A and A's Movie A Day

Watching movies until we run out.

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

February 10, 2011

Ranma ½ The Movie: Big Trouble in Nekonron, China

Man does this bring back memories. Back in the late nineties when Amanda and I worked at TLA video we began to explore the large anime collection the store offered. By far the largest series we had available to us was Ranma – a never ending series based on the works of Rumiko Takahashi (the same woman behind the never ending Inu Yasha.) I have to admit that I love the Ranma series. It’s so charming and ludicrous.

The Ranma series centers around a young martial arts expert who has a unique problem. While training in China at a set of cursed hot springs they fall in. After that incident Ranma’s father Genma turns into a panda any time he is soaked in cold water and can only become human again if doused with warm water. Ranma himself stays human in cold water but turns from a black haired boy into a red headed girl. The series starts with the two of them arriving at the Anything Goes School of Martial arts run by Genma’s old friend Soun Tendo. Ranma has long been betrothed to the youngest of Tendo’s three daughters, Akane. Of course Akane and Ranma profess to hate each other, and the central theme of the series is their ever so so gradual coming together as a couple. Along the way there is an enormous cast of other characters, most of whom are either in love with Ranma or Akane (or both.) Some, such as Ryoga and Shampoo, are also cursed by the same springs. Others are just blinded by their obsessive love. As the series wears on it gets a little repetative, but even so it continues to be fun to see Akane and Ranma denying their love for one another while more and more suitors keep coming out of the wood works.

This OVA takes place well after the series has gotten under way. It starts with the lecherous and tiny martial arts master Happosai causing a ruckous when he frames Ranma for the theft of some of Akane’s underwear (it makes sense if you know him from the series.) We get a very quick introduction to just about every major character from the series as one after another they join into a mad chase after Happosai and Ranma. It’s a fun way to become re-aquainted with the characters if, as with us this evening, it has been several years since you last watched an episode. At the conclusion of the chase a mysterious girl astride an elephant shows up and attacks Happosai. In the process she hands a magical scroll to Akane, which causes further chaos when a ship descends from the clouds bearing a prince with magic chopsticks and his six legendary protectors. He sees Akane with the scroll, declares her to be his betrothed, and abducts her, floating away in his majestic airship. (This is a fairly average day, really, in the lives of the Tenmas and Saotomes.) So everybody hies off to China in pursuit of Monlon, the seven lucky gods, and Akane.

For me it’s fun just to see all these familiar characters on another adventure. The animation isn’t brilliant, and the plot is nothing particularly new, but we do get to see many references to familiar tropes from the series. Akane demonstrates her astonishingly bad cooking. Ranma risks all in a martial arts showdown to save her and yet continues to profess his disdain for her as a tomboy. (Early on in the series she cuts her hair short, and I’ve never understood why she didn’t let it grow back out, unless maybe she enjoys his barbs.) Everybody who has been cursed by the springs transforms multiple times. All in all it’s just a slightly longer episode of the series, but that doesn’t make it any less enjoyable.

There’s not much else I can think to add tonight. This is one of the shortest movies in our collection (and tomorrow’s movie is even shorter) but it’s slightly too long to consider a TV episode. And yet it has imprinted itself upon our lexicon. Once in a while Amanda or I will exclaim “PICKLES!!!” when discussing pickled cucumbers – and you’d have to watch this movie to understand why.

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

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