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By Joseph Palmer
All of these fanfictions exist within the Ranma 1/2 world created by Rumiko Takahashi.
I humbly beg her forgiveness for my trespass...
This page contains spoilers for my fanfictions, and for the Ranma Series.
My personal Ranma oddysey began at Christmas-time in 1991, a few months after the last Anime episode had aired in Japan. My brother-in-law pulled out a 10th or so generation tape of the first dozen episodes, which had been taped off the air, commercials and all, and for the next 3 hours I was glued to the television.
I couldn't say what first drew me in, but I do remember being struck by a number of things; the upbeat music, the appealing character designs and voice acting, the subversive novelty of innocent nudity in a cartoon, and the cultural vouyerism of watching a Japanese show. My previous exposures to Japanese culture had lead me to belive that everyone in Japan was serious and formal all the time boy, was I wrong.)
When I reurned home I started to haunt the local Japanese video rental stores, searching for new episodes. I was able to find the last 80 or so episodes, and I rented them, 8 episodes per weekend for the next three months.
I'd fallen into the spring of drowned Ranma fan.
It's a great way to experience a series, since even if there is a weak episode in the bunch, (and there are a few klinkers) there's always bound to be a gem, so there's never a chance to loose interest from week to week.
I learned how to use FTP and Archie to scour the pre-web internet for any information I could find, then I found usenet. I couldn't believe that there were so many anime fans. And there, in rec.arts.anime, I read my first fanfiction. I don't recall the name of that story now, but I do recall the wonderment of seing that first (for me) fanfiction.
At that time nearly all fanfics were in script format, and since this was many years prior to VIZ picking up the rights to Ranma, these stories were written by hard-core anime fans, who -- like me -- were watching raw or fansubbed anime, and purchasing The original Japanes manga.
Those early fanfics also tended to feel more like the original author's series. In the case of Ranma, the violence was more comic in nature, and the humor, slapstick. They were like word sketches of anime episodes.
When I started to write I wanted to do something different, so I decide to explore the 'quiet moments' between Ranma and Akane in the series. By this time I had rented and watched the last half of the Anime episodes (In raw Japanese), and those last seasons tended to show Ranma and Akane getting along better, and even included a few romanticaly tinged episodes. Some have argued (loudly and not very politely on usenet) that the anime episodes are not 'canon' -- that only the manga penned by Takahashi represents the true nature of Ranma.
My answer to that is an apologetic shrug. My first experience of Ranma was to watch the anime episodes somewhat out of order, in Japanese, back when the sum total of my knowledge of the language was barely more than one word; 'baka'. (Fortunately for me, Akane used that a lot.)
That order of experience left me with the impression of a confident, but more thoughtfull Ranma and a sweeter, and a frequently exasperated, but less perpetualy angry Akane.
Now, part of this is surely due to my ignorance of the language -- I rarely knew exactly what they were saying -- but the emotion of the seiyuu (Voice Actors) came through perfectly clear. Ranma and Akane love each other.
Who do I write for?
I've heard people in the fanfiction community say that an author should write to please (only) themselves.
That can be taken to mean that the totality of the effort is to 'itch a scratch' and if my some random chance a reader finds something they like in the work -- well that's okay -- but certainly not the point of writing it. For me, I simply wouldn't write these stories if I was the only one who would be reading them. And anyway, I can see the scenes in my mind far better than I'm able to describe them in words. (Sorry. I'll work on it.) Since my job is to communicate the images from my mind into the mind of the reader, I find that easier to do if I write with a reader in mind, and that reader isn't me.
On the subject of [DARK]
Fanfiction is, by definition, written using borrowed characters and settings. Some have argued that fanfiction authors owe no obligation to the original author, nor to the authors fans, and that we can do whatever we want to these borrowed characters. I disagree. I believe we are guests, and that we should act as guests. I've decided that for my fanfictions I wish remain true to the nature of the series. I borrow shamelessly from the romance and humor abundant in Takahashi's Ranma, and I will respect her design and leave out the killing and other assorted mayhem that is collectively described as [DARK].
Perhaps I'm overly sensitive on the subject of [DARK] Ranma stories, (I will never read one again) but that sensitivity came from recognising that Takahashi's Ranma 1/2 is an endangered species. It is almost singular in that it does not resort to the same tired violence-driven plots and characters too common in Japanese manga and anime (and in American media). There are no murders.* No one pulls a gun on Ranma. Walk-ons are not dressed in a red shirt and killed off before the first commercial break. Dr. Toufu never once has to say "He's dead, Jim." Ranma doesn't hate anyone, and he has a hard time keeping a grudge. His greatest rival (Ryouga) turns to him for help.
*Ranma defeats Saffron in Volume 38, but Saffron -- being immortal -- is instantly re-hatched as a baby. So, Did Ranma kill Saffron? Well, if he did, he sure didn't stay 'dead' very long. Either way, since the person known as "Saffron" is reborn, Takahashi's Ranma does not bear the burden for his 'death'. It's also interesting to note that while Takahashi was writing Ranma, she also released several stories in the "Mermaid" series, where characters were frequently killed (and worse). I think it's important that she specifically left that out of Ranma, and as a facfiction author (and as a fan of Ranma) I feel obliged to do the same.
