The Ground-Breaking Gender-Bending Anime You Can Watch For Free Right Now

By Matthew Flynn | Published

Recently, Tubi has taken significant strides in establishing itself as a go-to streaming platform. Its collection of classics, from silent movies to anime, is impressive. One of the most notable additions is the 90s classic martial arts anime Ranma ½.

The Wildly Successful Ranma 1/2

Illustrated by Rumiko Takahashi, the manga Ranma ½ tells the story of teenager Ranma Saotome. As a martial artist, Ranma suffers from a curse: he transforms into a girl whenever he’s exposed to cold water. Balancing his engagement with Akane Tendo against rival suitors and his consistent search for a cure, Ranma navigates a world crafted with humor, romance, and martial arts. The distinctive twist of characters undergoing transformations with changes in water temperature contributes to the series’ unique appeal, making it a standout in the manga and anime genres.

Over 100 Episodes

Produced by Studio Deen, the Ranma ½ anime aired from 1989 to 1992. The series, divided into an initial 18-episode run and a subsequent 143-episode season known as Ranma ½ Nettōhen, added unique storylines and characters to those originally found in the manga. This adaptation was greeted with praise globally, with fans and critics alike commending its appeal.

One Of The All-Time Greatest Anime

In fact, it ranked 17th on Anime Insider’s Top 50 Anime list in 2001 and secured the 36th position on TV Asahi’s 2006 list of Japan’s 100 favorite animated TV series. With its complex characters and compelling narrative, Ranma ½ continues to be regarded as a classic in the anime industry.

A Bizarre Cast Of Characters

Speaking of the colorful characters, Ranma 1/2 starts out weird and gets downright bizarre as it progresses. Other martial artists fell into different springs and, thus, also transformed when exposed to water, from Ranma’s father, Genma Saotome, turning into a panda to Mousse, who turns into a duck. Things get even more complicated when Ranma’s curse is kept a secret, causing other fighters to fall in love with him as a woman but view him as a rival as a man.

Millions Of Copies Sold

The manga, published in Weekly Shōnen Sunday from August 1987 to March 1996, consists of 407 chapters collected into 38 tankōbon volumes. It rapidly gained popularity in Japan and reached remarkable sales figures of over 49 million copies by November 2006. These figures, combined with phenomenal anime reception, solidified Ranma ½‘s status in manga and anime history.

Movies And Video Games

Ranma ½’s enduring legacy expands far beyond its manga and anime roots.  The franchise also includes three theatrical films: Ranma ½: Big Trouble in Nekonron, China, Ranma ½: Nihao My Concubine, and Ranma ½: Super Indiscriminate Decisive Battle! Team Ranma vs. the Legendary Phoenix. The first film was released in 1991, the second followed in 1992, and the third premiered in 1994.

The series also has 11 original video animations (OVAs) released to home video, numerous video games spanning various genres, plus a live-action TV adaptation in 2011.

Not Without Controversy

Ranma 1/2 walks a fine line between being a goofy, light-hearted anime and taking jabs at the gender politics of 1980s Japan when the country was experiencing a booming period of growth. It doesn’t always translate well to other cultures, and in fact, the famous Toonami anime block on Cartoon Network was unable to include the series due to the amount of nudity it shows. Despite these issues, the series is regarded today as one of the greatest of all time and well worth watching, especially for a harem anime.

You can stream Ranma ½ for free on Tubi.