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Manga Review: Ranma 1/2 Volume 21 by Rumiko Takahashi

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Ranma 1/2 Volume 21 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 2003. 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 21 features five stories; of these five, it appears that only one of them was used for the Ranma 1/2 OAV episodes. I finally appear to have reached a point in the manga where most of the stories in the remaining volumes will be new to me, since they did not appear in any way, shape or form in the Ranma 1/2 anime series.

The first story sees the return of the character Pantyhose Taro. He’s a young man who first made an appearance in Volume 16 of the manga. He was cursed not just by the water at Jusenkyo, but by Happosai giving him the name of Pantyhose.

According to the customs of Pantyhose Taro’s village, the only person who can change his name is the one who gave it to him. Pantyhose Taro has returned with water from the Spring of Drowned Pious Man, hoping to douse Happosai with it and force Happosai to change his name. Unfortunately for Pantyhose Taro, things don’t go as planned.

The second story sees Ranma and Genma fighting over food while training on an island. Ranma falls into the water and becomes girl-type Ranmal. The water washes Ranma up onto a private island, where the owner is trying to find a girl he has fallen in love with. This “Cinderella story” has a twist; instead of trying on a shoe, the girl must stomp the man on the head. The girl in question had jumped on his head while he was on a journey to train for a hot spring excavation.

The third story is the one that served as the basis for the “Akane vs. Ranma! I’ll be the One to Inherit Mother’s Recipes!” OAV episode. In this story, Kasumi has caught a terrible cold and is unable to cook. Akane volunteers to do it, much to everyone’s chagrin. Ranma’s mother suddenly shows up and offers to help. Ranma (in his Ranko alias as girl-type Ranma) and Akane try to learn to cook as Ranma’s mother gives them lessons. Akane’s lack of cooking ability makes up a lot of the humor in this story. This story was basically left intact when it was used for the OAV episode.

The next story sees Ryoga buy an item called The Fishing Pole of Love. According to the merchant, when you catch the person you love with the suction cup at the end of it, love will grow in that person’s heart. When Ryoga tries to use it on Akane, he accidentally “catches” Ranma instead, which causes unwanted results for poor Ryoga.

The final story in this volume has Gosunkugi buying One-Punch Miracle Armor, which claims that the wearer will become strong by wearing it. Gosunkugi wants to defeat Ranma so badly that he orders it; unfortunately, there are unexpected problems with it, and Gosunkugi needs Ranma’s help.

In a lot of respects, I can see why most of these stories weren’t selected when the Ranma 1/2 OAV series was being produced. In some respects, I was a little disappointed by the fact that the Pantyhose Taro story wasn’t chosen, because I think it would have worked well in the animated format. The second story didn’t really bring anything terribly “new” to the series, so I’m really not surprised that it was never animated. The last two stories in this volume were strange, even by the standards set in previous volumes of the Ranma 1/2 manga series.

This volume contains all of the humor, mishaps and hijinks that readers have come to associated with the Ranma 1/2 manga series. However, it feels like that with some of the stories in this volume, Takahashi was starting to have trouble coming up with story ideas for the series. They aren’t necessarily bad stories, but they’re not as strong as some of the stories that appeared in earlier volumes of the series By far, my favorite story in this volume is the one where Akane and “Ranko” are trying to learn how to cook.

Nonetheless, if you’re already a fan of Ranma 1/2, you’ll probably find something to enjoy in Volume 21.

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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.