Ranma 1/2 OVA Series Box Set

UK Distributor:  N/A (US release reviewed)

BBFC Certificate:  N/A

Suggested Retail Price (SRP):  $119.98 (around £80)

Running Time:  300mins (approx.)

Audio Options:  English 2.0, Japanese 2.0

Subtitles:  English

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) is great.

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'.


Feature:   Extras: N/A

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