A and A's Movie A Day

Watching movies until we run out.

Ranma ½ The Movie 2: Nihao My Concubine

February 11, 2011

Ranma ½ The Movie 2: Nihao My Concubine

Oh, amime and your fan service. I’m almost ashamed to admit how much cheesy anime I’ve watched over the years and in that time I’ve come to recognise certain inevitable truths about these series. If you’re watching a harem style comedy like, say, Ranma, there may be an episode at a hot spring. There may be an episode in a school setting or in a hospital. And there will always ALWAYS be an episode that takes place at a beach resort where all the girls wear skimpy bikinis. I did wonder as I watched this if this trope was as true back in the early nineties when Ranma was on the air in Japan. Who knows – this movie could have been the prototype for innumerable fan service beach episodes to come. Or it could have been a cliche already when it was first produced, I’m just not sure. Suffice to say that this movie is the beach vacation adventure for the Ranma universe.

When Kuno invites Akane and Ranma out for a jaunt on his new yacht pretty much all the main characters of the series invite themselves along. Of course they are caught in a storm and the boat ends up washed ashore on a deserted island. As this movie begins everybody is lounging around in bikinis and enjoying their time away from the pressures of modern life and the repressive modesty of Japan. (Well except for Shampoo and her grandmother who appear to have constructed a raman shop from bamboo and coconuts.) Soon, however this idyllic paradise is marred by the disappearance of all the female cast members. One by one they are kidnapped by a mysterious shadow.

It turns out that a nearby island has no women on it and must kidnap brides for its inhabitants. Young prince Toma is seeking a wife and apparently wants a vast pool from which to select her. Unsurprisingly, if you are familiar at all with the ways of Ranma, he chooses Akane. So it is up to Mousse, Kuno, Genma, Happosai, Soun, Ryoga and Ranma to invade the floating island and rescue the girls. The added twist here is that there is a spring on Toma’s island the water of which can turn any creature into a man. (This is the reason there are no women there to act as brides apparently.) Many of the inhabitants of the island are clearly creatures converted by the spring water. There’s a monkey, a dog, a bird and such. Since Ranma, Genma, Mousse and Ryoga are all cursed to change form whenever doused with cold water they instantly crave this spring water as a potential cure for their state.

This movie is the shortest one in our entire collection. At just sixty minutes it is almost too short to really qualify as a movie, but it’s not really jsut an episode of the television series either. Part of what makes it so short is that it doesn’t bother to try and introduce all these characters. If you read that last paragraph and felt lost because there’s a whole bunch of names you don’t recognise in it then this movie is not intended for you. This movie pre-supposes that you are familiar with the characters and world of Ranma and just jumps right in – as if it really were an episode.

You have to wonder how Ranma lasted do long when it is so formulaic. In just about every episode somebody will declare their love either for Ranma or for Akane (or in the confused case of Kuno for both of them.) Ranma will use his martial arts prowess to defend himself or Akana from unwanted suitors while all the time stressing how very much he does NOT love Akane. He’s just her fiance. As the show progressed through its six seasons the sheer number of jilted suitors was daunting. And there was never any real sense of resolution. You can kind of see how some of the suitors are destined to be with each other (Nabiki and Kuno or Shampoo and Mousse) and of course Ranma and Akane were continually on the verge of admitting their love for each other for many, many years. I’d say that the series didn’t even bother trying to keep fresh. It continually re-hashed the same territory to such a degree that it became well-worn and familiar. As such, this movie is the perfect embodiment of Ranma. There’s martial arts fights. There’s the potential for a cure for Ranma. There’s scenes of people almost able to admit that they care for each other. And ultimately nothing is changed and we’re left with our characters in the eternal limbo necessary to continue to milk the franchise. It’s the same story but with different costumes.

Different, very skimpy, costumes.

For a show that has a main character who is about half the time a kick-ass girl this was sure a misogynistic creation. Akane might once in a while slap somebody who is getting out of line, but most of the time she’s content to wait to be rescued by Ranma. Again. Every girl in this movie is objectified to the nth degree. They are prizes to be won. They are potential wives. And of course they are alluringly costumed in such a way as to accentuate their desirable figures.

I’ll admit that I found myself distracted at times by the giggling. Which makes me feel slightly guilty. Tomorrow we’ll have to watch something a little more sober and less juvenile.

February 11, 2011 - Posted by | daily reviews | , , , ,

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