Anime has always been known to feature exciting transformations. From Super Saiyans, battle robots and shapeshifting vampires, we’ve seen characters grow and change in various ways to meet their challenges. Ranma ½ is a series known for a very unique transformation of its own.
Ranma ½ tells the story of Ranma Saotome, who is a skilled martial artist of his father’s dojo. It is through their training that the two encounter a cursed spring whilst traveling in China. The side effects causing Ranma to become a girl when he touches cold water, and a boy again with warm water. If that wasn’t enough, he’s become involved in an arranged marriage with tomboyish fellow martial artist Tendo Akane.
Throughout 161 episodes, Ranma struggles through challenges stemming from his gender fluidity and the romantic complications it causes. Mixing the elements of action, comedy, romance, harem, and yes, the Chemical X of gender bender; Ranma ½ is one of the most unique slice of life anime you will ever see.
Here are six shows that manage to deliver a similar feeling with characters who undergo drastic changes to their bodies for the sake of a good story.
Similar Anime to Ranma ½
- Episodes: 12
- Aired: October 2009 – December 2009
Kampfer introduces us to Senou Natsuru, a high school student who one day finds he has been transformed into a girl. If that wasn’t unusual enough, he is also told by a talking stuffed animal that he is now a Kampfer, fated to do battle with other girls with psychic abilities.
The gender bender aspect is found in both Kampfer and Ranma ½. Natsuru, like Ranma himself, struggles to cope with his body’s physical changes, usually in the most fan-servicing ways possible. The changes are also not unnoticed by those around him, among his friends, rivals and new admirers.
The show’s battles are more of a central focus than in Ranma ½. Senou’s well-being is at stake as he seeks to survive at the Moderator’s whims who have thrust blue and red Kampfers into battle throughout the show. Fights and transformations evoke a feeling similar to that of the battle shounen and magical girl genres. The cast of girls is the usual fare for those who enjoy their ecchi and harem shows, and there are additional special episodes for those looking for more of that.
No official trailer available
2. Ore, Twintail ni Narimasu. (Gonna be the Twin-Tail!!)
- Episodes: 12
- Aired: October 2014 – December 2014
You most likely have never obsessed over anything as much as Souji Mitsuku has obsessed about twin-tail hair styles. He loves them, and he isn’t alone. Unfortunately for Souji, an alien group known as Ultimegil has stolen all of Earth’s twin-tails for themselves. In a desperate attempt to right this wrong, Souji becomes a twin-tail girl himself through a battle suit, and fights this grave injustice alongside other twin-tail warriors. The end result is a part Magic Girl and part Super Sentai show featuring loli twin-tail girls fighting evil perverted lizards from space.
While both Souji and Ranma transform frequently, only Souji completely does it at his own desire. He essentially dons a “girl suit” so any discomfort is temporary. Beyond that, he idolizes the look itself and wants the ability to battle the wrongdoers who are depriving earth of his beloved twin-tails. Although a different set of cause and effect scenarios play out, the romantic and comedy elements stemming from his choices are similar.
While there is less fanservice than you might find in other shows, it’s still there to a degree, as well as having some romantic elements. More than anything, the show tries to poke fun at itself and Japanese otaku culture in general. The show rarely takes itself entirely seriously and as a result the viewer can often laugh along.
Gonna be the Twin-Tail!! PV
3. Yamada-kun to 7-nin no Majo (TV) (Yamada-kun and the Seven Witches)
- Episodes: 12
- Aired: April 2015 – June 2015
Yamada-kun and the Seven Witches tells the story of the fateful encounter between school delinquent Ryuu Yamada and the beautiful honor student, Urara Shuraishi. One misstep on the stairs causes the two of them to accidentally kiss, and in the process, they find that they have switched bodies. After dealing with this unusual ability by themselves, it isn’t long before a few others of the cast learn their secret as well, and the plot begins to develop further.
Unlike Ranma ½, the main character isn’t the only one being directly inconvenienced by his transformations. It takes two to tango, or in this case body swap. Throughout the show, the cast discovers the benefits and downsides of this ability and investigates the reasons behind it. Along the way, they uncover they’re not even the most unusual group at the school. As you may have inferred from the title, there’s more than one witch around.
