In this volume, a secret about Ryoga is revealed, the little pig P-chan is introduced, and we are also introduced to Kodachi, the Black Rose. Kodachi is a rather wicked character, and it turns out she is related to someone that we already know in the cast. Not only that, she is a member of her school's rhythmic gymnastics team, and she's trying to knock out Furinkan High's team before their next match. Furinkan's team comes to ask for Akane's help, and she agrees. Akane must learn how to do rhythmic gymnastic wrestling; can she learn what needs to be done and beat Kodachi at the match? The final story in this volume begins a story arc that introduces two more characters: Azusa Shiratori and Mikado Sazenin. Azusa and Mikado are ice skaters who do martial skating; Azusa is a collector of cute things and takes what she likes and names them, while Mikado is a ladies' man. The volume ends with Azusa and Mikado challenging Akane and Ranma to a martial skating duel.
Unlike the pressing I read of Ranma 1/2 Volume 1, I only found one page where a speech bubble was cut off at the edge of a page. Unfortunately, there is still an issue with the quality of the reproduction of the images. Some pages look decent, while others look like they used a second or third generation copy of the artwork when putting this volume together. I really hope this reproduction issue is resolved in future volumes of the Ranma 1/2 manga.
Takahashi's art style is just as strong as it was in the first volume of the series. She is even able to use P-chan's eyes and facial expressions to effectively show how the little pig is feeling and reacting to whatever is going on. When it comes to the martial arts skirmishes, Takahashi utilizes the "busy" look and sound effects in a way to illustrates what's going on without being "over the top." It should be pointed out that there are occasionally drawings of female nudity included in this volume.
As for the storytelling, I appreciate Takahashi's ability to utilize humor to help tell the story she's trying to convey with her characters. She also has a wonderful ability to bring out the qualities of each of her characters. They have very distinct personalities; none of them seem like carbon copies of any of the other characters in the Ranma 1/2 universe.
One thing I found fascinating while reading this volume is that we find the first major deviation between the manga and anime in Ranma 1/2. In the anime, instead of having the ice skating arc immediately following the Kodachi storyline, the audience is instead introduced to the character of Shampoo. In the anime, the introduction of Azusa and Mikado takes place after the storyline with Shampoo. I will be interested to see how much more of a deviation there is between the Ranma 1/2 manga and anime when I get a chance to read more volumes of the manga.
It should be noted that this manga was published as a flipped version, meaning that it reads like an American book instead of a traditional manga. Ranma 1/2 is rated "T+," which means that it is being aimed at older teens.
I wrote this review after reading a copy of this manga volume that my older daughter checked out through the King County Library System.
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About the reviewer
Lesley Muir Aeschliman (ljaesch)
I'm a freelance writer whoserves as the Anime editor at BellaOnline; I have also had work published at Associated Content. I also maintain two blogs: AeschTunes and Lesley's Musings... on Manga. … more
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