fuji Television from 1989 to 1992. In addition, Kitty Films has developed 12 original video animations and three films. In 2011, a live-action television special was produced and aired on Nippon Television. The manga and anime series were licensed by Viz Media for English-language releases in North America. Madman Entertainment released part of the anime series and the first two movies in Australasia, before their license expired, and MVM Films released the first two movies in the United Kingdom.
On a training journey in the Bayankala Mountain Range in the Qinghai Province of China, Ranma Saotome and his father Genma fell into the cursed springs at Jusenkyo. When someone falls into a cursed spring, they take the physical form of whatever drowned there hundreds or thousands of years ago whenever they come into contact with cold water. The curse will revert when exposed to hot water until their next cold water exposure. Genma fell into the Spring of the Drowned Panda while Ranma fell into the Spring of the Drowned Girl.
Upon returning to Japan, the pair settle in Nerima, Tokyo at the dojo of Genma's old friend Soun Tendo, a fellow practitioner of Musabetsu Kakutō Ryū or "Anything-Goes" school of martial arts which Genma passed on to Ranma. Genma and Soun agreed years ago that their children would marry and carry on the Tendo Dojo. Soun has three teenaged daughters: the mature and unflappable Kasumi, the greedy and sarcastic Nabiki and the hot-tempered, but helpful, martial arts practicing Akane. As Akane is Ranma's age she is appointed for bridal duty by her sisters. Their reasoning is that Akane dislikes men (she was aggressively pursued by most of the boys in school at one time), and that Ranma is only a man half of the time; therefore, they are perfect together. Although both initially refuse the engagement having not been consulted on the decision, they are generally treated as betrothed and end up helping or saving each other on numerous occasions. They are frequently found in each other's company and are constantly arguing in their trademark awkward love-hate manner that is a franchise focus.
Ranma goes to school with Akane at Furinkan High, where he meets his recurring opponent Tatewaki Kuno, the kendo team captain who is boastful vain and who is aggressively pursuing Akane, but who also falls in love with Ranma's female form without ever discovering his curse despite most other characters knowing it. Nerima serves as a backdrop for more martial arts mayhem with the introduction of Ranma's regular rivals, the eternally lost Ryoga Hibiki who traveled half way across Japan getting from the front of his house to the back, where Ranma spent three days waiting for him. Ryoga seeking revenge on Ranma fell into another spring and cold water now changes him into a piglet. Not knowing this, Akane thinks the piglet is adorable but Ranma knows and hates him for keeping this secret and taking advantage of the situation. The nearsighted Mousse who also fell into a pool and becomes a duck when he gets wet, and Ranma's very energetic and perverted grandmaster Happosai who spends his time stealing the underwear of schoolgirls. His prospective paramours include the martial arts rhythmic gymnastics champion Kodachi Kuno, and his second fiancée and childhood friend Ukyo Kuonji the okonomiyaki vendor, along with the Chinese Amazon Shampoo, supported by her great-grandmother Cologne. As the series progresses, the school becomes more eccentric with the return of the Hawaii-obsessed Principal Kuno and the placement of the power-leeching alternating child/adult Hinako Ninomiya as Ranma's English teacher. Ranma's indecision to choose his true love causes chaos in his romantic and school life.
Creator Rumiko Takahashi drew inspiration for Ranma ½ from a variety of real-world objects. Some of the places frequently seen in the series are modeled after actual locations in Nerima, Tokyo, Japan (both the home of Takahashi and the setting of Ranma ½). In addition, links have been shown between the manga and people, paintings, and even films.
Takahashi purposefully aimed the series to be popular with women and children. In 2000, an Animerica interviewer talking with Takahashi asked her if she intended Ranma ½ "as an effort to enlighten a male-dominated society." Takahashi said that she does not think in terms of societal agendas and that she created the Ranma ½ concept because she wanted one that may be "a simple, fun idea." She added that she, as a woman and while recalling what manga she liked to read as a child, felt that "humans turning into animals might also be fun and märchenhaft...you know, like a fairy tale."
Ranma ½ began publication in Weekly Shōnen Sunday 1987, Volume 36, following the ending of Takahashi's previous major work Urusei Yatsura. From September 1987 until March 1996, the series was published on a near weekly basis with the occasional colored page to spruce up the usually black and white manga stories. After nearly a decade of storylines, Ranma ½'s final chapter was published in Weekly Shōnen Sunday 1996, Volume 12. While running in Weekly Shōnen Sunday, several chapters were periodically collected and published into tankōbon volumes, with all pages in black and white, from 1988 to 1996. Ranma ½ was eventually serialized into 38 of these volumes. In 2002, Shogakukan opted to republish these under a new format, the shinsōban. These were essentially the same as the tankōban save for a different cover.