A real strength of this series is how the characters interact with each other. Reasoning and motivation feels fleshed out, and revelations amongst past actions feel meaningful. It has a lot of humorous scenes, as you can imagine from the abilities discovered, and it even has a few touching moments as well. Throughout the series, the characters come to better understand each other and grow closer, even though they often wish some secrets stayed secret.
No official trailer available
Any Anime Like Ranma ½?
4. Aoharu x Kikanjuu (Aoharu x Machinegun)
- Episodes: 12
- Aired: July 2015 – September 2015
In Aoharu x Machinegun, through the sketchiest of circumstances, Hotaru Tachibana finds herself deep in debt to Masamune Masuoka. In order to recoup damages owed, she is roped into a hectic airsoft competition, all while she has been deceiving others by pretending this entire time to be a boy. The team she has recently joined, Toy Gun Gun, does not allow females.
Throughout the series, Hotaru copes with maintaining her cool and keeping focused while finding that she, in fact, enjoys certain aspects of the game and working with her team. The scenes are usually comedic in nature with her dealing with keeping up appearances or learning her role within the group. Although she struggles to keep up with them, she finds herself continuing on, not that she has much choice.
Both Ranma and Hotaru share the struggle of keeping up appearances despite their circumstances. Neither of them have a choice in how they identify themselves, and both become stressed while playing their roles in their respective situations.
Unlike some of the other shows on this list, with the roles reversed, ecchi is expectedly not a focal point. To categorize it, it’s almost the counter element in “handsome guys doing handsome guy things” in most instances. That said, if you want to see a main character coping with their identity in an action-oriented sports setting, this one’s for you.
Aoharu X Machinegun Trailer
5. Fruit Basket
- Episodes: 26
- Aired: July 2001 – December 2001
In Fruit Basket, protagonist Tooru Honda finds herself homeless after the death of her mother. Under the circumstances, she has been roughing it on the property of one of her classmates, unbeknownst to her. Souma Yuki, the handsomest guy in her school, finds Tooru and invites her to live with him and his cousin Shigure in exchange for doing housework. While living with them, she discovers that due to the Souma family curse, when either of them are hugged by a woman, they will transform into one of the twelve zodiac animals.
Curses plague the characters in both Ranma ½ and Fruit Basket. While Tooru gets to be an onlooker and cuddle with cute animals instead of undergoing a transformation herself, she is, in fact, able to affect change in them as individuals. The family is closed off to others due to the nature of their curse, but over the course of the series, they begin gradually opening up to her in various ways.
The show has a charm to it in the way the characters are drawn and animated, which is rare to find these days in most anime. The deformed, caricature animal versions of the Soumas emote in ways that draw a laugh from the audience. Much like Ranma ½, the comedy and romance goes hand in hand while the characters undergo their physical changes.
Fruits Basket Trailer
6. To LOVE-Ru OVA
- Episodes: 6
- Aired: April 2009 – April 2010
To LOVE-Ru is known most commonly for being the quintessential harem series that is borderline hentai (a case could be made that it is actually hentai). Main character Yuuki Rito (aka the God of Fall) is your typical, average down-on-his-luck high school protagonist who just so happens to be in love with a girl in his class, Haruna Sairenji. From the setup, you would assume it was a normal school romance, but unfortunately for Rito, alien princess Lala Deviluke teleports into his bathtub one night, becoming his fianceé in the process.
While the mainline series can hardly be considered tame, the OVA series is where the more extraordinary plot developments from the manga come in. One of which involves a sex change à la one of Lala’s zany inventions. Many ecchi scenes involving panty shots, toplessness and clumsily being unaccustomed to his new packaging, cause Rito much anxiety. What’s worse is that he’s getting the wrong kind of attention from his male classmates, including his best friend.
Ranma ½ may not have always graciously handled the transition from male to female and vice versa, but To LOVE-Ru aims for pure fan service. If seeing a male get in touch with his feminine side more physically than emotionally piques your interest, this OVA series is worth a watch.
In the end, understanding the differences of others can reveal more about yourself as well. We tend to love the characters who grow and change, not just outwardly, but inwardly as well. Their overcoming adversity resonates a little bit with our desire to change ourselves.
If you have any examples of other shows that showcase drastic character changes please leave a comment below. We’d love to hear your thoughts!