Ranma 1/2

Or, the boy-girl who can't stand to lose a competition...

(even if it is in his bust size)
Quick Index of Original Japanese Volumes
Book 1 | Book 2 | Book 3 | Book 4 | Book 5 | Book 6 | Book 9 | Books 13 - 14 | Book 18 | Book 20 | Books 24 - 25 | Books 25 - 26 | Book 28 | Book 29 | Book 30 | Book 31 | Book 32 | Book 33 | Book 34 | Book 35 | Book 36 | Book 37 | Book 38 (last book; with spoilers)

All books are the Japanese Shonen Sunday tankobon compilations

Several notes: Ranma 1/2 started off almost semi-serious, with one continuing story. Then it got sillier. And sillier. But in between the really stupid stories are a handful of long, less-silly stories, and these are the ones that I prefer to concentrate on. Moreover, the later stories improved in quality. The emphasis on martial arts competitions (whether martial tea-ceremony or martial cheer-leading) faded, in favor of more character-oriented action.

Quick Intro: Saotome Ranma, son of Saotome Genma, is dragged off by his father on a martial arts training expedition to China, where they both become the unfortunate victims of a certain set of magical hot springs (Jyusenkyo). There are over a hundred springs at this site, each of which is cursed. The curse is that anyone that falls into a spring takes on the body of the first creature to drown in that spring --- but only whenever s/he is splashed with cold water. Thus, Ranma, who fell into the Spring of the Young Girl (where a young girl drowned long ago), turns into a girl when splashed with cold water. His father turns into a panda. The only way to undo the transformation is to get splashed with hot water. Of course, Ranma and his father aren't the only victims of these cursed springs...

Book 1: We meet the Tendo family: father Soun (Soh-un), eldest and motherly sister Kasumi, money-hungry Nabiki, and martial-arts-skilled Akane. By prior arrangement, one of the sisters is bound to marry Saotome Ranma (Ranma Saotome), who is supposed to inherit the Tendo dojo and merge the Tendo and Saotome schools of Free-style fighting. Ranma is, in fact, extremely good at fighting; he is even better than Akane, who can beat all the boys at her high school. But once the Tendo's find out that Ranma is cursed to becomes a girl whenever he become wet with cold water, they sort of decide that he should marry Akane (without her approval, but oh well). Ranma isn't too pleased, either; he thinks Akane is "Not Cute and Not Sexy." At their high school, Ranma meets Kunou Tatewaki, an obnoxious and rich swordsman who is in love with Akane. Unfortunately, Kunou also falls in love with Ranma's female form, and refuses to believe that the female and male Ranma are the same. Akane, meanwhile, is getting over a crush she has on the local chiropractor/acupuncturist.

Book 2: A new player appears in this weird game: Hibiki Ryoga (or Ryoga Hibiki). He's strong, straightforward, single-minded, and has a grudge against Ranma --- but has no sense of direction. He manages to find his way to Ranma and Akane's high school and fights Ranma --- they're almost evenly matched --- but the fight stops when Akane's hair is accidentally cut off (there is a very bad pun here, having to do with "kega nakatta" (she wasn't hurt) and "ke ga naku natta" (her hair went away)). Eventually, though, Ryoga tracks down Ranma at the dojo, and they fight. Ranma, through all this, has been wondering why Ryoga has been p*ssed at him. He finally learns that Ryoga followed Ranma to China, where he was knocked into the magical springs by female Ranma and panda Genma. Thus, Ryoga now becomes a little black pig when splashed with cold water. In fact, he turns into his pig form during the fight, is found by Akane --- who adopts him as a pet and kisses him. Ryoga instantly falls in love with Akane. Ranma, who already decided to guard Ryoga's secret because of the warrior's honor code, is Not Happy, but can't say anything. Ryoga, now officially Akane's pet pig "P-chan," sleeps with her at night, to Ranma's great annoyance.

Book 3: This mostly concerns a gymnastics duel between female Ranma and the cheating, lying, and extremely slimy woman that turns out to be Kunou Tatewaki's younger sister, Kodachi. Kodachi has fallen in love with male Ranma, but, like her brother, refuses to see that the two Ranmas are the same person. The story then shifts to an ice skating duel with new opponents. The ice skater Azusa, who collects "cute" things, wants P-chan (whom she calls Charlotte); Akane won't give up P-chan. Worse, Azusa's male partner Sanzenin kisses female Ranma --- which really really really p*sses off Ranma (it was his first kiss). So Akane and Ranma pair up against Azusa and Sanzenin, with the prize being P-chan.

