The birds are chirping in the trees and above the roofs of Nerima, Tokyo.
The Postcard says "Bringing Ranma from China. Saotome." It is addressed to Tendou Souun, living at the Tendou Dojo in Nerima. The man reading the card is tall, dark and wears a moustache. His hands shake as he holds the message near his heart and tears stream down his face. He is Tendou Souun, the addressee of the card and his wishes have finally come true.
Souun: Ranma coming here? Oh how I've waited for this day.
Soon his voice can be heard ringing through the home of the Tendou family.
Souun: Nabiki. Kasumi. Akane. [pause] Akane? Where is that girl?
Souun is walking through the house gathering his daughters Kasumi and Nabiki. He finds Nabiki in her room reading and her elder sister Kasumi is in the Kitchen preparing a water melon, but Akane, the youngest daughter, is nowhere to be found.
Girl: I'm ho-o-ome!
A beautiful, athletic girl in running gear is just entering the dojo. Running down the hall without slowing down she throws of her jogging clothes, grabs a gi, ties it and begins stacking building bricks.
She splits the bricks with her hand in an effective display of skill and power. A smile spreads on her face. She sighs and wipes the sweat from her brow.
Girl: Aaah. That was nice.
Nabiki: [entering from behind] There you go again, Akane. No wonder all the boys think you're weird.
Akane (the girl) smiles a bitter little smile before turning to Nabiki.
Akane: [to herself] Hah! I wish. [to Nabiki] What is it, oneechan?
Nabiki: Father has received a postcard.
Akane frowns at Nabiki's cryptic answer.
The sun has climbed a little and the sky above the roof of the Tendou dojo is blue and free of clouds. Voices can be heard from inside.
Souun and his daughters are gathered around the table in the living room. The girls are - to say the least - surprised to hear of the information Souun has for them. Nabiki has raised an eyebrow in disapproval, Kasumi looks worried and Akane wears an unmistakable scowl.
Kasumi: Father, you never told us that we have a fiancé.
Nabiki: Yeah, but he should have. At least a little earlier than this.
Akane: Father, how could you?
Souun: It is my greatest wish to see the Tendou martial arts school preserved. If one of you could marry my friend's son Ranma and carry on the legacy, I would be so happy.
The girls fall silent, considering the obligation their father has just asked them to fulfill.
Nabiki: What kind of guy is this Ranma anyway? Handsome?
Souun: I have no idea. Today will be the first time I see him, too.
Only Kasumi seems to take this revelation in stride. Akane's scowl darkes even more and Nabiki's eyes go wide.
Nabiki: [thinks] What century does he think this is?
Akane: [thinks] Just. you. Try.
The people on this Tokyo shopping street turn their heads at the shout. A young boy, dripping wet, comes running out of a side alley.
Boy: Are you crazy?
The onlookers' eyes go wide, as suddenly a large panda follows the boy out onto the street. It seems to chase the youth, but the boy is evading it and shouting back.
Boy: Get of my back, pop! You've made some mad plans in your time, but this is ludicrous. I'm not going along with it.
The animal swipes at the boy with a clawed forepaw. The boy whips around and assumes a fighting stance.
Boy: So, you wanna fight? I'm ready.
Amazingly the panda stands up straight and takes a similar, very human pose. He strikes. As the bear's claws <SWISH> through the air, narrowly missing the dodging boy, it becomes clear that a panda may look like just so much fat and fur, but it is still a feral, dangerous beast. The boy ducks and weaves left and right, avoiding every strike the panda throws at him.
The onlooking people "aaah" and "oooh" as the exchange of blows grows more and more furious. Finally the boy sidesteps one of the Panda's blows and moves in. He grabs the outstretched, furry limb and sends the panda flying with an over-shoulder throw. The panda lands heavily, destroying a streetsign in the process, and does not move anymore. The boy snorts derisively.
Boy: I'm not doing it. I.. I'll go back to China, that's what. Yeah, I'll find a way to undo this and then you can find another boy to press into your schemes.
