March 12th, 2003


Ranma 1/2 thoughts

I've been watching Ranma 1/2 the past few days, and have gotten to the end of the third season. Basic impressions:

1) The character designs seem basically appealing to me. They look Westernized, at least as far as the facial features go, which is still a little jarring, but nothing here violates the laws of physics.

2) Unfortunately, I can't say the same about the animation. It's all definitely on twos, at least, and maybe threes (one change of image every two or three frames, with 24 FPS as the base rate). I can't tell for sure because the file formats I'm looking at generally don't allow single-frame stepping, and the original captures weren't done at the 30 FPS native television frame rate. This makes it look less smooth than even US animation. It's also somewhat limited; a lot of the time, instead of redrawing the entire character, only one part is redrawn. This is especially noticeable when the characters are yelling.

3) The storylines are, for the most part, plausible within the basic framework of the series. They generally attract and keep my interest. The writing is pretty good, as well, although there are enough Americanisms that I can't tell how much of the humor was added in the translation phase of production. (At one point, an old lecher grabs female Ranma's butt, and says "So round, so firm, so fully packed!". Cmon. That can't have been in the Japanese original. Then there are the "Helloooo nurse!"s in one late season 3 episode!)

4) The voice acting is quite good, with very little of the rush to fit English text into Japanese mouth movements that seems to be common in other series. The main characters are especially convincing.

5) Merciful $DEITY, how many characters can you pack into a series? They're different enough that you can tell them apart pretty easily, but there are so many of them that you still need a scorecard. It seems that whenever the writers hit a block, they introduced a new character.

I'm not sure in what order to see things from here on; in particular, I don't know where the two movies and the 12 OAVs fit into the rest of the series. Any suggestions here would be appreciated. In the absence of other information, I'm planning to watch all 6 seasons, then the OAVs, then the movies.

As for the comments I got when I started this about being representative (or not) of anime: I watch this kind of thing for humor. Drama doesn't hold much interest for me, and the mechanized fighting stuff even less so.
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