Book 4. Naturally, Ryoga isn't pleased; he jumps in in human form, trying to take Ranma out of the duel and pair up with Akane in the meantime. Ranma in female form and Ryoga wind up together, and together turn the duel into a free-for-all mess. While fighting each other, though, Ranma and Ryoga both discover that Akane can't swim (she falls into the pool beneath the ice), and together jump in to save her. Except Ryoga turns into a pig. Oh well. As they recover later, a strange Chinese girl jumps in and tries to kill female Ranma. Ths is Shampoo, for all you Shampoo fans. She's out to kill female Ranma because of a local village edict --- if a stranger of the same sex defeats you, you must kill her. So Shampoo has hunted Ranma down all the way from China. But Shampoo meets male Ranma, who defeats her, and promptly tries to follow the corollary to her village edict: if a stranger of the opposite sex defeats you, you must marry him. Shampoo even goes after Akane with a special shampoo and pressure-point attack, making Akane lose all memory of Ranma (Ranma, however, insults Akane to the point of making her remember). Finally, Ranma shows Shampoo that he is both male and female, and tells her the lie that he is actually originally a "she." Shampoo leaves in quiet defeat.

Book 5. (Ranma's weakness is revealed to be cats. Due to screwed-up training administered by his father, Ranma can't stand cats. If exposed to cats for too long, he mentally turns into one --- and becomes invincible. Shampoo comes back, with her great-grandmother ("O-baba" (honorable hag)), who makes Ranma unable to tolerate hot water. Shampoo has also been to the magical springs, and now turns into a cat. Shampoo's ardent pursuer Mousse arrives at this point, and female-Ranma is barely able to defeat him.)

Book 6. After much training, Ranma finally defeats Shampoo's great-grandmother, by basically turning into his invincible cat-mode; Akane in turn tames the cat-mode Ranma, and so wins the antidote to Ranma's inability to tolerate hot water. Thus Ranma can return to male form. Ryoga returns about this time, and is promptly tied into knots by Ranma, who is now much faster, thanks to the training he received from O-baba. In bitterness, Ryoga turns to O-baba for training. She teaches him Bakusaitenketsu, a technique in which one can strike the pressure point of rock, causing it to explode. Ryoga and Ranma duel; Ranma nearly tires himself out before finally overcoming and defeating Ryoga.

Things get sillier from here. Mousse also falls into the magical springs, and now turns into a white duck when wet with cold water.

Book 9: We are introduced to Kuonji Ukyou, a girl who was also betrothed to Ranma (by his father, of course). She gave up womanhood from the embarrassment of having her fiance run off on her (Ranma, at the time, didn't even know she was a girl), and dedicated her life to making Okonomi-yaki (Japanese pizza/scallion pie/pancakes) and having revenge on Ranma. Ranma finally discovers that she's female after fighting her, and accidentally makes her fall in love with him. She decides it's OK to be feminine now, and channels her energies into chasing him. Ryoga hears the rumors of a new fiancee for Ranma, and comes back to beat up Ranma for his infidelity to Akane. In the process, he is introduced to Ukyou. Ryoga and Ukyo team up (after all, he wants Akane, and she wants Ranma). Ukyo sets Akane up on a date with Ryoga. Ranma jealously interferes. Things go downhill from there.

Book 13 - 14: The mentor of Soun Tendo and Genma Saotome is a small, ugly, obnoxious, women's-underwear-loving, dirty old man named Happosai. Unfortunately (for the series as a whole), no one can beat him. One day, he gets so angry at Ranma that he causes Ranma to become weak --- so weak that even a child could beat him up. All of Ranma's enemies come to hunt him down; only Ryoga protects him, and that's because Ryoga hates "seeing weaklings get picked on." Ranma learns that Happosai, the one who caused this problem, also has the cure: a scroll with the cure pressure-points written out on it. But Ranma can't win against Happosai, especially not as a "weakling." In desperation, Ranma goes off training with O-baba, Ukyou, and his father. Akane tracks him down. O-baba teaches him Hiryushotenha, a powerful "Ki" technique that sends opponents up in a whirlwind and smashes them down again. Ryoga inadvertently helps him learn the technique. Finally, Ranma is ready to face Happosai --- but Happosai knows the secret of the technique and refuses to participate. Ranma finally tricks Happosai into fighting back, and so recovers the scroll, and becomes strong again. Of course, most of his friends and family come to regret this, but that's another story.

