(Almost) None of the Main Ranma ½ Characters Are Good People
Let me first remind everyone that Ranma ½ is by a wide, wide margin my all-time favorite anime. It’s the show that started my obsession and love affair with the medium, I’ve written 10 (with an eleventh in the works) fan fiction stories using the characters, and the one anime-only website that I have kept for two decades now is Ranma based. I have a ton of Ranma posters and wall scrolls and if I ever have a child, I will likely name them Saotome.
With that said, I came to the realization while rewatching the series lately (for what is likely the 20th time) that there really are not a lot of likable characters in the show. The only ‘main’ character that has no observable faults is Kasumi.
Let’s discuss, shall we? I am assuming that one is familiar with the show, so there will be no explanations of the plot or the character’s background. Spoilers, probably.
Ranma is the main character of the series. That is pretty much the only reason that is given for you to like him. He has a million character flaws, most of which, I will acknowledge, are not totally his fault, but the result of his upbringing.
First and foremost, Ranma is a massive misogynist. He has absolutely no respect for any of the women in the series. It’s passed off as honor, but I believe he simply uses his honor as an excuse. You have a strong, capable martial artist like Akane. Ranma is quite dismissive of her and her abilities for literally no other reason than she is a woman. He patronizes her when they’re training – and I am not trying to argue she’s as good as he is. She’s not. However, Ranma acts far too dismissive of her and her skill, once even reading manga while they’re training.
This is also why he has such disdain for his female form. He believes women are weak. Are lesser creatures than men. He only uses his female form for manipulation and to avoid embarrassment when eating ice cream. Again, this is a result of his misogynistic father’s influence on him, but considering all strong (body-wise and mentally) females that he’s around, you’d think he’d dismiss those attitudes and say “You know what? Women are good at things too.”. The only time women get any praise from him is in regard to their cooking or their looks*.
Speaking of his female form, I am 90 percent certain that Ranma is gay. If he is, that’s great. More power to him. My belief comes from the overzealous ways he attempts to reassure everyone of his masculinity. Ranma is afraid to eat ice cream for fear that will make him look and feel feminine. I can’t even count how many times he’s declared ‘I’m a man!’. Any type of activity that clashes with his (and yes, his father’s) sense of hetero-normative manhood, he vocally over opposes.
I wonder if when Mikado kissed him, he wasn’t angry because of what happened, but because somewhere in his brain his true self poked out and said ‘Hey. That was nice.’. (Akane & Ryoga’s faces when that happened…)
If you look at the episode where he hits his head and becomes a ‘real’ woman, you see how easily he falls into that role. I figure it’s because his outward-facing ‘real man or die’ attitude was repressed by the fall, allowing the real, far more effeminate Ranma to come forth.
Finally, his sense of pride and honor rules his life. I can only remember once in the show where he actually made any attempt to apologize when he was wrong. He takes everything as a ‘win or lose’ situation, so there’s no ability for him to compromise or create a situation where he does not walk away on top. His stubbornness to admit defeat in even the most mundane of situations usually leads to a worse outcome for everyone involved.
I don’t have any doubt that deep down Ranma is a good person with good intentions. It’s just buried deep, deep beneath all his other flaws.
Akane’s one of the most violent people in all of anime, and I am including the bad guys here as well. Akane’s temper, in many cases, would lead to a series of court hearings, restraining orders, and jail time. Her anger allows her to literally pull a hammer out of thin air and assault people (usually Ranma).
The constant anger within her causes some of the same problems Ranma has. Her pride refuses to allow her to be wrong, but rather than extending the situation that she’s in to gain an upper hand, she commits felonious assault.
She refuses to listen – there are dozens of situations in the show where Ranma, despite all his faults, is not at fault. Akane ain’t got time for that, though. Smack!
