|The Ranma Rants: Part 01|
Since When Is Ranma The Most Powerful Entity In All The Multiverse?
Ranma the God. Ranma the Martial Arts Grand Savant. Ranma the Discoverer of New and Unbelievably Powerful New Stuff. Ranma the Most Powerful Entity In All The Multiverse. This is a common thread in, oh, just about every Ranma fic I've ever read (I tend to avoid those where Ranma is used and abused and broken by sadisticly warped and dreadfully bastardized versions of his fellow characters). And it drives me batty.
Why, I ask, is Ranma so elevated that his power knows no bounds? What makes Ranma able to easily defeat any critter that comes his way? Why is he able to dance around any opponent in any arena, even those outside his canonicly-established range of knowledges?
Granted, in the manga he *does* eventually overcome his weaknesses, and devise a way of defeating the flavour of the week. However, it usually takes him *much* longer than it does in typical fanfic, and also tends to be quite a bit more difficult. Sometimes, it's even established that he only defeated that ridiculously powerful foe through sheer, dumb luck. It certainly wasn't though any brilliant tactics, or logical plan of attack.
Which is another thing. In canon, Ranma, although certainly far from stupid, and definitely possessing vast amounts of native talent when it comes to combat, and combat-related activites, is *not* the most logical thinker. Any fic that presents Ranma as such *really* stretches my suspension of disbelief. Especially when Ranma's success comes at the expense of another character's strengths and abilities. Ranma is *not* the best there is at everything, not even in his own world. There are others who are as good as he, and better.
I've seen so many fics that try to rectify Ranma's inherent flaws and weaknesses with "plots" such as "Ranma (somehow/comes into contact with a Greater Awareness/is randomly blessed by a deity/insert poor excuse for a crossover here) gains an awareness/ability/something that allows him to overcome the things he can't do/stuff he doesn't know. What does a newly perfect genius master of martial arts savant do?" that my eyes glaze over and drift past them when I see them anymore. Unfortunately, it's difficult to find fics that *don't* include at least a small aspect of that.
This is (unfortunately) even more true of crossover fics. Although Ranma (eventually) overcoming whatever challenge has come his way, no matter the odds, and mastering whatever he has set out to master has a certain thematic appropriateness to it in straight Ranma fics (so long as it's presented in a believable manner), when it comes to crossover fics, that stuff is really Right Out.
For instance, take a Ranma/Slayers crossover. While it's something that I would enjoy as I like both series, Ranma being able to learn Slayers-type magic as easily and readily and *willingly* as he learns martial arts is just preposterous (as preposterous as, say, Lina Inverse mastering martial arts as readily as she masters magic?).
First of all, Ranma's experiences with magic have been (pretty much) universally *bad*. Second of all, Ranma is a very independant person. Most magic systems call for the summoning and channeling of a power from outside yourself? Would he really be willing to admit that he's weak enough to need such a thing? And what about the dishonour of being unable to fight a battle without routinely calling on some outside force? Third of all, learning magic (especially black magic, which is negative, and evil, and inherently anti-life) would just make all of Kuno's accusations of being a "foul sorcerer" *true*. And lastly (because I could go on for pages about this stuff), Ranma is an inherently good person. Magic in the Slayers world, while not inherently evil (at least not all of it), is still, for the most part, a bit iffy.
That was just an example, one which, for the record, I chose because of my great familiarity with the Slayers milieu. Another example could be any crossover where Ranma is suddenly thrust into a world with a much higher tech level than his own. What about being a martial arts genius would allow him to swiftly master alien technologies, and bizzare machines in a flash? And then of course there's the culture shock factor.
It really detracts from the other series that is being crossed if Ranma is greater and smarter, and better, and stronger than the other characters, even at the stuff they're supposed to be peerless at. Not only is it not fun to read, it contains a certain amount of "anti-fun," that substance that bores or irritates you. This raises another thought: in addition to these "uber-Ranmas" there is one other category of character that engenderes this reaction in me. The dreaded Mary Sue. If you weren't aware of the fact that a canon character can be written in such a way that they are being used as a Mary Sue, well... Now you know. Think about it.
In conclusion, while Ranma is a powerful and talented fighter, a good person, and one of the better-rounded characters in manga, he is not God. Repeat after me. Ranma is not God. Ranma is not God. And remember, other characters can be powerful too.
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