ANIME When I first picked up Ranma 1/2, I was rolling on the floor laughing. The fight scenes were... just plain cool. You could actually see what was going on and appreciate the skill and fancy moves. The plot went somewhere, yet was simplistic enough to not get in the way, and not need too much time-consuming exposition. Every character, even Kuno, was a semi-credible threat and made a cool battle scene, character arcs often going on for episodes at a time. Fights (and drenchings) broke out at the slightest provocation in classic cartoon inaneness; everything, even murderous amazons - and especially Jusenkyo curses - was Played For Laughs. And the Contrived Coincidences leading to Ranma getting wet were perfectly covered by the Rule Of Funny; the show never let you forget his curse. Three seasons later, it's all different; I think it's because the show makes the critical mistake of trying to take itself (more) seriously. Status Quo Is God means you don't care about the plot of any given episode, yet the Monster Of The Week storylines become more and more integral to the structure of the show. Nobody is a credible threat to Ranma anymore, but that doesn't matter, because no recurring characters even fight each other (properly) anymore anyway - even bitter rivals. No more convenient water, or battles at the drop of a hat. If it's absolutely necessary to hit someone, Hit Flash and Megaton Punch conclude the situation quickly, instead of having a fun little five-minute Fight Scene. A single episode spends 10 minutes building up the plot and raising the tension of the Monster Of The Week's (informed) power; as opposed to the face-value, clasically simplistic, ongoing scenarios of the first two seasons which seamlessly overlapped with the gags and humourous and cool (onscreen!) fighting. The final payoffs of these new over-complex plots are typically 3-minute semi-serious Monster Of The Week fight scenes that often end in Lowered Monster Difficulty and Attack Its Weak Point. Where does the other 7 minutes go? I'm not honestly sure. Probably on excessive dialogue, backstory and exposition. And that's if it was even a fighting-focussed episode. Every other episode is a BLAM Episode with no (funny) gags or fighting. And of course, the most notable shot of Girl Ranma in any given episode is on the title screen. His curse is only used for storyline purposes now.
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