Friday, October 9, 2009

Ranma 1/2 Volumes 16 and 17 by Rumiko Takahashi

The light reading didn't stop at the historical romance. No, once I was in the mood for historical romance, I was also then in the mood for slapstick Japanese romantic comedy. What to do? What to do? But then I remembered: I had brought two volumes of Ranma 1/2 with me! What a coincidence.

I had thought I might be running out of things to say about Ranma 1/2, which would be challenging given that there is still over half the series to go yet. However, never fear! It turns out I do have some things to say, something about Volume 16 in particular, or in relation to it. (Aside from the plot summary, which is thus: Jusenkyo Spring-of-Drowned-Yeti-Riding-an-Ox-Carrying-an-Eel-and-a-Crane, plus pantyhose!)

At first I was just downright discouraged with the amount of Akane: Damsel-in-Distress becoming common. And then I thought about it a little harder and discussed with fishy, and realized that despite a few inaccurate teasers at the very beginning of the series, Akane has always been tremendously inept at pretty much everything. That's just who she is. She is clumsy, temperamental, obstinate, often in the wrong place at the wrong time, and ferocious when crossed; and she also has both a brave and a sweet streak. So it's not that hard for her to often get herself into ridiculous situations where she finds herself in trouble. But she rarely stays passively in trouble, even if Ranma's racing to the rescue. She doesn't lie around bemoaning her kidnapped state. She chats with her captor, yells at him, and tries to get free (it's not her fault she's surrounded by water, and can't swim). When she does get free, she comes to Ranma's rescue a number of times. And manages to remain clueless about others' true intentions (ie., Ryoga's pathetic adoration and Shampoo's truly creepy murderous plans for her). Which keeps the plot going, right?

So, what initially drove me crazy turns out to be something I actually find rather amusing now. Figures. That actually keeps happening with this series, except where Ryoga is concerned. He is still driving me crazy in a not-good way.

Volume 17, for the record: a disasterous 10-year aged okonomiyaki sauce leads Ukyo to move in with the Tendos, which leads to Ranma and Akane pretending to be married, which leads to Ranma trying to break it off with Ukyo, which leads to Ukyo frying him on a griddle like an okonomiyaki. Um, actually, somehow that sounds like a logical progression. It's not, believe me. And then later there's a felonious octopus trap. So, that was all pretty awesome.

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