Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Ranma/ Dark Angel

I like many people get story idea's fairly frequently but rarely do I make an attempt to write them. When I do make an attempt to do so I either do not like them, so they end up in the recycle bin, or I procrastinate until I no longer am interested in the idea. Here is an idea I've had but have no intention of writing. It is a Ranma ½/Dark Angel crossover.

Ranma ½ is extremely easy to crossover with other series, which is part of the reason it has such a high ratio of crossover fan fiction. Quite often I will watch a television show, read a manga, or watch a movie and decide to look for a Ranma fic that crosses over with it. A surprisingly large number of times I find it crossovered with what ever I happen to look for. For example, there is at least one Ranma ½/Dark Angel crossover in existence that I know about. I don't particularly like it but it exists. In that crossover Ranma is in a similar situation to Max (main character of Dark Angel) an escapee from Manticore just a different type.

Some background information about Dark Angel is probably helpful and can be gotten in a number of places like wikipedia (which is generally good for the basics but not so good with minute details and things open to interpretation). Here's the basics though: Dark Angel was a pretty good television show on Fox that ran for two seasons before it was canceled. The show was about a genetically engineered super soldier named Max. It was set in a near future United States that has gone to hell because an electromagnetic pulse did major damage (if a nuclear explosion occurred 200 miles up it's electromagnetic pulse could blow transformers all across the country as well as fry many electronics). Max, was created by the United States military as a super soldier via genetic engineering and escaped, the government of course wants her back.

The main reason I would like to cross these two series together is because both series use various means of eugenics. Dark Angel has the genetically engineered super soldiers, which Max is one of, and later we learn about a 4000 year old cult that has created super warriors via selective breeding. Though really the use of some type of eugenics is far more common than people think, both the USA and Japan had them in the past and they still exist in some form or other in many places of the world (though many of them are more benign such as genetic testing to determine if children will inherit/develop a genetic disease).

The Ranma manga has several eugenic programs.
The Joketsuzoku, Shampoo's people, have a law in which at least the girls marry strong males (whether it applies to the other gender is unknown and doesn't come up in the manga). This is a form of eugenics - mating the best physical specimens.

The Musk who seclude themselves until adulthood training like the Spartans and who used the magic of Jusenkyo, specifically using Nyannichuan, to mix animal DNA into their bloodlines to get the abilities of the animals (practice of using Jusenkyo to acquire animal abilities is no longer used by the time of the manga).

The Phoenix people used a magical spring of similar nature to Jusenkyo to acquire bird characteristics and use Jusendo to force the ascension of Saffron.

The last people we know of that might (no direct evidence) practice a type of eugenics is Ranma's family. Comments by Genma and that his ancestors are shown to be martial artists leads to the idea that it is likely that his family has been marrying martial arts families for a long time.

The basic idea would be to have an organization attempt to use Ranma, Max, and Shampoo for unethical exploration in the creation of better super soldiers. The antagonists would try to figure out what are acquired characteristics and what are because of genetic manipulation (via science, the magic of Jusenkyo, or selective breeding). They would attempt to use there scientific know how in combination with Jusenkyo to create super soldiers of unparalleled strength.

The choice of characters is because Ranma is the main character, chance to make up Ranma's lineage, and my favorite character. Shampoo because of the Amazons access to magic, their law (which is a form of selective breeding), and their antiquity. Max to tie the scientific and modern technological aspects of the story in. The Ranma storyline would likely diverge from the manga at sometime prior to the last volume, likely mid manga after Herb storyline, but at least mentions of the Phoenix people would show up in the story. Dark Angel would diverge from the storyline after the meeting of 4000 year old cult that used selective breeding (the cult and the amazon will have had numerous battles in their thousands of years of existence).

The story would start in Japan with one of the people from the cult attacking Shampoo. Ranma would get involved shortly thereafter. Shampoo would tell about the ongoing feud between her people and the ancient cult. Things would happen resulting in Ranma and Shampoo having to leave Japan for a while and ending up in Hong Kong. Things would happen in Hong Kong that leads Ranma and Shampoo to Seattle where they encounter Max.

