In this volume, we meet a character named Gosunkugi, a boy who is infatuated with Akane; he also harbors a grudge against Ranma, since Ranma is supposed to be Akane's fiancé. Gosunkugi teams up with Kuno to try to find Ranma's weakness. A weak spot is found, and what it is comes as a surprise to most of the cast. However, there is a strange side effect when Ranma is around what causes his weak spot for too long. We also learn a secret about the character of Shampoo in this volume. Shampoo's great-grandmother makes her first appearance, as well as the character of Mousse (who has had a crush on Shampoo since childhood). Shampoo's great-grandmother insists that Ranma marry Shampoo, while Mousse fights Ranma to try to win Shampoo. Shampoo's great-grandmother does something to Ranma, and Ranma must get the Phoenix Pill from her in order to reverse what she has done. This plot point is the guiding force for the remainder of what happens in this volume.
With this volume of Ranma 1/2, there were no speech bubbles cut off at the edge of the pages. Also, the quality of the reproduction of the images has improved drastically from the first three volumes. None of the pages no longer look as if they are blurry or are a second or third generation copy.
Takahashi's character designs continue to look very impressive. However, I have to admit that in the panels where Mousse does not wear his glasses, his face looks an awful lot like Inuyasha in his human form in Takahashi's later manga series, Inuyasha. I do have to give her props for Gosunkugi's design; she really captures the "creepy" look well with him. I should also mention, as a fair warning, that there are some panels in this volume that contain female nudity or hinted at female nudity.
As I read this volume, I noticed that the plot points between the manga and anime are the same, more of the details are changing. At this point in the anime, a character named Sasuke (who was created specifically for the anime) took on the role that Gosunkugi played in this volume. In another section, a mysterious package that is sent to Dr. Tofu's practice in the manga is sent to the Tendo dojo instead in the anime; considering what the package is, I think the Tendo dojo makes more sense. The biggest change, though, occurs right near the end of the volume. In the manga, there is a martial art melon splitting contest that takes place on a beach; in the anime, this turns into a snow skiing competition. I'm going to be very interested to read future volumes of the series to see how much more deviation there is between the manga and the anime series.
This manga was published as a flipped version, meaning that it reads like an American book instead of a traditional manga.
I wrote this review after reading a copy of this manga volume that my older daughter checked out through the King County Library System.