For those who are unaware, a “fukufic” is a Ranma ½ – Sailor Moon crossover where Ranma Saotome, macho, intermittently-female martial artist extraordinaire, winds up acting in the role of a Sailor Senshi.
Now, keep in mind that Ranma resents having a curse which turns him into a girl whenever narrative convenience throws some cold water at him, and the quest for a cure is one of the recurring driving elements of more significant story arcs in the Ranma ½ manga and anime, getting him to become a magical girl typically happens either under protest, due to bad writing, or both.
That means that, whenever I find a well-written story where Ranma takes on such a role and it doesn’t feel like some kind of variation on the theme of “we’ll give Ranma the opportunity to be a magical girl, then throw trouble at him until he’s forced to accept the job”, it’s a pretty damn noteworthy event. Hobson’s choices to bring about what’s often the author’s non-sexual kink get old very quickly when it’s not yours too.
So far, I’ve only run across three fics like this which I enjoyed enough to consider mentioning:
Best of the Best
- The Best of Times by Ozzallos
- Length: 104,987 Words
- If I had to choose a first-place winner for best voluntary Fukufic, it’s almost guaranteed to be this.
- The basic plot is that, because the chaos surrounding Ranma prevents Sailor Pluto from keeping an eye on him normally, she has to make use of alternative means to keep him from interfering with her plans …until the day when Ranma, in a fit of frustration, wishes he knew why he couldn’t get a moment’s peace… out loud… in the presence of a convenient magical item.
- Armed with the magically-granted knowledge of Pluto’s civilian identity and actions against him, Ranma decides that the best way to take the fight to her is to infiltrate the Senshi. In typical form for his comedically-convenient luck, he happens to incorporate a mark of office for the Silver Millennium elite guard into his disguise, and then ad-lib the mannerisms. (It helps the act that elite guard were blocked from viewing with the gate to protect the queen from indirect tracking.) Given that Pluto’s degraded ability to spy on him kept her from discovering the curse, it fools them quite readily.
- I don’t want to spoil any more of the plot twists, but what follows is a story that’s got a great funny thread to it and a fun character piece where Ranma ends up serving as a valuable member of the team. It’s complete, I enjoy it enough to have read it several times, and it’s got a great character arc for Setsuna which took me by surprise when I realized what was it had been building up to.
- Relatively Absent by Togashii Gaijin
- Length: Prologue, 11 chapters, and 2 side-story chapters
- Unfortunately, you’ll have to find someone who can e-mail you a copy of this if you want to read it, because the author has attempted to expunge it from the ‘net. That said, while it didn’t progress very far into its story arc, it’s not bad enough to merit removal …the author just felt it was somehow shameful that he’d once written fanfiction.
- That said, this is a very special case because it’s the only example I can remember running into where the choice is quite literally “take the job or die”, but it works!
- The basic setup is that, in the aftermath of his fight with Prince Herb, Ranma winds up buried under the collapsing mountain. At the same time, Sailor Pluto has used Time Stop and the Gates, bearing an intelligence that Pluto hasn’t talked to in a millennium, decide that a new guardian is warranted. Ranma is the only suitable candidate without looking outside the Sol system.
- What makes this work is how the author combines a bunch of smaller details so that it feels real rather than just railroading Ranma into a convenient position. Yes, it’s a Hobson’s choice. Ranma flat out says “some choice” while his life is ebbing away. It works because Ranma making the best of the situation is a central element of what’s going on. Because Ranma took the job to save his own life, there’s no immediate threat to steal the spotlight and the conflict can focus on Ranma dealing with the changed circumstances.
- It especially helps that, despite being forced to take up the mantle of being “Guardian Khronos”, the story clearly shows that Ranma’s Ranma-ness isn’t going to be worn down by the job, as he pounces on every opportunity to make it less about being a magical girl and more about being a martial artist in a stupid outfit with some useful new abilities.
