The Dark Piglet – Remake Ranma! Part 2
When psychotic, order-obsessed, Greyfaced malcontents are demanding for Ranma to be remade in flashbacks from ten years ago, I think you should have gotten the picture by now. Remake Ranma now!
That pic’s from the new Zetsubou OAV, by the way. I dig that they even gave Chiri little dealie-boppers in her hair to make her look like Shampoo. The fact that Shampoo has red hair is a bit creepy though. It’s like she’s some horrid Ranma/Shampoo spawn. Insert shuddering here.
The first half of this nonsense dealt with the relationship angle of my hypothetical Ranma remake. With the sappy stuff out-of-the-way, let’s get to the rest of the series.
Side characters. Ranma has one of the all time best supporting casts that I’ve seen in an anime. While their personalities are well established, and most of them don’t feel like tropes-of-the-week, they never really get to do that much. This is largely due to the fact that there’s so many characters, which result in many of them being lost in the shuffle. Did we ever see Dr. Tofu after the first season? Once he was ousted from the series poor Kasumi was left without anyone that looked at her as something other than a doting mother figure.
Something has to give. Either A) the series should largely ignore side characters and focus almost exclusively on Ranma, Akane, and anyone that’s central to their story arc or B) the supporting cast should get a bit of a trim so the remaining supporting cast can get some real screen time. B sounds like the most reasonable approach.
This means certain enjoyable characters will get the axe. Akari, the pig-obsessed girl who has a thing for Ryouga, would be such a loss. She didn’t appear until late in the manga, and while I enjoyed her shtick, she isn’t necessary if we assume Ryouga will be vying for Akane’s attention and the Ryouga/Ukyo angle will be explored. It’s mainly these sorts of side characters that would be lost. Tsubasa, Ukyo’s crossdressing “boyfriend” is another example. His episodes were pretty amusing, but he’ also a supporting character in the storyline of a supporting character. That’s one too many steps removed from what should be the focal point of the anime. I can see some of these one-shot characters remaining (The Golden Pair definitely need to get some screen time, since their story acts as a great catalyst for the Ranma/Akane relationship), but for the most part the vast cast needs to be pruned.
But sacrificing the chaff isn’t going to do it all. There has to be some degree of sacrifice in the main cast. Akane’s family needs to remain intact. Soun needs to be the worrying father, Kasumi needs to be the neglected mother figure, Nabiki needs to be the scheming bitch, and Akane needs to be Akane. Genma can’t get the axe either. Kuno, Shampoo, Kodachi, Mousse, Ukyo, and Ryouga are all needed as well. The one main character that can be sacrificed is Happosai.
The very concept of the series, a guy turning into a girl, lends itself to plenty of that fanservice stuff that people love. Do we really need character whose entire purpose in life is to be a focal point for people’s panty fetish? And if Happosai remained, would his shtick be anything more than quaint in comparison to the likes of Chu-Bra or whatever crappy anime had the flying underwear? Happosai is a relic from a more “innocent” time when a dirty old man playing panty thief was both amusing and mildly titillating. If he was present he’d b like someone trying to put on a vaudeville act without any hint of parody or irony. Happosai’s day has passed, let him go the way of retired stereotypes.
We have an emphasis on real relationships. We have a trimed-down cast so minor characters can get more development. What this fake remake needs is an ongoing story arc.
The best way to handle this while maintaining Ranma’s original sitcom feel is to take a cue from the likes of Darker than Black, Cowboy Bebop, and Ghost in the Shell SAC. There should be a mix of sitcom-like one-off episodes that allow for humorous hijinks and side character development and episodes that develop the central storyline. The catch is how you create an ongoing storyline within the context of a series that’s based upon a sitcom format.
First off, the series needs to have an established number of episodes. 52 sounds like a reasonable number. Just enough that a lot of territory can be covered and few enough that fatigue and repetition won’t be too much of an issue. With these parameters established, Ranma should be divided into two distinct arcs.
The first half of the series should focus on building the core cast of characters. We should get many of the original storylines from the first two seasons of the anime. Ranma and Ryouga should face off and renew their rivalry. Shampoo and Kodachi should establish themselves as rivals for Ranma’s affections. Ukyo and Mousse should get their introductions as well. Then, once these relationships are cemented, everyone that “wants a piece of Ranma” should come together and try to “defeat” him and separate him and Akane. Shampoo and Kodachi should come to a tentative alliance. Mousse will side with them as well out of devotion to Shampoo. Kuno would in the mix as well, since he’ll take any chance to give Ranma a thrashing. Ryouga should be coerced to join their little coalition, although he should feel bad for siding with two women that want to do harm to Akane. He’ll likely change sides mid-conflict, and thus help turn the tide and foil their plans. Ukyo likely doesn’t side with this scheme, most likely because she’s just as much a friend to Ranma as she is a rival for his love. Everything would boil down to a four-on-four showdown: Ranma, Akane, Ryouga, and Ukyo vs. Shampoo, Mousse, Kodachi, and Kuno. That should be fun.
After that showdown, things should settle down a bit. Shampoo most likely gives up on Ranma and becomes more of a pesky distraction than a genuine threat. Kodachi wouldn’t give up on Ranma, and Kuno wouldn’t give up on Akane, but there should be a definite feeling of “there isn’t much we can do about it” amongst these characters. This would also work as a good catalyst for that Ryouga/Ukyo match-up that I like to harp about. So, while the relationship issue wouldn’t be solved in the first half, it wouldn’t be the focal point of the second half.
The second half would be a little more tricky. Where do you go once you’ve all but resolved the only real conflict of the original manga? The original manga had several “big” enemies later in the series. Pantyhose Taro, pictured above, played like something of a major nemesis, but I don’t think he’d work as some sort of “final boss” type. Maybe a “midboss” or potent lackey. If the second half went for a “build-up to a climatic battle with a major villain” approach, then it should use one of the manga’s final “villains,” Herb.
Herb has a thematic link to Ranma. He’s been turned into a female as well due to a mishap at the Jusenkyo springs. Like Ranma, he’s seeking a way to break the curse, but unlike Ranma he’s willing to go to extremes to do so. Ranma’s “quest” to break the curse is more of an “I’ll get to it when I have time” sort of endeavor. With Herb, he’s willing to fight with and hurt people to get the cure. He should be played up as some sort of ultimate nemesis that needs to be defeated to resolve most of the conflict that arises in the second half of the series.
Not sure what, exactly, that conflict should be, but it should involve something that would bring together the “core” cast of characters despite their differences. Ranma, Akane, Ryouga, Ukyo, Shampoo, and Mousse (and maybe Kuno and Kodachi) should be forced to side with one another to take down this threat. There could be some sort of anime-styled macguffin that’s needed to break the curse, and Herb needs to cause serious harm to the cast in order to get it. Maybe he needs to ensure that X number of cursed people have to have their curses rendered incurable, and Herb is seeking to do just that to the members of the cast who are cursed. Something along those lines. It’d fit into Ranma’s shounen fighting anime antics while giving some real tension to the fact that many characters are affected by the Jusenkyo curse.
I think that sums up everything I have to say. Focus on the relationships, trim down the cast, and zero in on a couple of overarching storylines. That should allow for Ranma’s original charm to shine through while allowing this remake to become its own creature. A big, scary cat creature that scares the shit out of Ranma. MEOW.