Ranma Begins – Remake Ranma! Part 1
Dear dudes in Japan that determine what crap gets turned into anime,
Please remake Ranma 1/2.
Ranma 1/2 is one of the greatest sitcoms of all time. I would place it along side the likes of Seinfeld, Mary Tyler Moore, Monty Python, and whatever other 30 minute TV comedies one would list as “the best.” The series takes a “high concept,” guy turns into a girl when splashed with cold water, and then does what all great sitcoms do: throw the characters into various situations and let the comedy come naturally. This is the hallmark of a great situational comedy, the fact that the humor grows out of the characters and their interactions when some sort of plot element is introduced. If the characters and well-conceived, regardless of what that situation may be, something amusing will arise and entertain the audience. The “what” of the situation is irrelevant so long as the “funny” is working. Ranma does this masterfully.
“What the hell, are you an idiot?! If Ranma is so great what the fuck has possessed you to want to see it remade?! Don’t you know that remakes always suck?! ALWAYS!”
I’m sure you’re thinking some iteration of the above sentence right now. It’s an understandable reaction, but it’s also pretty short-sighted. What makes remakes suck isn’t the fact that they’re remakes. What make them suck is that they’re usually made for the wrong reasons. More often than not, a movie is remade as a cash grab. Nothing wrong with capitalism, but “cash grab” usually implies that said projects are rushed out the door with little thought given to the products quality. Also, said remakes are usually made by people who don’t “get” the original source material, and therefore resulting in a final product that feels nothing like the original media. That’s why remakes suck. So, in order to avoid the remake suckage curse, a certain amount of familiarity is required. Also, despite this familiarity, one must be willing to deviate from the source material.
“WHAT?! Are you daft?! Don’t you know that when you don’t follow the original manga/book/whatever, you always end up with something that sucks even more than those suck remakes?! ALWAYS!”
Again, an understandable conclusion. Again, it is also short-sighted.
I for one do not understand the need to recreate a manga’s storyline word-for-word when creating an anime adaptation. The very notion of “sticking to the script” defies te concept of an “adaptation.” I want to see the animation staff take a concept from a manga, stick to the original’s tone and themes, and do something new with it. Case in point: Ghost in the Shell SAC. The TV series shares the same characters and themes as the original manga and movies, but entirely new stories were created. I’d argue that The Laughing Man storyline is superior to, say, The Puppet Master storyline from the first movie. That is the perfect example of what I want to see in an anime adaptation or remake. I want to see the original characters and concepts utilized in a new and distinct manner.
And that brings us to Ranma 1/2’s theoretical remake.
The tone of the original series needs to be maintained. There’s no need to “update” the series. No need to add moments where Akane and Ranma act like two dating-sim characters that can’t show their feelings to one another. Their antagonistic relationship must be maintained. At the same time, the series should make a serious attempt to further their relationship. The original manga ended with references to the idea that they probably settle down in the end and get married. This should be something that this fictional remake works towards. The series should do it’s best to avoid the harem/romance tropes that we see in most “romantic comedy” series from the past 10 years or so, but there should be a running subplot showing that these two characters grow to like each other despite being forced into an arranged relationship.
At the same time, there needs to be serious rivals for both Ranma and Akane’s affections. In the original series, most of Ranma’s would-be-girlfriends never really had a chance. Shampoo was misguided and overtly, comically aggressive. Kodachi was a down-and-out stalker. Ukyo came the closest to being a normal “choice,” but Ranma always saw her as his best friend rather than a serious romantic interest. If Ranma 1/2 were to be remade, it should take a cue from one of Rumiko Takahashi’s other series: Maison Ikkoku. In Maison Ikkoku, both Godai and Kyoko had genuine competitors for their affections. While it was obvious from a meta perspective that Godai and Kyoko would end up together, there were times in the plot when they weren’t an “item” and that they were engaged in serious relationships. Ranma and Akane need romantic “foils” in order for their relationship to have that extra “oomph.”
I’d take the more “normal” of Ranma’s suitors, Ukyo, and develop a romantic angle for their friendship. That seems like the most natural pairing. As for Akane,the only existing character that really works is Ryouga. She clearly looks at him as someone she cares about, although it seems to border on a motherly “he’s kind of pathetic it makes me want to take care of him” sort of way. This also seems like a relatively natural progression for the character based on the original storyline.
This also sets up a potential Ukyo/Ryouga pairing once Ranma and Akane finally admit to their lust for one another. Being an old-school fan of the Ukyo/Ryouga pairing, I’m down with that.
More to come later, since this has become longer than anticipated. Until then, watch some long-haired Akane getting down with the yappapa. And yeah, Akane’s hair should totally stay long for a longer amount of time in said remake. She always looked better with long hair, but having her hair get cut was a fairly dramatic moment. Just have it happen later.