Think it would be interesting to view some of the martial arts abilities as acquired characteristics that anyone with proper training could do but for some others to be solely because of genetics. This is a basic cast gets kidnapped and experimented on by unethical people, escape, and learn more about themselves and fight back against the people type fic.

That's all I have for this idea.

Five Random things on the Ranma manga

1. During the dragon whisker story arc in the manga, when it flashes back to the time Ranma got the dragon whisker, the Viz version says years ago whereas the Japanese versions says China training period.

2. A recent read Ranma fan fic made mention of Ranma disdaining the use of guns and another one implied that guns did not exist in the Ranmaverse. Personally I think, depending on the situation, Ranma would use guns. He has used drugs, magic, killing techniques, and assorted weapons in the manga, why wouldn't he use guns? (beyond them being illegal and hard to acquire in Japan - not that Ranma actually cares about legalities). As for them being in the manga; Here is a scene from the manga in which Genma, Soun, and Happosai are being shot at:

3. During the hot spring race (in the manga), Ranma makes mention of a prom in the VIZ version, I'm unsure what the Japanese version says but I know that it doesn't say that because the Japanese do not have proms.

4. Something that I've been finding annoying in relatively recently read Ranma fics is the repeatedly revealed investigations of Nabiki Tendo. In the manga, Nabiki does not spend time spying on people to find dirt on them, Nabiki does not have an information network, Nabiki is not good at finding people who do not want to be found (the fiancees are likely better at that than her and if Ranma didn't want her to find him, she never would be able to, if he wanted to he could hide in the same room she is in and she wouldn't know), Nabiki does not show as great an ability to figure things out overly quickly as she does in fanon (Ranma is usually the person who figures out things the quickest -couple examples:what the Ashura's source of power was and who the principals son was), Nabiki does not generally look up information (Akane and Ranma are seen turning to books to find info more often than Nabiki is), etc.

5. Who is the character that spies on people? Quite a few characters, of which Nabiki isn't one of them. If she happens upon something to use against you she will but she doesn't actively seek them out the way other characters do. Ranma does though: During the Sakura-Mochi storyline Ranma wears a tenugui (hand towel used as a sneaking mask in Japanese works) and spies on Akane, during the time Nabiki was his fiancee he clung to the ceiling and listened into Nabiki and Kasumi's conversation, Ranma searches Nabiki's room for stuff to use against her twice in the manga, Ranma also searched: Happosai's room, the Chardon's mansion, Yohyo's mansion, Miss Hinako's apartment, etc. Ranma is far more likely to investigate you and try to find your secrets out to use them against you than Nabiki is.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Five Random Things on Japan 4

1. The book The Speeches of Barack Obama, with accompanying cd, is selling extremely well in Japan and is being used as a text book to teach English. It is a best seller with over 500,000 copies sold within a three month period. This is not a very common occurrence, any book that sells more than a 100,000 copies is considered a success in Japan and books in foreign languages rarely exceed 20,000. Selling books of US presidents speeches is not a common occurrence in Japan. If you want to read his speeches they can be found online at several places for example: obamaspeeches.com.

2. Sagichō is the fire festival an event usually held on January fifteenth. This festival can can be found throughout most of the country, but there is a lot of regional variation. It goes by many different names depending on region (some names are tondo, dondonyaki, saitōyaki, bokkengyō, and sankurōyaki). Like the name the dates and content of the event differs somewhat depending on where it is, for example the Himura Hachimangu Shrine holds it in mid-march.

One explanation for the origin of the word Sagichō, holds that, because it is homonymous with the word for "heron," it is connected to bird-hunting or bird-chasing. There are many other explanations, however, the true origin has yet to be determined. Whatever its origins, the event itself involves assembling, stacking, and burning the pine New Year's door ornaments of each household at a set location such as the village border, the village square, a particular field, or a shrine. In Kyūshū, a similar kind of fire festival event called the Onibi or the Onibitaki is held on the sixth or seventh day of January.

3. Toshi no ichi is a fair held at the year's end for selling New Year's decorations and miscellaneous goods. In Edo, there were large markets three times a year. The largest was December and this one became known as toshi-no-ichi or year-end market. Until mid-edo period only men where allowed to attend.

