A and A's Movie A Day

Watching movies until we run out.

Movie 347 – Ranma 1/2 The Movie: Big Trouble in Nekonron, China

Ranma 1/2 The Movie: Big Trouble in Nekonron, China – February 10th, 2011

It has been years since I’ve watched this movie, or any Ranma, for that matter. Andy and I went through as much of the series as we could back when I was in college and we had unlimited free rentals and a hefty anime section to use them on. Sadly, we were missing a few tapes here and there, so every so often we’d grab one only to be faced with a character we should have known, but who had been introduced in an episode we’d missed. Going back now to watch this movie, I feel like that. Like I’ve missed something I should know. It’s bizarre. But then, the movie is pretty bizarre, so that works out okay.

Let’s get something straight right up front: Kidnapping and holding someone against their will is not romantic. No way, no how. It’s creepy. And it’s the central plot of this movie. To some extent, it’s clear that the movie knows this is uncool. The female lead, Akane, clearly doesn’t want to be there. She doesn’t want to marry this jerkwad prince. And her friends and family spend most of the movie trying to rescue her. But then, awww, she has feelings for the prince, and makes him dinner, and takes care of him! That there is some fast-acting Stockholm syndrome. But I’ll come back to the prince and his portrayal and why I find it problematic.

First let’s talk about Ranma in general. This movie would be a little incomprehensible to the uninitiated. I don’t rightly know that it was ever intended for anyone who hadn’t seen at least a couple of episodes of the show. Sure, it introduces the whole gimmick of the show, which is that various characters change into something if they’re doused with cold water and change back to themselves when doused with warm water. And we see plenty of that during the opening scene, where pretty much every character who can turn into something does. The thing is, no one’s really introduced. Sure, you see them all start chasing each other through the streets and get a little indication of their interest in each other, but only a couple get names mentioned and no motivations or anything get explained. It is as brief and cursory as you can imagine. We find out that Ranma turns into a girl and amongst the others there’s a cat, a pig, a duck, a panda… Yeah. But who are these people? Eh, who cares. All we care about is that they’re involved with each other in a variety of ways and they’re martial artists.

At the end of the opening scene, which is a chase scene that picks up character after character, we meet someone new. Her name is Lychee and she has an elephant with her and she’s on a quest to find a prince who has the other half of a special scroll. Akane accidentally ends up with the scroll just as the prince shows up and decides that she has to be his bride, despite her protests that she doesn’t want to go with him and doesn’t want to marry him. Ranma, who has a thing for Akane (even though he denies it if asked and the same goes for Akane in return – they bicker constantly through the show and the movie whenever they’re together) heads off in pursuit of her along with her father, his father and all their various friends, rivals and suitors. Most of the movie involves people arguing and hitting each other and turning into animals and yelling and breaking things. At least, the scenes with all the regular characters go that way.

The bits with Akane and the prince are a little different. Akane doesn’t want to be there, that much is clear. Despite her sympathy for the prince and attempts at cooking and all, she still doesn’t want to marry him, and I appreciate that the movie doesn’t waver on that point. I mean, the prince? Is depicted as this suave and collected dude who has been raised from birth to lead this group of magical martial artists and live in this magical tower surrounded by magical geysers that’s only reachable by magic dirigible. And okay, that can lead to a severely limited and privileged world view. Of course he assumes Akane will want to marry him. Why wouldn’t he? But he kidnapped Akane and held her against her will, intending to marry her, also against her will. He’s got this weird vibe going, where he’s doing these dickish things, like holding Akane prisoner and sending his crew of badasses out to fend off Akane’s friends and family, but he’s also clearly supposed to be somewhat sympathetic. And well, I take issue with that. He’s a bad guy who isn’t presented as a bad guy even though he’s totally doing bad guy stuff.

All that being said, I do have to hand it to the movie that while Akane does spend the majority of the movie as a prisoner, she does fight back. And among her erstwhile rescuers are a couple of young women as well as young (and old) men and they all kick a good deal of ass. And that’s nice. I like getting to see a wide variety of characters being awesome. Aside from the prince’s utter failure to not break Wheaton’s Law, it really is a fun movie. But you kind of do have to know some of the series in order to get a lot of the characters. I suppose you could watch it without knowing them and the plot would still hang together, but you’d miss stuff. And even knowing it but being about a decade removed from it, I felt the lack of information. But I guess that’s just par for the course. It’s still fun. It’s just crowded fun.

February 10, 2011 - Posted by | daily reviews | , , , , ,

No comments yet.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: