We are, slowly but surely, creeping towards the end of the Ranma 1/2. Don't worry (I know you are as saddened by this as I) there are still over ten volumes left! But we are starting to see a small change in the storylines, if these two volumes are any indication. Actually, the storyline started in Volume 22 reminded me in tone of Inuyasha, Takahashi's post-Ranma serialized manga.
In Volume 22 we have a (by comparison) much darker storyline than in any of the preceding volumes, and it encompasses all of that volume and the first part of the next. By darker, I mean that I think this is the first time I have really felt something at stake, and there are several deadly close calls for our heroes -- and one actually felt that things might not turn out all right. Ranma, Ryoga and Mousse take off after three men who are far stronger than they, in an effort to recover a treasure. This adventure is not optional. And all of them appear to grow up a bit on the journey. I don't want to say too much; no need to spoil for anyone who manages to get this far in the series!
There is still the trademark humour, particularly in the area of the opponents' weaknesses, but overall this story is a lot more about loyalty, friendship and real love than any of the other Ranma stories I've seen so far. It's handled in the same sarcastically ridiculous way as the rest of the series, but it had a little more emotional depth to it. And I really liked it. It is perhaps why I think Inuyasha is the better of the two series, despite having a deep love for this one.
Volume 23 wraps up the storyline from Volume 22 (after a ridiculous cliffhanger, I might add, which would have had me seriously miffed if I hadn't had Volume 23 handy immediately). Then it gets into silliness with a story about a teacher who is definitely not what she seems, and has a mysterious connection to the Anything Goes School. Finally, we're back to a storyline that again appears to have a bit more emotional depth. Maybe. It's hard to tell because we're barely into it, and Volume 24 is going to have to be ILLO'd thanks to someone losing my local library's copy. Akane's in the spotlight on this one, and it's started off surprisingly quietly and thoughtfully. I'm very curious to see where she's going with this one.