Ranma 1/2 Live Action Recap
Good ol’ Chani-chan got me addicted to the manga of Ranma 1/2 by Takahashi Rumiko when we were in college together, so I was completely excited to hear that there would be a live action made. I was even more excited to learn that one of my favorite younger j-actors Kaku Kento was playing Ranma. I have finally watched the fall special and completely loved it! I think boosting my love is how eerily the live action characters resembled the manga characters. On top of that, we had a reunion of some Asuko March! cast members [i.e. Kaku Kento, Nagayama Kento, Kanai Yuta].
Romanized title: Ranma 1/2
Broadcast station: NTV
Broadcast date: 9 December 2011
Cast: Aragaki Yui, Furuta Arata, Kaku Kento, Hasegawa Jun, Kanai Yuta, Nagayama Kento, Namase Katsuhisa, Nishiyama Nabiki, Tanihara Shosuke, Tayama Ryosei, Watanabe Natsuna
Theme song: “Chiku Taku☆2NITE” by 9nine
Based on the manga series Ranma 1/2 by Takahashi Rumiko
Synopsis: This special follows high school tomboy Tendo Akane as her fiance, young martial arts prodigy Saotome Ranma returns from special training in China.
We open at the Tendo doujo where Akane [Aragaki Yui] is mercilessly battling her only student. Having enough, the student runs away. At the same time, her father Suon [Namase Katsuhisa – whom I loved in Trick] is celebrating as he has received a postcard that Ranma [Kaku Kento] has finally returned from training in China with his father, Genma [Furuta Arata]. He rushes to the kitchen to tell his daughters of Ranma’s arrival. The girls can’t really be bothered by this news until Suon reveals that Ranma is Akane’s fiance. A fiance that she had no idea existed. The father and son duo are fighting it out. Why? Ranma wants the address to the Tendo doujo so he can ditch his dad and get to the legendary hot springs. Ranma does manage to defeat his father and get the directions.
Akane, dispirited, heads off to school where she sees a person in Chinese clothing. She recalls her father’s words that Ranma came back from China. But when Akane approaches the stranger, it turns out to be a girl [Watanabe Natsuna as the female version of Ranma]! The girl asks for directions to the Tendo dojo and learns that Akane is a Tendo. Before any more questions can be asked, they get interrupted by a group of guys, all gung-ho to attack Akane. The female Ranma offers to help, but Akane has it handled. Ranma asks photography nerd Gosunkugi Hikaru just what is going on. Gosunkugi replies that this happens every day. The guys believe whoever beats Akane gets to date her. Needless to say, Akane has no trouble handling the guys.
However, the fight is interrupted by Kuno Tatewaki [Nagayama Kento]. He gets all the guys down in one blow. No one can defeat and date Akane, but himself. Ranma goes over to Akane who explains that battling with boys every day is all because of Kuno [Nagayama does such a great job at the delusional, self-important role]. When Kuno calls Ranma a girl [well he is in female form thanks to the rain earlier], Ranma gets mad. Ranma gets even angrier when Kuno makes a pass at him and says that he will date both Akane and the “pig-tailed girl” at the same time. Ranma asks Akane if its okay to beat Kuno up. Akane ascents to this, but says Ranma will have problems. Ranma just shrugs that off and dropkicks Kuno in one shot. This shocks everyone.
Akane then learns that the girl is her fiancé Ranma. It makes Akane happy to learn that marriage is impossible since Ranma is also a female. The vice principal then scolds Akane for the fight, but its not like she can do anything about it. Ranma then asks about the legendary hot springs. That is the only reason he’s come back from China. Akane, however, has no idea what he’s talking about]. Then comes Tofu-sensei [the school’s doctor and Akane’s long-time crush played by Tanihara Shosuke]. The three then go to the nurse’s office. When Kasumi [Hasegawa Kyoko], the eldest Tendo daughter, comes in to bring Akane her forgotten lunch and to drop off treats for Tofu [who is head over heels for her], Ranma learns that a giant panda showed up at the Tendo dojo.
