|Ranma ½: Akanekodan Teki Hihou|
|Platform(s)||Super Nintendo Entertainment System|
Ranma ½: Akanekodan Teki Hihou (らんま1/2 朱猫団的秘宝?) is a roleplaying game for the Super Nintendo Entertainment System. It was the third Ranma ½ game released in 1993 as well as the third game overall for the SNES. Its title alternatively translates into "Ranma ½: Treasure of the Crimson Cat Gang" or "Ranma ½: Treasure of the Red Cat Gang". Of the two, the latter translation is typically regarded as the official one.
While coming home late one night, the Jusenkyo Guide accidentally wanders into the Gods and Demons Graveyard, and proceeds to knock over the tomb of the dreaded Nekomaou, the Ghost Cat King. The evil spirit, returned from the grave, gathers to him the titular Red Cat Gang and sets out to gather three treasures, the Peach Gem, Sakura Sword and Forest Mirror, in order to recreate the magical Star Crystal and attain his wish of world domination. Ranma Saotome and several of his friends set out to stop this evil from occuring.
Ranma Saotome is the main character and can never leave the party. Thusly, he is present throughout the entire game. Ranma's primary goal is to obtain the Star Crystal for himself and use it to wish away his Jusenkyo curse. His secondary objective is to prevent the rebirth of the Ghost Cat King - as Akane notes, he in particular will suffer if felines become the dominant species. His final objective is retrieving his father from the clutches of the Akanekodan.
Akane Tendo is the second character to join the party. Initially seeking only to help Ranma rescue his father, when she hears that the Akanekodan intend to take over the world, she naturally insists upon stopping them. Akane is the most serious member of the team about keeping the world safe, and tends to have a sharp tongue about Ranma's muddled priorities. She thinks that he should be much more focused on saving the world as opposed to fixing himself. Akane has something of a tendency to get kidnapped. When she, Ranma and Shampoo invade Furinkan High School, she ends up knocked unconscious and hidden in a cell in Apple Village to lure Ranma to fight Yasha. When their ship is sunk by Suzaku, she ends up being taken hostage and held as bait in Wood Village. Finally, she gets kidnapped by Bushin as a way to force Ranma to trade the three sacred treasures to the Red Cat Gang for her safe return.
Shampoo is the third character to join the party. When her great-grandmother Cologne is attacked by two Red Cat thugs looking to silence her, she immediately joins Ranma and Akane's efforts to fend them off. While she too believes the world must be saved, her personal goals are simple, protect Ranma, and impress him by fighting at his side. Like Akane, she is knocked out during their investigation of Furinkan High School, and is carried away - in her case, though, she is taken captive by Mousse, who ends up carrying her to a small coastal cave in the southern region. She also ends up being taken captive after their ship is sunk by Suzaku and is held hostage in Wood Village. Finally, during their exploration of the Akanekodan Cavern, she and Akane have an argument that causes her to storm off. When Ranma is defeated by Bujin, though, she returns to him and rejoins the party, promising to help rescue Akane, but if Ranma will promise to have a date with her back in Tokyo once all of this is over.
Ryoga Hibiki is the third character encountered, but the fourth character to join the party. Three days late for a duel he arranged with Ranma, he immediately challenges Ranma upon finding him, too caught up in his desire to fight to listen to Ranma's protests that his father is being kidnapped and Ryoga is stopping Ranma chasing the guilty parties. When he is beaten and hears what he has done, he immediately offers to make up for it. Ryoga's poor of sense of direction means that he has a bad tendency to get seperated from the party. This very first encounter ends with him running off in the wrong direction. He then reappears in Apple Village, where he joins up with Ranma to help rescue Akane, who has been taken captive by Yasha. At Sakura Village, he tries again to rescue Genma, in order to live up to his promise, but goes the wrong way and gets lost. He turns up at Tree Village, where he rescues Ranma and Mousse from prison (and isn't too happy to hear Akane is gone again). Then, when Akane and Shampoo have their argument in the Akanekodan Cavern, Ryoga chooses that moment to voice his own gripes with Ranma, then wanders off down a different cavern, not reappearing for the last time until the party is near Kamusaru's Castle.
Genma Saotome is the character who initially causes all of the trouble when the Red Cat Gang kidnaps him as a "strong fighter" to strengthen their gang. Ranma, Akane, Shampoo and Ryoga pursue him to Sakura Village, where they find him aligned to the Red Cat Gang. Though he joins them after they defeat him, they do not learn his reasons until they discover the Sakura Sword. Genma joined the Red Cat Gang of his own free will when they promised to cure him of his Jusenkyo curse. A repeat of this promise causes him to turn against his son and Ranma's allies again. When he loses, he runs away in shame, not reappearing until Ranma reaches Lily Village.