In addition to the regular storylines, Ranma ½ has had several special releases. First, The Ranma ½ Memorial Book was published just as the manga ended in 1996. Acting as an end-cap to the series, it collects various illustrations from the series, features an interview with Rumiko Takahashi, and includes tidbits about Ranma: summaries of his battles, his daily schedule, trivia, and a few exclusive illustrations. Second, a Movie + OVA Visual Comic was released to illustrate the theatrical movie Super Indiscriminate Decisive Battle! Team Ranma vs. the Legendary Phoenix and the OVA episodes "The One to Carry On" (both parts). It also included information on the voice actors, character designs, and a layout of the Tendo dojo. Finally, guidebooks were released for three of the Ranma ½ video games; these included not only strategies, but also interviews.
Viz Media, a company owned by Shogakukan and Shueisha, published the English version of the Ranma ½ manga. Viz started publishing the series in 1993 in a monthly chapter comic book format. However, the series was "flipped" to read left-to-right, causing the art to be mirrored, e.g. a right-handed character is now left-handed. Because of the time needed to accumulate material, collected graphic novel volumes were relatively slow to come. On March 18, 2004, after releasing 21 volumes of Ranma, Viz announced that it would reprint a number of its graphic novels. The content remained the same, but the novels moved to a smaller format with different covers and a price drop. In the case of Ranma ½, the covers shifted from a variegated style to a more uniform cover. However, the series still retained its left-to-right format, like the first edition. Each volume covers roughly the same amount of material as a Japanese tankōbon, but Viz incorporated minor differences in grouping so that the English-language version spans 36 volumes rather than the original number of 38. Volume 36, the final volume, was released in stores on November 14, 2006, thus making it Viz's longest running manga, spanning over 13 years. At Anime Expo on July 7, 2013, Viz Media announced they will began re-releasing the manga in a format that combines two individual volumes into a single large one. With the first volume scheduled for March 11, 2014, it will also mark the first time the series has been released in North America in its original right-to-left format.
An animated TV series was created by Kitty Films and aired weekly between April 15, 1989 and September 16, 1989 on Fuji TV for 18 episodes, before being canceled due to low ratings. The series was then reworked by most of the same staff, retitled Ranma ½ Nettōhen (らんま½ 熱闘編?) and launched in a different time slot, running for 143 episodes from October 20, 1989 to September 25, 1992. The anime stays true to the original manga but does differ by keeping Ranma's sex transformation a secret from the high school students, at least throughout most of its length (in both versions, the Kuno family act as if there were two Ranmas). It also does not introduce Hikaru Gosunkugi until very late in the series, and his character is slightly altered, whereas Gosunkugi is an important rival for Akane's affections early in the manga. Instead, the anime introduces its own major recurrent character: Sasuke Sarugakure, the diminutive ninja retainer of the Kuno family. Sasuke fills a number of Gosunkugi's roles in early storylines but is a major character in his own right. The anime also alters the placement of many story arcs; one of the earliest, Martial Arts Tea Ceremony, appears in chapter 56 of the manga but does not appear until the TV series' fifth season. It also contains numerous original episodes and characters not adapted from the manga.
Following the ending of the TV series, 11 OVAs were released directly to home video, the earliest on December 7, 1993 and the eleventh on June 4, 1996. All but one are based on stories originally in the manga. Twelve years later, a Ranma animation was created for the "It's a Rumic World" exhibition of Rumiko Takahashi's artwork. Based on the "Nightmare! Incense of Deep Sleep" manga story from volume 34, it was shown on odd numbered days at the exhibition in Tokyo from July 30 to August 11, 2008. But it was not released until January 29, 2010, when it was put in a DVD box set with the Urusei Yatsura and InuYasha specials that premiered at the same exhibit. It was then released on DVD and Blu-ray by itself on October 20, 2010.
Shortly after licensing the manga, Viz Media followed up by licensing both Ranma anime series in 1993, making Ranma ½ one of the very first anime titles licensed by Viz. The English dub produced for the series was recorded by The Ocean Group in Vancouver, British Columbia. Production, like the manga, spanned about 10 years. They released the series on VHS from their own Viz Video, and on DVD a few years later in association with Pioneer Home Entertainment. Their releases collected both anime series as one, separated episodes into what they call "seasons", and changed the ordering of many of the episodes. Viz themselves re-released it on DVD in 2007 using their own DVD production company. Viz Media also licensed all three Ranma ½ movies, and the original 11 OVAs for distribution in North America (however they released the third movie as an OVA). However, there are still several home video releases that have not been released outside Japan, including the Hot Song Contest specials, "29 Unteachable Fools", the "Tendo Family's Annoying Acquaintances" and the latest OVA from 2008 "Nightmare! Incense of Deep Sleep". Madman Entertainment and MVM Films licensed some of series for releases in Australasia and the United Kingdom respectively. Madman's rights expired after releasing only the first four "seasons", as one series, and two movies, while MVM has only released the first two movies. At Otakon 2013, Viz announced that they re-acquired the TV series for Blu-ray and DVD release in 2014, with the show to be aired on their anime channel service, Neon Alley in Fall 2013.
