Two female figures are running through Nerima, Tokyo. Ranko is hurrying down a street at top speed.
Ranko: [thinks] Gotta get away, gotta get away!
Voice: Ranko! Korosu!
Ranko twitches at the sound of that voice.
Ranko: [thinks] Gad! Does that girl never sleep?
She ducks into a side street, hoping that her pur-suitor missed her change of direction. Unfortunately, by looking over her shoulder she misses the fact that there is a big, wooden tank of water ahead. She runs into it at full speed, flipping over the side and falling head-first into the water.
Now male, Ranma jumps out of the tank, fighting of a giant lobster that holds his pigtail in its claw.
Ranma: Get off me, you sea-insect!
He pounds the black crustacean back into the water. Apparently his ducking into the side street has led him to the back of a seafood restaurant. But he has no time to look around. Shampoo swings around the corner at full tilt, one bonbori raised high.
Shampoo: Ran... [stops] Oh, Ranma! Nihao!
She makes her weapon vanish somewhere and runs at Ranma with outstretched arms. Ranma ducks, to avoid her embrace and the inevitable kissing that would follow. Shampoo looks at him, pouting, apparently hurt.
Shampoo: Why Ranma no kiss Shampoo back?
Ranma: Look, Shampoo. I really can't... I mean, you can't... [takes a deep breath] I can't marry you.
Shampoo: But Ranma defeat Shampoo. She must marry Ranma.
Ranma: How do you expect me to marry you, when... err... When you always chase after Ranko?
Shampoo: Law says Shampoo must kill.
Ranma: I don't care! The law says this, the law says that - I can't like a girl who's always out to kill m... Ranko! Leave her alone! [thinks] Perhaps this will work.
Shampoo: Ranma no want Shampoo kill Ranko?
Shampoo: [frowns] Shampoo must think.
She slowly walks away, leaving a relieved Ranma behind.
One day later, Ranma is coming home from school with Akane. When they enter the Dojo, Kasumi greets them.
Kasumi: Welcome home. Ranma, your friend Shampoo was here with a message for you. She said that there was only one way to resolve the matter. You have to fight a match over it.
Akane: What matter?
Kasumi: She didn't say. [shrugs and smiles]
Ranma: I tried to convince her to leave my girl form alone.
Akane: [suspicious] You didn't promise her anything, did you?
Ranma: Of course not! [thinks] I just hope, Shampoo understands that, too.
Akane is just walking through the living room, when Kasumi calls out from the kitchen.
Kasumi: Oh, Akane! Could you do me a big favour and quickly get some flour at the shop? We seem to have run out.
Akane: Sure, Kasumi. [smiles back] I'll go right away.
At the market, Akane is walking down an aisle of goods. In her shopping basket are the flour and some other things. She has taken the opportunity to look around, while she's at the shop. She stops before a display of sweets.
Akane: [thinks] Oh, yes. I could take some of those, too. Ranko loves them. [smiles] Better take more, then, or there won't be any for me.
She overhears two boys talking in the next aisle.
Boy: Hey, didja see that total babe?
Akane: [frowns, thinks] Men!
Boy2: That Chinese one? Sure, hard to overlook, is she? I saw her this morning in the park, y'know? She was jumping in and out of a tree. Strange girl.
Boy: She was probably practisin' to hide there and jump out to surprise her lover.
Boy2: You sure she has one?
Boy: No way she wouldn't, with that figure.
Boy2: Aw, yer dashing my dreams, y'know?
Akane, who froze when she recognized the object of the boy's dialogue, has heard enough. She runs off.
Boy: Just think of those balloons she has.
Boy2: They're called bonbori. Large metal spheres, affixed to wooden handles. Difficult to wield, but pretty dangerous if you can master them.
Boy: [suspicously] You been reading books again?
Akane arrives at the Dojo, out of breath. She storms into the house and shouts for Ranko. Kasumi comes out of the kitchen.
Kasumi: Ranma is already out. He went to the park for his match with Shampoo, remember? Did you get the flour?
Akane: Oh no! I'm too late. I think that match is a trap - I've got to warn Ranko!
She runs off again, but calls back over her shoulder.
Akane: The flour's in the basket, Kasumi.
Kasumi: Thanks, Akane. [smiles to herself] They're always running to or from somewhere. No wonder they're always hungry.
With gritted teeth and clenched fists, Akane runs through the Nerima streets at top speed. Before her mental eye flash pictures of Shampoo jumping out of a tree, behind Ranma, ambushing him. The pictures change to ones of an unconscious Ranma being dragged off to China to marry Shampoo. Akane redoubles her speed.
When she turns into the park and runs along the path, she soon spies a prone form lying on the grass before a tree.
Akane: Ranko! [thinks] Oh god, let her be OK.
She plops down on her knees besides Ranma, relieved that there are no outward signs of injury. She reaches out and touches Ranma's shoulder, shaking him slightly. Ranma moans.
Ranma: Ummmm... [opens his eyes] Oh. What...?
Akane: [embraces him] Oh Ranko! You're okay!
Ranma seems happy about Akane's sympathy, but looks a little confused. When she releases Ranma, he asks her
Ranma: Akane, what are you talking about? You know my name's Ranma. Who's Ranko?
Akane steps back, her eyes wide, her fingers splayed in shock.
Arguing voices approach the Tendou Dojo.
Ranma's voice: Honestly, Akane, I have no idea what you're talking about. I remember everything fine. People with amnesia know they've forgotten something. You're pulling my leg. I bet there never was any person called Ranko.
Akane: I just found you, lying unconscious in the park, and you question my sanity. It's your brain that's scrambled, baka!
Ranma: Don't call me baka, kawaikunee! Just because you're my fiancée doesn't mean you can treat me like this.
Akane falls silent at this. Her fists clench and unclench at her side.
Akane: [thinks] He's not himself. He's not well. I won't hit him. He's not himself...
Souun: He completely forgot?
Kasumi: Oh my!
The Tendous and Genma are sitting in the living room, discussing recent developments.
Akane: And he's behaving differently, too. [thinks] Called me his fiancée...
Genma: We could hit him over the head again. [swings his fist] Perhaps that will restore his memory. I saw that happen once on the television.
Souun: Ha ha ha, I saw that too. Let's do it!
Nabiki: I don't think that show was meant to be taken as medical advice. Perhaps... we could splash him with hot water. That would make it pretty impossible to ignore Ranko.
Genma seems a little reluctant to let go of his idea, but finally nods agreement. Soon, four shadowy figures creep into Ranma's room. One of them is carrying a kettle. They approach the sleeping boy.
Genma: [whispers] Is the water ready?
Akane: [whispers] Got it!
Nabiki: On my sign. One... two...
Suddenly a loud voice rings out.
Voice: Stop! Don't do it!
-- End of Part 19.
Part 20: "It's so hard"
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