Title: Ranma 1/2 OVA Series Box Set
N/A (US release reviewed)
BBFC Certificate: N/A
Suggested Retail Price (SRP): $119.98
Running Time: 300mins (approx.)
Audio Options: English 2.0, Japanese 2.0
Reviewer: Rich (Webmaster)
You may be put off of this buying this set by the high
price, but considering what you get it is quite good value for money. This
probably isn’t the best place to start with Ranma if you haven’t read a lot of
the Manga. The OAV’s deal with a lot of the established
relationships and characters, and you will be faced with the dilemma of watching
it not knowing who some of the characters are, or have a look at the character
descriptions on the DVD and spoil some of the surprises of the Manga. The
animation is very good in this and the feel of the Manga has been well
transferred, the music is incredibly dated (all 80’s style cheese) but is
generally ok - apart from ‘the Ballad of Akane & Ranma’ which is the closing
song for the first few episodes. The drawing is a bit more stylised than normal
(massive eyes and massive errr, other body parts…) but you can tell who everyone
is. The Japanese dub is fantastic, although you may find it difficult to follow
the subtitles and the action at the same time, but the English dub is
disappointing, with many characters not sounding as you expect. This said
however this set is well worth buying, the extras are fantastic and the majority
of the episodes great (see below).
The episodes on this set are a bit of a mixed bag. The first (The Curse of The
Contrary Jewel) is my personal favourite. Shampoo inherits an old family
heirloom that, depending on how it’s worn, will either turn feelings of love
into hate or turn rivalry into unconditional love. Cologne attempts to trick
Ranma into telling Shampoo he loves her, while Mousse and Akane try to stop her. This episode has everything that makes the Manga so good, it’s laugh a minute
stuff (especially Ranma’s attempts to restore his wounded pride) and almost
worth buying the set for!
The second episode is a Christmas special (Tendo Family Christmas Scramble)
where an attempt has been made to squeeze seemingly every character in the
history of Ranma ½ into one episode. I was disappointed by this, it has its
moments but there are too many characters pointlessly forced in and no real
plotline. There is also a cheesy ‘80’s balled sung by the principal female
characters (not my thing, but interesting nonetheless) but what ultimately lets
this episode down is the terrible and clichéd ‘Christmas spirit’ ending.
The third episode (Akane VS. Ranma, I’ll Be The One To Inherit Mothers
Recipes!) picks the pace up again, with Kasumi discovering the late Mrs. Tendo’s recipe book. Of course Akane being the terrible cook she is wants to use
the book to learn but Ranma’s pride gets the better of him once again and he
tries to out cook her (not exactly difficult), things are then further
complicated by the arrival of Ranma’s mother. Despite the slow moving flashbacks
that pervade this episode it is great fun and has a real feel-good ending, all
of the moments in the kitchen (plus the character’s reaction when faced with Akane’s quite possibly toxic food) are pure genius!
The next episode (Stormy Weather Comes To School! Growing Up With Miss Hanako)
is also good. Told mainly from the point of view of one of my favourite
characters (the voodoo obsessed Gosunguki) the story involves a teacher who is
an adult trapped in a kid’s body who can only take on human form by absorbing
battle auras with the ‘Happo 5 yen Hatsu’ technique. This technique leaves the
victim drained of energy and unable to fight, a hideous prospect for the many
martial artists that seem to converge on Furinken High School, so Ranma takes it
on himself to defeat her. This is another one with a lot of replay value,
although I don’t think it is as good as episode 1, it still has enough funny
moments to keep you laughing.
Unfortunately the set falls down a little now with two overlong and slightly
tedious double-parters. The first (The One To Carry On Part 1 & 2) involves
two girls arriving and claiming that they are Soun Tendo’s long lost daughters
and defeating Ranma & Akane for the ‘School of Anything Goes Martial Arts’ Dojo. The rest of the two episodes revolve around Ranma & Akane learning to work
together in order to win back the Dojo. Although there are some funny moments
this is way too long and not a lot really happens, it should never have been
stretched to two episodes.
The second double parter (Reawakening Memories Part 1 & 2) revolves around Akane remembering being saved from a monster as a little girl by a mysterious
boy and she decides to go back to where this happened to find him. She
encounters him living with his grandfather in a forest inhabited by giant (and
for some reason, Australian) animals and decides to stay. There is also a
subplot about a magical spring and a giant seven-headed dragon (I’m not
kidding). This is another episode to include boring and drawn out flashbacks,
there are again some funny moments but generally very little happens and the
plot is poor. However there are giant Koalas so it isn’t all bad.
Episode nine (Team Ranma VS. The Legendary Phoenix) is a great return to form. Tatewaki (Upperclassman) Kuno purchases a Phoenix egg after learning that it
will give him the power to master a new technique that’ll make him invincible. The Phoenix hatches on his head and takes the first person it sees as its mortal
enemy, and the first person it sees is, you guessed it, Ranma. The Phoenix
starts to grow bigger and causes all sorts of havoc and everyone has to try and
get it to leave Kuno’s head. This episode sounds mad, and it is. This is
probably the funniest of all of them, absolute mayhem abounds and the Phoenix’
constant attempts to attack Ranma keep you laughing constantly!
Episode ten (Oh Cursed Tunnel of Lost Love! Let My Love Be Forever) is another
of my favourites. The tunnel in the title is famed for splitting couples up so
Ukyo and Shampoo organise a trip there in order to split Akane and Ranma. Basically the whole gang pair up (you can only enter as a couple) and journey
through the haunted cave, suffering many trials and tribulations on the way. This is a very funny episode but really only involves six of the main characters
(Ranma, Ryoga, Ukyo, Shampoo, Mousse and Akane) making the rest seem a little
peripheral. Ryoga is fantastic in this episode though.
Episode eleven (Hell Hath No Fury Like Kasumi Scorned!) revolves around an
evil spirit (an Oni, or Ogre) being released by Ranma and Genma’s fighting and
possessing various characters and making them evil. The spirit eventually ends
up possessing Kasumi but, as by her very nature she can’t act evilly, she just
does things like order masses of expensive food! This episode is funny but gets
a bit formulaic every now and again, the monk that comes to exorcise the spirit
is brilliant though!
The final episode (The Two Akanes, Ranma Look At Me!) sees the Tendo’s and,
for some odd reason, Ranma, Genma, Ukyo and Shampoo going on a holiday together
to a hotel in the country. During one of Ranma and Genma’s regular squabbles
Ranma damages a doll that legend has it will revenge itself upon anyone who
breaks it. The doll attempts to exact revenge by swapping bodies with Akane,
leaving Akane trapped with the body of a doll and only the help of P-Chan in her
attempt to get her body back and save Ranma. This is a good episode, the doll
version of Akane riding to the rescue on P-Chan, the possessed version of
Akane’s many attempts to kill Ranma and just the general humour (Ranma’s attempt
to fix the doll when he breaks it to make sure that no-one notices is hilarious)
Basically, despite the price, this is a recommended purchase but it is probably
better to buy it only when you have read some of the available Manga.
Best Bit: Mousse's dream in the Reversal Jewel episode.
Worst Bit: Ranma & Akane's predictable falling out and cheesy making
up in 'The One To Carry On'.