Mousse is the final character to join the party. Initially, the Red Cat Gang attacks the Nekohanten looking to kidnap him, only to be told he is out on delivery. While Ranma, Akane and Shampoo are invading Furinkan High School, Mousse is captured off-screen and brainwashed to serve the Red Cat Gang. Ranma and his allies first find Mousse in a cave in the southern region, where he is trying to persuade Shampoo to join the Red Cat Gang herself. After being defeated, he heads to the Sand Shrine, where he joins forces with Genma to try and prevent them taking the Sakura Sword. After this, his brainwashing fails and he returns to normal. Upon being told of how the Red Cat Gang manipulated his mind, he angrily joins the team in order to destroy them for doing so.
|Cologne||Provides advice and explains the story throughout the game, switches party members|
|Hikaru Gosunkugi||Appears at Furinkan High School|
|Kasumi Tendo||Appears in the Tendo Dojo at the start of the game|
|Nabiki Tendo||Appears in the Tendo Dojo at the start of the game|
|Soun Tendo||Appears in the Tendo Dojo at the start of the game|
|Tofu Ono||Appears in Tokyo, where he can heal your party|
|Ukyo Kuonji||Appears in each village selling okonomiyaki, which are health restoring items|
As a roleplaying game, each of the characters has different abilities and powers, and each offers their own uses to the party.
Ranma Saotome: As the one character who will never leave the party, Ranma is a solid, all-around balanced fighter, who relies primarily upon offense, though he is balanced between single-target and group-target attacks. His default special technique is the Tekizen Daigyakuso, which enables the entire party to automatically flee a battle. At level 2, he learns the Ryuusekyaku technique, which is a powerful kick attack that targets a single enemy. At level 5 he learns the Kachu Tenshin Amaguriken technique, which is a rapid-fire punching attack against a single foe. At level 8 he learns the Hiryu Shoten Ha, which deals strong damage to all enemies. At level 12 he learns the Hishokyaku, a more powerful version of the Ryuusekyaku. Finally, at level 16, he learns the Hiryu Korin Dan, his most powerful technique, an extremely strong blast of energy that hits all opponents. Because his cursed form is the Nyanniichuan, Ranma's abilities are not affected by the shape he is in.
Akane Tendo: One of the weakest characters, statistics wise, Akane does have fairly good attack but her speed and ability to withstand punishment is fairly lacking. Her special techniques give her both healing and offensive techniques. Healing is her primary skill. Her default technique, Teate, restores 100 hit points to a single character, while she learns the Mina Teate and the Mina Chiryo at levels 5 and 16, which restore 100 hit points and 200 hit points respectively to all characters in the party, and her healing abilities culminate at level 18 with the Zenkai Teate, which brings a fainted character back into the fray with full health. Her offensive techniques primarily consist of Jigoko Gurama and Yama Arashi, learned at levels 2 and 8 respectively, both of which do solid damage (to one enemy and to all enemies, respectively). If painstakingly raised to level 99, she learns her ultimate offensive technique, Moeru Kobushi, which does heavy damage to one enemy and doesn't require any ki to be used.
Shampoo: The healer of the group, Shampoo has the lowest hit points of any character in the party, though her speed is also the best and her other abilities are solid. Shampoo specializes in causing status effects, boosting abilities and healing. Like Ranma, she also does not suffer any problems when fighting in cursed form. Her default special techniques are Chiryo (heal 100 hit points for one ally) and Hengo Shiatsuken (confuse one enemy). At level 5, she gains the ability to paralyze a foe with her Gorikki Nanka, and at level 8 she learns Fukkatsu, which restores 200 hit points for one ally. Reaching levels 12 and 16 teaches her the Reppu Kikoheki and the Gowanrikki, which boost an ally's defense and attack, respectively. If raised to level 20, she finally develops an offensive technique: the Koteki Seiryuken, which summons a dragon that attacks all enemies.
Ryoga Hibiki: Possessing the second lowest speed but the highest defense and health in the game, Ryoga is a solid tank of a character who can be regarded as an offense-orientated: his special techniques are all about causing status effects or attacking all enemies on the field. His default techniques are the Sekiteki Kairin Gasa, which paralyzes an enemy, and the Bakusai Tenketsu, which does low damage to all opponents on the battlefield. At level 6, he gains the Chiri Metsuretsu technique, which confuses all enemies on the field. Level 8 gives him the Shishi Hokodan, which does strong damage to all enemies on the field. At level 12 he can paralyze all enemies by using the Shinteki Kairin Gasa. Finally, at level 16, he gains the Hisho Koryu Ha, which does high damage to all enemies on the field. Ryoga is a terrible fighter in his cursed form: not being human robs him of all special techniques except for Chiri Metsuretsu.