The music from the Ranma ½ TV series, films and OVAs have been released on various CDs. Four from the TV series, two from the first movie, one from the second, one from the third movie and OVAs, and three compiling the music by DoCo used in the OVAs. DoCo is a pop group composed of the anime's main female characters' voice actresses. Several compilation albums were also released, some composed of the opening and closing theme songs and others of image songs. Many of the image songs were first released as singles.
There have been fifteen video games based on the Ranma ½ franchise. While most are fighting games, there have been several RPGs and puzzle games. Only two have been released in Western countries. Ranma ½: Chōnai Gekitōhen was released in the US as Street Combat; the characters were Americanized, having their appearances completely changed, and the music was changed as well. However, Ranma ½: Hard Battle was released in both North America and Europe unaltered.
Live action special
A live action television adaption of Ranma ½ aired on NTV, in a two-hour time-slot, on December 9, 2011. Although it was initially reported that the special would contain an original story, the movie does take its main plot from one of the manga's early stories with several other early scenes mixed in. The special stars Yui Aragaki as Akane, with Kento Kaku and Natsuna Watanabe playing male and female Ranma respectively. Ryōsei Tayama is cast as the antagonist, the new original character Okamada. The all-girl pop group 9nine contribute "Chikutaku☆2Nite" as the theme song. It was released on both DVD and Blu-ray on March 21, 2012.
Rumiko Takahashi said that after Urusei Yatsura, which was popular with high school and college students, she purposefully aimed Ranma ½ to be popular among women and children. Both series' peak readership figures were with 15-year olds, but the distribution of Ranma ½ readers was skewed towards younger females. By November 2006, it was reported that the series had sold over 49 million manga volumes in Japan. In an overview of the series, Jason Thompson called Ranma ½ "the direct ancestor of all comedy-action manga, like Sumomomo Momomo and History's Strongest Disciple Kenichi", although noted that it was not the first, but only spanned the period when manga and anime sales were at their height. Relating it to Takahashi's other works, he summed the series up as "At the start, the fighting is minimal and it's almost a semi-serious relationship comedy, like Maison Ikkoku; then it turns completely ridiculous; and by the climax, when Ranma fights the evil bird-people of Phoenix Mountain in an excessively long and un-funny shonen fight scene, it's like a warmup for Inuyasha." He states that "Eventually Takahashi adds too many characters, and the manga starts repeating itself. Because of the lack of a strong story arc, a lot of people stop reading Ranma ½ at some point in the middle". Reviewing Viz Media's final English volume of the manga, Anime News Network remarked that "Every dimension of Rumiko Takahashi's storytelling skills come into play here: comedy, romance and introspection, and of course, high-flying fantasy martial-arts action." However, they felt some of the action scenes were hard to follow and noted that the mirroring to left-to-right format caused errors with the art.
The Ranma ½ anime was ranked number 17 on Anime Insider's 2001 list of the Top 50 Anime, although the list was limited to series that were released in North America. It ranked 36th on TV Asahi's 2006 list of Japan's 100 favorite animated TV series, which is based on an online poll of the Japanese people, up from the previous year's list where it ranked 45th. In November 2006, the New York Comic Con announced that it would host the first-ever American Anime Awards. Fans had the chance to vote for their favorite anime online during the month of January 2007. Only the five nominees receiving the most votes for each category were announced on February 5. Among the 12 different categories, Ranma ½ was voted into the "Best Comedy Anime" category, and the Ranma ½ OVAs were voted into the "Best Short Series" category. In their review of Viz Media's season five DVD box set, Anime News Network praised the Japanese cast's performance and the animation, but criticized the English cast and their slight script changes. They also remarked that while Ranma ½ is a classic, after a hundred episodes, the same jokes are just not funny anymore.
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|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Ranma ½.|
- Shōnen Sunday Museum (Japanese)
- Viz Media North American publisher of manga and anime
- Ranma ½ at Shōnen Sunday (Viz Media)
- Madman Entertainment Australian publisher of anime
- Ranma ½ (manga) at Anime News Network's Encyclopedia
- Ranma ½ (anime) at Anime News Network's Encyclopedia
- J-pop.com review of Ranma ½ music