- With the explanation of why the fukufic aspect words handled, let’s focus on the story itself. Most of it focuses around Ranma meeting the rest of his family on his mother’s side, who had been keeping an eye on him but not interfering as a result of a big falling-out between Nodoka and her mother. It features quite a few OCs and original locales, and is paced in a way which suggests that it was meant to be just the beginning of quite a long-running fic. (Basically, think of it as just the beginning of a multi-way crossover with one of the series being the author’s original work.)
- Given the reveal that the Silver Crystal and Silence Glaive also have minds of their own, plus the associated Senshi scenes, it’s pretty clear that the Sailor Moon cast was intended to play a bigger role as the story would have unfolded. However, the set of chapters that actually got written are skewed fairly heavily in the direction of the author’s original elements.
- …at the same time, I also think it’s a fairly clear case of “the author was on a course to gunk things up”. First, the events which occur when it cuts back to Nerima in the later chapters feel like the author started a “close that chapter of Ranma’s life” fix-fic and then got carried away with those parts rather than using them to close down Nerima quickly. Second, Genma is portrayed in a way which makes it clear he would have come back later, and to the story’s detriment. Third, there’s a foreshadowed antagonist that I sense would come back in a way which stole too much of the spotlight in the wrong way. Fourth, there’s a scene involving D.C. Comics characters which feels like it would have been better for the story as a whole if it were done with original characters instead. Finally, there’s an excuse to send Ranma to the U.S. and the last chapter that got written has Ranma on the plane.
- All in all, it feels like it would have developed into one of those messy multi-crosses between Ranma ½, Sailor Moon, D.C. Comics, and an original vision with enough development and focus behind it to be a source unto itself. However, what actually got written for the Ranma side is surprisingly self-contained and could be easily pruned to form the beginning of a working “Ranma in a Sailor Moon – Original crossover”.
- It’s certainly not your typical fukufic by any means, but, if you can find a copy, it’s something I’d suggest reading at least once. It’s one of those interesting and somewhat unique artifacts of the era before Fanfiction.net, when fanfiction was centred around the FFML, the
rec.arts.anime.creativeUsenet group, and private websites, and fics often had varying degrees of influence from that “Usenet college writing” flavour that showed up in works from the period. (For example, the Spells R Us series, Siaru’s The Virus: Interpersonal Effects (available in the VFFA bundle for The Virus), and various text-parser-driven adventure games from the 80s and 90s, both text-only and graphical.)
- Just a plan by Poly
- Length: 46,440 Words
- In this fic, Nodoka decides that Ranma needs a break from Nerima and takes him to spend some time in Juuban, at the house of a friend who is travelling abroad.
- She makes it very clear that Ranma is not to get into martial arts fights while in Juuban… but then fangirls out when they observe the Senshi fighting the latest monster.
- A few spur-of-the moment attacks that “nobody without magic could pull off”, and Pluto out of contact after being caught by surprise at the Time Gates, and they’re convinced that Ranma is a new senshi, even before they meet “her”.
- I was only introduced to this fic recently, but it was an enjoyable read.
- My main problem with it is how, once it’s gotten the setup over with, there’s a span of about half a dozen chapters where the writing gets sloppy and some of the scenes a bit dull. For example, rather than producing a well-flowing narrative centered around what makes the story distinctive, it spends too much time cutting away to secondary scenes of questionable entertainment value and the mini-arc which uses Happosai and Pantyhose Taro as a plot device feels contrived.
- At the same time, it feels like it’s trying to be a loose cross between The Best of Times and a “Ranma living with Nodoka in girl form” story like Girl’s School by Miko2 without doing either as well as it could have.
- In the end, the story earns its place as a runner-up but a little too much of that relies on how scarce the competition is. If you want another story where Ranma dons the fuku truly of his own free will, give it a try. If you don’t mind the more traditional Hobson’s choice fukufic plots, there are more engaging stories you could be reading instead… though I will admit that seeing all that build-up to Ranma revealing the curse dispersed with a simple “Wow! I didn’t know you were a Starlight!” is a refreshingly novel thing to do.