Ranma 1/2 Volume 22 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.
There is only one story included in Volume 22, and it’s a manga exclusive story. Not only that, but the story doesn’t even reach its conclusion at the end of Volume 22. It would have been interesting to see this particular story in the animated medium, but I think its length was a major reason why it never received that treatment.
In this story, Cologne receives some visitors from China at the Cat Cafe; they are three extremely strong men with traits like animals. Early on in the story, Mousse, Ryoga and Ranma have a run-in with one of them. When Ranma has a fight with the leader, he is splashed with cold water and turns into girl-type Ranma. The leader of the three men has a pail with water in it and a ladle; he uses the ladle to get water out of the pail, and he throws the water on Ranma.
Later, when Ranma tries to go into a hot bath to turn back into a male, it’s discovered that he is unable to. Cologne explains that Ranma was splashed with water from the Pail of Preservation, which has water that freezes the appearance. The only way to reverse it is to find the Water Pot of Liberation and be splashed by the boiling water that comes from it.
Mousse and Ryoga overhear everything, and volunteer to help Ranma find the Water Pot of Liberation. Unfortunately, they really aren’t interested in helping Ranma; they’re more interested in getting a hold of the Pail of Preservation, so they can splash the water onto themselves while in human form in an attempt to counteract their respective Jusenkyo curses. The story follows Ranma, Mousse and Ryoga as they must face the three strong men while on their quest to find the Water Pot of Liberation.
Takahashi introduces some interesting ideas into this storyline, especially in regards to the Spring of Drowned Girl at the Jusenkyo hot springs. Outside of those ideas, though, nothing truly “new” is brought to the table to help advance any of the characters or their relationships with each other.
As I read this volume, I noticed that the design for one of the new characters introduced in this story almost makes him look like an early prototype for the title character of Takahashi’s Inuyasha manga series. Not only does he have a similar facial structure, he also has the pointed ears!
If you’re a fan of Ranma 1/2, you’ll probably be able to enjoy the story that’s presented in this volume.