Book 18: Pansuto-Taro (The Pantyhose Boy). A young man, who turns into a gigantic monster when splashed with cold water, defeats all the males who have been to the magical springs, one by one (from Mousse, to Ryoga, to Ranma's father), and leaves pantyhose wrapped around each, as a signature. Finally, the monster attacks Ranma --- and then, without resolving the fight, kidnaps Akane and flies off with her. Ranma, Ryoga, and Akane's family discover that the "Pantyhose bastard" has a grudge against Happosai. They assume it's because Happosai was responsible for making him what he is now. But Akane is still held kidnapped, so Ranma and Ryoga try to rescue her. On the way, they join up with Mousse and Shampoo (Mousse is secretly there to get rid of Ranma (so as to win Shampoo), and Shampoo is secretly there to get rid of Akane (so as to win Ranma)). The fight is long and drawn out --- Akane finally has to break free of her bonds to help them --- but finally, the monster is subdued and brought back to human form. Thereupon, it's discovered that his grudge against Happosai is not for turning him into a monster, but for having been responsible for officially naming him "Pantyhose Taro" (which, in Japanese, rhymes with "Pantyhose bastard"). In pity (and to get the guy out of their hair), the others try to help him out by staging a hypnotic play that they hope will induce Happosai to rename Pantyhose Taro. It fails, but they manage to beat up Happosai to the point where he agrees. Pantyhose Taro is overjoyed, declares he wants to be officially renamed "Mr. Cool Taro," and flies off with Happosai. Unfortunately, Happosai changes his mind....

Book 20: Ryoga returns to duel Ranma. He has learned a new technique: the Shishihoukoudan. It is a technique based on "heavy Ki" --- which translates to "depression" in English. Ryoga, because of his sheer unlucky nature, is a natural at being depressed; he perfects the technique, which is tremendously powerful and blows huge craters in the ground. Ranma is barely able to defeat Ryoga. This story is full of all sorts of "Ki" puns that you won't be able to understand without knowing Japanese (and something about "Ki" as well). The rest of book 20 contains various random other silly stories.

Book 24 - 25: Mysterious strangers beat up Ryoga, Mousse, and Ranma. Ranma is also turned permanently into female form. Too late, they learn that their opponents were members of an all-male warrior Chinese tribe, which took on the powers of the beasts by taking animals to to the magical springs, dropping them into the girl-spring, splashing them with water from a magical vessel to make them stay in human girl form forever, and then marrying them. The leader of the strangers, in fact, is a girl who is the heir to the leadership of this tribe --- and who has dragon blood in her veins. Female Ranma had been splashed by water from the magical vessel, thus causing her/him to become stuck in female form. Ryoga and Mousse decide that this vessel can help them become stuck in male form (which is what they want), and thus selfishly decided to help Ranma go on his quest for the Magic Teakettle, which will undo the effects of the other magic vessel. For some reason, the strangers were also looking for the Magic Teakettle. Ranma eventually discovers that the leader of the stranger, the girl, is actually a young man who, like Ranma, is trapped in female form. Unfortunately, Ryoga and Mousse find the magic vessel that "freezes" form. They battle the bad guys for it --- Ryoga nearly dies, but wins thanks to his Shishihoukoudan attack from Book 20. Mousse and Ryoga win, get the magic vessel, and splash themselves with the water, thinking it will freeze them into male form. They forget that they are splashing themselves with cold water, and thus become stuck in pig and duck form. Their enemies, however, have taken the magic Teakettle, their only hope for ever returning to male form. Ranma battles the leader of the enemies (who is now back to male form), thus buying time for Ryoga and Mousse to recover the Teakettle. Returning the favor, Ryoga and Mousse help Ranma return to male form, and Ranma barely manages to defeat their enemy.

