I feel like I need to post something, lest everyone lose complete interest in this blog. So, three volumes of Ranma 1/2 to chat about today! After reading The Naming, I couldn't really concentrate (nor did I want to) on anything else -- but I also didn't want to finish my vacation staring blankly into space. Ranma, Akane and the rest kept me entertained. And over the past couple of weeks, light, comedic manga has been the perfect thing to read as I'm trying to relax and also get back on the reading train. Too bad it takes so long to get my hands on the next volumes...
A fair bit happens in volumes 8, 9 and 10. A new rival shows up in the person of okonomiyaki-throwing Ukyo, and Mousse (he who loves Shampoo) returns with an alter ego all his own and a nefarious plot to kidnap Akane and turn her into a duck, as this will somehow make Shampoo love him. I was a little unclear on that point. Then there's the storyline with Happosai losing - and then finding - the technique that so cows the Saotome and Tendo fathers: the Happo Fire Burst. Explosions. More characters. And then some more characters.
And at the end of volume 9, I was wondering if I was getting a bit of Ranma fatigue.
It just keeps going! my brain said. Except the plot never keeps going!
And then I took a bit of a break, and read volume 10 a couple days later -- and was much more relaxed about everything. Really, this is a comic, with all sorts of little comedic episodes interspersed between actual plot movement. And if I don't try to find the major plot thread in everything, I'm much happier. Takahashi is telling stories with these characters, throwing them into completely ridiculous situations just to see how they will get out of it. And volume 9 has one of my favourite Nabiki lines ever, which made me laugh out loud; and then we get to volume 10, which strikes me as one of the best so far.
There are clear storylines -- they're ridiculous, yes, but they're clear -- there's good action, there's lovely interaction between Ranma and Akane especially but also between other characters, and there's also several moments that made me laugh out loud. For example, trained attack lobsters that show up in a battle over hairstyles and coconuts. In the basement of Furinkan High School.
So yes, it's more of the same -- there are more than 30 volumes of the same -- but it's also so much fun. I just need to be careful not to overload, I think. Take it a bit at a time, enjoy the complete madcap, slapstick comedy, and not push things. Excellent vacation reading, I think.
And, I have just realized while writing this review -- despite the fact that there are more characters and more characters and always more characters, mostly for Ranma to fight, I can keep them straight. I know who each character is, and what part they play in the drama that is Ranma's life, what their fighting specialty is, where they work, where they come from, what their backstory is, who they're related to, what their schtick is -- I can keep this all straight in my head. Which suggests to me that Rumiko Takahashi knows what she's doing with character creation and characterization. One would think it might get confusing, but I'm not confused yet. We'll see how long it can last!