Ranma ½, Vol. 1 - Rumiko Takahashi *3 Stars*

*The Gush*

First I have to explain I hate Sitcoms. I've never seen one executed correctly, never seen one remotely funny, and I find their contrived 'comedic' situations to be stupid and annoying at best, insulting at worse.
...Then I tried Takahashi's Ranma 1/2 and I couldn't stop laughing. It is stupid and can at times be annoying, but it si very funny and I love the characters. (And I don't like it just cuz it's Rumiko Takahashi, I loath Maison Ikkoku...I didn't get past the 1st chapter.)

I found Ranma through her later series [b:InuYasha: Turning Back Time, Vol. 1|330744|InuYasha Turning Back Time, Vol. 1 (InuYasha, #1)|Rumiko Takahashi|http://d202m5krfqbpi5.cloudfront.net/books/1288648681s/330744.jpg|2297814] and if you've read the later one don't expect Ranma to be anything like it, other than her drawing style. As this is the Introductory volume, we learn the situation as well as learn the basic outline for how future chapters and volumes will go.

Ranma Saotome and his father arrive at the dojo of a friend of elder Saotome. It is the two parents' dearest wish that Ranma marry one of Tendo's daughters: Kasumi, Nabiki, or Akane and carry on their martial arts schools. They return however with a horrible secret; thanks to a training accident at cursed springs, Genma turns into a Panda when doused in cold water while Ranma turns into a girl! Hot water (or boiling for added humor) returns them to their original forms. Akane, who dislikes boys because all the ones at her school 'attack' her with martial arts in order to defeat her so they can go out with her, is 'promised' to Ranma as they are closest in age, setting up hostilities that show no sign of dissipating.

And that's it. The rest of the book gives a clue as to the basic structure of future chapters. For various reasons, Ranma meets or sees again a martial arts specialist who challenges him/hates him/ and/or is trying to get to Akane. During the fight, Ranma gets doused in cold water, thus making him 'mysteriously' disappear and girl!Ranma shows up suddenly. Depending on who the person is (and the gender), they either stop attacking or grow to hate girl!Ranma more, etc. There is almost always a marital arts duel, tournament, or some other contrived reason for battle and one form of Ranma is specifically needed and cold/hot water gets thrown around like water balloons.

While predictable, it is extremely funny and the characters do learn things and grow...slowly.

*The Rant*

Very little other then to acknowledge the coming sameness of the chapters as well as to point out that upper female nudity does take place.

While not my all time favorite series, Ranma 1/2 is a fun series for manga fans to give a chance to. This is a good, long introductory volume with laughs, interesting characters, and the promise of more hijinks to come.