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Manga Review: Ranma 1/2 Volume 29 by Rumiko Takahashi

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Ranma 1/2 Volume 29 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.

There are a total of seven stories that appear in this volume of Ranma 1/2. Of these, only one served as the basis for one of the episodes of the Ranma 1/2 OAV episodes. The first story sees Happosai getting a new disciple, who says he’s the great-grandson of one of Happosai’s old friends. It turns out there’s more to this disciple than meets the eye, and that he’s on a mission to reclaim something that belongs to his family.

To me, this wasn’t one of the stronger story arcs that Takahashi introduced into the Ranma 1/2 manga. I had figured out the truth behind Happosai’s disciple well before it was revealed in the manga, so that severely lessened my reaction when that revelation was made. I also thought the story was a little on the strange side, even though the tone of it does fit in with the already established tone of the series.

In the next story, Ryoga manages to return to his house, but is injured when he accidentally sets off one of the booby traps his parents set because they had left and would be gone a while. He sends his family’s dog to find Akane and deliver a note, asking her to come and help him out. Before Akane gets there, Akari and her giant pig arrive; Akari was Ryoga’s potential new love interest who was introduced in Volume 28. When Akane and Ranma show up, Ryoga tries to keep the two girls from finding out that they’re both there at the same time, and Ryoga tries to take advantage of the situation.

I thought this was a fun story, and I think it would have worked really well in an animated medium. Perhaps if Ranma 1/2 had continued on to an eighth season instead of producing OAV episodes, Akari might have been introduced in the anime. I think the addition of Akari adds a lot, and helps to start advancing Ryoga’s character. Priot to Akari’s introduction in the manga, Ryoga seemed like he really wasn’t progressing anywhere as a character.

Next is a one chapter story about the rumored “Umbrella of Love” and Furinkan High School. It’s a “loaner umbrella” that is available during the rainy season when students forget to bring an umbrella; according to the rumors, the two people who use that umbrella together fall in love. This story focuses on various people who end up under the umbrella together when Ranma and the others decide to test the rumor about the umbrella.

While this was an interesting read, Takahashi had already done a storyline about the fishing rod of love. Both stories dealt with objects that cause people to fall in love; the only real difference is the fact that the fishing rod story only focuses on three characters, while the umbrella one included more of the characters. In some respects, it kind of felt like Takahashi was recycling a previous story idea; for me, this did kind of diminish my appreciation for this particular story.

This is followed by another one chapter story, where Miss Hinako tries to teach Akane how to swim. This was another storyline that gave me that “been there, done that” feeling. In one of the earlier volumes of Ranma 1/2, Principal Kuno also tried to teach Akane how to swim in Furinkan High School’s pool. This was another case where it felt like Takahashi was recycling an old idea, but tried to make it different by changing some of the details.

The next story is another one that spans one chapter. In this story, Cologne purchases a large supply of new cold summer noodle item the supplier for the Cat Café offers at half price. Unfortunately, the noodles taste terrible. Cologne has a special ramen noodle that gives the power of 100 men. Cologne uses this as a promotion to help sell the awful noodles. Ranma, Ryoga, and Kuno end up in a major eating contest to try to find and eat the special ramen noodle.

This was one of the better stories to appear in this volume of Ranma 1/2. Not only was it a story idea that hadn’t been used previously, but the tone and character motivations that appear in this story work very well with what’s already been established in the series.

The sixth story was the one story in this volume that became the basis for one of the Ranma 1/2 OAV episodes. In this story, the Tendos and the Saotomes visit an inn that has a doll which supposedly has a soul trapped inside it. Ranma accidentally breaks the doll, and he doesn’t do a very good job trying to restore it. The doll takes over Akane and tranfers Akane’s soul into the doll; the doll then tries to get revenge on Ranma.

I have to say that this particular storyline got some of the best art to appear in this volume. While the storyline is a little on the strange side, I appreciate how Takahashi executed it. My favorite thing about this particular story is how it takes this situation and uses it to really help to enhance the relationship between Akane and Ranma.

The final story sees a group of Furinkan High School students, along with Principal Kuno, getting stranded on an island. There are a lot of guys, and only a few females (Miss Hinako, Akane, Ukyo, and girl-type Ranma). The guys end up getting the “Aloha Virus,” which turns them into Hawaii honeymooners. The guys start chasing after the girls in an attempt to have a honeymoon. This was a very strange story, and was rather disappointing after reading the story about the cursed doll.

So far, this has been one of the most disappointing volumes of Ranma 1/2 that I have read up to this point. If you’re a fan of Ranma 1/2, then you need to read this volume in order to experience the whole series. Personally, this is probably one of the volumes of the series that I won’t find myself re-reading very often.

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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.
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