Genma Saotome: A joke fighter more then anything else, Genma has the worst speed in the game, lower defense and attack then Ryoga, but equally high health. His special techniques are all quite gimmicky and silly, with the exception of Shonmao Kikodan, an energy blasting default technique that is equal in power to the Shishi Hokodan, none of his skills are offensive. Of his default techniques, the Kaeru Reki Shitai doesn't actually do anything, and the Moko Rakuchizei causes the party to flee the battle, and his "Moko Takabisha" causes enemies to concentrate their attacks on Genma. The two attacks he learns at levels 16 and 20, the Moko Ichigekitai and the Roga Shuhaitai, merely teleport one or all enemies from the battlefield. However, being in cursed form gives him access to another default technique, and he can perform all of his other special techniques while being a panda. Jigoku no Yuirkago allows Genma to paralyze one enemy.
Mousse: As the last character encountered in the game, Mousse comes with all of his special techniques already learned. While slower then Shampoo, his other stats are better then hers and his special techniques make him something of a buff-orientated attacker/healer. Only the Hakushoken, a claw strike to a single enemy, is an offensive technique. However, he can paralyze or confuse all enemies by using the Mokumetsudama or Gyakuko Mashoken, respectively, as well as boost the defense or attack of all allies by using the Shippo Kikoheki or Ryuo Gowanriki, respectively. In a reversal of Genma, being in cursed form only robs Mousse of one special technique, the Hakushoken.
Ranma Saotome wakes up to a normal day, having been drenched with cold water by Akane Tendo when he refused to get out of bed and spar with her. After beating her in a match, the two head into the dining room to have breakfast, which is rudely interrupted by the sudden appearance of some red-garbed thugs wearing cat-themed face masks and accompanied by a burly man named "Yasha". Calling themselves "the Red Cat Gang", these strangers proclaim that they are looking for the strongest fighters around, and they promptly carry off Ranma's father. While Soun rants about being ignored, insisting that he is a strong fighter in his own right, Ranma and Akane quickly give chase, with Ranma accidentally outpacing Akane.
Unfortunately, Ranma's efforts to follow are derailed by Ryoga, who appears, late as usual, to fight one of his many duels with Ranma - which was supposed to happen the day before yesterday. Refusing to listen to reason, Ryoga forces Ranma to stop and duel him, though he is deeply aplogetic when Akane appears in hot pursuit and he learns he has just allowed a pair of kidnappers to make off with Ranma's father. Impulsive as ever, Ryoga declares he will help and starts running off... in the wrong direction, and quickly leaving Ranma & Akane behind. Undaunted, the two set off to Furinkan High School, the direction they saw the strangers heading in. Finding the gate locked, and deciding they need more information, they head for the [[Cat Café], hoping for information on just who these strange people are.
Once they arrive, Cologne is startled to hear of the group's name, relating to Ranma, Akane and her great-granddaughter that, long ago, there was a cult by the same name who served a powerful demon known as the Ghost Cat King. She is interrupted in mid explanation by two more of the Red Cat Gang's thugs, who proclaim their wish to take Mousse the same way they took Genma Saotome. When they learn that Cologne also knows the history of the Akanekodan, they attack in hopes of silencing her. Unfortunately for them, Ranma, Akane and Shampoo immediately step up in her defense and swiftly beat them back. Fleeing in fear of such powerful fighters who they had been unaware resided in the area, they accidentally reveal that they have the key the trio need to get inside Furinkan High School. Stopping only for Shampoo to get Cologne's permission, the three teens chase them into a small maze of tunnels below some empty pipes in a nearby lot. They swiftly corner them, overhearing in the process that "Lord Yasha" has an ally at Furinkan High School. The Red Cat Gang soldiers gloat that they are building up their strength by capturing and brainwashing powerful fighters, with whom they shall conquer the world in the name of the Ghost Cat King, before trying to defeat the three teens. Crushing them and taking the key, they return to Cologne as per her instructions to hear the rest of the details on Nekomao and the Akanekodan.
