Ranma 1/2

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Name: Ranma 1/2 (らんま½ Ranma Nibun no Ichi)
Abbreviation(s): Ranma
Creator: Rumiko TAKAHASHI (高橋 留美子)
Date(s): Manga:1987-1996
Anime:1989-1992
Medium: manga, anime
Country of Origin: Japan
External Links:
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Ranma 1/2 is a romantic action comedy manga originally serialized in Shounen Sunday, later collected in 38 tankoubon. Starting in 1989 it was adapted into an 161 episode anime, followed by an OVA series and movies, as well as a collection of video games.

In 1993, Viz Media began publishing an English translation of Ranma in America, with flipped art, as a monthly comic book, slowly collected into complete volumes. Though not the first translated manga, Ranma was one of the early big hits for manga in America. In November 1993, Viz started releasing the official American English dub of the first season of the anime on VHS[1], followed by later seasons and a subtitled Japanese version (all later released on DVD). While Ranma was never broadcast on American television, the anime series became popular in early American/English online anime fandom due to this official release.

Canon Overview

One of the most famous harem story manga, Ranma 1/2 concerned the adventures of the titular character, the teenage boy Ranma Saotome, and his bumbling attempts to deal with the many girls in love with and/or engaged to him. His efforts were hampered by an ancient Chinese curse that transformed Ranma into a buxom girl when he was splashed with cold water, and changed him back with hot water. The story's two main themes were martial arts, practiced by nearly all the characters in a variety of unusual forms (such as Martial Arts Rhythmic Gymnastics or the Martial Arts Tea Ceremony); and magical shape-changing, as a good number of characters suffered from similar curses to Ranma and transformed into various animals/others when wet. Many of the plots involved the introduction of such cursed characters, and their efforts to undo the curses.

The canon also included transgender themes, mostly exploited for comedy, and explored to various extents in the fandom. As well as the gender-bending of the main character, several other characters were transvestites or transgendered (which characters were which was a matter of some debate in the fandom.)

Fandom Overview

The English-speaking online fandom was active on rec.arts.anime.creative and the Fanfiction_Mailing_List, producing many fanworks, often collected on homepages and personal websites rather than in centralized archives. Possibly due to the conventions of newsgroups, many Ranma fans used their complete real names rather than aliases.

Pairing Conflicts

The shipwars were fairly violent, since in the style of many shounen romantic comedies, Takahashi kept Ranma perpetually unable to resolve his romantic difficulties. The final volumes did advance certain relationships (Ranma/Akane, Ryouga/Akari, etc.) but the anime canon remained mostly unresolved. While many fans shipped what appeared to be the canonical main pairings, other stories like The Bitter End by Zen were written in an attempt to demonstrate the unviability of such pairings.

RAAC Ranma fandom was primarily male, including the majority of the popular fanfic authors, and most of the focus was on heterosexual couples, although due to Ranma's curse, lesbian sex could figure between nominally heterosexual characters, and often did. There was some true f/f, and an even smaller amount of m/m. While there were Ranma lemons, a significant amount of the fanfic was plot-centered rather than ship-centered, and any sexual interaction was fade-to-black or non-explicit.

In 2000, a Ranma/Ukyou fan going by Mike Rhea set off a flurry of flamewars on RAAF and the FFML with a few impressively terribly written badfic lemons championing his supposedly preferred pairing.[2] While he was almost certainly a troll, some fans found him impossible to ignore, and debate ensued over whether "Just, please, Mike, do us all a favour! Either stop writing or cut off your hands! I'll help with both!"[3] counted as a flame or reasonable criticism.

Fanfiction

In addition to comedy and parody stories, ship-fics, and lemons, the fandom was remarkable for inspiring a large number of novel-length, multi-part fanfics, with several of the better-known stories topping 200,000 words. Most of these long works were action-adventure fantasy tales concerning multiple characters, often including the sprawling extended cast of the Ranma canon, and tended to be more serious (if not downright pretentious) in tone than the original comedy. Alan Harnum's 40-chapter epic Waters Under Earth was stylistically influenced by fantasy author Guy Gavriel Kay and informed by the author's interest in Joseph Campbell's studies of comparative mythology, putting Ranma on the Hero's Path as outlined by Campbell.[4]

Certain authors and stories gathered fandom followings themselves, inspiring fan art and fanfics. When Ranma fandom's popularity declined, some of the prominent Ranma fanfic authors moved onto other anime fandoms; others joined the webcomics craze.[5]

Significant Ranma Epic Fanfics

Many of these stories were written and posted over months and years, eagerly followed by fans, with individual author/story mailing lists for new chapter alerts, and upcoming chapters advertised on homepages with 'Coming Soon' images. Some were never completed, to the frustration of many fans; others were completed years later.

Most of these stories, along with a host of others, were spoofed on DPR's Reduced Ranma Fan Fiction site.

Terminology

For fandom specific terminology see for example:

References

  1. Dub Release: 5 November 1993 crystalacids.com: Ranma ½ TV Series (Season 1) (TV) (accessed 1/2009)
  2. Searching "Mike Rhea" on the RAAF on Google brings up over a 100 hits, some threads a couple hundred posts long. (accessed 1/2009)
  3. (FanFic) Ryouga Gets Squirtled discussion, posted by Talen, Jan 15 2000 (accessed 1/2009)
  4. "Waters Under Earth sprang primarily from my deep interest in comparative mythologies, a topic so eloquently detailed in the works of Joseph Campbell. I have consciously followed his Hero's Path..." Alan Harnum, 12/31/1999 Waters Under Earth, Author's Notes (accessed 1/2009)
  5. Krista Perry illustrated the webcomic Utukki, and Grayson Towler began producing Thunderstruck (Accessed 28 February 2009)