Relation to the Previous EpisodeEdit
This episode marks the middle of the three-part Hiryu Shoten Ha or Ultimate Weakness Moxibustion arc. It opens with a blending of the scenes where Happosai taunts Ranma that he will remain weak forever, Kasumi announcing the Saotomes have left, and Akane insists Ranma would never be a coward and run away from his problems.
In the mountains of Japan, Akane Tendo struggles towards Yomogi Valley, driving by a mixture of sorrow, curiosity, friendship and anger to find her missing fiance, Ranma Saotome. As she hikes, she wonders why it is he and his father headed there - and also, more importantly to her, why it was that they never said a word to her, but took Ukyo Kuonji along for the ride. Still, perhaps deep down she is grateful - if it hadn't been for the sign on the door of Okonomiyaki Ucchan's declaring that she had temporarily set up shop in Yomogi Valley, Akane would never have known where they went.
In the valley proper, Ranma groans with pain, lying on the ground with a massive moxa boulder on his back. Genma Saotome tells him to bear it if he wants to get stronger; after all, the moxa rocks of Yomogi Valley are known all over Japan for their natural healing power. He tells Ranma about how the local wildlife use them to cure their various ailments, until Ranma suddenly surges to his feet, boulder raised overhead and snarling at Genma to shut up. Genma is delighted by this display of strength - but then, to his despair, it fades and Ranma ends up getting crushed back under this boulder.
Heading back to their camp, Ukyo greets them with some okonomiyaki and the despairing notation that it seems this trip was a waste. Genma grimly agrees; the only way to restore Ranma is to get that chart being held by Happosai, which Ukyo notes is impossible - that's why they came out here in the first place. Finally, Genma hesitantly offers to show Ranma one of his "Desperation Techniques"; the Crouch of the Wild Tiger. Warning Ranma to remember that he was the one who asked, Genma displays. Ranma promptly snaps at Genma upon discovering that the "technique" is basically groveling for mercy. To the surprise of all three of them, they hear a voice agreeing with Ranma's assessment of Genma's so-called technique, and discover Cologne has appeared in their camp, eating an unattended okonomiyaki and complimenting Ukyo on her skills as a chef. When Ranma suspiciously asks as to why she is here, she explains she couldn't abandon him when he needs her and offers her own help. Ranma turns her down in a mixture of suspicion and haughtiness, but she pricks his bubble by pointing out that, if the best his father can come up with is rubbish like the "Crouch of the Wild Tiger", Ranma needs all the help he can get. In fact, she knows a move perfectly suited for this situation, and when Ranma voices skepticism about this Hiryu Shoten Ha, this "Heaven Blast of the Dragon", she invites the three of them to attack her...
Heading up the long trail to Yumogi Valley, Akane stops as a mighty explosion rips through the air and shakes the ground, the sky above glowing so brightly she has to shield her eyes before Ranma comes falling from the sky and lands with a bonejarring impact on the ground in front of her. Almost immediately he leaps up and excitedly proclaims that the Hiryu Shoten Ha is the perfect move to defeat Happosai, running off up the mountain and vowing he'll master it in three days. While initially offended that Ranma didn't even notice her, Akane's anger instantly gives way to relief that he seems to have hope at last and she sets off after him.
That evening, Ryoga Hibiki asks a travelling farmer the way to Yomogi Valley, and is told it lies beyond some mountains nearby. Akane told "P-chan" where she was going and Ryoga immediately set off after her, but he has lost track of her and so doesn't know where to go. Reassured, though, he sets off.
Akane, meanwhile, finally arrives at Ranma, Genma, Ukyo and Cologne's camp. To her anger, she arrives in time to hear Ranma and Genma joking about her terrible cooking, and so she douses them with cold water and shouts at them that she was worried about them. Ranma and Genma immediately fall into the Crouch of the Wild Tiger to soothe her anger. Once she's calmed down and the meal is finished, Cologne gets ready to begin the training. She asks Ranma to describe what happened during the attack, and Ranma explains that, while they had assumed they were closing in on her, she had actually been drawing them into a spiral, before she unleashed the attack. Cologne praises Ranma on his speed and observation (which Ranma accepts haughtily) and then declares that the first part of the training will be for Ranma to learn to perform the proper spiralling step.
