Ranma ½ hit the airwaves every Saturday night from 7:30 until 8:00pm starting on April 15, 1989, just two short years after the debut of the manga. The original series had difficulties winning its timeslot, as it was up against Super Sentai Series and Oboochama-kun. The show was cancelled after the eighteenth episode, which aired on September 16, 1989.
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Who would have thought that a show like Ranma ½ with its pedigree of talent would have such troubled beginnings? Much of the cast and crew were veterns of Takahashi's previous anime adaptations, Urusei Yatsura and Maison Ikkoku, which proved to be extremely popular with fans. Hidenori Taga was producing his third Takahashi anime only thirteen months after wrapping the final episode of Maison Ikkoku, and early on, much of the quality brought to the previous series was apparent in Ranma ½.
One month later, Ranma ½ got another shot, this time retitled Ranma ½ Nettohen the series was placed on a less competitive night in a much earlier timeslot, taking it out of the primetime battle it had failed to conquer. Though the show found success, the budget was obviously decreased, though many of the same staff remained on the show. All of these changes helped the show find success, though its quick adaptation, beginning only two years after the beginning of the manga, resulted in an inordinate amount of filler (compared with the Maison Ikkoku anime which began as the manga was nearly over, and the Inuyasha anime which debuted four years after its manga debut).
Following the end of the television series, Ranma ½ found new life in a successful series of OVAs, direct to video releases, that were of much higher quality than their weekly televised breathren. The OVA format was extremely popular in the late 1980s until the mid-1990s, and of all of the popular series created during this time, it is perhaps Ranma ½ and Tenchi Muyo that are most synonymous with the format in the United States. The OVA series adapted much of the later stories found in Ranma ½, and almost entirely focuses on material originally written by Rumiko Takahashi rather than stories written by the staff. Ranma ½ proved to be Takahashi's longest running series (at the time, Inuyasha would later outpace it by a large margin), and its length wound up out-pacing the final OVA by a few short months in 1996. Because of this, the ending of Ranma ½ was never animated. Since the end of the series, a number of factors have occured that make the continuation of the series less than likely, including the amount of time that has passed since the show's conclusion, the high cost of re-hiring the now all-star cast, and the death of Shigekazu Ochiai.