Paul Takes the Form of A Mortal Girl

Elisa Gabbert writes:

Ranma, the protagonist of the manga comic Ranma ½, changes sex when she/he comes into contact with water. It’s the result of a curse – a journey to China, a haunted spring – but it’s also sometimes useful. The story was made into an anime series in 1989 and I found the first episode, dubbed in English, on YouTube. Ranma, in the form of a teenage girl, visits an old friend of her father’s, who knew her as a boy. He hugs the child – who he hopes will marry one of his three daughters – and is surprised by how squishy ‘he’ is. We zoom in on Ranma’s breasts, which one of the daughters pokes with her finger. Definitely a girl. But after a quick judo match with Akane, the youngest daughter, Ranma takes a bath and emerges as a boy, breasts replaced with pecs. Akane walks into the bathhouse naked, sees Ranma and screams. He hangs his head: ‘Sorry about this.’

(LRB 1 August 2019)