Warning them that they also need the password "Meow Sesame" to get into the school, Cologne also preempts their explanation that the Red Cat Gang plans world domination in the name of Nekomao. She explains that, long ago, Nekomao was an ordinary ghost cat who managed to gain control of the magical Star Crystal, a powerful artifact that can grant wishes. He used its powers to transform himself into the Ghost Cat King, and enslaved the world to his whim. Finally, a lone warrior of incredible skill emerged who managed to defeat the monster and cast its soul into hell, using a gravestone marker to bind it away from the mortal world forever. Ranma, however, is more interested in hearing about the Star Crystal, suspecting it may provide a cure for his Jusenkyo curse. Cologne explains that its power was divided into three, each third being sealed into a sacred treasure: the Peach Gem, the Sakura Sword, and the Forest Mirror. These treasures were then sealed away to keep the power away from those who would misuse the Star Crystal. She then irritably tells Ranma to focus on the real problem at hand. Ranma and the girls swiftly agree with Cologne's assessment that they must retrieve the three treasures first, as the Akanekodan cannot fully resurrect Nekomao without the Star Crystal, and set off to investigate Furinkan High School.
Their curiosity in the school is only piqued when they notice a blimp flying over to it. Swiftly entering, pausing only to note that A: "Meow Sesame" is the stupidest password they've ever heard and B: it's too quiet, they discover Hikaru Gosunkugi lying in a faint on the floor. When they bring him to, they learn that the Principal has carried off the rest of the students to work for the Red Cat Gang - Gosunkugi was left behind, because the Principal regarded him as too weak to be of any use. They hurry off to catch the blimp on the school's roof, figuring it must be the way the Red Cat Gang plans to get everyone they've kidnapped out of Tokyo, but are attacked by three of the gang's thugs. While they barely serve as a speed bump to the three martial artists, they delay them just long enough for Principal Kuno to sneak out of hiding and knock the teens unconscious with an extra powerful pineapple bomb.
When Ranma regains consciousness, he finds himself in an unfamiliar cell as the Principal comes to gloat. Ranma naturally refuses his offers to join the Red Cat Gang, and the Principal promptly leaves to get his lunch, announcing he'll brainwash Ranma into joining afterwards. Ranma waits for him to go, then promptly punches a hole through the wall in the back of his cell and escapes. To his surprise, he discovers himself emerging from a cave behind a waterfall, near a village with lush fields of strawberries all around. As he investigates, he learns that this is "Strawberry Village", and strangers have begun appearing in surprisingly large numbers in recent days. Also, one of their neighboring villages now has a new hot springs, which they suggest is the cause behind all of the new arrivals. This makes Ranma suspicious... especially when he hears the new bathhouse has a performing panda as a special attraction!
Travelling south and west eventually brings Ranma to Apple Village, where he encounters Ryoga, whose travels in search of Genma have brought him here by mistake. As usual. Still, though he is not pleased to discover Ranma has "lost" Akane, he agrees to tag along with Ranma to find her and his father. He also notes that the people in the village have been talking a lot about the performing panda in the new bathhouse, which Ranma agrees could well be Genma. Continuing to investigate assures them that checking out the hot springs is the right path. Not only does one little girl mention the panda who performs there will "eat anything", a young lady mentions that she saw two strange young girls being forcibly dragged into the bathhouse recently, and they haven't come out yet.
The "Red Cat Spa" is revealed to have been built by the Red Cat Gang to raise money, and while the panda has suddenly left for another village, one of the workers mentions she believes the girls are in the basement, reached through a secret passage. In the upper rooms, Ranma and Ryoga pounce upon a pair of Red Cat thugs, but they escape and flee - straight into the women's bath. While the sound of feminine fury eventually dies away, the two goons do not return. Thinking swiftly, Ranma douses himself and Ryoga. In their innocuous alternate forms, they can freely walk amongst the bathing girls, their investigation turning up a secret door in the back of the baths. This leads them to a long series of tunnels, at the end of which they finally find Akane, who warns them to leave, as it's a trap. Yasha appears to confront the two, but they defeat him and save Akane. When asked where Shampoo is, Akane explains that she was taken to a different village, along with Genma. She doesn't know where either of them are, but she did overhear that Peach Village is in this area. This, she and Ranma reason, must be where the Peach Gem lies, and Akane promptly unveils a secret passage she discovered while she was imprisoned here.
This leads them out through a cave mouth, on the other side of a mighty river. Spotting a village a short ways to the southwest, they head there, This, they discover, is Chestnut Village – but two guards attack them and try to roughly bring them into custody upon their arrival. They presume the trio to be members of the Red Cat Gang. Fortunately for the locals, the village elder arrives to interrupt the battle before Ranma gets too carried away and hurts them. After both sides hand out apologies, the elder explains that Chestnut Village is a neighbor to Peach Village and Persimmon Village, and the Red Cats appeared in the region about a month ago, whereupon they laid siege to both of the other villages. As a result, Chestnut Village has been living in fear of when they too will be attacked.