Book 25-26: Akane's journey. Akane travels to the monster-inhabited woods where she was once saved by a strange little boy. She discovers the strange little boy is now a young (forgetful) man named Shinnosuke, whose job it is to fight the monsters in the area. The monsters are actually normal animals who have grown huge, thanks to the magical wells in the area. The water from the wells is also all that is keeping Shinnosuke alive (as his grandfather explains), for in saving Akane long ago, Shinnosuke was actually mortally injured. But the wells suddenly go dry while Akane is there, and Shinnosuke's life is in danger. Akane, knowing she owes her life to Shinnosuke, decides to stay and help him. Shinnosuke falls in love with her. Ranma, meanwhile, has arrived (not so much out of worry, but because Akane's father had demanded it), and believes that Akane is in love with Shinnosuke. Ryoga stumbles upon them, too, and believes the same. Ryoga is heartbroken, Ranma is angry. But both decide to help Akane as best they can. They learn that the Yamata no Orochi (basically, a Hydra-like creature from Japanese mythology), lives in the water nearby. On one of its heads grows a moss that can save Shinnosuke's life, and Akane is going to try to get some of the moss. But the creature loves to devour alcohol ... and girls. So, Ranma, Ryoga, Shinnosuke and his grandfather dress in drag and go to battle the monster and distract it from Akane, who has already left to try to get some of the moss. Eventually, Akane succeeds, Shinnosuke's life is saved, and Ranma and Akane are brought closer together. Ryoga wanders off again.

Book 28: The Ranma Imposter. (Ranma's mother Nodoka, a pretty, gentle, nice, and utterly straightforward person, does not know that female Ranma is Ranma; in fact, she doesn't know what male Ranma looks like. She has no clue about any of the weird stuff, because Ranma and his father won't let her find out. The story is that, when Ranma was very young, his father took him from home to go on a journey of training. In return, Genma promised his wife that when they returned, Ranma would be a "man among men." If not, father and son would commit ritual seppuku (self-abdomen stabbing) for having failed, and she, fulfilling her wifely duty, would cut off their heads and then slit her own throat. Of course, since Ranma now turns into a girl when wet, and has taken up wearing dresses and acting femininely in female form, there is no way they can let Ranma's mother know the truth.) A young man, in search of the missing half of a technique that he thinks will render him invincible, takes on the name of Ranma Saotome so as to be able find the missing half, which is in the hands of Ranma's mother. Nodoka thoroughly believes that he is Ranma, and takes the imposter to heart (he thinks about forcing the location of the second half of the technique from her, but her warmth and gentleness touches his heart and stops him). But the imposter eventually finds out about Ranma and his secret, and threatens to tell his mother everything if he interferes. In fact, the imposter manages to thrash Ranma rather badly, using the first half of the technique, which was actually invented by Ranma's father. Ranma learns the second half, and eventually manages to defeat the imposter. Nodoka, meanwhile, had begun to realize that her "son" was an imposter --- but she still never meets the real, male Ranma. The imposter leaves in defeat, but tells Ranma to reveal who he is to his mother "for her sake."

Book 29: (I think). The last story is about Nabiki. Nabiki, the eternal cheapskate who makes all her dates give her presents and free food and then dumps them, finally meets her match --- a young conman who totally relies on others for his needs. Said man also has a puppet of a butler with whom he constantly converses. Anyway, the young man and Nabiki embark on a date-duel --- the first to spend even 10 Yen will owe the other the entire cost of the date (and their one previous date). Together, they rent a private plane and travel to Hong Kong, then stay at an expensive hotel, and then they rent the Tokyo Dome for a karaoke session. Each slimes out of spending even one 10-Yen piece --- but finally Nabiki wins (she keeps one of her rival's 10-yen pieces as a souvenir). For days afterward, Nabiki is seen sighing sadly to herself. Akane supposes that her sister had really been in love with the young man --- but no, Nabiki is merely lamenting that she hadn't bet 100,000 Yen instead of 10.

