Vying warriors and vying lovers are staples of anime. While the shonen protagonist can be lampoonably focused on proving hisself the best in his action-packed contest, a shojo heroine can be just as competitive in her quest for a heart. Sometimes, the two are brought together to great effect, as in Vision of Escaflowne—or in the present case, and on the more lighthearted side, 1989-1992’s Ranma ½. Based on the long-running Shonen Sunday manga by Rumiko Takahashi, and still beloved three decades on, in absolute terms it isn’t quite so popular as her later Inuyasha, especially with the renewed attention from the anime-original sequel, Yashahime: Princess Half-Demon. Inuyasha has frequent fighting, and it definitely has romantic drama, so there are strong similarities, but refreshingly, Ranma and his companions fight by choice, out of passion for martial arts rather than force of circumstance, while romantic love and marriage are the issues at stake. And, of course, Ranma ½ is remembered as THE great gender-bending comedy anime has produced.
It’s tragic. He tries so, so hard to be manly, even spending time on the road to hone his fighting skills, but when he finally arrives to prove himself to the one he’s destined for, he’s... those who remember Ren from To Love-Ru know the score.