Upon hearing that Peach Village is nearby, Ranma immediately blurts out that their destination lies there, as they are after the Star Crystal before the Red Cat Gang gets it. The elder consoles them not to panic, as the Peach Gem lies in the White Tree Shrine, surrounded by a magical barrier that keeps all would-be thieves at bay. Noting that Ranma and his friends seem to be their best hope, the elder gives them the Hajutsu Token, a metallic scroll-like relic of their village that is the only way to break the seal. Unfortunately, a pair of Red Cat spies make their presence known, fleeing after gloating that they will deliver this news to Lord Bujin. Bujin, the elder explains, when Ranma notes he heard it mentioned during his brief brawl with the guards, is one of the stronger fighters of the Red Cat Gang and is currently in charge of their operations in the region, though Bujin himself is only a flunky to an even stronger martial artist named “Kamusaru". The description of Bujin as someone who throws fireballs at his enemies makes Ranma feel he’s heard of this character before, but he dismisses the thought.
Upon being told that Peach Village lies far to the northwest, and that the Red Cats cannot break through the seal without the Hajutsu Token the martial artists now bear, Ranma, Ryoga and Akane set off for the White Tree Shrine. Unfortunately for them, the bridge that they need to use has been smashed, forcing them to instead head the southwestern route to Persimmon Village.
The coastal village of Persimmon is in gloomy straits. The Red Cat Gang have settled in a tower further to the south, known as the Tower of the Demon Woman, and are trying to force the populace out of their home so they can level the village and erect a huge cabaret over the ruins. The elder is adamant that they will not give in to these threats, but many of the people have lost hope. The teens bear witness to a confrontation between two of the Red Cat goons, Akira and his nameless brother, as they try yet again to make the elder agree to their demands. Things start to get heated before they recognize Ranma and try to run for it. When Ranma attempts to pursue them, though, their sister, Rasetsume, arrives – something that scares her siblings even worse then Ranma does. She too is a member of the Akanekodan, and the wife of Yasha… and, as his defeat at Ranma & Ryoga’s hands has broken his will and caused him to do nothing but sit around all day playing his Super Nintendo, she is not pleased with them. She kidnaps the elder’s daughter, Linlin, and demands that the martial artists bring the Hajutsu Token to the Tower of the Demon Woman to trade it for her.
Naturally, the trio immediately sets off in pursuit after her. Climbing the goon-laden tower, crushing all obstacles in their path, they finally find Linlin being held hostage by Rasetsume, Akira, their brother, and a newcomer clad in turtle-themed power armor: Genbu, one of the four lords of the Red Cat Gang underneath the Nekomao. Rasetsume demands the Token be given to her, and Ranma reluctantly does as he is told. Once he does, she gives it to Genbu, who promises that Bujin will “speak” to Yasha about his current laziness and then heads off for Peach Village. Ranma demands Rasetsume give Linlin back, but she breaks her word, proclaiming that the villagers will have to leave the village first. Akane is outraged by this and promptly attacks her, Ranma and Ryoga quick to back her up. Rasetsume’s initial confidence doesn’t last long, as she is swiftly beaten, and she promises that she and her siblings will leave Persimmon Village alone from now on before she unconvincingly feigns death to make the punishment stop. Seeing their fearsome sister so humbled quickly persuades her brothers to give back Linlin, and the martial artists return to Persimmon Village in triumph. There, the grateful villagers encourage them to stay and rest while they hasten to repair the bridge, an offer the trio accepts.
Once the bridge is repaired, they set off again, eager to claim the first of the three sacred treasures. As warned, though, they find Peach Village overrun by the Akanekodan. White Tree Shrine is currently blockaded by far too many of their goons for even the three martial artists to overcome. So, hoping for assistance, they start snooping around the village. One brave villager suggests they talk to a local itinerant worker named Tattsuan, and they hasten to find him. In Tattsuan’s camp, they also find Gako, the altar boy who tended to White Tree Shrine. Upon hearing that the three teens intend to rescue the Peach Gem, Gako persuades Tattsuan to dig them a tunnel to come up into the shrine from beneath, which he swiftly does so.
While the tunnel does lead into the main room of the shrine, they must then descend to a labyrinth below the shrine, in which the Peach Gem is hidden. They finally manage to track it down, though they must first defeat Genbu, who got there first. His powerful tackling techniques and array of artillery fire is no match for their martial arts skills and, vowing revenge, he flees. Though he escapes a proper punishment, in his flight he takes all of the Red Cats who were besieging the town with him. Upon returning to the surface, the grateful Gako declares they should keep the Peach Gem, for it is surely safer in their hands, especially with the seal now broken.
