• Viz (1990–2006)
• Shogakukan (Weekly Shônen Sunday, 1987–1996)
• Martial Arts, Shônen, Romantic Comedy
• 16+ (mild violence, nudity)
Akane Tendo, the tomboyish heir of a karate dojo, finds herself engaged to Ranma Saotome, a macho teenage martial artist cursed to turn into a girl whenever he is splashed with cold water. Ranma ½ virtually introduced sex changing into shônen manga, mathematically demonstrating that if your characters can change gender, you can involve them in twice as many love triangles. The threat of a “serious” romance, or indeed serious anything, vanishes almost immediately after the first few
volumes, as the focus shifts to a growing cast of rivals, all wanting to beat up or make out with Ranma, and mostly cursed to transform when wet … but into ducks, pigs, and other cute animals, not members of the opposite sex. Ranma ½ is the manga equivalent of a successful sitcom; the plot always circles back to the same point, but as long as it’s funny you don’t care. Takahashi throws out an endless array of ridiculous Chinese-style martial arts, based on cooking, tea ceremony, rhythmic gymnastics, and what have you. Despite frequent bare breasts and the panty-stealing presence of Happosai (a dirty old man so stylized he belongs among the animal characters), the actual sexual element is surprisingly tasteful; this is a manga where the focus is on kissing and marrying, and the main male characters are either blushing romantics or spend the entire story running away from girls. Repetitive, teasing, charming, endlessly cute, endlessly enthusiastic … Ranma ½ (together with Izumi Matsumoto’s untranslated Kimagure Orange Road) is one of the classics of the shônen romantic comedy genre.