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Manga Review: Ranma 1/2 Volume 28 by Rumiko Takahashi

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Ranma 1/2 Volume 28 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 2004. 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 are a total of six stories that appear in this volume of Ranma 1/2, and they are all stories that are exclusive to the manga. In the first story, a large pig is rampaging in the streets and beating up young men; however, Ryoga is easily able to defeat the pig. He is approached by a young woman named Akari Unryu, who comes from a family that has raised champion sumo wrestling pigs. She claims that she will marry the one who has defeated the Yokozuna Katsunishiki, the large pig that had been rampaging in the streets. Ryoga finds himself wondering if his heart still truly belongs to Akane, or if he has feelings for Akari.

This is a story that I wish had somehow been animated for the Ranma 1/2 anime series. This particular story would have worked well in the animation format, and this story is great character development for Ryoga. Akari is also referenced in another story that appears later in Volume 28, so I suspect that she may have more of a role to play in the remaining volumes of Ranma 1/2.

The next story sees Genma trying out an experimental hair tonic for regrowing hair on his head. The tonic works, but the effects of the tonic take their toll on both Ranma and Genma. While Takahashi may have tackled Genma’s baldness issue in the story about the Dragon’s Whisker, this story with the hair tonic takes Genma’s desire to regrow his hair to a new level. It was an OK story, so I’m glad to see that Takahashi confined it to being only one chapter long.

Next is a story that focuses on Miss Hinako, Ranma and Akane’s teacher. Since Miss Hinako switches from being a teenager to a grown woman through the use of various yen pieces, she’s having trouble keeping her class in line when she reverts to her teenage self. She wishes she could remain as a woman, and is able to get that wish when she acquires a pair of fighting fish that she keeps in a circular fishbowl. When Ranma realizes what’s going on, he tries to get the goldfish out of their fishbowl.

Since I had only been familiar with Miss Hinako through the one Ranma 1/2 OAV anime episodes that she appeared in, I hadn’t realized that she was a recurring character until I read the manga. While the subsequent Miss Hinako stories are amusing to read, I’m not sure that they would have necessarily worked as well in the animated medium. With this particular story, I think Takahashi hit on a realistic plot idea for Miss Hinako, and that this plot idea was executed well.

Next is another one chapter story, where Kuno is possessed by a demon in a cherry tree after he carves a love declaration to female-type Ranma on it. According to legend, when the cherry tree has the name of a woman carved on it, the demon possess the man who carved the name, and takes the maiden whose name was carved onto the tree as a sacrifice. Ranma has to figure out how to free Kuno from the curse. This was definitely one of the stranger stories to appear in the Ranma 1/2 manga series, and it felt like it was written simply to bring Kuno back into the spotlight again. While he appeared in Volume 27, his storyline was the first one to appear in that volume.

The fifth story sees Happosai catching a fierce cold, and turning Ranma into girl-type Ranma in order to get over it. Unfortunately, he passes the cold on to Ranma; while Ranma is running a high fever, cold water will not turn him into girl-type. Ranma’s mother makes another surprise visit to the Tendo Dojo, and Ranma desperately wants to see his mother as male-type Ranma; however, his attempts keep getting thwarted.

I have really appreciated how much Takahashi has been using Mrs. Saotome in the series after introducing her. Unfortunately, Ranma’s mother was introduced so late in the anime series, that her potential was never truly realized in the animated medium. As a reader, I keep rooting for Ranma to be able to see his mother as himself, instead of as “Ranko” (the name used for girl-type Ranma when Mrs. Saotome is around).

The final story has to do with a cursed spatula. If you couldn’t guess, this story features Ukyo, Ranma’s finacee who is an okonomiyaki chef. This was another strange story that runs for one chapter. Like Kuno’s cursed cherry tree story, this story also feels like it was included in order to bring Ukyo back into the spotlight; her last appearance was in Volume 25.

Even with the odd stories featuring Kuno and Ukyo, Volume 28 is still worth reading if you’re a fan of Ranma 1/2.

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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.