Shortly afterwards, a messenger arrives from Persimmon Village, who tells them that its elder has news for them. They promptly follow him back, and the elder explains that he has heard messages from a region to the south, only accessible by boat. This is the region where the Sakura Sword and Forest Mirror are hidden, and, as a result, despite the failure at Peach Village, they have come under attack by the Akanekodan. The group immediately offers to go there, and a ship is swiftly prepared for their usage.
They land at a small coastal village, near an expanse of desert. Talking around, they hear that the Red Cat Gang has overrun the nearby Sakura Village, and what’s more, a nearsighted man with lots of strange metal tools was recently seen dragging a protesting woman to a cave on the coast across the desert, near the northern mountains. This can only refer to two people: Mousse and Shampoo. Ranma and Akane remember that the Red Cat Gang was looking to capture and brainwash Mousse as one of their fighters, and they reason that if Mousse was taken, then he surely would have taken Shampoo for himself once she was separated by the Principal’s first sneak attack.
They set out across the desert, finding the cave and delving deep into its heart. There, they find the two Chinese Amazons. Mousse, having momentarily mistaken a boulder for Shampoo, is trying to “sweet talk” her into joining the Akanekodan with him. The irritated Shampoo insists she would never do such a thing, not least of all because she has no interest in “living happily ever after” with Mousse, and she vows that Ranma is coming to save her. Ranma can’t resist when he hears Mousse growl that he will beat him with one blow, immediately springing out and launching an attack against his Chinese rival. Though the battle is fierce, the combined strength of Ranma, Ryoga and Akane eventually turns the tide against the brainwashed master of Hidden Weapons, and he reluctantly abandons Shampoo and flees to rejoin the Red Cat Gang elsewhere. Shampoo is delighted to see that her faith in Ranma coming to save her was rewarded, and immediately volunteers the information she gained from Mousse: Genma is in Sakura Village. Delighted with this news, Ranma immediately directs the now-quartet towards the south, and a major role in the completion of their quest.
When they arrive at Sakura Village, a strange oasis of sakura trees rising amidst the desert, they see Genma being escorted somewhere by a Red Cat Gang member. Ryoga immediately goes running off to rescue him… and promptly gets himself lost again. Irritated, but undaunted, the three martial artists continue their quest. Exploring Sakura Village, they learn that it has been taken over by the Red Cat Gang, who are looking for the village treasure, the Sakura Sword, and built themselves a large mansion from which to rule over the village. Indeed, they seem to be intent on driving away all of the men and creating a massive “harem” full of pretty ladies. Making matters worse, it appears that Genma has fallen to the brainwashing tactics of the Red Cat Gang, just like Mousse: the leader of the Akanekodan troops stationed there, and master of the harem, is a “god-panda”!
With Ryoga lost, the guards barring the way to any non-Akanekodan man are easily handled. A splash of cold water, and Ranma is allowed to slip on past, with Shampoo and Akane hot on her heels. Climbing to the top of the tower, they confront Genma and his two thugs – to Ranma’s disgust, Genma explains that he is not brainwashed, he merely felt it was in his best interest to cooperate with the Red Cat Gang in this matter, especially if it meant a chance of getting closer to the mysterious Lord Bujin. Between the outrage of the teens and the suspicion of the Red Cat Gangsters, a fight is inevitable, pitting Ranma, Akane and Shampoo against Genma and his two goons. The fight is ferocious, but ends with Genma having taken a real beating and his so-called bodyguards put down hard.
Genma begs that he can explain, which Ranma meets with sarcasm, ferociously pointing out that Genma’s “sob story” is that he just rolled over and gave in to the lousy Red Cats. Akane interjects, pointing out that, really, this is just Ranma’s way of saying his father had him terribly worried. Professing shock and joy to hear that his son really cared for him that much, Genma immediately admits he was in the wrong. He vows to join Ranma’s fight against the Akanekodan and proceeds to accompany the party. He explains that the Sakura Sword is hidden to the east of the village, in the Sand Shrine.
With Genma’s loss to the others, the Red Cat presence in Sakura Village quickly flees, and there are no obstacles to the party’s journey to find the Sand Shrine. When the find the Sakura Sword, though, then trouble comes to them. Mousse reappears, still brainwashed. He berates Genma in disgust for daring to abandon the Red Cat Gang so quickly. Genma defends that he has merely awakened to the truth, but Mousse points out that Lord Bujin had promised to cure Genma of his Jusenkyo curse if he aided the Akanekodan – much to Ranma’s mockery. Genma reassures him that, while that was the case, Genma truly is on Ranma’s side now… but then a strangely familiar voice calls out. The shadow of a small, dwarfish figure appears in the shrine, promising to overlook this single transgression and uphold his bargain to cure Genma if he will ensure the Sakura Sword is turned over to the Red Cat Gang. Genma promptly turns on his son and allies, to Ranma’s disgust, joining Mousse in a desperate assault to take the Sakura Sword.
