Hey folks, Valkor here. Ranma ½ is considered by me as being one of the all time best anime series that ever. When I first discovered it, it was during a time when I discovered hentai. And since Ranma ½ was considered a sex comedy (it was stated on the VHS box)… well I thought I was getting something really "special". I mean a guy that can turn into a girl? Oh man! I thought there must be some crazy shenanigans going on in this series! But as it turns out, the series was awesome, laugh out loud comedy! The manga, which started it all, is equally impressive, and now the folks in Japan (and those of us who know how to obtain a copy) are given an extra special treat in the form of "Ranma 1/2 Live Action Special". Slight spoilers ahead.
Any fan who's a fan of anime/manga should know Ranma ½. I mean it's kinda old but really popular; this is like one of the animes you get into when you first start watching anime (other than Dragon Ball or Gundam). But here's quick summation of the series for the uninitiated - Ranma ½ centers on Ranma Saotome, a native of Japan who went on a journey with his father Genma Saotome to the sacred springs of Jusenkyo in China. In the midst of their training Ranma and his father fall into one of the many cursed springs that when whomever falls in, they become that whatever had died in any given spring. In Genma's case, he fell into spring of drowned Panda. And Ranma? Well he fell into spring of drowned girl. And they'll change into girl/panda whenever they get doused with cold water. However getting soaked in hot water changes them back. Hilarity ensues.
The live-action film takes the beginnings of the Ranma series, wraps it around a new story and introduces new characters into the mix. The story begins much like the anime/manga where Genma Saotome (Furuta Arata) and his son Ranma Saotome (boy type, played by Kaku Kento) are duking it out over a fountain; in the original they fought as their alter egos and Ranma wanted to go back to China to find a way of becoming a man again. In the live-action they fought because Ranma wants to go to the Tendo house to find a sacred spring hidden somewhere on the grounds that would turn him back into a man.
Soun Tendo (Namase Katsuhisa) is anticipating their return because Ranma has been chosen to marry his youngest daughter Akane Tendo (Aragaki Yui) and inherit the dojo, m much to her objection. Akane is considered to be very tomboyish and likes to fight , plus she believes she should inherit the dojo to protect. Residing along with them are Soun's other daughters Nabiki Tendo (Nishiyama Maki) and Kasumi Tendo (Hasegawa Kyoko). What the Tendos aren't aware of, is that Ranma and Genma are cursed; if splashed on the head (and the film says specifically the head) they transform into Genma Panda and Ranma girl type (Natsuna). When Ranma and Akane initially meet, Ranma is in his girl form and the two get along just fine. But when it's discovered that Ranma is a boy… well Akane isn't having any of it and the two begin a love/hate relationship filled with all sorts of wacky hijinks and confrontations. One of which is Tatewaki Kuno (Nagayama Kento), who is fiercely in love with Akane, but falls head over heels with Ranma girl type.
To complicate matters even further, there's a new evil that seeks the hot spring that the Tendo's have protected for years. And his reason for wanting access to the spring is outlandish but fits perfectly in the Ranma universe.
I'm leaving out quite a bit as the film covers squeezes in so much, picking particular scenes and stories from the anime/manga, and including them into this film. It's great for fans of the series to point out certain scenarios and cameo character appearances, but newcomers will also find something special in this live-action incarnation. But hey, I'm getting ahead of myself. So let's dive right in with the TOV Breakdown.
Ranma ½ live-action is the perfect complement to Rumiko Takahashi's original series. And it does what many films that attempts to translate a comic/cartoon into live-action but fails to accomplish, in that it keeps intact all the elements that made series popular and creates something wildly entertaining. I've always wondered how Ranma would translate into live-action and now that I've seen it, I'm completely satisfied with the results. I was a bit put off by the main storyline at first, but then I realized that this film has the same charm as the first two animated films and it even ends similar to those films where Ranma is about to face off against grunts and his friends and family take his place so that he may battle the real enemy. The characters portrayal of their anima/manga counterparts are perfect with my favorite being Natsuna (Ranma girl type), who plays her role of a man trapped inside of a woman's body so well. Other favorites are Aragaki Yui, who plays the tomboyish Akane Tendo and Namase Katsuhisa as Soun Tendo (I just love his facial expressions). I mean everyone cast for this special portray their counterparts beautifully well and they match perfectly with their anime counterparts, but these three are just amazing! The special effects are minimal with most being practical effects such as camera edits and wire-fu; It's simple, yet very effective. Finally the film is laugh out loud funny! I mean if you're really looking for a good time then this film is a blast! Yea there's a lot of goofy stuff that goes on, but this is Ranma ½! If you know the series then you know how goofy it is and if you've never seen or read any Ranma before hand, then prepare yourself, this one takes goof to the max yet at the same time, it's still quite enjoyable.
I would have liked more music from the original anime to make an appearance, especially the "Don't Make Me a Shrew" song.
There's no Ryoga! And He would have been a perfect addition to the film too. Though he's absent this round, there's an air of his presence throughout the film. For instance when Ranma arrives at Furikan High School, he thought he was seeking the Tendo house using the map he took from Genma (misdirection). There's a piggy name plate on Akane's door (P-Chan!). And when Akane loses her hair, it's done in the same manner as when he and Ranma fought and his blade cut it in the manga/anime. Please let there be another special and PLEASE include Ryoga!
I'm in love with Ranma all over again!! And fans of Ranma ½, whether it be the manga or anime series, are in for a real treat with the Ranma ½ live action special; it's charming, entertaining, loads of fun, and the perfect companion to the series. I had so much fun watching this film and I know you guys will enjoy it as well. I highly recommend checking this one out. And out of TOV 5 stars, you know I'm giving this one a perfect 5 and I hope we see more live-action specials based on this wonderful series.