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[ café reviews ]

Ranma in trouble again, no thanks to Happosai
[Ranma ½ logo]

Ranma ½

The Movie: Big Trouble in Nekonron, China

Copyright: © 1994 Takahashi Rumiko / Shogakukan Inc / Kitty / Fuji TV, © 1994 Viz Video
Length: 74 minutes
Rating: NR, Parental Guidance Suggested
Format: Dubbed (VHS)

[ plot summary ]

vhs jacket

Yet another peaceful day in the Tendo household... and when that's the case you know something is bound to happen. Enter Happosai, the panty-raiding lecherous old grandmaster of the marital arts, who makes an impromptu appearance -- and causes a major stampede through the streets of Tokyo. But this time, there's trouble from outside... outside the country, as a matter of fact. Lychee, a young would-be princess has been searching for Happosai, in order to extract a measure of revenge. Revenge for her continued unhappiness, which was a direct result of Happosai's past excursion into China, where he had stolen half of a mysterious scroll kept in trust by the Seven Lucky Gods Martial Artists. It seems that three generations ago, Happosai had given the scroll to Lychee's great-grandmother, promising that a great Prince would bring fortune to the holder of the legendary scroll. Three generations, and no prince. But as luck would have it, a prince does appear, and when he does, the scroll happens to be in the hands of a bewildered Akane. So when Prince Kirin kidnaps Akane to marry her, there's only one thing left for Ranma to do...

[ capsule review ]

Lychee, in search for her Prince.

The might Prince Kirin.

Akane does some clandestine work on board Kirin's ship.

This was a great deal of fun to watch! (No, I haven't gone mad, and no, Viz hasn't bought me off. And yes, I realize that I'm watching a dubbed show!) What can I say? Everything that's made Ranma such a popular long-running series is present in this package, and the folks over at Viz did a pretty decent job of dubbing to boot. The story is not exactly Academy material, but bear in mind that this show is aimed at kids. That means that you should expect to see some very silly action, and as far as movies go, it will be short. As so this is, on both counts. There is a lot of slap stick and Saturday-morning cartoon-type humour, right from the very opening scene. If you think that the martial arts action of Teenaged Mutant Ninja Turtles is great, this show is right up your alley. And just so you'll completely involved, there's even pretty decent opening and closing themes to boot.

The animation is on par with higher-quality OAV's, but what I really like about the Ranma series -- at least in this incarnation -- are Nakajima Atsuko's character designs. Clean, simple and very, very innocent. Plus the animators gave everyone some of the most expressive anime eyes every to grace the screen. It's not that they're large by anime standards, but these babies convey emotion in volumes. Fans of some of the other characters, most notably Ryoga, Shampoo and Mousse will be disappointed, as they get very minor supporting roles. And those who are fans of Ukyo will be disappointed even further, as she gets what amounts to a cameo, along with many others that appeared in the TV and OAV episodes. But this story's pretty basic, and 74 minutes is far too short to try to bring the whole crew in, so what we're left with is a fairly stock 'knight in shining armour rescues damsel in distress' story. The writers kept things quite simple, keeping the action very straight forward, punctuated by regular one-line zingers.

I was most impressed with the English scripting, since things seemed to flow quite seamlessly. (Unfortunately, I don't have an original Japanese dialog version, so I can't rate how accurate the translations might be.) Vocal cast was certainly acceptable; in fact, I've come to like the dubbed voices for Nabiki, Shampoo and the poetry-spouting Kuno. Give Ledoux & Co. credit, they did a very credible job, especially when it came to the prose-spouting, go-shi wielding twins, Daihokusai and Daikokusai. Their final line when Ranma discovers their weakness had me laughing. It may seem like a very formulaic/derivative movie, and it is (any fan of Bruce Lee movies will immediately recognise the influence of 'Game of Death'), but the Ranma formula seems most successful when things are kept pretty basic, and concentrates on Akane and Ranma's relationship. This movie is the first, and probably the best of the lot.
- AN, 98.03.07

[ café rating ]

Original: Subbed: Dubbed:
Story: N/A N/A 2 stars
Direction: N/A N/A 4 stars
Acting: N/A N/A 3 stars
Animation: N/A N/A 4 stars
Music: N/A N/A 3 stars
Translation: N/A N/A N/R
Overall Rating: N/A N/A 4 stars

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