Getting a long holiday vacation is nice and all, but one existential question always rears its head soon enough. Just what are you gonna do with all this free time that suddenly needs filling (or killing)? Should you find yourself in such a cushy predicament, there’s one easy fix to pass the hours and days away: marathon an anime or two, ideally with a few boxes of Hello Panda handy.
These shows are typically produced with such volume and frequency, the notion of “seasons” doesn’t matter. Heck, otaku pride themselves on how determinedly they can “power through” hundreds of episodes. And as it turns out, Hulu is an underrated treasure trove for such entertainment. From Fist of the North Star to Lupin III, the site hosts oodles of classic anime. In their entirety. And mostly for free.
Out of the catalog, Ranma ½ is probably most suitable for the holidays. The classic sitcom from the early 90s has a simple premise. Our titular hero/heroine, Ranma Saotome, is a cocky teenage martial artist who turns into a girl with ruby-red hair whenever he’s splashed with cold water. And he can only turn back if he finds some hot water. Got it? Well, to complicate the situation a touch further, his old man, the karate master Genma, has a similar curse that turns him into a panda.
So… a little Shaggy Dog. And a little She’s the Man, maybe. All by way of Freaky Friday.
The bulk of the show centers on hi-jinks at Ranma’s high school, wherein the kid either competes against martial arts rivals, or juggles the Archie-esque predicament of multiple fiancées. Yes, fiances. Not girlfriends. This all happens in a culture where marriages are still arranged by families.
Ranma’s most likely candidate for betrothal is Akane, a girl whose martial arts family would be a strong ally for Genma. She knows of Ranma’s “secret” pretty much from the get-go, and their bickering, tempestuous relationship is a delightful highlight in the series. Especially when it changes depending on gender dynamics.
And to give a sense of the sort of entanglements they get into, one of Ranma’s most antagonist rivals has a crush on Akane, but is also attracted to Ranma’s female form (without knowing his/her secret). They form the type of a love triangle (quadrangle?) that can only be sorted out over dozens of episodes. You know, like sitcoms do.
Most importantly, Hulu offers 161 broadcast-quality episodes of this show (115 of which are also available dubbed). So, that’s about 56 to 81 hours, give or take, of solid entertainment to fill whatever free time you have left over this holiday season. Give it a try. It’s free, so nobody even needs to gift it to you. Even if the initial premise doesn’t capture your imagination, the show’s sure to grow on you. “Marathoning” has that effect.
Photo Credits: VIZ Media