4. Harikuyo is a memorial service for broken needles and pins observed on February 8 or December 8 at many Buddhist temples. The broken needles are stuck into a block of tofu or konnyaku jelly to console the spirit of the needles for working so hard. For this service/festival, housewives, tailors, acupuncturists, makers of tabi (Japanese socks), etc., take a day off and bring their needles to the shrine.

5. In most Japanese schools, the grading of students is 5,4,3,2,1 instead of A,B,C,D,F like most of the USA has it. "5" is the best grade. This is not an absolute though some schools in Japan grade students in 10 ranks (10,9,8,...) and not every school in the USA uses the A,B,C grade scale. Also unlike the United States where a persons high school grades are considered to be very important in Japan the classroom grades are not very important how well you do on the university entrance exams are. So most students are not very concerned with their classroom grades but are very concerned about how well they do on the university exams (most students take moshi, mock exams, in preparation for the real exams).

Pointless Ranma Questions

I occasionally see a list of pointless question on forums and websites so here is a list of pointless questions. Feel free to answer them via commenting if you want to.

1.Which do you prefer, the manga, the anime, or the fan fiction?

2.Have you written a Ranma fan fic?
2a. If yes, is it posted online?
2b. If yes, where is it located at?

3.Do you have a favorite quote from the series?
3a. If yes, what is it?

4. Did you like the ending?

5. Ranma has a large number of crossovers in Fan fiction. In many of them Ranma ends up with a girl not from his series. Taking that into account, what character from any work would you like to see Ranma pair up with?
5a. Akane paired up with?
5b. Any other character?

6. Which character is your favorite?

7. What is your least favorite story arc?
7a. Most Favorite?

8. Do you own or have played any Ranma ½ games?
8a.If yes, which ones?

9. Have you ever wondered why Nodoka married Genma?

10. Do you think Ranma is attempting to learn magic?

My answers to the above pointless questions:
1. Manga without a doubt.
2a. No
2b. N/A While I have written some snippets in the past I've never posted them, always unhappy with them and deleted them (also never got very far into any of them for various reasons).
3."Did you really think sealing me in concrete and burying me in the yard was even going to slow me down?!" - Ranma
4. Yes, I liked that it was open ended leaving the readers to come up with what happens next (that mentioning of the wedding being postponed for a little time is only the online scans not the VIZ version, the Chinese or the original Japanese version). There are too many problems to solve in anything like a short period of time and the characters are not ready for marriage (Ranma in particular knows he is not ready and does not want to resolve the fiancee mess since it is in his best interest to keep the status quo relationship wise).
5.In general I prefer crossover couples in fan fiction more than I do the canon coupling or couplings with canon characters. Part of the reason I prefer them is many of the fan fics using the canon people are not very good, massive out of character (I like the manga mostly because of the characters), and too many of them are just solve everything quickly and easily (completely unbelievable, Just because Ranma and Akane decide they like making out with one another is not going to solve the problems, in fact I'd say that at least in the short term the problems would get worse not better). Some crossover pairings I'd like to see, or in some cases more of, are: Ranma/ Cutey Honey pairing, a Ranma/Shego from Kim Possible, a Ranma/ Illyria from Angel TV series, Ranma/Sailor Saturn from Sailormoon (there are quite a few of these but I really like this match up) and a Ranma/Harley Quinn from Batman.
5a. I'd also like to see more Akane paired up with people from other series, Ranma gets paired up with others often Akane doesn't. I'd like to see Akane paired up with Marvel Universe's Thor, actually that's the only one I could think of at this point in time that I'd like to see. It is far easier to match up Ranma with others than it is Akane.
6. Ranma is my favorite character
7. Gambling king arc is by far the worst arc in the manga what with the massive plot hole, the complete out of characterness, the extreme stupidity, etc.
7a. I don't really have a favorite arc. It changes depending on mood and what I've read lately.
8. Yes. Pretty much all of the officially released ones and several fan made ones.
9. Several times, figure Genma was a better person when younger but really all evidence points to him not being better since Nodoka remembers him hiding from and jumping on bill collectors.
10. Yes, considering he wants to cure his curse, he has used magic items several times, he came to Nerima carrying several magic items with him (girl repellent and dragon whisker), he has sought out power ups (Dogi), and his opponents attempt to use magic on him somewhat frequently - I think he spends considerable time trying to learn anything he can about magic.