Hearing this, Ranma drags Akane out of the office and forces her to take him to the dojo. When they get there, Suon is trying to call animal patrol, but the middle daughter Nabiki [Nishiyama Maki], thinking of what money the panda can bring, won’t let him. Ranma demands to know where the panda is and heads off to the bathroom where he finds the panda running a hot bath. Akane follows behind, but instead of female Ranma and a panda, she finds two naked men. Oddly enough, the Tendo’s don’t put two and two together. Genma and Ranma even tell them that they fell into the cursed Jusenkyo Springs in China where anyone who falls into them becomes whatever was drowned in the springs first and thus become a girl and a panda. To prove that this is true, Genma throws Ranma into a pond outside and Ranma instantly transforms back into his female form. In retribution, Ranma tosses cold water on his father as well, transforming Genma back into panda form. Hot water turns the two into a girl and a panda and hot water turns them back to normal.
Suon then tells the story of how it is the Tendo’s job to watch over a legendary spring that can turn anything into a man. Apparently, fed up with all the troubles that foxes were making, a Chinese monk from the Jusenkyo area enchanted a spring to turn them into men. However, when that just caused even more trouble, the spring was closed up and put under guard. Suon promises to reveal its location to Ranma only if the boy agrees to marry Akane and inherit the dojo. Ranma quickly agrees to this, much to Akane’s annoyance. She wants to inherit the dojo and keep it running herself. She is even angrier when she hears Ranma call it run-down. Thus their rocky, bickering relationship begins. Really, I am so glad these characters are keeping pretty true to their manga counterparts! I absolutely love Natsuna’s female version of Ranma. If you didn’t know any better, you would believe she’s a boy trapped in a girl’s body.
Ranma later learns from Kasumi that ever since the Tendo mother died at a young age, the dojo became everything to Akane, so Ranma made a pretty bad mistake by insulting it. This makes Ranma feel bad. He’s not a bad guy, really, just impetuous and impatient. He really wants to become a normal boy again. Ok, so I won’t go into elaborate details about the plot so much from here on out.
What happens is that Ranma continues to go to school to find out the location of the hidden spring. The girls all form a crush on the male Ranma who is seen as much better than the pervert Kuno. When Tofu learns of Ranma’s curse, he keeps repeatedly trying to dump water on Ranma who keeps repeatedly telling him not to. Ranma is also aware of Akane’s crush on Tofu and how Akane tries to emulate her sister Kasumi in hopes of catching Tofu’s interest. Not possible, the guy is gaga for Kasumi. Of course, Kuno hates the male version of Ranma. He is his rival in love since the male Ranma is Akane’s fiancé, plus Ranma kicked his butt when Kuno kept pressuring Akane to date him.
At the club where Nabiki works, Suon tells Genma how to find the springs. Nabiki overhears this and tells Ranma for a price. He has to go into girl form and work at the club to earn Nabiki more money. Ranma learns that the location of the springs is inside the girls’ locker room. When he tries to enter, he is attacked by drag queens! Of all things. They are looking for the hidden spring, too, it seems. The vice principal [queen of the queens], tries to get the girls away from the locker room because a pervert broke into it, but the girls insist on using it. Ranma gets discovered trying to go inside in male form, making the girls and Akane misunderstand him as being the pervert.
Genma and Suon learn of the others seeking the springs and ask Tofu to help gather information. Meanwhile, they let it slip to Ranma [in female form wearing a wig at Nabiki’s club] that a key is needed to activate the springs. Suon says he has put it in the safest place possible. At the same time, the queens learn that they need a key as well [having finally found the springs]. Ranma figures out that the key is with Akane and gets into more pervert trouble by sneaking in her room at night to steal it. This gives Genma and Suon hope that Ranma is falling for Akane [which he technically is, but that’s not why he snuck into her bedroom at night].
