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RANMA 1/2 #1 -- Special Review

Serious thoughts about funny business.

RANMA ½ was an anime I was more… peripherally aware of in middle school. One of my friends, who’d also lived in Asia, was a big fan of the show, and I caught the odd episode on a few occasions when I hung out at his place. Never got the chance to dive in fully, and thus, it’s remained a series I’ve only just known the general gist of. So, when the publicity stills of the live-action movie made the rounds a year or two, I knew who the characters were. And when there was that little tempest-in-a-teapot controversy about SHE-ZOW earlier this year, I could see the rather innocuous parallels to RANMA.

In short: the show’s revival, return or repressing - - or whatever the appropriate term is - - is coming at the right time for me.

What strikes me about this pilot, right away, is that it’s legitimately funny. And that’s actually almost frustrating, because it really shows chibi has escalated over the years into the nuisance it’s become. When Ranma, Akane or even our big ol’ panda go super-deformed, they actually only semi-deformed, and their ‘transformations’ are finished as soon as they’ve made their point. Y'know, they’re brief - - as good timing in comedy generally dictates.

I can only imagine how the show’s best joke - - Akane shrieking over Ranma’s naughty bits after politely keeping quiet about it for some tense beats - - would play today. She probably would’ve screamed right away, and turned into a little troll, and the whole gag would’ve been far less funny…. but I digress.

This pilot episode also demonstrates a rule that most successful shonen series know to abide by - - it sets the situation up swiftly. I was just marveling at how adroitly the show was able to introduce the whole cast and explain the body switching predicament by dolling the information out in careful steps that were funny and surprising, but also sharp about how they'd keep you watching.

I guess this is a little more... academic breakdown for RANMA, but it the pilot's just so well-constructed. I'm definitely mulling over using this space to finally watch the rest of the series.

Watch this episode, “The Strange Stranger from China" here and decide for yourself.

takashichea moderator on Nov. 12, 2013 at 8:28 p.m.

I'm not sure who wrote this article. I'm guessing it's Tom Pinchuk. It's weird to see a Ranma article after talking to a user on the Ranma character spotlight last night. I'm glad the series gets more attention in this community. I tried Ranma this year because of Hal and SamJaz. I enjoyed it. I can see how it can be a never ending gag series with a romantic twist.

Marshal Victoryon Nov. 12, 2013 at 11:15 p.m.

@takashichea: hm the clue was " And that’s actually almost frustrating, because it really shows chibi has escalated over the years into the nuisance it’s become." .Tho few others here dont like chibi to.Some times anime uses it like caned laughter to.So can see both sides .

Less is more i think with chibi.Just because its a tool in the anime/manga tool box it does not mean it should be over used.

Also note Ranma ½ had kung fu pandas way before they were cool .

takashichea moderator on Nov. 12, 2013 at 11:17 p.m.

@Marshal Victory:

Of course, Tom hates chibi! You know Tom better than me!

Halberdierv2on Nov. 13, 2013 at 4:46 a.m.

@Marshal Victory: kung fu pandas and ninja ducks!

@takashichea: glad you liked it! though I do admit, Ranma's stronger moments are at the first half of the series, and the movies. it does feel a bit weak in the middle, though the last season is pretty good.

Marshal Victoryon Nov. 13, 2013 at 7:07 a.m.

@takashichea: Personaly i dont hate chibi my self i hate its over use .Like said befoe when it becomes like caned laughter it loses the punch .Its a good visual tool .Much like the shadow criminal in Detective Conan.Used to much it becomes murky.Also with chibi when the characters are already um deformed or more a characture already its kinda distracting.

Its a fairly safe bet thats from Tom tho like i said some others dont like chibi to.But text patern matchs i think.

@Halberdierv2: Forgot how many i watched on hulu but its one of those great classic animes from years gone by.When men were some times women ...A more simpler confusing time .This an You're Under Arrest an InuYasha are all classic anime i start an get side tracked .Good stuff tho.

Donwunon Nov. 13, 2013 at 8:11 a.m.

Favorite anime series of all time tied with One Piece for me

takashichea moderator on Nov. 13, 2013 at 10:56 a.m.

@Marshal Victory: @Halberdierv2:

I'll continue to watch Ranma. Come to think of it, I never tried in subbed version.

I figured Ranma was better in the beginning. Most long comedic series tend to do well within their first 30 episodes or so. The jokes get stale. It's like a big endurance run. Comedy is harder to do than Shonen action.

SamJazon Nov. 13, 2013 at 4:03 p.m.

You're gonna have a grand time.

@takashichea: I tried both, dubbed is superior.

zaldaron Nov. 14, 2013 at 10:16 p.m.

Ranma 1/2 half is the type of anime humor that works for me...just enough wacky but not to much like say bo bo bo bo bo. Read or die is another example that works. El Hazard almost doesn't but it knows how to do the crazy well with going all out but then pulling back just enough.

Dig Deeper into Ranma ½

A Boy that turns into a girl, his tomboy of a fiancee, and his father that changes into a Panda!? Martial Arts may never be the same again...

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