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Ranma 1/2 Set 1 Review: Martial Arts Meets Comedy
There’s always some new anime series that is coming out throughout the year, and sometimes it is good to draw some attention to old classics that viewers might not have seen before. Viz Media has done this with an anime known as Ranma ½. They’ve releasing a remastered HD version of it on DVD and Blu-ray this year, with the second volume scheduled to be released later this month. The sub and some of the dub is also provided for streaming on Viz Media‘s site.
Ranma ½ was one of those series I had never seen before, yet had heard of. For me, the release of volume one was a great opportunity to finally check out this series, and it certainly didn’t disappoint. For those unfamiliar with Ranma ½, it’s based on the manga series about a young martial artist named Ranma Saotome. After a training accident with his father, Ranma has gained the unique ability to change into a girl when he is doused in cold water and turns back into a guy when hot water is poured on him. Ranma and his father have returned to Japan, only for Ranma to find out that he has been chosen to marry one of the daughters of the head of the Tendo Dojo. Needless to say, he and Akane Tendo (the daughter chosen to marry Ranma) do not like each other very much at first. From what I saw of the series in this collection, it seems like the series as a whole is a mix of slice of life, romance, martial arts, and a great deal of comedy.
It may sound like a strange idea for a story, but it somehow works surprisingly well. Ranma ½ knows what kind of anime it wants to be right from the first episode, and never seems to deviate from that path. Fight scenes are filled with impressive acrobatics and martial arts while not relying on big energy beam of doom attacks (AKA most of the later fights in Dragon Ball Z). From a story stand point, Ranma ½ finds a way to mix the fighting, the comedy, and the drama all in a way where it doesn’t feel inconsistent. The comedy relies a lot on some characters not being able to figure out that Ranma the guy and Ranma the girl are the same character. Another recurring gag is the use of water to switch Ranma from one form to another, be it intentional or otherwise. Both of these are used frequently but never get stale since they are mixed with situational humor and comedy as well.
As far as the remaster goes, Ranma ½ has been cleaned up very well. The animation is clear, crisp, and filled with vibrant colors. Although the updated visuals do make Ranma ½ show its age through the art style and the grainy film-like filter that can be noticed from time to time. Despite this, Ranma ½ looks spectacular with the HD update.
The dub for Ranma ½ is certainly not terrible, but it isn’t fantastic either. For the first six episodes Ranma’s female voice is painful to listen to, but thankfully it gets much better starting from the seventh episode and beyond. Aside from that, the cast stays consistent and for the most part the voices range from tolerable to decent with only a few cringe-inducing moments.
Set 1 was released in two versions. The first is the standard DVD edition, and the second is the Blu-Ray collector’s edition. The collector’s edition comes in a beautifully decorated box with art by the author of the manga that has never been used in the US before, and it contains a preview of the manga and includes a variety of special features on the discs that make it worth the higher price.
Overall re-release of this classic is a great way to introduce new people to Ranma ½, and it even makes itself appealing for long time fans of the series. Ranma ½ is a timeless classic, and the remastered edition adds to that legacy. If you have not seen Ranma ½ before, you owe it to yourself to pick up a copy of Set 1. It has intense martial arts action, great story, comedy, and even some romance. It also has an old guy that transforms into a large panda, so what’s not to like?