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Ranma 1/2 (2-in-1 Edition), Vol. 2: Includes vols. 3 & 4 Paperback – May 6, 2014
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About the Author
The spotlight on Rumiko Takahashi's career began in 1978 when she won an honorable mention in Shogakukan's prestigious Shinjin Comic Taisho (Newcomer's Award for Comics) for Those Selfish Aliens. Later that same year, her boy-meets-alien comedy series, Urusei Yatsura, was serialized in Weekly Shonen Sunday. This phenomenally successful manga series was adapted into anime format and spawned a TV series and half a dozen theatrical-release movies, all incredibly popular in their own right. Takahashi followed up the success of her debut series with one blockbuster hit after another. Maison Ikkoku ran from 1980 to 1987, Ranma 1/2 from 1987 to 1996, and Inuyasha from 1996 to 2008. Other notable works include Mermaid Saga, Rumic Theater, and One-Pound Gospel. Takahashi won the Shogakukan Manga Award twice in her career, once for Urusei Yatsura in 1981 and the second time for Inuyasha in 2002. A majority of the Takahashi canon has been adapted into other media such as anime, live-action TV series, and film.
Takahashi's manga, as well as the other formats her work has been adapted into, have continued to delight generations of fans around the world. Distinguished by her wonderfully endearing characters, Takahashi's work adeptly incorporates a wide variety of elements such as comedy, romance, fantasy, and martial arts. While her series are difficult to pin down into one simple genre, the signature style she has created has come to be known as the "Rumic World." Rumiko Takahashi is an artist who truly represents the very best from the world of manga.
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Top Customer Reviews
First and foremost, I should explain how these reviews are going to work from here on out. With Volume 1, I focused on the quality of the print and the technical aspects of the book. If I was to review this book in the same way, it'd end up being a copy-n-past of my first review. With that in mind, future reviews (including this one) are going to focus on the content of the book rather than the quality of the build. Unless there's a grievous issues with an upcoming volume, it's safe to assume each book is on par with the first of Viz's 2-in-1 Ranma releases.
With that out of the way, let's dive right in.
2-in-1 Edition Volume 2 consists of chapters 18 through 36 of the manga, published in the original right-to-left reading format for the very first time here in America. For the purposes of this review, I'm going to discuss and score each arc individually. There's likely to be some spoilers from here on out.
Chapters 18 through 22 is the Martial Arts Rhythmic Gymnastics story arc, which began in the final issue of the previous book. With a week left until the match between Akane and Kodachi, Ryoga is desperately trying to whip the graceless Akane into shape. Things get interesting when Kodachi stages a late-night attack on the Tendo Dojo, and yet another Kuno falls for the questionable charm of Ranma Saotome.
Overall, I really enjoy this arc. Ranma takes a bit of a backseat in order to give Akane time to shine, and in chapter 18 she does just that: we see how competent a fighter she really is in spite of her middling self esteem regarding her lack of grace in gymnastics. She easily defends herself from Kodachi even under ambush conditions. It's nice to see Akane portrayed as a strong, independent character who doesn't need to rely on Ranma or Ryoga to save her. Kodachi is a suitably entertaining loony, just like her brother, and the action is clearly portrayed and pretty creative once the Gymnastics contest begins.
While Ranma gets involved more than I'd like during the last half of the arc -- was it really necessary for him to horn in on Akane's duel, couldn't she be left to take care of it herself? -- the early chapters were a great opportunity for Akane to perform outside the confines of the early morning rumbles seen in the previous book.
Martial Arts Rhythmic Gymnastics is a solid 8/10 arc.
Chapters 23 through 31 is the Martial Arts Figure Skating arc. While enjoying a day out at the skating rink, Akane runs afoul of Azusa Shiratori and Mikado Sanzenin, the self-proclaimed Golden Pair of Kolhotz High School. Azusa has a habit of "collecting" things that are cute, and she has claimed P-Chan for her ever-growing collection. Through a series of zany circumstances, Ranma and Akane find themselves in a combat skating competition against the undefeated Golden Pair.
This is the first arc in the manga that I would quantify as filler. Up to this point, all of the stories have in some way advanced the plot or introduced new recurring characters into the mix. Aside from the occasional cameo later, Azusa and Mikado are one-off characters that bring nothing new to the storyline. They're firmly planted in "challenger of the week" territory. Having said that, there are some nice touches in this arc -- this is really the first that we see Ranma and Akane team up for combat, we discover how fiercely protective Ranma is of Akane, and Ranma receives his very first kiss. The comedy is as strong as ever, but it's probably the weakest story that Takahashi has told so far.
Also, the final battle is EXTREMELY long: it clocks in at a whopping five chapters, and the Golden Pair are quietly written out in favor of yet another Ranma vs Ryoga slobber-knocker. Given that Ryoga was only introduced two arcs prior, it's weird that Takahashi is falling back on their rivalry at the expense of the current arc.
I'd give the Martial Arts Figure Skating arc a 7/10.
Finally, Chapters 32 through 36 is the Shampoo Intro arc. At the tail end of the previous arc, an extremely angry girl kicks her way through the wall of the Kolhotz High School locker room with the intention of killing Ranma. With that we are introduced to Shampoo, a Chinese Amazon who has vowed to kill the girl called Ranma Saotome, while simultaneously falling head-over-heels in love with the boy called Ranma Saotome. It seems Kuno isn't the only one who is incapable of connecting the dots, no matter how well it's spelled out to him...
Shampoo is a fairly popular recurring character in the franchise, and her first arc is a lot of fun. We get some more back story about Ranma's time in China, Dr. Tofu makes a return appearance, and Takahashi comes up with a unique slant on the often-abused "sudden amnesia" plot point. Combat is kept to a minimum this time around, and the bulk of the arc focuses on character building and being funny (the running joke about Ranma's name is cute).
Shampoo's introduction is right up there with some of the better arcs from the first two books in the series. The character gets a lot more to do after her fellows from China show up later, but as introduction stories go, this one is a winner. I give it an 8/10.
Overall, 2-in-1 Edition Volume 2 is a wonderful follow-up to the series' freshmen outing. There's lots of heart, lots of comedy, and an abundance of combat for those who like for their rom-com characters to beat the tar out of one another. The quality of the book is every bit as good as that of the previous volume. There was an unfortunate issue with out-of-order dialog on the very first page of Volume 1, but that problem has been avoided in Volume 2.
If you're a fan of Ranma 1/2, or if you enjoyed the first 2-in-1 Edition, then waste no time in picking this one up.
5-6 will begin with Volume 4 and so on.
This item loses a point from me for the misinformation that even makes it onto the cover of the book, but if you can look past that, this is the a solid improvement over the original US release.
The only things it lacks is the large page size of the Ranma 1/2 2nd editions, and the rare hardcover variants. Otherwise, the print quality, corrected format, and collected content is a more than appropriate improvement over the original US releases.