A live action Ranma 1/2 dorama series? Well this is out of the blue. Upon receiving scant, somewhat puzzling news from a respected source, it looks like we may be amidst something of a live-action anime renaissance that doesn’t seem to be slowing down. And since the information at hand has merely been shared via this blog, the gears have been turning via fellow writers and fans, musing the expected responses; Where? And more importantly; Why? And since the aforementioned post offers no links to an official site, or any hint of a teaser video anywhere. All we have here is a cast & crew roster, and a premiere date & time: July 10th, and starting at 10pm. Again, all one can do at the moment is to speculate which is always rife with obvious problems.
For those playing the home game, the Rumiko Takahashi martial arts genderwarp comedy Ranma Nibun No Ichi has long been regarded as one of the more iconic anime/manga creations of the last twenty odd years, and has garnered one of the most passionate and enduring international fanbases any show has experienced. The tale of woe that befalls young, hotheaded martial arts student, Ranma Saotome, and the family he is planned to be married into by a conniving, lazy father has been something that a near-entire generation of anime lovers have long embraced, made references to, and at times reviled for its wacky cast of colorful characters, bizarre gimmickry, and martial arts silliness. It’s kind of difficult to imagine the “harem anime” without it, not to mention other favorites including the Fruits Basket manga/series. Mixing a romantic comedy with water-based gender/species-switching hijinks gene grafted with a Shaw Bros. movie was something of a knockout melange that connected, and helped create the anime fandom explode in the west come the early to mid 90s. Translated into a multitude of languages (including Spanish, where yours truly caught a remainder of the show during those days), the series and its characters have retained something of a timeless quality that continues to gather new fans.
Now again, as one not to normally speculate, perhaps it might be good to just express a mixture of openness and worry to the prospect. As much as this sounds infinitely more interesting than say, an American rendition of AKIRA, one cannot help but express concern for this particular project as a live-action concept. Say that for a moment, that this is a possibility; that the approach utilized by previous live-action dorama could be implemented (a good example is 2003-04’s Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon), would it be optimal for a series that became known later for it’s visual bombast & exaggerated action? Or would it become something far more character-based, which would be fine provided the universe Takahashi created was brought down to Earth just a smidge. One could argue that a large part of the original’s success was the world in which the Ranma characters lived in, and their interactions based on such a setting. Also worth bringing up is the live Maison Ikkoku that was created as a vehicle for model-actress Misaki Ito. And this is where worry for yours truly comes in. If the object of this particular game is merely for co-opted natsukashii purposes, it may end up becoming little more than a mourning for a day long gone, and not so much a celebration of the series’ enduring legacy.
Can a “good” Ranma 1/2 project be borne out of such a notion, even if this is little more than a rumor? One would like to believe so. Recently, we’ve seen a live action love comedy with bent toward the hyperbolically surreal in theaters last summer, but again- this was with a budget & talent able to do merely one film with enough energy and style to actually pull it off. And since that film didn’t do ideal business, it is feeling less and less probable that Japanese producers would even consider this possbility.