This post inspired by random question threads everywhere, with some questions taken from them.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

An incomplete list of foods eaten in Japan

Agedashi Tofu
Fried tofu served with light soy sauce.

A confection made by spreading bean jam on top of small mochi.

Sweetened beans Any of several types of whole beans and peas cooked by boiling with sugar. Fine sugar is then sprinkled on top to make a coating. Azuki is one of the types of beans used to make this, others commonly include endō-mame and ingen-mamae.

An - A thick sweet paste usually made of sugar and pulses. The main use for an is as a filling for wagashi (traditional confections) and to make other sweet snacks such as anpan and yōkan. White an, called shiroan, is made from white kidney beans, azuki is used to make red an, the most common type, which comes in two forms koshian, which is smooth, and tsubuan, which is chunky. An is also sometimes made from chestnuts, potatoes, lily roots, and sweet potato

Anman (sweet filled bun)
A Chinese style steamed bun made of wheat flour filled with an.

A sweet dish made of gelatinous kanten and other ingredients with syrup.

baked bread filled with a sweet been paste.

A Japanese lunch box that may contain a variety of different foods.

This is famous as a sumo wrestler's dish. A variety of ingredients such as meat, fish and vegetables are cooked at the table in a large pot.

Cup-steamed egg custard with chicken, shrimp and vegetables. Trefoil leaves are often put on top as a garnish. A type of custard. The main ingredients are egg (tamago; The Anime Companion 2 p.97) and cooled dashi (The Anime Companion 2 p.15), it also has several other ingredients. The other ingredients often depend on the season and are items such as prawns, mitsuba, chicken, kamaboko, nama-shitake, seri, bamboo shoot (takenoko; The Anime Companion 2 p.96), yurine and ginkgo nuts (The Anime Companion [vol.1] p.35). A type of lidded china cup is used to both steam and serve chawan mushi. There is a variety made in shōjin ryōri (The Anime Companion 2 p.87) style vegetarian cooking where yamamotoimo or kabu are used instead of egg. While it is often eaten with a spoon it is traditional to use chopsticks (hashi; The Anime Companion [vol.1] p.42), then drinking any liquid left in the cup.

A dish of sliced raw fish, vegetables and pickles on sushi rice (vinegared rice) served in a layered lacquer box.

Choko Flake
A snack food made from corn flakes and chocolate.

Curry Rice
Japanese-style mild curry on rice.

A bun stuffed with sweet red bean paste.

Is the bowl served with a dish such as Katsudon.

A pancake with sweet red bean paste inside.

Japanese puffer fish, a highly toxic fish eaten in Japan from approved restaurants.

Green Gum
A brand of mint flavored chewing gum.

Fried dumplings with pork and leek.

A bowl of rice topped with thinly sliced beef and onions which have been cooked together in a soy-flavoured sauce.

Gyu Tataki
Raw beef slices served with garlic, spring onion and soy-flavoured sauce.

A kind of sushi wrapped with sweet bean curd.

Ishiyaki Imo
Sweet potatoes baked over hot stones. Selling from a cart equipped with such an oven, the vendor calls out a chant-like "ishi-yaki-imo" to attract customers.

A snack made from a mixture of wheat flour, eggs and sugar. The mixture is made into strips and fried, then white or brown sugar is sprinkled on them.

kashiwa mochi
A round, filled piece of mochi wrapped in an oak leaf and commonly eaten on children's day.

A bowl of rice topped with deep fried crumbed pork and egg.

Kitsune Udon
A bowl of white thick noodles and soup topped by sweet bean curd.

Candy in the shape of small spiky balls, made from sugar and cornstarch.

kuzu mochi
White cakes made from the starch of arrowroot usually cut into triangle shapes and served sweetened.

kuroame (hard black sugar candy)
A black, or very dark brown, hard candy made mainly of coarse and black sugar with some starch.

Vinegared rice rolled in a sheet of seaweed usually with egg, vegetables or dried gourd in the center. It is served in bite-sized pieces.

