I said I would say something about the last volume, but I’m not going to. This was actually my first graphic novel (my very first manga series goes to another contender, in individual issue form), so it’s sad to see it end after all these years. I was a bit disappointed by the promised letter from Rumiko Takahashi, it’s really more like two sentences. But the feeling was there, I suppose.
It was surprisingly hard to read the conclusion. There were no jokes. It was all played completely seriously, and the final battle was quite epic. There were genuine feelings for Akane, and she put her life in danger, for real, several times. She was also… somewhat altered, which was kind of cool. For some reason, I was kind of disappointed by the final battle between Ranma and Saffron. Saffron wasn’t as good a character as some of the other contenders in the past, but I still really like the mythology for the Phoenix people, and I also really liked the explanation behind the Jusenkyo stuff.
The last chapter… the “wedding”… was also somewhat disappointing. Do you remember the end of the third Urusei Yatsura movie where there’s a long string of series-specific gags, even those that didn’t make sense, to let you know that everything was cool again? That was a much better scene of that nature. But I suppose what we got will do.
I still don’t like Ranma/Akane that much, but it’s hard to ignore after this volume. THINGS were said, after all. I was even a little touched by them, and I wound up liking the last page a lot.
So now I’m done with that.
And so it is the beginning of the end.
I was a bit put off that everyone got over to Jusenkyo so easily. Why didn’t they all just go over there a long time ago? Shame that all the pools were drained when they got there.
I really like the mythology that Takahashi created surrounding the Jusenkyo valley and the Phoenix people. The fact that the people really are half-bird and aren’t just Jusenkyo cursed is pretty cool. I don’t quite understand why they seem to be so cruel, but I guess it’s in the name of the Prince. Saffron is kind of a dick too, though.
The way that their mountain is set up is pretty cool. Not just because there’s so much stuff to negotiate, but because it’s quite well thought-out and not even the Phoenix people know a lot about parts of it. There’s also a hint of magic there too… while there are some strange magical-tinged objects throughout the series, it’s never taken as seriously as this, and it’s kind of cool.
The way the Jusenkyo curse worked on the Phoenix people, and the way that the cursed pools worked for Akane put me off a bit though. I mean, it’s not like this series was ever grounded in seriousness or realism, but that element broke some serious story rules. It was cool, all the same, particularly since everyone fell for it.
I also liked how Ryoga and Ranma carried pictures of Akane and Akari with them. Ryoga really does have a soft heart… and while I still still don’t like Akane, the gesture was still nice all the same, and I appreciated the show of tenderness from Ranma as well.
I think the last volume is on its way. I will wax poetic about this series and its end when it comes and I read it.
Two chapters of filler and then some surprisingly substantial plot in this volume, which is the last regular volume of the series. The next two contain the final story arc.
The Jellyfish King story was good only because I liked the swimming suits made out of Jellyfish. Plus the Jellyfish King himself was pretty silly. And it’s good we got a little more funny out of Ryoga and some more cute out of his relationship with Akari before the series was over.
Then we get a long story arc with Ranma’s mother that… gasp! goes somewhere. Don’t get me wrong, I love the Nodoka stories if only because it’s hilarious every time a new way is figured out to evade her, then somehow some silly thing turns Ranma and Genma into panda/girl again. Plus, everytime this happens, Ranma has to pop out of nowhere looking rather ragged and wet and speak politely to Nodoka. But this story, while full of this, has a resolution. A resolution is something you don’t see very much in this series. I was actually shocked when it ended the way it did, because I did not see it coming AT ALL. I thought they’d worm their way out one more time.
And with that resolution comes more moving and shaking in the story, bringing to light lots of Ranma/Akane moments. I still do not like Akane, which shows that once I hate a character, I stick to my guns. I also never really liked that pair, but alas… it stayed. Not only does this story deal with a very serious and deep misunderstanding between Ranma and Akane, but it also involves Ranma having to give her a ring… and of course all the other girls he likes trying to take it from him before she can. Sigh.
Oh, this is the one with the cute Ukyo-is-sick-so-everyone-has-to-run-the-shop story at the end. I liked it a lot. I guess it wasn’t in the last volume.
