Ranma 1/2 Volume 31 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; all of these stories are exclusive to the manga. The first story is about a frail young man who is dying because he refuses to take his medicine. He sees girl-type Ranma outside of his window, and says that he will only take the medicine if a beautiful young woman administers it to him. This one chapter story follows girl-type Ranma’s attempts to get the young man to take the medicine.
Of all the stories that appeared in this volume, this one was probably my least favorite. There was already a storyline where girl-type Ranma tried to help someone out who was on their deathbed in the hospital. While the actual circumstances behind both of these stories were different, it still kind of gave me that “been there, done that” feeling.
The second story sees Ranma, Genma, and the Tendo family (minus Kasumi) going out to dinner. When Soun calls to let Kasumi know they won’t be coming home for dinner, he gets the impression that mild mannered Kasumi is mad. When they return to the Tendo Dojo, they see evidence that confirms the belief that Kasumi is upset.
I liked this story for two reasons. First, it’s a story that’s centered on Kasumi; this is a rather rare occurrence in the later volumes of the series. And for some reason, I find the thought of mild mannered Kasumi becoming angry and upset to be rather amusing.
The third story in this volume sees Ryoga accidentally eating a mushroom of time, which causes him to shrink back down into a six-year-old. During the story, Ranma also accidentally eats a mushroom and returns to being a six-year-old. The only way to return to their normal size is to grow a mushroom to 16 cm and eat it at that size, so they will return to being 16 years old. During the story, Ryoga and Ranma keep fighting over who will grow their mushroom faster, and hijinks ensue.
My first reaction to this story: six-year-old Ryoga and six-year-old Ranma look so adorable! Admittedly, the premise is a little on the strange side, but it works within the tone established for the Ranma 1/2 manga series. The strangeness of the story is offset by being able to see the younger versions of Ranma and Ryoga in the chapters that make up this story.
In the next story, Mousse knits a scarf for Shampoo and tries to give it to her, but she won’t accept it. Mousse comes across a statue and ties the scarf around its neck. The statue wants to repay Mousse, so it takes on the appearance of Shampoo and goes on dates with Mousse. Unfortunately, this is wearing Mousse out, so Ranma and Akane try to get the scraf away from the statue in order to help Mousse.
While this story was definitely unique for the Ranma 1/2 manga series, I also found it to be rather odd. I honestly have a hard time believing that Mousse didn’t realize how heavy the statue would be compared to a person. Yes, without his glasses, Mousse is essentially as blind as a bat, but I would think he could feel the weight difference. If you’re willing to overlook that logical flaw, then it could be an enjoyable story.
This is followed by a one chapter story where girl-type Ranma, Ukyo, Akane, and Miss Hinako help out at a temple. The prayers for success being posted by students are being destroyed, so they have been asked to help figure out who the culprit is and catch them. The culprit turns out to be something that none of them expected. I found this particular story to be on the strange side, even for a storyline in a series like Ranma 1/2. The thing that actually stood out to me the most in this one is the fact that the priest at this temple bears a bit of a striking resemblance to Master Roshi from the Dragon Ball manga series.
The next story lasts for one chapter, and it features Genma and Ranma training out in the snow in an area near the hot spring. It turns out that Genma and his wife had once visited this hot spring, and that Mrs. Saotome is visiting at the same time as Genma and Ranma. Ranma wants to appear before his mother as his regular self, but Genma tries to prevent it.
While it’s nice to see Mrs. Saotome make another return to the manga, this particular story is simply another reworking of the idea that Ranma wants to be able to see his mother as his male self, Genma trying to keep him from doing so, and Mrs. Saotome almost finding out Ranma’s secret. The only real difference for this particular story is that they are away from the Tendo Dojo and the surrounding area. For me, it’s basically another “been there, done that” story.
The final story sees an old rival of Ukyo’s arriving in the area and challenging her. This rival is Hayato, a takoyaki chef, and he’s come to settle an old score. Ranma and Akane try to help Ukyo out. This was a decent story, and it was nice to have Ukyo being featured in a story that focuses on the fact that she’s an okonomiyaki chef.
There were a couple of good stories in Volume 31, but the majority of the stories in the volume are only decent at best. While this volume isn’t as disappointing to me as Volume 29 was, but I don’t think it’s quite as strong as Volume 30. Now that I’ve gotten this far in the series, I’m starting to see why some people have complaints about it. At this point, there’s only five volumes left, so hopefully there won’t be as much recycling of plot ideas.