Ranma ½ – series three

September 25, 2007 on 5:40 pm | In Ranma ½ | Comments Off on Ranma ½ – series three

You’re probably wondering “how good is Ranma ½ series three?”. The answer is quite simple: it’s so good that I watched fifteen episodes in one day so that I could get it out of the way and move onto something else. Yes, the law of diminishing returns strikes at last!

I could say that every episode of this show is the same, but that’s not quite true, and it’s not quite the problem. Given that I enjoy the likes of City Hunter, it’s not really a complaint that I can get away with. No, the repetition of Ranma ½ is infinitely more sinister, rendering each episode into a black hole from which a few laughs may escape, but from which no meaning can be gleaned. With the introduction of one new character and the dropping of any continuous stories, Ranma ½ season three disappoints on all fronts.

Ranma meets another suitor, in the form of Ukyo, an okonomiyaki chef. She’s played ably by Tsuru Hiromi, who cemented a place in my heart with Kimagure Orange Road, but pretty soon after her introduction she’s relegated to the backdrawer of the series. In favour of what, precisely? It’s difficult to say. The best way to describe this series is that it’s more of the same, but less of what makes that same entertaining or good. We get to see some stuff like Hayashibara Megumi actually sounding feminine for once, and an entertaining story from Sasuke, but it’s like they’ve taken the series down to an art of “wacky by numbers”.

With episodes that give no setup, we’re supposed to accept insanity as it is, and somehow continue to believe that Ranma is the only one who knows P-Chan’s secret … despite no one else having a secret at all. We’re expected to drink this watery soup laid before us, presenting a sickeningly heterocentric world view – there’s an episode about Ranma trying to dissuade a “lesbian” from her interest in woman, and the twist is that the girl is actually a guy – just a transvestite. Oh dear! What are we exposing our children to today?
There’s an episode about love potions, which only work when a man sees a woman, or a woman sees a man. It’s like they’re not even trying – many other shows would have played up the “involuntary homosexual attraction” angle for laughs, but not here! Paradoxically, for a show about aquatranssexuality, anything that does not fit into the traditional roles of man and woman is simply “hentai”.

I wasn’t offended by the majority of this series, but I was confronted from every angle on its weak attempts at storytelling. With no arcs, and very little of redeeming value, I’m worried that I’ve still got four series left to go. If a franchise that began its first series with Ranma and his father swimming to China has an episode in its fourth series claiming that Genma can’t swim – that’s an insult to my intelligence. To compound that: it ends on an episode that turns out to have been a terrible dream!
Ranma ½ series 3: it’s not how you make anime.

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