I started reading Takahashi Rumiko’s brilliant manga Ranma 1/2 in high school back in 1992. My then-girlfriend (and future first wife) introduced me to it, and to quite a few other manga and anime series. Our time together was far too lengthy and often extremely unhappy, but a deeper interest in anime and manga is one of the few genuinely positive things I took away from the relationship.
And as I write this, that’s probably part of why it’s taken me thirty fucking years to finish Ranma 1/2. I’ve also gotten more into manga (and anime) since then, so that’s not the only reason — but it’s part of it.
Anyhoo, Ranma 1/2 was one of my ride-or-die tankōbon-only series for the past few years. Whenever I was in the mood for messy, funny, chaotic romance and gender shenanigans, I had a volume near at hand to work on. But once I realized how few volumes I still needed to finish the series and decided to buy the rest of them, I found that most of the final volumes were currently either between printings or just out of print.
I cobbled most of them together used, in the old flipped format, but folks are charging like $200 for the final volume and no thank you. So I wound up having to finish the series in digital format — which is fitting, in the end, given the long print-to-digital arc I’ve been on for years now.
Like when I finished The Walking Dead, finishing Ranma 1/2 was a bittersweet moment. This amazing manga has been a part of my life for thirty years — several relationships, two marriages, having my kiddo, friendships formed and lost, and living in three different states, not to mention the transition from childhood to adulthood.
It’s way more sweet than bitter, though. Part of why I put off finishing it for so long was than then it would be over, and I didn’t want it to be over. But I’m glad I finished it, and of course Takahashi stuck the landing.
Ranma 1/2 is one of the greatest manga series I’ve ever read, and even though I’ve finally wrapped it up it’ll always have a unique, special place in my life. Whole lotta transformations in the last thirty years — so what could be more fitting, touchstone-wise, than a manga all about transformations?