Full disclosure: this review is nostalgia-informed. Perhaps nostalgia-captive.
If you don’t know what Ranma ½ is, then shame on you. If your first thought looking at the art is, “hey, doesn’t that look like Inuyasha“, then extra super duper shame on you.
Ranma ½ is Rumiko Takashi’s classic 1990s manga and anime about a martial artist who changes genders when he touches warm or cold water, and the many insane characters in his life (mostly potential loves and the suitors that oppose). It’s an old school harem anime with a fun twist. And since it was written by a woman, it doesn’t have that super gross feel that most harem anime have.
The selection was limited not just by the fact of analog media and managerial stocking choices, but because people would often not return tapes for long periods of time, or ever at all. I mostly sought out anime that seemed to be popular on fan sites.
A brief aside: before the demise of Geocities, one of the services that used to host those fan sites, some wonderful person or people created OoCities, an index of archived Geocities websites. I therefore present you with…
Anyway, I rented Ranma tapes. There were two. Volume 1 of the TV series, and volume 1 of the OVA. On the latter tape was first an episode where a piece of jewelry could make one fall madly in love with or completely loath their…crush…or something. The second episode was Tendo Family Christmas Scramble.
This episode is so goddamned cute.
In it, Akane, Ranma’s proper love interest and resident tomboy has just finished knitting Ranma a scarf that looks like it’s falling apart at the seams. Meanwhile, her eldest sister and the “woman of the house” Kasumi has had a dream where Santa Claus has left her a small box. She awakens on opening the box, not knowing what it contained, but feeling inspired to put on a Christmas party. A huge party. The sort of party that would require a lot of planning and effort to execute. But this is a cartoon, so it’s whipped up in a few hours.
As everyone is preparing and chipping in with the tree, the cooking, etc., the youngest sister, Nabiki has got another of her typical get-rich-quick schemes: she is going to sell time with Ranma to the women who want his affection this holiday evening, and doesn’t tell Ranma about her plan. Having just loaned Ranma money to get Akane a gift, she proceeds to leverage this secret to get his cooperation.
As Akane seeks Ranma out, and he seeks to avoid his pursuers, he scoops her up and, anime that this is, they leap through the air, crashing through a piece of bad roof, and find themselves alone to exchange gifts. What follows is extremely heart-warming. After, there is a little more humor, one more quiet, touching moment, and then the credits roll. It’s all done in about half an hour, and although some find it boring, I think it is absolutely fantastic.
It’s sweet, it’s touching, it’s Good, and it’s a ★★★★☆ Christmas special. You can probably bootleg it on the internet, or you can pick it up on the new (I think) Ranma OVA collection Blu-Ray.