Setting up a box of ash so Ranma's footprints can be traced and a spiral pattern for him to follow, she positions Genma, Akane and Ukyo at various parts of the spiral and declares that the strength of his enemy doesn't matter. Indeed, the stronger his opponents attack him, the more powerful the Hiryu Shoten Ha will be. What does matter is that he maintains the spiral; if he falls out of step, the move won't work. Ranma declares he's ready, and the trio attack him... but not physically. Genma shows Ranma a humiliating photo of the time he wet the bed at age seven, which he "accidentally" drops when Ranma tries to grab it and which the girls laugh uproariously at. Escaping Ranma's clutches, Genma then shows them a more recent photo of Ranma leaping out of a barrel of hot water he had been bathing in due to some cats jumping at him. Even as Ranma, furiously embarrassed, goes after his father, Cologne bonks him on the head with her staff and scolds him. Pointing to the ground, she shows that he has completely failed to stay to the spiral. This, she explains, is the real difficulty in training; Ranma must learn to cultivate a "soul of ice", to keep his emotions controlled and restrained no matter the provocation so that he can focus on performing the spiral, no matter what his enemies do.
Ranma vows that he will train until he can do just that, to the admiration of both his fiancees and his father, who vows Ranma will make him proud... no matter what it takes. Scrambling up a nearby rockface, Genma pulls a microphone out of his gi and starts making up claims that Ranma was talking in his sleep last night, and that he specifically proclaimed his love for Akane while doing so. Naturally, Ranma goes scrambling up to attack Genma, and is attacked in turn by Akane and Ukyo for these claims. Still, the quartet persist in training all through the night, and by morning, Ranma manages to perform a perfect spiral, despite all outside distractions.
Cologne congratulates him, but warns him that from here on, it's going to get harder, before telling Akane and Ukyo to leave. They protest this, but have to admit when she questions them that they couldn't really attack Ranma with all their strength and knowing of his weakened state, while Ranma also can't admit if he would be able to use the Hiryu Shoten Ha on them even if he did learn it. And thusly, Cologne declares, they are at an impasse; if they can't find somebody who can go up against Ranma at full strength and who Ranma can willingly unleash such a powerful technique against, they can't progress.
Ryoga, who arrived around the time Cologne first scolded Ranma for failing to maintain his composure and has been watching all night, decides it's the ideal time to introduce himself. He declares that he would be happy to help, though he mocks that he can't guarantee that he won't kill Ranma. To his shock (and maybe a little embarrassment), Ranma takes this as a sign that, rivals or not, he and Ryoga are still friends and he comes racing up the rock face to thank Ryoga, ignoring Ryoga's protests and attempts to literally beat him off. Akane, meanwhile, wonders if Ryoga got lost again.
Further training doesn't take place until that night, everyone using the day to feed and rest after the all-nighter they just pulled. Cologne leads them all to a nearby river, heated by the same geothermal energies that make Yomogi Valley's moxa rocks, and dresses Ranma in a strange harness of metallic cables and rounded plates to clamp onto Ranma's limbs. She then proceeds to push Ranma into the water, where it suddenly draws taut, locking his limbs together - Ryoga immediately dives in to pull Ranma to the surface, but Ranma is understandably upset with his new sensei. Cologne explains that the suit reacts to heat, especially the warmth of a battle aura produced by emotions. Phase two of the Hiryu Shoten Ha training will be for Ranma to try and keep his emotions absolutely still and calm while leading Ryoga, who needs to be going full force for his battle aura, into the spiral he established during phase one. The session begins, and as Akane notes happily, Ranma is a quick learner; even though he only learned the Soul of Ice the previous evening, and mastered it early that morning, Ranma is able to move without even the slightest restraint. As they reach the center of the spiral, though, Cologne interrupts by beating Ryoga fiercely on the head with her staff.
Indignantly, Ryoga asks what that was for - equally indignantly, Cologne declares she told Ryoga to attack Ranma with all his strength. Ryoga protests that he did, whereupon Cologne insists that he didn't: the Hiryu Shoten Ha needs the fire of a truly furious battle aura to be powered, and Ryoga wasn't fighting anywhere near passionately enough to produce the battle aura that Ranma needs. Confused, Ryoga comments (more to himself than anyone) that he was sure he was going seriously, only for Ranma to bop him on the head and insult him. Ryoga notes that, even though he would normally be livid over such treatment, this new Ranma just can't seem to make him angry at all - his blows inflict no pain and his insults sound like nothing more than the barking of a frightened dog from behind a fence. Prostrating on the ground, he begs for forgiveness, to Ranma's confusion and then growing anger as Ryoga declares he's just too nice a guy to hit Ranma when he's so weak and runs off, to Ukyo's scorn.
