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Ranma 1/2 Vol.36 (end – finally!) November 24, 2006

Posted by ayasawada in Manga.
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Ranma 36

Viz: Ranma

In short: Boy meets girl, boy is girl

Thoughts: After 16 years and 36 volumes, the English translation of Ranma 1/2 has finally come to an end. It is indeed the end of an era, particularly for those, like me, for whom Ranma was one of the first stepping stones on the road to otakudom. However, I feel more relief than any real joy or sadness. The truth is that Ranma went stale a loooong time ago, somewhere around Vol.22 (coincidentally when Viz switched to its smaller ‘Action’ edition).

Buying the last 14 volumes came out of habit rather than any real interest in the story. To my knowledge there hasn’t been a really engaging bit of plot since Nabiki ‘stole’ Ranma in Vol. 15 (no idea what that is in action edition terms) and all we’ve seen is wave-after-wave of random side-stories, thin on plot and low on laughs. If this occured in an anime we’d call it filler. For unknown reasons, Rumiko Takahashi dropped the shojo – and as a semi-harem manga, Ranma desperately needs romantic tension. Maybe she’s lost her touch? It pains me to say it, since I respect Takahashi-sensei greatly and she has created some of the great manga couples; Inuyasha and Kagome, Yusaku and Kyoko, Ranma and Akane. Ranma thrived on this in its early stages, but soon gave in to a succession of bad gags that probably don’t translate very well from the Japanese. Perhaps I’m too harsh. Ranma is, after all, a kids manga and it’s possible my dissatisfaction stems from my simply growing up.

Nevertheless, I still laugh at the ridiculousness of the early days, but perhaps that’s just nostalgia. In any case, Ranma is now done and dusted and there’s a feeling of proud achievement at having collected all 36 volumes – a manga marathon of sorts. It’s a cornerstone of my fandom, but I’m pleased to leave the collection on the shelf and move onto other things.

NB: I’ve tried not to mention the final story, so as not to give away the ending, but suffice to say, it’s a little lame, not entirely unexpected, but rather unsatisfying. Furthermore, the ‘exclusive note from Rumiko Takahashi’, so widely advertised by Viz, was little more than a three-line ‘thanks for reading’. Lame!

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