Author has written 22 stories for Sailor Moon, Ranma, City of Heroes, X-overs, Buffy: The Vampire Slayer, Worm, Secret World, Heroes Unlimited, Tenchi Muyo, and Harry Potter.
There's a plague on Fanfiction Dot Net. And it's the "read and react" fad that has been going around. Why is this a plague? The reason is quite simple really. These aren't actual stories. They aren't an original work at all. While many of them have a kernel of a original idea, they abandon that in favor of copying an existing work word for word. Yes, there's the occasional interjection of a character as they "read" the story. But the meat and potatoes of these "read and react" tales is the copying of a pre-existing work. Do you know what it's called when you copy someone else's work word for word? it's called plagiarism. And it's the bane of all writers.
Picture if you will, you've spent months writing a story. Maybe you've even spent years working on it. You lovingly crafted the world setting, characters, and overall plot. This is something you take pride in. Others read your work, and it inspires them to write original works based on what you published. Some authors take this as high praise, others don't. But this is the heart of fanfiction. Namely the creation of original works based on the creation of someone else.
The problem is that these "read and react" fanfictions aren't original works. They are copying the original story word for word in it's entirety, then claiming "This is my work". That's wrong. In fact, it's just as wrong as when an author here on FFN who literally copy/pasted someone else's well written story, then published it as his (or her) own story. Plagiarism is a blight on creativity. And it needs to stop. There are ways to do the "read and react" style story without using plagiarism. Such as have the main characters read the story off camera then use that knowledge (and indignation), thus creating an original story based on the idea that the main characters got their hands on a prophetic book (or set of books) on their life.
But we need to end this trend of plagiarized books that someone claims is an original work.
My view on Ranma 1/2 (anime at least, still reading the manga): Ranma isn't anywhere near as good as he thinks he is. In fact, in any given style he thinks he mastered, he probably hasn't achieved 1st Dan in it.
Ranma not even being a 1st dan? I know, it may seem wrong to many. But think about it. His father 'trained' Ranma by leaving him at various dojos for a few days, maybe a week. Other then that it was endless sparring and torturous 'training' methods which should have killed the boy. Each dojo would likely have a different style. Also, judging by what is shown of how Genma actually trains it's unlikely Ranma was given a chance to practice any given kata until it's actually mastered. In fact, other then in fanfictions you never see Ranma practicing a kata. So even with his ability to absorb martial arts like a sponge, it's doubtful Ranma mastered a single basic kata in any given style. It's possible he doesn't know any kata.
As for him training non-stop for ten years strait, that would actually hurt his skills instead of improve them in my opinion. Think about it, he's given no chance to recover from any injuries. It's actually amazing he isn't crippled. Consider body builders. Who gets the most out of exercise: the person who works the same muscle group all day every day, or the person who gives each muscle group a chance to recover? It's the person who gives their body a chance to recover, of course.
Even in DBZ this is seen. Vageta pushes himself non-stop, yet always is behind Goku in the power department. Goku on the other hand trains rigorously, yet takes breaks to rest and recover. When in the hyperbolic time chamber Goku got more out of it while still resting for entire days, while Vageta didn't gain anywhere near as much power from his 24/7 training regime. But this is just from a physical body standpoint too. Ranma also has another problem. He doesn't use the most effective attacks usually. He uses 'flashy' attacks.
Why would this be? Well let's consider something. The 'anything goes' style as taught to Ranma takes from all other styles, and uses the best while eliminating the weaknesses. But in all honesty, Ranma wasn't given enough time to master any given style's basics. As such, he probably doesn't even understand the strengths and weaknesses of any given style. And he was learning as a very young child. As such his idea of 'best' and 'worst' would be that of a child. By the time he was 10 it's probable that days were spent traveling and sparring for the most part.
To a child a roundhouse kick seems incredibly powerful, which it is. It's also one of the easiest kick to defend against due to the fact it's telegraphed quite badly. A snap kick (which is one of Ranma's favorites) is very fast, but doesn't deliver the raw power of say an axe kick or a side kick. So Ranma would 'master' things like roundhouses and snap kicks in the various styles, yet disregard other more useful maneuvers. And the highly advanced maneuvers he never learned.
While it's true that many styles train a serious student for 6 to 10 years, they train the student in one specific style. Ranma got trained in a hodgepodge of styles, without being given enough time to really learn much of any given one. Each style will have a slightly different way to throw a punch. After ten years of serious study, most martial artists will have mastered the basics, and be working on mastering advanced moves not taught to beginners. Ranma on the other hand keeps polishing beginning level moves. And the 'advanced' techniques as taught by Genma are mostly a joke.
This isn't to say he's a bad martial artist though. In any given style he probably isn't even a first dan. But taken all together, he's likely equal to a 1st or 2nd dan easily. Many people make Ranma a 6th dan or better in dozens of styles, but how would he have have mastered the basics in them? He wasn't even taught all the basics. While in terms of actual skill Ranma is sorely lacking in many respects, he does have a lot of natural speed and agility. This alone would raise him from an overall 1st or 2nd dan to 3th dan in terms of raw ability.
Also bear in mind that 3rd dan rankings and higher frequently are reserved for those who also can teach. They have to be given by that style's leaders or a council of masters. So it's highly unlikely that Ranma has a high dan ranking in any style. He's not shown to be able to teach. In fact, his attempts to teach Akane fail horribly. Ryoga on the other hand can teach, so is possibly a 3rd dan in at least a few styles.
It's unlikely he has a 1st dan in any style but his own in fact. But then again it's doubtful the Anything Goes style uses dan rankings to begin with. It seems to have just student, master, and grandmaster. And no one actually awarded Genma or Soun their mastery. They gave it to themselves. As such only Happosai or a council of masters could grant Ranma a 4th dan or higher ranking (master status) in Anything Goes.
In all actuality, it's kind of doubtful if seriously thought about if all that many in Nerima are a 1st dan. or if they are, probably none are 4th dan or higher (Master status). Cologne and Happosai being notable exceptions. Another interesting thing in my opinion: the various chi abilities (giant aura, emotion based energy blast, create tornadoes) would probably be closer to chi magic then chi manipulation as they are portrayed.
As I read more of the manga though I notice Ranma is shown in the manga to be far more skilled then he is in the anime. I still stand by him not being a first dan in any given normal style. For the oddball ones that shouldn't work to begin with (ballroom dancing, tea ceremony, and so forth) he can and does fully master them. Then again these are styles that shouldn't be effective anyway, and have rather limited move sets. Similarly I stand beside him not being a 4th dan in any style, not even Anything Goes.
While he may have the skill, he hasn't been granted the rank. Genma can't afford to have Ranma be granted mastery (4th dan) because it would ruin his retirement plan. Not that Genma could grant it anyway. Soun probably has been granted Mastery, but he wouldn't grant the same status to Ranma. Genma holds too much sway over him. Happosai refuses because Ranma constantly thwarts the perverted grandmaster, and refuses to accept Happosai as his master. Personally, I doubt Happosai would grant anyone mastery unless he was on his death bed. At least in canon he wouldn't.