With things seemingly come to nought, Ranma removes himself to a different part of the river to stew on Ryoga's humiliating "benevolence". Fuming, he punches the stone beneath him in anger and then leaps around in pain. Then, to his shock, Akane suddenly appears, with some sort of flammable gloves on her arms, naturally prompting a shocked question as to what the hell she is thinking. Akane cheerfully replies that he needs heat to use the Hiryu Shoten Ha, so her burning gloves should provide what he needs in substitute for the now evidently useless Ryoga. Ranma immediately begins to point out how stupid an idea this is, but doesn't need to; her first attempt to punch Ranma causes her shirt to get set on fire and she has to dive into the water to avoid being burned. Her shirt is still reduced to tatters, though, and Ranma promptly gives Akane his shirt to cover herself with.
Any thanks he might have won are lost when he tells her to go home, then declares he never asked her to come here - in fact, he never wanted her to come here - when she protests that she came to help. This cuts Akane to the quick and, tears in her eyes, she runs off. Ranma quickly gives chase; he didn't mean to hurt her that badly, and he finally manage to explain that he's not saying he doesn't care about her, per se, he just can't stand the idea of her seeing him while he's so weak and pathetic. While this does stop her flight, she is so irritated that she can't resist the urge to jeer at Ranma that he's weak and pathetic even when he has strength. The two start to argue, only to be cut off as a tree crashes down nearby, signifying the approach of Ryoga. Looking at them, he darkly notes the lingering tears in Akane's eyes and the way her clothes have been ripped, then accuses Ranma of "having his way" with her, to the shocked disbelief of both parties, who immediately insist that this isn't the case...
Except for Ranma. This, he realises, may solve his problems with learning the Hiryu Shoten Ha; Ryoga is so emotional that Ranma can get him to reach the required level of rage by playing on his delusions. To this end, he hammily apologises to Akane for "taking advantage of her", which earns Akane's disbelieving protests as to the falsity of this statement (and questions as to Ranma's sanity) and Ryoga's outraged assault. As Ranma figured, Ryoga is so caught up in the idea that he pays no attention to Akane's pleas that Ranma is lying and he has to stop. Even painfully being reminded of the fact that Ryoga actually has the skill to land a blow on him in a fair fight, causing him to get beaten fiercely, fails to dissuade him - he snarls at a worried Akane to back off and stop interfering when she fears that Ryoga will kill Ranma.
As Akane stands back, reluctantly and terrified, Cologne suddenly appears, commenting on the strength of Ryoga's battle aura and his "friendship" with Ranma. She calms the hysterical Akane down by pointing out that Ranma has successfully lured Ryoga into the spiral that forms the Hiryu Shoten Ha; with Ryoga pouring out battle aura like he is, Ranma can use the technique and defeat him with no problems.
Alright, one problem: she just realised she forgot to tell Ranma the final step of the move! She was so caught up on figuring out where to get the battle aura for stage two that she forgot step three. Akane shouts at Ranma to escape, but Ranma can't go anywhere. Ryoga charges in for the kill... and then Ranma, in a flash of inspiration, punches upwards.
Back at camp, Ukyo and Genma hear the explosion and see a twister suddenly appear from nowhere across the valley. They then watch as a mysterious shape comes flying through the air, only to crash at their feet. It's the battered, unconscious form of Ryoga. Back at the river, Akane whispers the technique's name in reverence, while Cologne chuckles it looks like Ranma figured it out on his own.
Ranma, himself, says nothing, lying in the smoking crater that marks the point where he unleashed the dragon.
- This episode shows that Cologne really does seem to care about Ranma, or at least genuinely wants him to wed her great-granddaughter. Rather than use Ranma's condition, regarded as being effectively incurable, as either an excuse to divorce him, murder "her", or kidnap him and drag him to China as breeding stock, she comes to Ranma's aid by teaching him one of her peoples' secret techniques and advises him on defeating Happosai and regaining his strength.
- When Ranma and Genma joke about how bad an idea it would have been to have Akane come along to help cook, it's a reference to the events of Ranma Trains on Mt. Terror, where Genma used the excuse of a training trip to try and get Ranma & Akane closer together, only to discover to his horror that Akane is a terrible cook.
- In the manga, the second humiliating photo was actually shot from the opposite angle, meaning it was only the way Genma was holding it that prevented the viewers from seeing Ranma's genitalia. In response, Akane couldn't bear to look at it, while Ukyo begged Genma to move his thumb so that she could see that part of Ranma.
- Why Genma is in panda form at the end of this episode is never explained. He was human when we saw him last, bathing in the hot water of the river.