But, even united like this, the two are no match for Ranma, Akane and Shampoo’s combined might. With a howl of fury over having lost to his son in yet another serious match, Genma runs off and disappears. Nobody thinks to pursue him. Mousse regains consciousness, deeply confused at where he is. Evidently, the beating they just delivered him has snapped him out of his brainwashing. Ranma explains how the Red Cat Gang took control of his mind, and Mousse furiously demands they let him join them to destroy the Red Cat Gang. When he shares with them the knowledge that the lair of the Akanekodan is a fortress being built by the brainwashed students of Furinkan High School in a place across the sea called “Forest Village”, the three are happy to let him join them. Taking possession of the Sakura Sword, they head for the surface.
Upon leaving the village, they discover that, to their fortune, the captain who sailed them from Persimmon Village has docked on the shore near the Sand Shrine, and he gladly offers to escort them to the final treasure at Forest Village. However, their pleasant cruise is brought to a most unpleasant end: a strange man upon a flying mechanical bird literally bombs their ship, sinking it and causing them to wash up along the coast, far from their destination, but fortunately on the same island. In search of hot water, they follow the signs of civilization to a small village nearby. Unfortunately for Ranma and Mousse, this is Tree Village. Taken over by the Red Cat Gang, it is effectively a finalized version of what was befalling Sakura Village. It is now a Red Cat Girl-Girl Land, a place inhabited entirely by women and from which men are barred, no exceptions.
However, as they are all in cursed form, they look like two girls with their pet cat and duck, and so the gatekeeper waves them on in. Unfortunately, Ranma’s typical luck around water comes into play. They pass right by a small geyser just as it erupts, returning the three victims of Jusenkyo to their true forms. Mousse and Ranma are quickly overwhelmed by the women who inhabit the resort, beaten senseless and dragged away into prison. Mousse comes to first, and then shakes Ranma awake. He has no idea where Shampoo and Akane were taken, but insists he and Ranma need to escape. Ranma agrees, but has no time to come up with a plan. The ever-lost, ever-destructive Ryoga promptly comes smashing in through the wall, on yet another of his meandering courses. Ryoga is not happy to find out Akane has gone missing again, but Mousse forestalls any arguments by pointing out the three of them must work together. Reluctantly, they agree, dousing themselves with cold water, to avoid being thrown back into jail yet again, they head out through the hole Ryoga made in the wall.
They remain in Tree Village only long enough to find out that Akane and Shampoo were taken to Wood Village and then quickly get out, returning to their natural forms and following the road to their next destination. To their surprise, they find Shampoo and Akane out in the open, tied up and helpless right in the middle of Wood Village when they enter it. Mousse, naturally, cannot resist immediately rushing to Shampoo’s aide, despite her and Akane warning him not to approach, and is promptly blasted away by a pineapple bomb as Principal Kuno appears once more. He demands Ranma trade the two sacred treasures he already has for the girls, and Ranma is about to acquiesce… when the weirdo who sunk their ship suddenly crashes right in the middle of the whole affair, his machine having developed a fault and been rendered temporarily flightless. While the Principal is busy talking to this stranger, evidently named “Suzaku” and clearly a superior in the Red Cat Gang, Ranma leaps forward and unties the girls. Suzaku blames this failure on the Principal and races off on his mecha-bird, leaving the Principal to face the wrath of the four angry teenaged martial artists.
Though they beat him fiercely, the Principal manages to escape. Unfortunately, there is no sign of Mousse. Akane suggests that they head to Forest Village, as she overheard the Principal say that was where he was heading, but admits she has no idea how to get there herself. She suggests that they ask the inhabitants of Wood Village, and they proceed to do this. While they find out that Wood Village is now an all-male town, due to the men from Tree Village having come here after being kicked out and all of the women from Wood Village having left for Tree Village, more important to them is the elder giving them the instructions they need. Further south they go, using his directions to find their way through the thick maze of trees in the southern forest until they reach their destination at last: Forest Village, home of the final sacred treasure, and the sight of the Red Cat Gang’s headquarters.
