Ranma reflects on life 20 years after the end of the series. A story of love and honor.
By Edward Simons
Based on characters and situations created by Takahashi Rumiko Ranma 1/2 and characters copyright Shogakukan, Kitty Animation Circle, and Takahashi Rumiko. This story written 2000 - Edward A. Simons
I did it for love. I know most people don't believe it, including my wife Akane, but that's why I married her. No, not that silly western idea of romantic love. Not some mix of raw emotions and surging hormones. This is about tradition, about respect and love for the old ways. About loving your family and doing what's best for them, regardless of your personal desires.
Yes, it's about self-sacrifice and I knew how to do that. How many times did I put my life on the line to protect Akane? I did the same for Shampoo and Ukyou when they were in danger. I even took risks to help rivals like Mousse and Ryouga.
The hard part was how seldom anyone thanked me. Even Akane, the one that needed my help the most, couldn't say the words. I complained about that when I was younger, but in the end, I did what my parents told me to because I loved them. I always tried to do what was right.
You may be surprised to hear me talk about respecting old traditions, but I've got too much of my Mom in me not to feel that way. Once we got past that stupid curse of mine and talked, she helped set me straight on a lot of things, too. I was going to live honorably by choice, regardless of what Dad had done.
So I married Akane right out of high school. I felt sorry for Ucchan. I knew she wanted to marry me so badly, and she was cheated and tricked by my Dad, but promises were made between the Saotome and the Tendo clans years before I met her. Akane's claim was the strongest, the one with honor and tradition behind it, the one agreed to by all of our parents.
I still think about Ucchan, I still think of her as Ucchan, but I haven't seen her for so long. I think it's been ten years now. That wasn't an easy choice, but I think it was best for her. Mom explained it all to me, how this would be best for everyone. As a loving son, I agreed with her, what else could I do?
But it still hurt to do it. I've got too many rough edges to be good at making friends and I still don't have many. It was hard to leave one behind, but I needed to do what was best for my family.
I tried to do the honorable thing for Ucchan, too. It was hard, because my family was my first priority, but I saved until I scraped together enough money, enough to pay for the Kuonji family okonomiyaki cart, for all the money she spent finding me, for every meal I bummed off of her when I was in high school. I mailed the check, but after six months, it still hadn't been cashed. I mailed another and after a year I realized it never would be cashed. The third time I sent cash. I know the money is still lying unspent in the bottom of a drawer somewhere in her restaurant, but I did what I could.
I haven't seen her for so long, but I can't get her out of my mind. I keep hearing that Ucchan never married. I hope they're wrong, I hope she's safe and happy and loved like she deserves, but in my heart I know the stories are true, and for a moment I doubt my mother's decision. I never voice those doubts. I know I have my duty and love of my family has to come first.
What a waste, Ucchan was...is such a cute girl. I wish I could forget her. I want to go see if she's alright, and more selfishly I need someone to talk to that will really listen. She always listened the best and since Mom died I haven't had anyone that really listens, but Ucchan and I aren't kids anymore and there would be temptations. I can't go, Mom was right, it wouldn't be safe; it wouldn't be what was best for my family.
Don't misunderstand, Akane's cute, too, she always has been, although I can't seem to remember the last time I told her that. It doesn't matter, that isn't why I married her anyway. I do want her to be happy, that's why I've tried to make sure she has everything she would want. After all, I have a duty to my family. Akane and I have been blessed with a son and a daughter and I've worked hard to make the dojo a success for all their sakes.
It took a lot of effort, but the business is thriving now. I missed a lot of seeing Tetsuo and Himiko growing up, and it would have been nice to spend more time with my wife, let alone my friends, but this isn't about my selfish desires, this is about doing what's best for the people I love.
Not that it's been easy. Tetsuo keeps sneaking off to sketch things when he should be training. It took me four hours to find the boy yesterday. I've threatened to destroy his sketchbooks, I've even had to do it a few times, but he still won't buckle down, he still won't focus on his martial arts. Doesn't he love his family? Doesn't he understand he has to carry on the dojo for their sakes?
I didn't want to do this, but I'm going to have to for Tetsuo's sake. I remember how rough it could be, but an arranged marriage is just the thing to settle the boy down and help him focus on what he needs to do. It's what my folks would have done and it worked for me eventually.
Ryouga and Akari have a couple daughters, they're probably the best ones to start with. Ryouga was a pretty good teacher those times he helped Akane and any kid of his has got to be a decent martial artist. Akari could actually train pigs to do martial arts. It's perfect and it would definitely be what's best for the school. The Hibiki girls are bound to have inherited some of that skill.
Himiko told me she'd be glad to run the dojo for me. I smile and send her on her way. I appreciate her spirit, and I wish her brother showed this kind of dedication. Of course, we know a girl can't run the dojo by herself. That's why Akane's and my parents got us engaged in the first place. It's a man's responsibility. I love my son and he's going to learn to quit running from his responsibilities. I know he loves his family, he'll come around sooner or later.
It galls me to hear him complain all the time. What does he have to complain about? What we're asking of him is nothing compared to what his Mom gave up. Sometimes... Sometimes Akane talks about going back to college, about finishing her education. There just wasn't time for her to fulfill that dream; we were both needed to keep the dojo running. She tried anyway, but then she got pregnant and there just wasn't time. I know she still wants to finish college, but we know that's just a dream. I respect her for giving up that dream and I wish I could make our son understand how much his mother has given up for her family.
Akane still has posters for all those plays she was in during high school and I can tell she's still interested in the stage. Now we actually have time, I try to take her to some, even though they bore me out of my skull. She seems to enjoy the plays, but sometimes there's a sadness hiding in her eyes and I don't know how to make it go away.
I know she sacrificed a lot, and to encourage her I remind her of our duties, of how much we love our parents and our children and she sighs and admits I'm right. She's gotten a lot quieter since we were in high school and she doesn't smile as much. I wish she wouldn't focus so much on the might-have-beens. It doesn't do her any good.
We have everything we could want in life: a family, a flourishing business, respect in the community. Mom explained how what we did was for the best for the family, and I wish she was still here to see it. I know she could explain it better than I can. I know she could make it a lot easier for Akane and our children to understand, I know...I just know Mom could drive away the sadness in their eyes, the sadness they try to hide from me. I want them to understand, because I love them.
I miss you, Mom. I wish you were here. I don't know what else I can do. I've sacrificed everything for the good of my family, but somehow it's not enough. I look at the house and the dojo and all the things inside. My family has everything they could possibly want or need, but there's something missing, and I wish you were here to help me figure out why they aren't happy.
I've done everything you asked, Mother, everything you wanted, everything you said they needed, but I can't make them happy and its tearing me up inside. I feel like that gaijin Midas, but everything I touch isn't turning to gold, it's turning to ashes, and I don't know what to do anymore. I just know I'm not happy and neither is my family and I don't know how to make the pain go away.