|Ranma ½ (らんま½ Ranma Nibun-no-Ichi?, pronounced Ranma One-Half) is a Japanese manga series written and illustrated by Rumiko Takahashi. It was originally serialized in Shogakukan’s Weekly Shōnen Sunday from September 1987 to March 1996, and later collected into 38 tankōbon volumes. The story revolves around a 16-year old boy named Ranma Saotome who was trained from early childhood in martial arts. As a result of an accident during a training journey, he is cursed to become a girl when splashed with cold water, while hot water changes him back into a boy.
Ranma ½ had a comedic formula and a sex changing main character, who often willfully changes into a girl to advance his goals. The series also contains many other characters, whose intricate relationships with each other, unusual characteristics and eccentric personalities drive most of the stories. Although the characters and their relationships are complicated, they rarely change once the characters are firmly introduced and settled into the series.
The manga has been adapted into two anime series produced by Kitty Films: Ranma ½ and Ranma ½ Nettōhen (らんま½ 熱闘編?), which together were broadcast on Fuji Television from 1989 to 1992. In addition, Kitty Films has developed 12 original video animations and three films. In 2011, a live-action television special was produced and aired on Nippon Television. The manga and anime series were licensed by Viz Media for English-language releases in North America. MVM Films and Madman Entertainment licensed the anime for releases in the United Kingdom and Australasia respectively, although the latter’s rights expired before the series was completed.
On a training journey in the Bayankala Mountain Range in the Qinghai Province of China, Ranma Saotome and his father Genma fell into the cursed springs at Jusenkyo. When someone falls into a cursed spring, they take the physical form of whatever drowned there hundreds or thousands of years ago whenever they come into contact with cold water. The curse will revert when exposed to hot water until their next cold water exposure. Genma fell into the Spring of the Drowned Panda while Ranma fell into the Spring of the Drowned Girl.
Upon returning to Japan, the pair settle in Nerima, Tokyo at the dojo of Genma’s old friend Soun Tendo, a fellow practitioner of Musabetsu Kakutō Ryū or “Anything-Goes” school of martial arts which Genma passed on to Ranma. Genma and Soun agreed years ago that their children would marry and carry on the Tendo Dojo. Soun has three teenaged daughters: Kasumi, Nabiki and the hot-tempered, but helpful, martial arts practicing Akane. As Akane is Ranma’s age she is appointed for bridal duty by her sisters. Their reasoning is that Akane dislikes men (she was aggressively pursued by most of the boys in school at one time), and that Ranma is only a man half of the time; therefore, they are perfect together. Although both initially refuse the engagement having not been consulted on the decision, they are generally treated as betrothed and end up helping or saving each other on numerous occasions. They are frequently found in each other’s company and are constantly arguing in their trademark awkward love-hate manner that is a franchise focus.
Ranma goes to school with Akane at Furinkan High, where he meets his recurring opponent Tatewaki Kuno, the kendo team captain who is boastful vain and who is aggressively pursuing Akane, but who also falls in love with Ranma’s female form without discovering his curse. Nerima serves as a backdrop for more martial arts mayhem with the introduction of Ranma’s regular rivals, the eternally lost Ryoga Hibiki who traveled half way across Japan getting from the front of his house to the back. Ryoga seeking revenge on Ranma fell into another spring and cold water now changes him into a piglet. Not knowing this, Akane thinks the piglet is adorable but Ranma knows and hates him. The nearsighted Mousse who also fell into a pool and becomes a duck when he gets wet, and Ranma’s very energetic and perverted grandmaster Happosai who spends his time stealing the underwear of schoolgirls. His prospective paramours include the martial arts rhythmic gymnastics champion Kodachi Kuno, and his second fiancée and childhood friend Ukyo Kuonji the okonomiyaki vendor, along with the Chinese Amazon Shampoo, supported by her great-grandmother Cologne. As the series progresses, the school becomes more eccentric with the return of the Hawaii-obsessed Principal Kuno and the placement of the power-leeching alternating child/adult Hinako Ninomiya as Ranma’s English teacher.