Ranma ½ OAV Series Box Set
Review by Dindrane

Based on the manga by Rumiko Takahashi
Screenplays by Ryota Yamaguchi
Directed by Junji Nishimura
Music by Akihisa Matsu'ura
Translations by Trish Ledoux
Character Design by Atsuko Nakajima
Produced by Ayao Ueda, Keiji Jume, and Junpei Nakagawa


Dindrane's Anime Warnings:

Anamorphic: N/A; presented in original 1.33:1 TV ratio

My Advice: Own it.

Ranma ½ debuted, like many popular mangas, in the weekly Shonen Sunday. The Anime debuted a year later in 1989 on Tokyo TV, and the OAVs, theatre quality animations, followed after that. This boxed set collects ten different OAV stories, two of which are two-parters. As always, Ranma ½ blends slapstick with a modicum of emotional development, making the character seem real, even in the surreal situations.

The storylines are more complex and compelling than is possible in series TV episodes. "The Two Akanes, 'Ranma, Look at Me!'" is particularly moving, as Akane in the doll's body watches the spirit use her body to try and kill Ranma, but does Ranma like this sultry version of Akane better than the real one? The richness of the character development is a good accent for the slapstick and occassional silliness of the stories; the balance between comedy and drama/romance has always been part of Ranma ½'s allure.

The image transfer and sound quality are both excellent. The colors are crisp and clear, and the voices are distinct. I didn't notice a single incident of compression artifacting. The Dolby sound is particularly appreciated during the musical sequences and the credits. Subtitles are yellow on black, which cause a bit of eye strain after a while, but not bad.

The features are excellent. The character profiles are quite extensive, including even the Gambling King, though the blurb for each character is pretty short. The gallery of architectural drawings of the Tendo household are interesting; you'll even get to see the laundry room. If you are not a reader of the magazine Animerica (or even if you are), you will certainly appreciate the inclusion of the long and interesting interview with Rumiko Takahashi. A word from the creator is always welcome, especially with a franchise as beloved as Ranma ½. If I wanted to be greedy, I might also have liked a character image gallery with some concept drawings, but having all the OAVs in one set at this price is reward enough.

The nifty foldout case is glossy and decorated with nice character images, and the clear slipcase is decorated with very kawaii little images - the animals various characters become when hit with cold water. The case and slipcase look like they would withstand at least the normal amount of wear and tear. The disks each have their own monochrome color scheme and a silvered character image - the effect is very elegant. The info sheet inside the case is a bit sparse, listing only the episode titles, but it is a good way to see which story is on which disk.

In short, the Ranma ½ OAV collection is an excellent addition to your Anime or general DVD library, with its comedy, romance, adventure, fantasy, and martial arts goodness. You'll love the stories, and the presentation of this set is quality. It is probably a good idea to view the other Ranma episodes before tackling these OAVs, to get the backstories, though the character profiles on disk three will help fill in any blanks. So go forth and fall in love with Ranma or Akane like everyone else- you'll be glad you did!

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