Book 30: Story 1 is about Ryoga. A giant pig is beating up all the young men in town, and it turns out that this is because Akari, the heiress to a long family tradition of raising sumo-wrestling pigs, was told to marry a strong man. So, she asked her pig Konishiki to go around beating up men until she met one strong enough to defeat him. By happenstance, this turns out to be Ryoga (who also flattens Ranma in the process, thus ruling out Ranma). Akari promptly falls in love with Ryoga and starts giving him love notes, sweaters, etc. --- but everything has a pig theme, because Akari absolutely adores pigs. Ryoga, who for a moment had been touched by her offers, thinks that she's only teasing him about his pig problem, and runs off. Akari becomes convinced that Ryoga hates pigs, and determines to learn to hate pigs for his benefit. Ranma can't just sit by and watch; intending to help, he goes to O-baba and gets a magic potion. With the potion, he puts Ryoga under a geas: Ryoga must hug anyone who says the word "pig." Then Ranma sets up a date between Ryoga and Akari. Of course, Akari is determined NOT to say "pig" (having worked hard to develop a phobia of them), and everyone else does (most are bad puns). But even though Ryoga goes around hugging everyone who says "pig," Akari is still determined to win him over. Finally, at the end of the date, she stands before, eyes closed, face upturned, waiting for a kiss --- but to Ryoga's dismay, it starts raining. Akari opens her eyes and finds P-chan, and can't understand where Ryoga went. In frustration, Ranma grabs P-chan, takes him home, and, with Akari watching, throws P-chan into a bathtub full of hot water. Ryoga appears, of course, but Akari is dead silent. ("Ryoga-sama --- you weren't a normal man?" she thinks). Ryoga is philosophical (and depressed) as he leaves the bathroom. "I thought you wouldn't want a (messed up) guy like me," he said. Ranma is busy apologizing. But then there's light --- and they turn to see Akari dancing for joy. "There will never be another man for me!" she says. "You're my ideal man!" But just as things are about to wind up between Akari and Ryoga, female-Ranma accidentally says something that has the phonetic sound "pig" in it. Ryoga hugs him/her. Akari is crushed and runs away. So now Ryoga is wandering around (lost) as usual, trying to find the pig-sumo place where Akari is waiting for him....

Book 31: One of the short stories involves Ryoga and Akari again, when Ryoga tries a near-disastrous attempt at two-timing with Akane. Ranma, of course, won't stand for it, and does his best to foul up Ryoga's plans. Ryoga eventually regrets it, of course.... Other short stories include: the killer soba competition and the Japanese doll. In the latter story, Akane is possessed by the spirit of a vengeful Japanese doll, and tries her utmost to kill Ranma (mostly by distracting him with feminine charms to create openings in his defense). Akane's soul, meanwhile, is trapped in the doll, and she tries desperately to tell Ranma what's really going on.

Book 32: A bunch of medium-length stories; actually pretty good. The first story brings back Pantyhose Taro ("Don't call me by that name!") and a new Jyusenkyou monstrosity that can beat even him up --- the Chinese girl Rouge, who fell in the water in which the six-armed goddess Ashura (or rather, a statue thereof) had drowned. Ashura/Rouge insists that Pantyhose Taro has stolen the secret of her power, and the two fight a lot, to the great annoyance of those around them (what with a giant flying chimera battling a goddess, the destruction levels get pretty heinous). The great question is: what is Ashura's secret? Ranma switches sides between the two, finally sides with Rouge against Pantyhose Taro, and eventually finds out the true secret of Rouge/Ashura's power: adhesive pain-relievers for back pain. After all, with six arms, Ashura has one heck of a backache and needs them badly. Pantyhose Taro doesn't quite understand, and is determined to become dangerously powerful with Ashura's secret to success. Another of the stories involves the "boyfriend" battle between Kodachi ("Kodachi of the Black Rose" --- Kunou's hentai sister) and the Asuka (I think) of the White Lilies (I think). (Random commentators: "Why, what a beautiful young lady --- she looks as if she might be adorned with white lilies ---" (See huge bouquet of flowers attached to the back of her dress to frame her face) "....Why, she is adorned with white lilies...") The two have had a long-standing duel to see which would have the more handsome boyfriend. Even Akane decides to pit the Kodachi-Ranma pair against Asuka, especially after Ranma's looks are ridiculed by the girl (who uses more dirty tricks than Kodachi). But after various misadventures, Asuka pulls out her trump card --- a truly gorgeous "boyfriend" --- and both Akane and Kodachi fall in defeat. Except said "boyfriend" was some random other girl's partner, and so Kodachi and Asuka depart with a tie. Ranma, of course, is not pleased, even though Akane tries to remind him (and herself) that "A boy's looks aren't everything. Um, yeah."