He turns to leave. Behind him the Panda rises up and with a calculated blow to the back of the boy's head renders him unconscious. Obviously the animal wasn't all that knocked out. The panda "growf"s at the crowd that has gathered to shoo the witnesses away, shoulders the boy and is on it's way.
Back at the discussion in the Tendou living room Akane is rather upset at what they have just learned and says so.
Akane: You promised to marry one of us to some boy that you never even saw?!
Souun: Ha ha ha; we will meet him all together when he arrives here with his father. Then we will know.
Kasumi: Oh, I hope he is not too young. Younger men are rather boring to me.
Akane: You are going along with this?
Nabiki: Well, I'm going to check out my potential future iinazuke before I say no. Don't knock him before you know him.
Akane stays back while the others file out of the room.
Akane: [muttering] All that fuss because of one boy. Hmph.
Just then there is a knock on the front door and Akane turns her head.
Kasumi: [from the Kitchen] Oh my, could that be them already? I have not prepared anything yet.
Souun: The date of arrival was today. Oh Genma my old friend I will see you again and Ranma will marry my daughter.
Meanwhile Nabiki has opened the door. Before it stands the boy who was fighting the panda. He is alone. All the members of the Tendou household stand before him now and he looks at them a little embarrassed. Souun looks like he is about to cry from joy again.
Souun: Ar.. Are you...?
Boy: Um, Saotome Ranma, yeah.
He looks around self-consciously, one hand behind his head, playing nervously with his pigtail. Behind Souun's back Nabiki whispers to Akane
Nabiki: Hey, didn't I tell you to wait? Cute city, or what?
Akane elbows Nabiki in the ribs, but not very hard. She doesn't take her eyes from Ranma.
Akane: [thinks] He is cute, though...
Souun is standing right before Ranma, with Akane slightly to the back and left of him. From her viewpoint the sun glints right off of his hair, giving him a certain glow. Ranma wears a chinese- looking outfit, consisting of a buttoned, short-sleeved, black shirt, a pair of equally dark pants that are tied off at the ankles with small, red ribbons. There is a red cloth belt around his waist. All three girls let their gaze wander over him and they seem to like what they see. Ranma is gorgeous.
At last, Souun breaks the silence.
Souun: Where is Genma, my old friend?
Ranma: Uh, he's around here, too. He might be at the back door.
Right at that moment sounds emanate from the kitchen.
Suddenly the door shifts open, and a man with glasses and a scarf covering his head emerges. There seem to be some wisps of steam around him, but they evaporate quickly.
Souun: Genma! My heart leaps with joy. You have brought Ranma and the promise will be fulfilled.
Genma (the man): Uh, Yes!
Ranma: [Suddenly rather grumpy] Yeah, the promise.
Kasumi approaches the two crying men facing each other.
Kasumi: Father, don't you want to invite your friends in for tea?
Everybody is sitting at the low table in the living room, drinking tea and eating the little things that Kasumi has apparently created out of thin air. The children look rather bored with the old men's reminiscences. Kasumi turns to Ranma.
Kasumi: So, you were in China?
Ranma: Uh, yeah, on a training trip to Ju.. some old Chinese Training ground. Pop has been training me in the martial arts ever since we... left home, years ago.
Nabiki: Hey, if that's so, why don't you and Akane work out a bit?
Akane: No. Err, I mean why should we?
Nabiki: [nods towards the fathers] Don't tell me you are not bored. [thinks] And it would do you good to interact with a boy without breaking his bones. Even if it has to be a sparring session.
Akane: Oh, OK.
She flashes Ranma a little smile.
Akane: Let's go, then. [thinks] At least he doesn't seem too bad.
Ranma smiles back thankfully and relieved; perhaps even a bit hopeful.
The Practice hall of the dojo is a big wooden room with some seats alongside one wall and even a few pictures on the wall. Voices filter in from the outside.
Akane's Voice: So. You've trained in Kempo, right?
