Ranma ½ Vol. 1 Story and Art by Rumiko Takahashi

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Ranma ½ Vol. 1 Story and Art by Rumiko Takahashi ISBN: 978-1569319628, VIZ Media LLC; Original edition (May 7, 2003)

Plot Summary:

Volume one of this manga series introduces us to the characters of sixteen year old martial artist Ranma Saotome, his father Genma Saotome, and the Tendo family. The fathers, Genma and Soun made an agreement long ago that Genma’s son would marry one of Soun’s three daughters and take over the Tendo Martial Arts School of Indiscriminate Grappling. Ranma has been in training practically his whole life and is already an accomplished warrior. After the two families meet, Genma discloses that two weeks previously, he and his son had gone to train in China at the “Legendary Training Ground of Accursed Springs.” Not bothering to listen to the guide’s warnings, the two had been fallen into cursed springs. Genma fell into a Spring of Drowned Panda and Ranma fell into the Spring of Drowned Girl. Now, whenever Ranma is splashed with cold water, he turns into a girl. Genma turns into a Panda when splashed with cold water. Hot water turns them back into their regular forms. After hearing the story, older sisters Nabiki and Kasumi quickly decide that sixteen year old Akane should be engaged to Ranma due to the fact that she has stated that she hates boys and Ranma is half a girl. The Saotomes move in with the Tendos and Ranma quickly learns that he isn’t the only one with problems. Every morning before school, Akane must fight her way to school through boys that want to defeat her in battle so that they can ask her on a date. This book introduces a hilarious cast of characters and can be considered to be a comedy of the sexes that revolves around martial arts of a superhuman quality.

Critical Evaluation: 

It can be difficult to describe this series without it sounding ridiculous. People turn into animals, Ranma turns into a girl, and the book is filled with martial arts moves that are completely impossible. The book is filled with the type of supernatural martial arts that is common in Hong Kong movies. Characters are able to pause in mid air, write a word on a person’s forehead in bruise writing, and leap incredible distances. Comedy makes the story work, and readers may find themselves laughing out loud as they read about Ranma and Akane’s budding relationship. Neither wants to be engaged, but there are qualities about each of them that are attractive to the other. There are also things that each finds completely annoying. Angry at their fathers, they come to like each other in spite of the engagement. In creating this series, Takahashi has successfully brought together elements of action, comic spoofs on the martial arts genre, misunderstandings based on differences between the sexes, and innocent romance.

Information about the author:

Rumiko Takahashi is one of the wealthiest women in Japan. The manga she creates (and its anime adaptations) are very popular in the United States and Europe where they have been released as both manga and anime in English translation. Her works are relatively famous worldwide, and many of her series were some of the forerunners of early English language manga to be released in the nineties. Takahashi is also the best selling female comics artist in history; well over 100 million copies of her various works have been sold.

Though she was said to occasionally doodle in the margins of her papers while attending Niigata Chūō High School, Takahashi’s interest in manga did not come until later. During her college years, she enrolled in Gekiga Sonjuku, a manga school founded by Kazuo Koike, mangaka of Crying Freeman and Lone Wolf and Cub. Under his guidance Rumiko Takahashi began to publish her first doujinshi creations in 1975, such as Bye-Bye Road and Star of Futile Dust. Kozue Koike often urged his students to create well-thought out, interesting characters, and this influence would greatly impact Rumiko Takahashi’s works throughout her career.

Reader’s Annotation:

After an accident during a martial arts training exercise, sixteen year old Ranma Saotome discovers that he has a unique problem. Every time he is splashed with cold water, he turns into a girl. Then his father tells him that he has to marry one of his father’s friend’s daughters in order to carry on the tradition of the Martial Arts School of Indiscriminate Grappling. Hilarity ensues.

Genre:

Manga. Romantic comedy. Martial Arts.

Curriculum Ties:

N/A

Booktalking Ideas:

Talk about the fact that Takahashi is the world’s most prolific female comic book writer.

Reading Level/Interest Age:

Grades 9 and up

Challenge Issues:

Female upper body nudity.

I would make sure that all material was purchased in accordance with my library’s collection development policy and make sure to keep a file containing positive reviews for books that I thought might be challenged. In the event of a challenge, I would actively listen to the parent’s concern and ask if they had read the book. I would then explain why the book had been added to the collection and provide with the reviews and a copy of the collection development policy. I would affirm that they are within their rights to limit what their children read, but that other parents also have the right to determine what their children can read. If all else failed, I would provide the parent with a reconsideration form.

Reasons for inclusion:

I wanted to include at least one manga title.

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