Book 33: The age-in-years mushroom episode! Ryoga ingests a magic mushroom that turns him into a very small 6-year-old. Eventually Ranma winds up in the same boat, and the two rivals waste most of their time competing to see who can return to 16 years of age first (in the process destroying a lot of mushrooms that could otherwise have restored them both). I believe this book also contains the Jizoh story, too. Mousse lovingly knits a scarf for Shampoo, but Shampoo (as usual) spurns him. Saddened, Mousse gives the scarf to a Jizoh statue (any of a certain type of buddhist statue said to be a protector of children). Soon after, the others notice that Mousse is acting oddly... he's thin, pale, and runs off at night. It turns out that he is having late night dates with the Jizoh statue, which to him appear to be fantasy, high-class dates with Shampoo, but to everyone else, it looks just like he's sipping water in a tiny shrine with a stone statue with a scarf around its neck. Concerned that the statue is slowly killing Mousse, Ranma and Akane eventually convince Shampoo to help. She resignedly gives Mousse a scarf that she'd been knitting --- Mousse is thrilled --- and the Jizoh statue declares that its repayment of debt to Mousse is now over, and stops going out with him. Discussion reveals that the Jizoh statue had not been killing Mousse; Mousse had merely been getting no sleep that entire week, and thus only looked like he was wasting away. The light of day further reveals the suspicious letters that might spell "RANMA" on the scarf that Shampoo had given Mousse....

Book 34: The outstanding story of this issue started innocently enough with Akane's pride in her larger bust being completely squashed by Ranma's gloating over his/her even larger bust size.... Akane is not pleased, of course, and Ranma is his usual insensitive self (as I said, he's gloating). Akane, however, gets back at him by inducing his mother Nodoka to take him brassiere shopping (Ranma's attempt to escape is cut short by a passing tank full of archer fish). Hot water seems drawn to Ranma like a magnet (surprise), and Ranma must constantly hide from his mother, who unfortunately by now has seen him in male form wearing feminine dresses far too many times (from behind, that is). She even figures out that he's her son (in male form). By the end of the story (several episodes later), Ranma is fighting for his life as he strives to prove himself manly enough to his mother so that she might spare his life. Of course, "manly" has strange meanings where Ranma's mother is concerned. Maybe "sex-fiend-peeping-tom-ogler" is a more apt description.

Book 35: 2 main stories are in this new one. First is the probably now-famous double Ranma story, in which Ranma runs into a cursed mirror that creates a double of him (her). Said (female) double runs around trying to date every male in town and finally falls for Ranma. A long duel over a magic compact mirror ensues. At last, the double Ranma is brought back to the original mirror, to be imprisoned alone for the ages again --- but Ranma (this time as a male) runs into the mirror again. Luckily for the double, a double male Ranma appears, and the two fake Ranmas fall happily and narcissistically in love with each others' beauty. A second short story that I found amusing was Nabiki's revenge on Ranma for having accidentally burned up her concert ticket. Let's just say it's not good to get on Nabiki's hit list. And finally (though not last in the book) is the Kunoichi Konatsu story, a long, drawn-out affair involving the martial-arts-genious, beautiful ninja Kunoichi of the Male Martial Artists' Training (Play) Ground (an erotic resort, alas staffed by really ugly women). Kunoichi has evil and ugly step-sisters and a step-mother, all of whom pick on poor pretty genius Kunoichi (force to sleep under newspaper, deprive of food, force to work for no pay, etc.). But after much confusion, Kunoichi falls in love with Ukkyou, duels with Ranma, decides to leave the ugly step-family, and turns out to be male. Of course. In any case, he winds up working overtime at Ukkyou's shop for no pay, happy to have such a kind and generous new boss.