Makunouchi Bento
A box lunch usually consists of small rice balls sprinkled with black sesame seeds and an assortment of broiled fish or fish cakes, rolled omelettes, vegetables and pickles.

Miso Shiru
Fermented soybean paste soup with some fish or vegetables served in a layered lacquer bowl.

Manjū is a popular traditional Japanese confection. There are many varieties of manjū, but most have an outside made from flour, rice powder and buckwheat and a filling of an (red bean paste), made from boiled azuki beans and sugar. They are boiled together again and kneaded. There are several varieties of bean paste used including koshian, tsubuan, and tsubushian.

monaka (stuffed wafer cake)
A wagashi (traditional confections) originating in the early nineteenth century. Monaka originally was just dry wafers. Today it consists of double light wafers stuffed with an. The shape and size can greatly vary as can the type of an used in the filling.

Nabeyaki Udon
A pan of white thick noodles and soup served with deep fried prawn and vegetables.

Nasu Dengaku
Grilled eggplant with sweet soy bean paste.

A kind of sushi consisting of a slice of raw fish on a small oval-shaped ball of vinegared rice.

Small pastries with a sweet bean paste center made in various shapes by pouring batter into a mold. The ningyō part of the name means doll so the name is often translated as "doll cakes" or "doll shaped pastries". The shapes can be quite varied ranging from faces, animals, everyday items etc.

A large bowl of rice with hot water or green tea poured over it. Broiled salted salmon, cod roe, dried laver or pickles are usually put on top. A little wasabi (Japanese horseradish) may be added.

A stew in which a variety of ingredients such as tofu, eggs, white radish, fried fish paste and potatoes boiled together in a large pot of seasoned fish broth. Hot mustard is served as a condiment.

An oval-shaped sweet made from sticky rice coated with sweet red bean paste.Ohagi aka Botamochi are seasonal treats traditionally eaten during the spring and autumn equinox in Japan (Shunbun no hi). The “hagi” in ohagi are Japanese bush clover which bloom in the autumn and the “botan” in botamochi are peonies; a spring blooming flower (botamochi means peony rice cake).
O-Higan is a seven day period around the equinox when people visit family graves, pray for their ancestors, and clean out the house. Offerings are also made to Buddhist temples in the form of food, flowers, and incense. Ohagi are eaten/ offered in the autumn equinox and botamochi are eaten/ offered in the spring equinox.

A Japanese-style pancake usually grilled on an iron plate. It is made from batter with bits of meat, seafood, egg and chopped cabbage.

Clear soy base soup with some fish or vegetables served in a layered lacquer bowl.

A bowl of rice topped with chicken and egg in a soy-flavored sauce.

A bowl of yellow noodles and soup with slices of roast pork, fishcake and spring onion.

Sliced raw fish eaten after being dipped in soy sauce mixed with wasabi. Among the most popular fish are tuna, yellowtail and cuttlefish.

Sticky rice steamed with red beans. Since red is considered to be the color of joy, it is prepared for auspicious occasions such as festivals and birthdays.

Shabu Shabu
A dish of thinly sliced beef and vegetables cooked in a shallow pan. The meat is first quickly boiled in broth and then dipped in ponzu & sesame sauces.

Very thin white noodles served with slices of cucumber and other vegetables in a large glass bowl of icy water. Eaten after being dipped in a soy-flavoured sauce.

A dish of thinly sliced beef, tofu, onions, siitake mushrooms, corn marigold and other vegetables cooked in a pan at the table. Sugar, soy sauce and sake are added for flavour.

A kind of Japanese salad made of vinegared octopus and vegetables.

Grilled octopus dumpling including batter, octopus and spring onion. Sold at street stands, it is grilled on an iron plate and served with shaved bonito and a thick sauce.

Tanuki Soba
A bowl of brown noodles and soup topped by sweet bean curd.

Tatsuta Age
Deep fried marinated chicken with garlic, ginger and soy sauce.

Dish of prawns, small fish, squid and vegetables deep-fried after being in batter. It is served with a light say sauce.

A fried dish on a hot plate with a combination of seafood or meat and vegetables.

