Tuesday, February 26, 2013

MR Ranma ½

Here's a new movie review.
This time it's the complete opposite of the big Hollywood blockbusters I've been going through here.
It's the live adaptation of a cult classic anime!

Movie: Ranma ½ Live Action Special aka Ranma ½: The Movie
Directed by Nishimura Ryo
Release date 2011
Genre Action/romantic comedy
Country Japan

Here's another live adaptation of a cult classic anime. You'd think only the USA would be doing this, but there's been more and more adaptations of cult comics all over the world this past decade actually.
Europe (mostly, France)'s been doing it with their bandes dessinés.
And Japan the same with several mangas.
Guess why? Nostalgia sells.

Ranma 1/2 is...well, I'm pretty sure anyone reading these lines has known Ranma in form or another be it through the manga or the anime.
The original manga is a cult classic created and drawn by the now internationally famous mangaka Rumiko Takahashi. She's also behind Inu Yasha which most kids these days probably know a lot more.
The series was a fun mix of romantic comedy and action, perfect for boys and girls alike!
The manga started in 1987 and lasted for 38 volumes.

This Live Action Special was a "one shot", it ran on December 2011 in Japan, on NTV and follows the beginning of the manga/anime. 

Akane Tendo is a young tomboyish girl.
She's been running her father Soun's dojo as sensei for quite some time now and as a big martial arts adapt wanted to inherit it by herself.

But one day she learns that she is to be married to the son of a long time friend of her dad.
That is precisely when Ranma Saotome and his father Genma arrive in Japan.

You see, problem is when they were training in China they fell in the famous cursed springs known as Jusenkyo. And anyone who falls in those takes the form of whatever drown there originally.
Due to that curse, anytime Ranma and Genma get in contact with cold water they change into a girl and a panda respectively.

Anyways, Ranma and Akane are to be married and the dojo to be taken over by the Saotomes.
Which is a good thing since there's rumored to be another magical water spring in Japan. One that can supposedly cure Genma and son, another spring that is under the protection of the Tendo family...at Akane's school!
Ranma stays with them.
Hilarity ensue~

First of all, I just want to say that Ranma's always been a cult favorite of mine, back in the early 90s.
The anime was pretty fun.
And it's probably one of the first mangas I've ever read. (alongside Dragon Ball)

To adapt this manga, the production had only one TV special (tanpatsu) to do so, as such don't expect to see many storylines here or even later familiar faces such as Happosai or Shampoo.
They had to compress as much of the manga in under not more that an hour and a half stand alone episode.
It's not the same as a proper full feature movie would have done, nor either a whole new series.

The story follows the early chapters of the manga and throws in a whole newly created villain.
This "Live Action" also does just that, it really is a live manga.
All the actors were pretty darn' well casted. Everyone looks the part perfectly!
The best are probably the fathers, Arata Furuta as Genma and specially Katsuhisa Namase (some might recognize from the series Gkusen) as Soun Tendo. They do a lot of slapstick and most of the comedy come from them.
Also Akane aka Yui Aragaki (My Boss, My Hero) ends mostly as the main character instead of Ranma. Because we see so little of boy!Ranma - Kento Kaku (Samurai High School).
But it's a good thing in my eyes, because he was my least favorite part of the movie. He does so little, always seem "off" for the part...
Girl!Ranma (aka Ranko) on the other hand, played by Natsuna here, was fantastic. She was fun and played the role of the "boy!Ranma trapped in the body of a girl" pretty well.
The movie uses a lot of characters from the early stories of the manga, such as Akane's sister Nabiki and Kasumi, Dr. Tofu, Kuno, Gosunkugi, etc. Like the others, all the actors seem to match the characters perfectly!

The plot is... well, perfectly ridiculous
It starts quite faithful then goes into its own thing.
The main villain here is the new Vice Principle, Okamada. He doesn't come from the original story.
He is played by veteran actor Ryōsei Tayama (GTO 2012's Uchiyamada).
At night this principal plays cross-dressing...
The best said about him is that you better not try to understand this guy's motivations... I mean, he's leading campy gay bad guys (!!) that want to find the magical water spring to turn everyone into men (!!!).

Overall, it was really good.
The "movie" (and I use quotes here for a reason) is pretty fun, it really recaptures the spirit of a live anime.
But it's also probably very random and even hard to follow if you're not really familiar with the original Ranma...
Also, no Ryoga? He was a classic character! Why did they cut him, specially if they don't intend to make another special!?

Ranma ½ Live Action Special was well written, the situations are funny, there's some light romance with a lot comedy as you'd expect from it.
There's also a lot of scenes directly taken from the manga/anime.
Like the way Akane's hair is cut, the piggy backride Ranko gives to her later on, the original Ranma vs Kuno fight.. There's even some allusions, like the stuffed pig plush Akane has in her room!
I love the few well portrayed moments we have with Ranma, when he's shown as the simple guy he is, always fighting with his dad.

It's pretty low budget though, but I think it only helps the movie.
Ranma can fire ki energy blast-thingies (I don't recall that in the original manga!?).
There's a lot of silly cheap effects, the fights aren't that well choregraphed and they even used cheesy sound effects!

I give it:
2 / 3 Astroboys!

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