At a Glance: Ranma 1/2
Ranma 1/2 is a quirky comedy anime where the titular protagonist Ranma turns into a girl when splashed with cold water, and back into a boy when splashed with hot water. His father is the same, but with turning into a panda and back into a human. It all started when they were doing father-son martial arts training in China, and Ranma and his dad fell into separate enchanted lakes. (It's a thing that happens, right?)
So with Ranma changing back and forth from boy to girl a lot, the main focus of the comedy in the show has to do with gender and relationships. Ranma has an arranged marriage fiance, karate girl Akane. Midway through the first season, a girl named Shampoo shows up from China, and she wants to kill Ranma in his female form, and marry him in his male form. So there's a lot of drama with that love triangle (it's written by Rumiko Takahashi, who also did the manga of Inuyasha, and she loves her some love triangles).
Manga by Rumiko Takahashi
Martial Arts, Fantasy, Comedy
OVAs, Anime Films, Live Action Film, Specials, Video Games
If I were going to describe this anime in one word, fun. It's wild, fast-paced, even chaotic. Martial arts are often taken seriously in anime, even to the point of being pretentious (Rurouni Kenshin can sometimes sound like that for example, with swordsmanship). So, it is kind of refreshing when an anime can play on martial arts tropes and have a good joke at their expense. It comes out as a kind of affectionate parody of martial arts movies, especially Chinese ones, since a lot of the plot is connected to China.
Ranma 1/2 is a unique concept of having a male character who can magically turn into a woman and back. This lets the show explore societal norms having to do with gender. Since the main characters have very traditional family backgrounds, the show highlights traditional cultural perceptions of men vs. women.
So while this anime is very good for slapstick comedy, it also has moments that make you think about gender, relationships, and the societal expectations of men and women.