This volume is actually sort of surprisingly plot-oriented for this series. We get yet another new character, this time a match for Ukyo. Kunoichi is actually kind of loveable. Unfortunately, we do have to sit through some filler before we get to his story.
The first storyline with the mirror was one I was not particularly fond of. Copy of girl-type Ranma goes nuts all over boys and makes real Ranma look bad. They have trouble keeping her confined, and she develops a serious crush on the real boy-type Ranma. At the end it loops back around on itself. Ho-hum. At least the fact that the catalyst for the event is Ranma slipping on a banana peel is pretty funny.
The next story where Nabiki spends money and Ranma ruins it is pretty funny though. Nabiki doesn’t get very much story time, and she’s a pretty good character really. Her forms of revenge against Ranma are suitably twisted, and Ranma sits there and takes it like a good boy since he has, indeed, done her a great injustice.
Kunoichi! The Kunoichi tea house was hilarious, only because Kunoichi’s stepfamily was so horribly ugly and not good people. The fact that everyone kept bringing up this fact to make sure you didn’t get used to them was also very funny. The story didn’t particularly need a new character this far in, but that’s the Ranma way, and the characters, if shallow, at least act as good story gimmicks. Kunoichi having such a light touch and being such a badass ninja is also pretty amusing. The fact that the stepfamily has to use such dirty tricks and disguises when fighting is kind of entertaining too, especially since they make such horrible sea creatures.
So I asked my mom for this volume for Christmas, and she of course delivers. Imagine my shock on Christmas day when I open this volume and find that it features a topless Ran-chan on the back measuring herself with tape with a headline akin to “Bigger Boobies!” Jesus Christ Mom, I’m sorry.
So the main storyline is about Ran-chan, her big boobies, going bra shopping with her mom, and transforming into a guy at inopportune times, giving Ranma’s mom the impression that her son is a crossdresser and unmanly. She almost gets him to commit seppuku at one point, which is interesting, and as much as this series teases, it came shockingly close to delivering in this storyline. Though Ranma repeatedly uses the word “Tatas” to refer to breasts, which is un-fucking-forgivable. He’s SIXTEEN… *pauses, remembers she started reading the series when she was thirteen, is now 21, cries when she realizes she’s now older than Ranma, continues* he’s allowed to call them boobies. Or knockers. Or jugs. Or melons. Or whatever the hell he wants as long as its not something creepy like tatas that gets repeated in a flashback constantly.
I think this volume also has the “Three Year Smile” story, where it’s about Mousse doing something bad and Shampoo not minding, then everyone thinks Shampoo is using a technique where she’s passive-agressive and is outwardly nice, but does mean things to Mousse like break every pair of glasses he owns. I liked it for the passive-agressiveness.
Boobies! *throws confetti*
I shouldn’t have read all the volumes back-to-back like I did, because now I can’t really remember which of the lesser stories went to which volume.
But I do remember the major stories, and the one here was one of the best ones I’d read in awhile. It’s things like this mushrooms-that-turn-eater-into-little-kid story that make me love this series so much. It was even long, too! Seeing Ranma and Ryoga as little kids, though it probably doesn’t seem like much to people who aren’t big fans of the series, was AWESOME. It was awesome to see them fight as six year olds and three year olds, and even though I know it was sort of stupid, I loved the way they kept messing up the mushrooms and how Akane had to keep hiding them from them. She spanked Ranma, for God’s sake! This volume was awesome, and I’m glad to see the series hasn’t lost its magic when it comes to big stories like this.
The small stories from this set of three (30-32) were also awesome, but like I said, I can’t remember which belonged where, so I’ll just be ambiguous and leave it at that.
Christmas caught me up with all the US releases, and I think I’ll keep up with them now because come November, the last volume will be out. Sad, but it is a long series that has run its course.
Of course, it’s hard not to like it, even after thirty volumes. My only criticism is that the storylines are too short at 3-4 chapters each. We get the famous Rouge storyline in this volume, aka girl who fell into “Spring of Drowned Ashura” who has a bone to pick with Pantyhose Taro. I loved that one, and I also liked the other main story dealing with the all-powerful karate gi which was extremely annoying and wound up being for women. There were some choice Ranma/Akane moments, and even at this stage in the series I don’t like it… but even I have to admit its cute.