Book 36 contains the climax of the long plot regarding Ranma and his mother (as well as the brief story about Ryoga's pathetic attempts to find his date, and Ukkyou's sad experiences with Konatsu). The main story, of course, is the one about Ranma's mother. Genma is out to steal a family heirloom from his wife --- a gold medal worth maybe twenty dollars. Ranma is out to stop him. Of course, the wrong temperature of water always seems to pop up, and Ranma's mother becomes progressively suspicious. (In one great scene, she tries to make female Ranma convert to male by plopping an empty tea kettle on his forehead). At last, however, Ranma meets his mother in his male form, and they shed tears of joy --- until Ranma's father inadvertently sends them all into cold water. However, Ranma's mother is convinced of Ranma's manliness, and so he's saved. But now, however, Nodoka wants her husband and son to come live in their own house. Ranma departs from the Tendo Dojo (with Akane's chair stuck to his head as a result of an insult). But then, Nodoka asks him to give Akane a small present --- something that looks just like an engagement ring. All of Akane's rivals fight to keep him from giving it to her, and Ranma himself is almost too embarrassed to give it to her. At last, he gets it to her, and the ring turns out to be not a ring after all. Of course. But in the meantime, Ukkyou, Shampoo and Kodachi have conveniently destroyed Ranma's house, and so the entire Saotome family moves back to the Tendo Dojo.

Book 37 contains the beginning of the newest Jyusenkyou emergency. This story, which ran in Feb. 96 in Shonen Sunday, involves all the major Jyusenkyou victims fighting to save the springs from a strange race of bird-people. Ranma and friends rescue the daughter of the Jyusenkyou guide from flying winged people, who are led by Keema (and her sidekicks Korma and Masala (yes, these are the names of Indian dishes)). As things progress, Shampoo becomes brainwashed into becoming Keema's servant, the bird-people steal back a special map of the springs and head to China with Shampoo, and the Jyusenkyou males all wind up in China As Ranma tries and fails to storm their palace, the bird-people also manage to kidnap Akane from Japan and drop her into a Jyusenkyou spring. (There is a plot twist here that I suppose I could write about, but someone might be really annoyed. It wasn't as if it wasn't really obvious what was going on, though). Eventually the bird-people manage to drain all the springs, even as Ranma and friends rush to the source of the water and try to rescue Akane and Shampoo. The question remains: Why are they draining the springs? Why does the bird-people prince Saffron (yes, as in saffron rice) require a hot spring bath?

Book 38: Saffron, it turns out, needs hot water in order to develop into the full, adult King of the bird-people; the royal sceptre acts as the faucet handle (as Ranma finds out). The process gives him control of a fast-hardening "coccoon-silk" that nearly traps Ranma; however, Akane (now free) leaps at the sceptre, saves Ranma, but is instantly dehydrated and converted into a tiny doll-like figure. To save Akane, Ranma now needs some cold Jyusen water to rehydrate her before she truly dies --- but Saffron has converted all the water to hot. Ranma and Saffron leap into battle, Ranma with a cold-producing sceptre, Saffron with a heat-producing sceptre. Though Saffron is essentially invincible, Ranma, with Akane's help, eventually manages to defeat him. The battle rearranges the underground waterways, allowing the bird-people unlimited access to the water, and so the reason for battle itself is resolved. Back in Japan, a wedding is arranged for Akane and Ranma --- with the reward of a barrel-ful of Nannichuan water. Unfortunately, all of their friends arrive, and the result is ... a mess. And so we go into overtime with Ranma and Akane, and the story continues for them. But, alas for us, this is where the series ends!

Oh, and predicted pairs for post-ending:

Ranma marries Akane. Nabiki marries Kunou Tatewaki for his money. Mousse finally wins Shampoo. Ryoga gets Akari, the girl with a pig fetish. Ukkyou winds up with poor, pretty, male ninja Kunoichi Konatsu. Kasumi marries Dr. Toufu. One hopes that Kodachi pairs off with Sanzenin. Azusa should run off with cutsey transvestite Tsubasa. The principal should just be cut off from the Kunou family and go drown somewhere. Shinnosuke deserves someone nice. Maybe O-baba and Happosai will find a fountain of youth somewhere and relive their youth together (Hah). And who knows about Pantyhose Taro (Rouge, maybe??)? Or Mariko? The Tea-Path people deserve each other.

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