Ranma goes to school with Akane again, explaining that her necklace is the key to unlocking the spring hidden in the girls’ locker room. Akane, starting to believe him a little, refuses to give up the necklace as it is a precious gift from her mother. Then enters Kuno [who totally didn’t understand Gosunuki’s intel that pig-tailed girl is male Ranma]. He gets the necklace and refuses to give it back until Akane has lunch with him. Ranma invites himself, but Kuno doesn’t want Ranma, he wants the pig-tailed girl, thus Ranma transforms in order to go get the necklace. At Kuno’s he refuses to give the necklace back and he even has a bed set up with three pillows. A total sleaze. He and female Ranma end up fighting and hot water gets spilt on Ranma who transforms into male form again only to get an accidental kiss with Kuno. Meanwhile, Akane has gotten her necklace back and leaves only to be confronted by the queens. Ranma rushes to the rescue and chases the queens off, but Akane’s long hair gets sacrificed. This gives Kuno even more reason to hate male Ranma since he “hurt” Akane.
Kasumi evens out Akane’s shorn hair. Tofu tells her that she looks cute and reminds him of the tomboy side of hers. This saddens Akane as she knows she has no chance. Ranma, likes her hair as well. When Akane sprains her ankle, he transforms into female form [she was angry with guys], and piggybacks her. Female Ranma tells her that Suon gave her the key as she is the true inheritor of the dojo. It’s just that Akane, being a girl, cannot do it all alone. Ranma is there to help her. Besides, he really likes her new haircut. Ranma is about to confess his feelings, but does stop himself. Of course, I’m pretty sure Akane got the gist of his rambling.
Akane officially gives up on Tofu when she reaches home and delivers his message to her sister. She then runs into Genma who is practicing in the dojo. He tells her a story about Ranma’s mother dying when he was a little boy and how Ranma strives so hard to become a strong man and martial artist because of this. This makes Akane feel for Ranma even more. Too bad it’s a lie. That’s right, Genma was lying through his teeth. In fact, Ranma’s mother is alive and well. I was worried that they were going to change the plot here from the manga, so I am glad it was a lie. At Nabiki’s they learn from Tofu that drag queens, run by the vice principal, are also after the springs. Meanwhile, the queens have taken Ranma, Kasumi, and Akane captive.
The queens were going to take Kasumi with them, but Akane fibs and says they can’t open the spring without her. This makes Ranma unhappy, as he [in female form once again since they queens caught on he was weaker in that form] wanted to be the one to go to spare Akane and Kasumi. The trio from the club arrive home after the queens have left with Akane. They untie Kasumi and Ranma and Ranma immediately dashes to the school while changing himself into a boy. He runs into Kuno who complains he is late for their duel over Akane. Ranma leaves Kuno to fight off the queens while he forges ahead. Soon he is joined by the others who help fight off the queens so Ranma can get to Akane.
Akane refuses to open the spring and fights with the queens only to be defeated. Then in rushes Ranma who gets turned into a girl again to weaken his strength. Ranma continues to fight as girl or boy, it doesn’t matter when you have something precious to protect. Madam Kamanbell [the vice principal’s alter ego – who wants to use the spring to turn all women into ikemen] ends up defeating female Ranma. When he starts insulting Ranma by calling him girly and other stuff, Akane notices Ranma twitch. She gets Kamanbell to keep calling him sissy names and Ranma wakes up with a vengeance. He wins the fight against Kamanbell and sends the other queens running.
The spring then explodes and Ranma transforms back into a boy. He is happy only for a second as Akane is getting wet, too. He tries to get her out, but it is too late. Akane says she would make a better boy anyhow, but she has just one last wish. The two lean in to kiss, but are interrupted by Genma in panda form who points out a sign on the springs that opened just a few seconds earlier. It reports that it is no longer a man-turning spring, but a regular hot spring. All that for nothing!
I love love love it!!! I think it was pretty easy to follow for non-manga readers and anime watchers. It gave you the necessary background for newbies while staying pretty faithful to the original plot of the manga for the faithful fans. Always a bonus. I have to give big props to the actors who really did seem to embody their characters so well. From money-hungry Nabiki who was obsessed with Genma’s panda form to the self-absorbed narcissistic Kuno to the tomboy Akane who tried so hard to be more feminine for her hopeless first love to the hapless male Ranma and the boy-trapped-in-a-girl’s-body Ranma. Really, Natsuna deserves a lot of praise for portraying the female version of Ranma so well.
I wish that this would have its own little series to introduce some more of my favorite characters from the manga, including the master that Genma and Suon reference [the old underwear stealing pervert].