Ranma in fan fiction is generally a mix of anime and manga, with a little bit of the author and fanon thrown in. Recently I re-watched part of the anime and decided to make this list comparing the characterization differences in Ranma between the manga and the anime, and why I prefer the manga characterization. It is incomplete.
- Manga Ranma is a neat freak, hates a messy room, and will start cleaning a dirty room without thinking about it as shown by his starting to clean Miss Hinako's room and having to think about it to stop (above two pictures). This makes sense to me. A person who travels a lot and may have to leave at any moment, in my opinion, is more likely to keep his things organized and neat. Why? Because if you have to leave in a hurry, you have to know where your stuff is or you risk leaving it behind. Anime Ranma does not like cleaning, complains when he has to, and skips cleaning duty at school.
- Anime Ranma is not very good with money and will spend it as soon as he gets it. Then will borrow money from Akane. He also receives an allowance if Akane is to believed since she mentions once that he shouldn't have spent all his allowance. Who is giving him an allowance? Genma giving Ranma money does not seem to be very likely. Stealing money from Ranma seems a lot more likely. Manga Ranma is rather tight fisted with his money even while in a hurry and being blackmailed he'll try to negotiate a lower price (above picture). Both manga and anime Ranma will go to food stalls in girl form to get cheaper and/or free food (above picture right). The difference is manga Ranma doesn't want to spend the money and Anime Ranma doesn't have any money. Manga Ranma is shown to take part time jobs to earn his money such as when he took a job at a hot spring and a comment by Genma at another point implies that taking a short term part time job is not uncommon. In my opinion, being tight fisted with money makes more sense. During his training trip he quite likely did not have enough money to buy essentials some of the time and he has to actually earn the money he gets. Considering that, if I was in his situation I would try and make all the money I had count because I would worry that a time would come in which I needed money but didn't have it.
- Manga Ranma is secretive and more suspicious of people's actions than his anime counterpart. Anime Ranma is more trusting and willing to impart information about himself. I can come up with quite a few reasons as to why Ranma would be secretive and suspicious of people.
- Genma. Genma lies and attempts to scam people/betrays them. For example Ukyo's dad. Ranma probably eventually caught on that Genma can't really be trusted and if he can't be others probably can't be.
- We see that people betray him during the manga and it is likely that others betrayed/tried to cheat him prior to the manga, like Genma.
- What people don't know about you they can't use against you. For example when people found out about his fear of cats they tried to use it against him like Akane sometimes uses it to punish him or Nabiki pulling out a cat so he couldn't intimidate her.
- He appears to have some ninja training - crawl along ceiling, body switch trick, smoke cloud, etc. Ninja's are known for being secretive.
- Ranma himself is fairly manipulative and will use any advantage he can get against you - such as trying to blackmail Nabiki, attempting to seduce Akane to get rid of the dogi, or using Herbs anger at seeing breasts against him. He probably figures others are manipulative and likely to use any advantage they can as well.
- Manga Ranma is more likely to look at books for answers and to read for entertainment then the anime version. The anime version is more likely to play super nintendo then read. We see Ranma turn to books for answers such as when Dr Tofu hurt his neck we later see him reading a book on chiropractics, during the reversal jewel he turned to dating magazines for advice on dating, turned to a scroll to counter Miss Hinako's draining, picked up the diary to find out why no one was at the island with the Hawaiian virus, etc. We also see him reading at other times as to what he was reading at those other times is unknown he was reading something while waiting for Ryoga prior to the ShiShiHadoken, read something while going to sleep when Miss Hinako stayed at the Tendo's, etc. Reading makes more sense then playing video games to me. Think about how his training trip likely went. Probably trained with many different martial arts masters at dojo's all of which were likely older then him and unlikely to have video game systems. When training on a mountain or away from civilization wasn't likely to have access to electricity required for video game systems/TV's to work but as long as there is light you can read a book to keep yourself entertained. Though manga Ranma will occasionally play video games ( he plays a fighting game with Miss Hinako on her Super Nintendo) and watch TV (we see him watch the news occasionally) he is much more likely to grab a book than the anime version.
- Anime Ranma complained about having to go to school. Manga Ranma did not complain about having to go to school. In my opinion, Not complaining makes more sense. He was a lonely kid, dragged around from place to place with Genma, probably training under various older martial artists, and had little contact with kids his own age. Whether or not he liked doing the assignments. He probably still would have liked going because it would've been a place to go with people his own age. People who he could just be a kid around. In the wilds it would have been about survival and training. At dojo's it would have been training and possibly working in exchange for the training/lodging (like sweeping or cleaning the dojo or something). School even with the assignments would be the place in which he could be around, meet, and play with people his own age.
- Manga Ranma is less human. As pointed out in an earlier post Ranma is not really like normal people. Anime Ranma acts more like a regular person than his manga counterpart. Manga Ranma is more likely to cling to the ceiling, run up telephone poles, accidentally break things with his strength, etc. I just prefer the manga version in this case because I think it is cooler and believe that people with super human abilities would use them in everyday situations.
The above was just some of the differences between manga and anime Ranma. I could go on. For example, Manga Ranma had better handwriting and spelling than his anime counterpart - In the original Japanese manga Ranma did not spell anything wrong, in the anime he misspelled spirit wards and in the English version of the manga he misspelled buffoon. Manga Ranma was able to write fairly neat even in bruises while in a hurry and could write legibly with his foot.