Ranma' Voice: Yes, some.
The door shifts open and the two enter the hall.
Akane: Then let's have a little match, OK?
Akane: Just for fun. I won't hurt you.
Ranma: [shrugs] OK.
Akane assumes a fighting stance while Ranma just stands and watches with his hands behind his back. Akane runs up to him and makes the first strike - into thin air. Ranma has jumped straight up. Without a pause Akane presses on with a high kick after him, but it also fails to connect. Ranma has dodged in mid-air. This repeats for the next few blows - Akane attacks and Ranma dodges.
Akane: What's wrong? Swing at me.
Again she fails to score any hit. Ranma just isn't where her blows fall.
Akane: [thinks] Why can't I seem to get through his defense? Is he reading my moves?
She looks at Ranma who is standing in the same position as before, awaiting her next attack. She sets her jaw.
Akane: [thinks] All right. Let's see him dodge me when I'm doing it... for real!
She launches another attack, putting everything she has into it. Ranma barely evades her approaching fist and vaults over Akane whose fist punches a hole into the dojo wall. Ranma touches her lightly on the back of her head as he lands softly behind her. Akane looks stunned. Slowly she turns around, a look of seething rage on her face.
Ranma: Uh.. um, well.. a-heh...
Just then Kasumi pokes her head in.
Kasumi: Oh, Ranma, if you are finished, would you come over for a moment?
Ranma: [thinks] Whew, saved by the bell. [out loud] Sure, Kasumi. [to Akane] Later, Akane, thanks for the match. You were great.
He flashes her a slightly nervous smile and hurries out after Kasumi. They walk down the hall together.
Kasumi: You won? Oh dear, Akane will not like that. She takes losing a little hard. And you are a boy, too.
Ranma: What does that mean? Why does it matter that I, uh, that I'm a boy?
Kasumi: Oh, you'll see tomorrow, when you go to school.
Ranma: [thinks] School...? [out loud] Err, where are we going?
Kasumi: To the bath, of course. You must have worked up quite a sweat.
Ranma: Well, actually... Err, I mean thanks.
In the practice room an indignant Akane talks with Nabiki.
Akane: I still can't believe it. He didn't even seem to make an effort - [smiles grimly] except that last time. [sags] But he dodged even that one.
Nabiki: Come on, sis. It's not as if the world is ending because you didn't win for once. Tell you what: the bath is ready, why don't you take one? You know that relaxes you.
Akane: Hmph. Well, all right, thanks big sister.
She gets up and heads in the direction where Kasumi led Ranma, leaving Nabiki behind to smile at her back, shaking her head.
Akane enters the foreroom of the bath with a towel and undresses quickly. Within the bath, on the other side of the door, Ranma is sitting in the steaming water, with the back turned. Only a shadow outlines Ranma's figure.
Ranma: [thinks] Should I? Oh, well, they are going to find out anyway. May as well just go out like I am.
In the very same moment that Ranma gets out of the tub Akane comes in.
A moment goes by. The two just stand and stare at each other. Akane is slightly covered by her towel but Ranma isn't. And there is no mistaking that Ranma is clearly female. She looks smaller than before as a boy and is definitely more curved, but the face and hairstyle are almost identical.
Akane finds her voice back first.
Akane: Who are you? What are you doing in our bath?
Ranma: Uh, Akane.. I can explain...
Akane: I bet you can. Get out of there at once. And get dressed!
Akane leans back out of the door and calls out.
Akane: Father! Kasumi, Nabiki. Come here everyone!
The others (including Genma) arrive.
Nabiki: Akane, what is it?
Akane: I surprised a stranger in our bath!
Kasumi: How strange. Ranma was in the bath just now.
In the same moment the female comes from the bath. She's wearing Ranma's Chinese clothing and with her pony-tail the similarity to the male Ranma can not be overseen.
Girl: Um, I am Ranma. Sorry 'bout this.
The others look on speechless.
-- End of part 1.
Part 2: "He wants Akane"
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