Deep fried crumbed pork served with Japanese BBQ sauce.

Pickled vegetables in salt, rice bran, miso or sake sediment. They are usually served to complement other dishes.

A preserved food made by boiling an ingredient, which may be fish, shellfish, a vegetable or seaweed, with sugar and soy sauce.

A dish of grilled eel on rice with a sweet glaze sauce served in a layered lacquer box.

Japanese-style fried rice with some meat, vegetables and egg.

Fried or steamed ramen mixed on a hot plate with vegetables, meat, and sauce. Ukyo uses this as a weapon in the manga (VIZ version volume 8).

Chunks of chicken and vegetables arranged on bamboo skewers grilled over a charcoal fire and dipped in a special sweet soy sauce.

Grilled fish. Among the most popular fish are saury, yellowtail and salmon.

Yasai Itame
Fried vegetables such as cabbage, beansprouts and bell pepper with some meat.

A dish of various kind of meat or fish and vegetables cooked in a earthen pot at the table. Served with ponzu or sesame sauce.

Zaru Soba
Cold brown noodles dish dipped in a sauce with wasabi, spring onion and quail egg.

A soup containing rice cakes and vegetables. It is a special dish for the New Year holidays and each region has different style.

A kind of porridge of rice and vegetables. Boiled rice is cooked in a soup and then mixed with trefoil leaves, egg or seafood.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

A bit on martial arts

I was recently playing around with Google and decided on a whim to use its business search to find out how many places near where I live teach martial arts. I knew there were a few, a nearby one even has a half off enrollment for spring deal going on, but I was really surprised at how many there are near me. According to a local newspaper's business search using the limit of 10 miles from my residence, the result was 38 places that teach martial arts (there are more since it doesn't count all martial arts as martial arts e.g. boxing, wrestling, etc. and that site does not list everyone - Google had some closer than 10 miles that were not on that list).

The reason I bring this up, beyond pointing out the surprising number of martial arts places nearby, is because of the Ranma fanon that Nerima is a martial arts Mecca. Considering that martial arts are a major part of the manga this view is not entirely unwarranted. The thing is there is not much to support that view point, only about a dozen martial arts show up and don't or didn't live there. The average person is not a martial artist and a dozen martial artists are not a lot; a typical class at a dojo would have more students than that.

Some people have pointed out the fact that the schools in the Ranmaverse sponsor various martial arts. This is not an unusual practice; it would be unusual if they didn't. Real life schools in Japan and elsewhere have school sponsored martial arts. Japan has been teaching martial arts in schools for a long time; just about every high school would have a Kendo club and some other type of martial arts after school activity. Even in the USA schools will often have martial arts. For example: wrestling, self defense classes, and archery.


The Ranma manga has quite a few made up martial arts, the thing is many of them are plausible and some of the ones people commonly think of as being made up actually do exist (though not in the way portrayed in the manga). Martial arts gymnastics exists in real life, just not in that form, and from what I heard it is becoming popular in California. Martial arts cheer leading exists as well, some martial arts places teach both cheer leading and martial arts and decided to combine the two (this should not come to a surprise considering that there are shows based on martial arts cheerleaders - see Kim Possible and Buffy the Vampire Slayer and a baton is just a staff weapon). Martial arts calligraphy and martial arts tea ceremony do not exist, as far as I know, but both are taught in a very similar manner to martial arts (have kata, master levels, training halls are called dojo, both were influenced by Zen Buddhism, etc.). Ukyo's martial arts style makes a lot of sense when you consider the ban on weapons Japan has. Improvising everyday items to be used as weapons is a common practice - for example Nguni stick fighters will often use any stick like object, such as an umbrella, to practice and fight with.

In real life there are thousands of martial arts, quite a few are as strange as or stranger than those seen in the Ranma manga. Capoeira is a martial arts dance. There are martial arts schools in Hong Kong that teach martial arts acting (combination Chinese Opera and martial arts to be used in films). Martial arts are interwoven into several religions (like Shinto and Buddhism but Christian martial arts exist as well). There are even martial arts styles that revolve on cheap shots and insults; a version of Shoalin Bushido has a kata that revolves around the use of verbal aggression, natural stances and sucker punches.