Monday, April 18, 2011

Manga Monday: A martial arts dojo where literally ANYTHING goes

It must be hard to be a dojo leader and only have had daughters.  Eventually, he’ll need to find an appropriate boy to take over the leadership of the dojo, and then he has the unenviable job of convincing one of his daughters to marry him.

Of course, it doesn’t help when the boy and his father show up as a girl and her panda.

And when the youngest girl Akane goes to bathe with her, and finds that she’s turned into a he?  Still not helping.

Welcome to the Musabetsu Kakutō Ryū Tendo Dojo (Anything Goes Martial Arts Tendo Dojo of Indiscriminant Grappling) and Ranma 1/2 Volume 1 Soun Tendo may not have been blessed with any boys, but he does have three beautiful daughters. He even believes that he has found the perfect husband for one of them, when he hears of Ranma Satome. He and his father have been training in China for the last while, though. And while they were there, they fell into cursed springs, and now whenever they are splashed with cold water, they take on the form of the being that drowned there.

So Ranma mainly wants to not become a girl anymore, but there is not much that he can do in town about that, so he might as well start up at the local high school with Akane.

Akane herself is the most eligible bachelorette in school.  Every morning, she has to fight her way through the throngs of guys trying to ask her out.  Of course, now that guys see her with Ranma, they aren’t too fond of him either.

We also get to meet Ryoga Hibiki for the first time.  Accidently slighted by Ranma several times in their last high school, he is now questing to defeat Ranma in battle.  Unfortunately, his sense of direction is so bad that he gets lost for days just getting across town to where they are supposed to fight.

As always, with the first volume in a series, quite a bit of this book is introduction to the characters and other back story elements.  Because contrary to the premise, the story mainly takes place in common times with little magical elements, most of the world works as one would expect it to.

Besides the pesky body-switching problem the Satome men have, this is the epitome of the the common day dojo and high school manga.  If written today it might not be given so much credit since it’s such a common genre now.  But the reason it’s as common is because authors like Rumiko Takahashi created stories such as these.  An iconic manga, this helped form several genres while providing a hilarious story and memorable characters.

Highs: Dr. Tofu Ono and his unfortunate nearsightedness

Lows: The boys battling for Akane is a little unnecessary

Verdict: A classic manga that sets up the series well

Further Reading:  Dragon Ball VizBig 1, Rurouni Kenshin

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