Yes, you read that correctly there is a live action version of Ranma 1/2 floating around out there, and before you asked I purchased my copy via EBay… and at a glance it would appear that there are still copies of it available.
First I found this little trailer via YouTube (unfortunately no English subtitles):
Before I purchased this anomaly I researched all that I could about this movie even locating the Facebook Page that was created for this live-action film.
Akane (Yui Aragaki) is the youngest of three daughters for Soun Tendo. Her father Soun Tendo (Katsuhisa Namase) runs a dojo for martial arts. Akane hopes to carry on her father’s dojo into the distant future.
Meanwhile, Akane has been selected to marry Ranma (Kento Kaku), the son of her father’s long time friend Genma (Arata Furuta). Akane and Ranma’s relationship has developed into a love and hate relationship. Also, Ranma isn’t your typical boy. While on a training journey Ranma fell into the Spring of the Drowned Girl and now changes into a women whenever cold water is splashed on him. Warm water will allow him to revert back to a male. Problems arise when Akane’s father declares that the successor to their dojo must be a male. Now, Akane and Ranma (being a man only half of the time) must find a secret spring that can cure him of his curse.
After surfing a little more there was someone who did a video review of the Ranma 1/2 Live Action film and I highly recommend it:
In general the storyline seems to be a reboot or retelling of the series in general borrowing heavily from the first two manga (or first two anime seasons) of Ranma 1/2… and then jumping ahead to include the storyline of the Spring of the Drowned Man that is said to be hidden in Japan thus including Ranma looking for that spring underneath the girls’ locker room at the school.
The primary original elements in this particular film is the creation of the Vice-Principal of the school and his little gang of homosexual transvestites who attack Ranma and Akane in an effort to get to the spring first.
One major deviation that kind of annoys me is the seemingly dual personality of one Nabiki Tendo. In the manga and anime she is portrayed as extermely mercurial and willing to make an easy dollar in any way that she can. In fact using her sexuality isn’t that far off the mark for her so seeing her moonlighting as an exotic waitress at a local club isn’t far off the mark…
Unfortunately there is a new addition to her personality that annoyed me in that when Genma Saotome turns into a panda Nabiki goes all girly cute and can’t help herself from snuggling and cuddling with him. Reminiscent of Azusa Shiratori the figure skater who would collect anything and everything that she deems as “cute”.
There have been other rewrites and changes when the script writers were borrowing from the source material and for an avid Ranma fan these changes would not go unnoticed however, for me… after going through all the changes, deviations, variations… etc… I felt that for the most part this movie works and works well.
Although many beloved characters from the manga and anime were not included in this live-action movie, there are pieces that are featured throughout the film… like Akane dressing up in a red chinese dress and bright pink/purple hair (Shampoo), an image of a small black pig in Akane’s bedroom (P-Chan / Ryoga’s pig version) the list goes on…
While the anime seemingly matches the manga almost point to point… the live-action film is undoubtedly a retelling and it is a retelling that I could deal with for the most part. Much like in the anime and in the manga… this live-action movie keeps the ending reasonably open-ended possibly leaving room for a sequel. If this is the cast, you can bet that this fan from overseas will be more than willing to dive in and see what the sequel would have in store.