I started watching my DVDs of the first season of Ranma 1/2 last night, as sort of a preparation for the Con, which is coming up next week.
I have an attachment to Ranma 1/2 which is oddly disproportionate to my respect (or lack thereof) for the show. I recognize its flaws, and its inherent limit - how it degenerates so quickly, how it operates almost entirely at the surface, how essentially sexist and borderline racist it really is. But it was the first anime I really connected with in an emotional sense. It really blew my mind when I encountered it at the end of my freshman year of college, and it dominated my attention for months afterwards. I went out & rented a VCR before leaving for the summer, copied a new friend's set of episodes, and watched them into oblivion during that summer. I almost have the dialog memorized - and I don't [technically] understand Japanese!
For me, the first season of Ranma is like the nostalgia equivalent of crank. It gives a memory buzz stronger than the remembrances of lost landmarks, first loves, and great accomplishments. I recognize that these emotions are transferences - the associations and displacements of friendships and worlds for which this goofy fighting-harem show is just a sort of signpost and stand-in for the thing itself.
But even signposts have a sort of value for those who find themselves in strange and lonesome places, mindful of the distant roads that lead us, someday, home.
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