Ranma 1/2 (Season 1)
Tendo Soun receives a postcard from China indicating that his old friend, Saotome Genma, is returning from a training trip with his son, Ranma, to marry one of Soun's daughters to carry on the tradition of the Anything-Goes-School-of-Martial-Arts.
When Ranma arrives, Soun faints in shock when it's revealed to him that Ranma is actually a girl. Here's the catch, though: Ranma's not really a girl, but a boy with a Chinese curse, triggered by cold water while hot water reverses the effect.
Ranma is then given a choice of Soun's three daughters: sweet and demure Kasumi, money-grubbing Nabiki, or cute but violent Akane. Kasumi and Nabiki immediately pick Akane for Ranma, since "Akane hates boys, but Ranma's only half a boy." Akane doesn't like Ranma because he beat her at martial arts (he was a girl at the time), and Ranma doesn't like Akane because she's violent and "uncute." Ranma makes the crack that he's better built as a girl than Akane is, and Akane thanks him by crushing him with the dining table. A healthy start to a beautiful relationship. And this is only the beginning ...
I love this thing. This was one of the first anime titles I saw, and it's still one of my all time favorites.
Ranma 1/2 is one of the funniest things I've ever seen, anime or otherwise. The scripting is great, a laugh a minute, and the situations posed to Ranma and the gang defy all senses of propriety, sanity, or gravity. The characters are all hilarious (and cute too), and help make the series more than just another teenage sitcom. There is no middle ground in Ranma 1/2, which helps create the simply BIZARRE conflicts between the characters. Beverly Hills, 90210 has nothing on Ranma 1/2 when it comes to complex relationships. Love triangles? Heck, try love three-dimensional parallelipideds strewn with secants, diagonals, and singularities.
The martial arts in Ranma 1/2 is also very good. Not very realistic, of course, but the fight scenes well executed enough that even a non-martial arts fan can get caught up in the action (kinda like what Jackie Chan does for martial arts on the silver screen). Of course, it doesn't hurt either that the animation is generally pretty good, especially for a TV series (the OAV series has even better animation). "Romantic" scenes are done well, too, never taking itself too seriously lest it turn into a soap opera.
Soundtrack is done well. Not too complex, not too fancy, but just what the scene needs to pack that extra punch. Of course, the OAV themes put out by Doco (the quintet consisting of the voice actresses for onna-Ranma, Shampoo, Kasumi, Nabiki, and Akane) are in my opinion at least as good as anything else out there.
Dubbing...well, the Japanese version is probably better, but who cares? Ranma 1/2 has some of the best dubbing I've ever heard. All the actors really put effort into their parts, and the voice matches are done amazingly well. In fact, I actually prefer some of the U.S. voices to the Japanese voices (Kuno and Nabiki).
All in all, thumbs up, especially the first season. You want a good time? Ranma 1/2 is the one for you.
Recommended Audience: LOTS of casual nudity (particularly by onna-Ranma and Shampoo) and cartoon-style violence. Nothing too objectionable. Probably good for all audiences.
Version(s) Viewed: VHS, English dub
Review Status: Full (18/18)
Ranma 1/2 (Season 1) © 1989 Takahashi Rumiko / Shogakukan / Kitty Film / Fuji TV
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