Ranma Movie 1 & 2 Box Set

Starring (voice - English): Sarah Strange, Myriam Sirois and Mike Donovan
RRP: 24.99
Certificate: 12
Available 08 January 2007

Based on the original and enormously successful comics by Rumiko Takahashi (creator of the
Urusei Yatsura series), Ranma Movie 1 & 2 Box Set concerns the comedic adventures of the eponymous hero and his friends...

Ah Christmas 2006 is coming; you can tell this by the plethora of box sets hitting the shelves - or in the case of my local HMV piled on the floor to create a death trap. So the two Ranma films have been re-released as a box set, which to honest if you want to get these DVD's is a much more economical way of adding them to your collection. Odd thing is that, as far as I know there were three films made, so why not include all three in this box set?

In Ranma : Big trouble in Nekonron, China we first meet Ranma who is a teenager adept in the martial arts, but due to an ancient Chinese curse he changes into a girl every time he gets wet. When a magic scroll is accidentally given to Ranma's friend Akane, she is kidnapped by Prince Kirin of the Seven Lucky Gods Martial Artists to be his bride. Now Ranma and assorted misfits must travel to China to rescue her.

Based on the successful manga comic by Rumiko Takahashi (creator of the popular Urusei Yatsura series), the book spawned two television series, the first Ranma ran for eighteen episodes but was quickly followed by Ranma Nettohen which ran for a further one hundred and forty-three episodes between 1989 and 1992. This film represents the first of three films which were produced as an offshoot of the program, so fans of the show will realise that the character design follows closely that found in the television series.

Okay, any story that starts with an octogenarian panty stealer being chased by a boy that keeps changing into a girl has got weird written all over it. It doesn't get any better when Ranma is joined on his mission by a very large elephant and his romance obsessed owner. The comedy elements start straight away and are of the broad type, though there are not as many jokes about Ranma's sexual confusion as you might think. The supporting characters are okay if a little one dimensional, but then the film is just one example of a much wider body of work.

The animation is a little dated, which is to be expected given the age of the film, but doesn't detract from the overall enjoyment of the movie. With little character development, it's difficult to care about the participants, though this may be different for those more familiar with the long running television series or manga comic. On the plus side both films are brash and bright using a varied pallet of colours to add nuance to scenes.

This box set looks to be pretty much a reissue of the stand alone discs, so if you have already bought these there is nothing here to warrant you shelling out your hard earned cash again. Audio tracks are English 2.0 and Japanese 2.0, with English subtitles, though the tacks are clear and clean. The extras include fifteen character profiles and four conceptual drawings and a trailer section.

Following close on its heels is the second shorter Ranma film, Nihao My Concubine, which was produced in 1994. Following a rather foolish choice to take a yacht out on its maiden voyage, the gang is stranded on a desert island. Things seem to be going well until Kusumi disappears. Soon a number of the other girls are also gone, each leaving behind only a peach (really, don't ask. Just go with it), each of which looks a little more like buttocks than you'd like. It seems that the girls have been kidnapped by a prince looking for his perfect bride. After an encounter with the prince, Ranma, in his female form, heads off to the rescue. But not all goes to plan.

The narrative is both peculiar and amusing. The final half of the film, showing the brides competing to be the next princess, includes combat flower arranging. Of course, Ranma has his own agenda; it seems that the prince possesses a gourd full of water that will let Ranma remain a male for good. But will he be able to bring him/herself to destroy the spring, from which the water originates, for the love of Akane, the object of his hearts desire. Far be it for me to say that you could have seen the ending coming a light year away.

On the down side the fight scenes are not only overly reminiscent of console games, but quickly become repetitive. The film itself is less than an hour long, so if you're buying it as a fan of the show then you're not going to be really bothered.

Audio options are the same as the first disc and the extras remain slight with only seventeen character profiles and fifteen pieces of conceptual artwork.

So if you have decided to explore the world of Ranma this box set makes for more sound financial sense than buying the stand alone discs. It's still lightweight, and not the best anime produced, but at this price it makes a lot more sense.

Charles Packer

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