She’s got no self-control. She often hits Ranma not for any reason, but out of pure subconscious action. Her jealousy is insane. She will often scream at him about how she doesn’t want to be his fiance but will get violent if he does anything that even has the appearance of him flirting with or even speaking with another woman. I honestly see their future as being one of those white trash couples you constantly see on episodes of COPS.
I don’t want to speak too harshly of Ryoga, despite the fact I hate him more than any character in the series (and I am not really sure why). Ryoga is clearly an uneducated idiot, and even ignoring his lack of any internal GPS, his non-understanding of the world around him is 100 percent the cause of all his problems.
Plus his English voice actor, Michael Donovan, left a very sweet recording for my really old-school Ranma and Sailor Moon website.
He is very self-aware about the problems he has with his sense of direction. Despite this, he blames Ranma for missing their match and it angers him to the point where he wanders off after him and ends up at Jusenkyo, which results in him turning into P-Chan. He comes back and then constantly tries to defeat Ranma which he knows he cannot do. But he keeps trying, and trying, and trying. If he was smart and really wanted to defeat Ranma, he’d stop fighting, go get his Ph.D. in physics, and become an astronaut. Akane’d definitely bone him then.
Ryoga has no sense of honor either, despite his insistence otherwise. He uses his ability to change to sleep with Akane, and we have to assume, see her naked. He cannot acknowledge that he is P-Chan to her because of this shady bullshit. Ranma, with his aforementioned idiotic take on honor, won’t rat him out to Akane because of the Warrior’s Code or some other bullshit despite the fact that Ryoga is manipulating her for self-gratification. They get mad at Happosai for his actions, but at least he doesn’t hide who he is.
Wow. Happosai may be the most honest character in the entire series.
Shampoo is my favorite. I think she’s perfect, myself, but she does have a nasty side to her. It’s clear to everyone that she loves Mousse, but she treats him like dirt. She’s tried to kill Akane on more than one occasion, and honestly, I think looks at Ranma more as a trophy than a man to love.
Holy crap is she adorable though.
I have no doubt in my mind that all three of the Kunos are suffering from mental illness. I can’t bring myself to make fun of people with mental illness, so I will just say that I hope they get the help they need so they can live long and happy lives.
Nabiki is a queen manipulator. She puts money above all else. She’d make a great republican.
Genma… In a world where any kind of government or authority existed, Genma would have had Ranma seized by the state years ago. Everything that is wrong with Ranma is wrong with Genma. Except Genma is an adult and should have outgrown these character flaws decades ago.
He literally sold Ranma for an okonomiyaki cart. Then he took both the cart and Ranma. I’m not entirely sure which is worse.
As I said before, of all the main characters, Kasumi seems to be the only one who lacks any flaws whatsoever. She has a somewhat antiquated view of the role of a woman and how they should behave, but that’s not a flaw. She’s sweet, caring, and forgiving. I wouldn’t be surprised to find out that she’s actually Belldandy.
Ukyou is another character with some quirks, but really no bad traits. In her initial introduction she comes off as brash and closed-minded, but given what happened to her and her understanding of the situation, it’s understandable. She quickly grows though, and while she’s overtly trying to woo Ranma and even willing to scheme a bit, she doesn’t come off as negative or desperate. Just someone who’s trying to win.
When I look at Soun, I look at the former relationship between me and one of my good friends. While he (my friend/Soun) are good people with pure hearts and innocence abound, they get caught up in the world of shenanigans and debauchery that I/Genma/Happosai live in.
I’d like to see Soun end up like my friend – remarried and living a wonderful life where I (Genma) am too far away to tempt him.
As I said before, Happosai has a ton of bad traits, but unlike the other characters with bad traits, he doesn’t try to mask them or hide behind honor. Happosai is the most honest character in the entire series, and maybe in all of anime.
And with that, this post is done. Join me next time I shit over one of my favorite anime and explain why the girls from Azumanga Diaho are actually white supremacists.
*I am well aware that there are a lot of cultural pressures that make Ranma the way he is. However, that’s not relevant to a post that is basically one giant shit post.