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Manga Review: Ranma 1/2 Volume 20 by Rumiko Takahashi

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Ranma 1/2 Volume 20 is a manga with the story and art by Rumiko Takahashi, and it was published in North America by Viz Media. This review is for the second printing of this volume, which was released in 2005. The Ranma 1/2 manga volumes are “flipped,” which means that they read like American books instead of traditional Japanese manga. Ranma 1/2 is rated “T+” for older teens, due to some panels that feature female nudity.

Volume 20 finishes the martial arts cheerleading story that began in Volume 19, and it also includes three additional stories. The first new story in this volume was adapted for the Ranma 1/2 anime series, the second became the basis for one of the Ranma 1/2 OAV episodes, and the third was never adapted in any way for the anime.

The first new story in Volume 20 introduces the reader to Ranma’s mother. It turns out that Genma had taken Ranma away from home to train when he was very young, so he has no memory of his mother. Before Genma left with Ranma, he made a vow with his wife that if he failed to raise Ranma to be a true man among men, that the two of them would commit ritual seppuku. When Genma finds out his wife is coming, he tries to hide himself and Ranma, so his wife won’t find out about their curse. Ranma wants to meet his mother, and Akane tries to find a way to make it happen.

The second story sees Shampoo going through some of her great-grandmother’s jewelry, and Cologne says she can have one item from the collection. Shampoo selects a brooch and begins to wear it. The next time she sees Ranma, she acts very coldly toward him and wants nothing to do with him. Cologne realizes that Shampoo is wearing the Jewel of Reversal. When it’s worn in the correct position, love flows abundantly; however, when it is worn in the opposite position, it turns love into hate. Cologne hatches a plan with the jewel in order to try and force Ranma to marry Shampoo.

When these first two stories were adapted for the Ranma 1/2 anime, they were basically kept intact. I really didn’t notice any glaring differences between the manga and anime versions of the stories.

It’s nice that Volume 20 finally rewards the reader with a backstory for Ranma’s mother. When I watched the anime series, I had wondered why we had never seen or heard of Ranma’s mother prior to when she was introduced. If I had read the manga before seeing the anime, I’m sure I would have wondered the same thing.

I find it interesting that the story about Shampoo hadn’t been adapted for the actual Ranma 1/2 anime series, even though the story appears in a section of the manga that was being adapted for the anime. It makes me wonder why they waited until they decided to produce the OAV direct-to-video episodes to adapt the Shampoo story for the anime medium.

The final story in Volume 20 has Happosai going on an underwear theft spree, but after he gets his haul home, the underwear turns to paper. It turns out Happosai has stolen the underwear from a girls’ dorm that is haunted by a former headmistress who is unable to move on to the next world. While she was alive, whenever there was a panty raid at the school, her underwear was the only thing that wasn’t taken; so, in order to be able to move on to the next world, she needs someone to steal her underwear. The underwear that turned to paper is cursed, and that Happosai will die unless he steals the underwear that belonged to the headmistress.

After reading that final story, I can see why it was never adapted for the Ranma 1/2 anime. Not only is it short, but it’s also too strange for the tone that the anime series set. Also, this is a story where I had hard time using my “willing suspension of disbelief.” How is it that the headmistress’ underwear is still hanging on the line after she has died? Wouldn’t someone at some point have seen them hanging there and taken them down long before now?

If you’re already a fan of Ranma 1/2 and have read all of the previous volumes of the series, you should be able to get as much enjoyment out of Volume 20 as you did out of the previous 19 volumes of the series.

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About Lesley Aeschliman

Lesley Aeschliman is a freelance writer who began writing on a full-time basis in 2007. She has served as the Anime editor at BellaOnline.com, and she also writes and maintains two blogs: Lesley's Musings... on Anime and Manga and AeschTunes.