Mar 6, 2013
Airbent (All reviews)
I'm not entirely sure what it was about Ranma 1/2 that had me hooked after one chapter, but whatever it was lead me to read all 401 chapters in less than two weeks. I'll just say right now that there is no overarching story in this manga. Generally, we have several shorter plots that are all set around a crazy situation.
Ranma Saotome and Akane Tendo are engaged to be married due to an agreement made by their fathers prior to their birth. However, while Ranma and his father were away in China, they became cursed. Now, Ranma turns into a girl whenever he is doused with cold water. This curse problem obviously becomes a recurring story element with Ranma himself, but it also is reintroduced through new characters who have acquired similar curses.
I think this ludicrous situation is part of what had me so engrossed. The ridiculous and outlandish issues that every character viewed so casually had me laughing out loud through the majority of the chapters, which is something that happens rarely when I read. The fact that every competition, from ice skating to food delivery, has a martial arts component, the comments from no-name characters that point out how weird the situation is, and the violent habit Akane has of kicking people into the sky all contribute to a fair amount of chuckles.
If you're not a fan of other Shounen that involve planet destroying energy attacks, you'll probably find Ranma more bearable. The martial arts component (when presented in a serious light instead of comical) is cool to see, but isn't so crazy that you'll find yourself rolling your eyes at it. Fights are fast paced and action packed, and rarely ever involve two opponents eyeing each other down for five chapters. I'd say this is shounen for people who don't like shounen.
If you've read or watched Rumiko's InuYasha, you might experience a fair bit of Deja vu with the romance in the story. The love triangles are completely off balance, and the main pair argue all the time. Character development is significant, but spread out over a long period of time. You'll come out of this feeling satisfied that the main characters eventually matured a little.
If you're planning on watching the anime, I would recommend you read this first. It's much more entertaining.
Give it a shot! You'll be pleasantly surprised at how much you'll like it!