So, I noticed something of import. Or, I think it's of import, anyway. I'm not sure how long this has been going on, but it appears that our characters are aware of their position in the manga. I mean, literally. They keep looking at other characters' dream sequences or memories in the panels above or beside them, and commenting. It's rarely the mains (although Ranma does have a great "whose comic is this anyways?!" moment) but the secondary characters seem to notice what's happening in other panels even if it isn't explicitly commented on by the person having the dream, and then riff on it. I really, really enjoy that.
Now, as for what's been happening in the Tendo Dojo and surrounds since we last checked: Volume 18 involves an extended Ryoga vs. Ranma sequence, where Ryoga harnesses the power of depression and ennui to defeat Ranma. And then there is the return of the Ghost Cat, which means Shampoo gets a kiss, and Ranma encounters a terrifying weapon: catnip. Then there's a little throwaway and a Kuno and Kodachi battle over Ranma that involves lots of photos of breasts. Strangely, I found neither the Ryoga storyline nor the Shampoo storyline to be as irritating as I normally do. Therefore, I think this volume is quite good.
Not as good as volume 19, though. Here we get back into the excellent amusing dialogue, particularly in the first story, where Genma (Ranma's dad) realizes that he is no longer strong enough to defeat his own son. This is a quality sequence. I particularly liked the writing in this one:
Kasumi: Mr. Saotome must be in shock.
Nabiki: Yeah. He doesn't realize he's lost the power of internal dialogue...
Also, this volume includes one of my favourite Saotome School of Anything-Goes Martial Arts special stances: the Stance of Submission, "Carp on a Cutting Board." Picture lying stretched out on your side on the ground, making a fish face. Yes, that's it. These special stances never seem to get used more than once, but they're worth it for the short time they appear.
There's another oh-no-Akane-cooks story, which had some prime giggle-out-loud moments, and then an extended Martial Arts Cheerleading storyline, which doesn't finish with this volume. It's cliffhanger time! Right after a shocking reveal! Which wasn't shocking at all, I saw it coming a mile away! But it was more fun to pretend it was shocking.
Skipping off to ILLO the next two.
I love those "meta" moments in manga (the few that I've read) and even sometimes in anime. The story has to be very serious and/or adult indeed for the creators not to slip those things in sometimes.
Isn't it cool?! I'm going to be keeping an eye out from now on, for sure, and in other manga too. I just hadn't noticed it at all (I don't know why - lazy reading perhaps?) but it must have been there before.
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