Ranma ½, The Movie: Big Trouble in Nekonron, China

I’ve wanted to see this film for at least twenty years. It’s horrible.

As I recounted in my review of the Ranma ½ Christmas special, Tendo Family Christmas Scramble, when I was little, our Blockbuster’s limited selection of anime was nearly all the anime I had access to, and among those, I could only take home the ones that didn’t warn my parents about explicit content. Ranma pushed the limits with occasional exposed breasts in the TV show and OVA, but I watched when my parents weren’t around.

Anyway, the tapes advertised two of the Ranma films, this and another called Nihao, My Concubine. I’ve gotten ahold of both of them, and finally put this one on, and now I no longer look forward to watching the other.

Look at the poster for this movie. There’s a villain. Ranma appears (at first glance, although it’s more of a Mandala effect) to have a new female character in his protective embrace. Akane is in the background, looking panicked, and we may draw the conclusion that she’s reacting to Ranma and this new girl. Were this set-up a reflection of the film, it might have been more interesting.

But it’s not. It’s consistently boring. And cheap. And, even for a series that’s not famous for its feminist sensibilities, it’s very misogynistic.

There’s a long, Happosai-panty-raiding setup, followed by the introduction of two new Chinese characters from a place in China called Nekonron. One is Lychee, the woman on the cover. The other is Kirin, a prince or something, and head of the 7 Gods of Something Or Other school of martial arts. There’s a big, dumb, anime whoopsee-daisy and Kirin abducts Akane, to force her to marry him, and the whole Ranma cast, as well as Lychee and her elephant, go in pursuit.

This, even, sounds like a decent enough setup. But it’s boring. And cheap.

And also, very drab to look at. This “movie”, which is about three episodes long, has a very dark and dour color palette. It looks as though everything’s recently been rained on. And the action, which doesn’t really start until well after the half-way point, is no more impressive than any episode of the anime.

I know I’m bouncing around here, but all I’ve got is a list of complaints, so it hardly matters how they’re all curated. The foley work is absolutely horrible. One scene comes to mind where Ranma is fighting the Final Boss character, and there’s just…hardly any sound. Punches are being thrown and deflected. Ranma is reflecting to himself about how his attacks seem to be hitting a force field. And it just sounds like…nothing much at all.

And on the subject of sound, I watched this in English, because, as an artifact of my childhood, I wouldn’t have Ranma any other way. And I’m aware that there’s some strong opinions about the various people who’ve worked on the English cast, regarding who’s better than whom. This movie is made up of my preferred English dub cast, but it’s almost sad to hear them all stretching their limited ranges to fill in all these new characters. It just reminds you that there was no budget for the dub, even though this is supposed to have all this big “motion picture” flare to it.

The action is scarce and boring. Ranma does some dragon-made-out-of-water uppercut that is so powerful he destroys a towering castle, and I the viewer could not have cared less.  The whole show’s cast of characters tags along for the ride, but they’re only there occasionally, when a plot device is needed.

Oh, and now that I’m thinking about Shampoo, let’s take a moment to point out the inconsistency in the English script and voice acting: Lychee and Kirin both do the weird third person me-so-solly take on Chinese that Shampoo does. And when it’s just Shampoo, you can take it with a grain of salt. Oh, it’s the time it came from. Oh, there’s cultural translation happening in this English interpretation of the Japanese interpreting the Chinese. Mousse and Cologne don’t talk that way so it’s not all bad. Etc.

Here though, these two new characters both do the annoying Shampoo speak, and the five other Chinese characters either speak normally, or in the case of two weird ones, in rhyme. It manages to be annoying and inconsistent.

My last complaint though is the one that bugged me the most. Akane is entirely out of character in this film. She’s written, usually, as a tomboy. Still a woman with feelings, but a fiery, defiant, frankly angry young woman who doesn’t take shit from anybody. Not her dad. Not her supposed fiancee Ranma. Not any of the women who are usually trying to kill her. Not the squad of dudes who try to beat her up every morning on her way into school.

In this movie, she gets abducted, stands around putting up with it, cooks for the dude who abducted her, and then when her cooking makes him sick, she puts a wet rag on his forehead…


…and then fucking apologizes for getting him sick.

I hate this movie. Unwatchable.

2 thoughts on “Ranma ½, The Movie: Big Trouble in Nekonron, China

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