Ranma 1/2: Desperately Seeking Shampoo
I originally watched Ranma 1/2: Desperately Seeking Shampoo back in the early days of my anime fandom. I'd heard a lot about Ranma 1/2 and wanted to have a peek at the series which had such a strong fan following. So, I figured this two episode OAV video would be a perfect introduction.
The first episode begins with Shampoo discovering a strange jewel. Immediately after donning it, her feelings for Ranma change from love to hatred. The jewel, it turns out, is a "reversal jewel", which, when worn upside-down, causes the bearer to feel exactly the opposite of their true feelings. Ranma, however, has no clue of this and merely thinks Shampoo has spurned him. Feeling very distraught by this, Ranma attempts to win back Shampoo's heart. Cologne, privy to the secrets of the reversal jewel, hatches a plot to trick Ranma into confessing his love for Shampoo (equivalent to a marriage proposal in Japan), so that Shampoo and Ranma will be married happily ever after.
The second episode takes place during the Holiday season after Kasumi decides to host a Christmas party. Virtually the whole Ranma 1/2 cast shows up, and this ends up creating both romantic tensions and physical confrontations between some of the guests. Mind you, the festivities are still in full swing including a karaoke number with Nabiki, Kasumi, Akane, Ranma, and Shampoo.
While I was a Ranma newbie when I started watching this tape, I still had done some homework on the characters. It really paid off learning who was who and the relationship angles the series focuses on, otherwise I would have been completely lost. I still wasn't quite prepared for how silly things were, from Shampoo's bizarre pseudo-Chinese accent to Ranma being beaten up repeatedly by the female characters. There were also a couple appearances of characters during the second episode whom I had never heard of before.
As far the actual quality of this OAV goes, I had mixed feelings. I'm sure a die-hard Ranma fan would have probably gotten a lot more out of it than I did, but I still enjoyed it to a degree. There were certainly a lot of sight gags and I found some moments genuinely humorous, particularly the feuding in the second episode. At the same time, though, some moments just went completely over my head and I was left with a "Did I just miss something?" feeling. And then there was the karaoke number in the second episode. Let's just say I'm not a fan of karaoke and leave it at that, shall we?
The art is true to Takahashi's unique style and the title holds up well visually, even against more recent offerings. I was actually a little surprised by how well the English dubbed voices fit the characters, especially Akane and Nabiki. I mentioned before that Shampoo's accent did some getting used to, but it was kind of charming in a quirky sort of way.
As far as this OAV goes, I don't know if I'd recommend it to the Ranma newbie. It pays to at least have some knowledge of the characters beforehand. I'm sure, however, that most Ranma fans will probably find it at least somewhat enjoyable.
The Verdict: * * * (average)
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