Fun Fact #1: -- Over half of the Ranma 1/2 television episodes were not based on stories that appeared in the manga.
Seasons is my first series. In fact It didn't start out as a series, "Winter" was just a one-shot story, but I got so many really nice comments about it that I decided to follow Ranma and Akane for a year.
Winter was my first attempt at prose fiction -- well, the first that got past one paragraph. Prior to "Winter" I had written some script style fanfiction, which can be found in part 2 of "Ninja no Himitsu" [The Ninja's Secret]
When I wrote "Winter" I was thinking about the feel of the Tendou house in the poetic stillness of a snowstorm. They say, 'write what you know'... well, I grew up in northern Minnesota, and I have many intense and detailed memories of the special feel of a warm house on a cold night.
A couple of days after this story went out on usenet I got a touching email from someone who'd just had one of those days; hell at work, yucky weather, and to top it off, a flat tire on the way home. They'd written to to let me know that after a day like that they were really cheered up by "Winter", and that it really made their day. Their message made my day.
You know that window above the tub? The one that Akane watches the snow from? It's not there -- at least in the manga. Takahashi always draws that wall with tub to ceiling tiles. The anime, on the other hand, uses that window in several stories.
Review: The First Annual Taleswapper Awards for Ranma Fan Fiction 
"Winter" was originaly written as a one-shot story, and I was casting around for an idea for a new story when a friend brought back some sakura mochi from Japan. I'd been asking about it since I'd seen the Magic Sakura Mochi anime episode. (Netouhen # )She explainedthat it was a special treat for spring holidays. Aha!
For Spring, I wanted to try a new writing technique, so I wrote the story from Akane's point of view.
Review: The First Annual Taleswapper Awards for Best Ranma Fan Fiction 
Survey: Sixth place 1995 Best of Ranma Voting
I sat down to write Summer, with two goals in mind. The first was to write a story with a 'flashback' and second to slowly reveal the details of the story.
I was a little surprised to get an email from someone quite upset that I'd allowed Ranma and Akane to drink. In my defense I must point out that our couple are exposed to sake in the manga.
Review: The First Annual Taleswapper Awards for Best Ranma Fan Fiction 
Survey: Ninth place 1995 Best of Ranma Voting
Autumn was written in the week following the publication of the Shonen Sunday episode where Ranma's secret is finnaly revealed to his mother. She thanks the Tendous for taking care of her husband and son, and announces that they will now be moving in with her -- and out of the Tendou home. I sort of figured that it would be on Ranma's mind.
I struggled very hard with the kiss, since Takahashi had not let them go quite that far, and I was a little relieved when the manga series ended without one.
Survey: First Place 1995 Best of Ranma Voting
Review: The Second Annual Taleswapper Awards for Best Ranma Fan Fiction 
Review: Comments on Recent Ranma 1/2 Fan Fiction 
Seasons Series Review: Taleswapper's Hall of Fame: 1996 Induction
"Red" came to me after a rather long writing haitus. The core theme came to me at the funeral of a freind. I wasn't that close to Derik, we mostly met at dinners common freinds. I remember he had a way of making me (and others) feel comfortable, and it would always raise my spirits when he came into the room.
I'd been to other funuerals, but this was the first where the interment took place as part of the service. I was stuck my the finality, by the eternal stillness that would follow from that moment forward. That was the end of his 'silvery line'.
"Red" is my moodiest piece, it dances pricariously close to [DARK]. I like to think it doesn't quite cross that line, after all, Takahashi herself used a trip to that same cemetary in the beginning of the episode where we first meet Ranma's real mother.
"Red" was written mostly in one evening (Till about 3:00 AM). While I was writing it I had in my mind "The News From Lake Wobagone". As I was writing the story, I imagined someone performing it from a spotlight barstool on an otherwise darkened and empty stage, the sound of the words echoing in a darkened auditorium. I wrote, and rewrote and rewrote until I could get close to the 'music' of that performance in my head.
In Mid '99 some of the fanfic authors began to record audio versions of their stories, the cast individually recording thier parts for later assembly. I looked through all of my stories, and decided that the only one that was remotely a match for Audio was "Red", the others depended too much on the interplay between the description and the dialog. (I still have it in my mind to write a real radio play story) "Red" is available in two audio formats; .mp3 and .ra. It's recorded dry, just me in a quiet room with a good microphone, but I'd like to one day add sound effects to go along with the story (Feet on a chin link fence, dogs barking, chirping birds, that sort of thing.)
Survey: Third Place 1996 Best of Ranma Voting
Review: The 1997 Taleswapper Awards
Review: Favorite Ranma 1/2 Fan Fiction, October-December 1996
Survey: Sixth Place 1997 - April Best of Ranma Voting (Monthly)
Survey: Honorable Mention 1997 - Best of Ranma Voting
Review: My Favorite Ranma 1/2 Fan Fiction, April - June, 1997
Survey: First Place 1997 - June Best of Ranma Voting (Monthly)
Survey: Sixth Place 1997 - Best of Ranma Voting
Jury Contest: Animefest 1999 Best of show
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