The village is quiet, thoroughly under the control of the Red Cat Gang, and the entire student body of Furinkan High School is busy digging around a newly erected fortress – even Tatewaki and Kodachi Kuno have been reduced to the slaves of the Akanekodan. Fortunately, it seems their brainwashing has left them too focused on their work to realize that Ranma and his allies are enemies of the Red Cat Gang, and so the teenaged martial artists explore unmolested. They arrived just in time as one of the students digs up the Forest Mirror as they approach. However their efforts to snatch it are thwarted by the Principal, who drives them back with a pineapple bomb and then orders his children to grab it and bring it to him. As they do so, he taunts Ranma and company to follow and retrieve it if they dare.
And they very well do dare. While the three Kunos working as a single team is a surprisingly formidable match, they fall to Ranma and his allies all the same. As with Mousse, the beating causes their brainwashing to falter. Before they can do anything, though, Suzaku and his mechanical bird appear, determined to try and snatch the three sacred treasures before Ranma can secure them. However, though they are weary and battered from their fight, Ranma, Akane, Shampoo and Ryoga set upon him with their customary fury, and he is beaten back. As Suzaku flees, crying out for mommy, the Principal asks just what has been going on. Once filled in on the details, he declares he’s going to take everyone home aboard his blimp and sends his children to gather the students, deactivate the brainwashing, and march them into the blimp. He offers to take Ranma and the others home to Tokyo as well, but they politely explain they have matters to attend to here. He promises to take them to where they need to go first before returning to Tokyo, an offer that they accept. Having been a higher-up in the Red Cat Gang while brainwashed, the Principal knows where to find the area in which their true base can be found.
The blimp speeds them in practically no time at all to a place called Rose Village. Its connection to the Akanekodan cannot be denied. Talking around the village brings up multiple references to attacks by the Red Cat Gang, who seemed to boil out of a cave from in the haunted-seeming northwestern mountains one day. The village elder is also mentioned as knowing about the Star Crystal. When the group talks to him, he explains that they need to place the three sacred treasures aboard a holy altar in order to restore the Star Crystal. The problem is, that altar has now become the center of Kamusaru’s Castle, the central stronghold for the entirety of the Akanekodan forces.
Undaunted by the fact that this means plunging headlong into a small army of foes, the group sets off from Rose Village once more. Despite the strange creatures arranged against them as they battle their way into the depths of the Akanekodan Caverns, the group fears no outside threat. And, fittingly enough, it is a problem that arises from within that threatens the party. Coming to an intersection in one of the deepest parts of the caves, an argument breaks out over which way to go. Shampoo advocates they go left, Akane advocates they go straight ahead, and as the girls grow angrier while Ranma tries to avoid offending either one with his choice, Ryoga decides to throw a tantrum of his own about how Ranma is always so “wishy-washy” when things like this happen. Before Ranma can say or do anything, both Ryoga and Shampoo storm off, Shampoo down the left corridor, Ryoga down the right, leaving just him and Akane. Shrugging it off as something that had to happen eventually, they decide to keep on going straight ahead.
Perhaps fittingly, it is Ranma and Akane who discover their route leads to the corridors leading into Kamasaru’s Castle. However, before they can cross the threshold, the voice of Bujin rings out – they swear they recognize it, but they have no time to concern themselves with such matters as he sics two more of the Akanekodan’s elite flunkies on them: powerful martial artists named Fujin and Raijin. Despite Fujin’s icy wind attacks and Raijin’s crashing lightning bolts, it is Ranma and Akane who emerge the victors. However, Bujin promptly throws a bomb at the two martial artists, knocking them both unconscious. Before he loses consciousness, Ranma hears Bujin declaring that he will take Akane, and if Ranma wants her back, he had better come to the fortress and trade the three sacred treasures for her.
Ranma comes to, finding that Shampoo has come looking for him. He isn’t hurt badly, but he remembers what happened all too well. Shampoo declares that she will come and help him rescues Akane – but, in return, she wants him to promise her that when this mess is over and they are back in Tokyo, they will go on a date. Ranma eagerly agrees, even as Shampoo warns him not to forget this promise, and they head through the threshold where Fujin and Raijin intercepted Ranma and Akane. To their surprise, they find themselves in barren badlands, beyond the mountains in which they thought the castle lay. It turns out that the cave was merely a pathway, with their true lair lying elsewhere in the mountains.
Following a winding, dusty trail, they eventually reach a small trading post in the badlands – just as Ryoga comes smashing in through its back wall, having finally managed to dig himself out of the cave he got lost in. After yet another bickering session about Akane being kidnapped, Ryoga joins Ranma and Shampoo to continue the quest, and they continue down the trail. Finally, they reach Kamasaru’s Castle, easily distinguished by the huge maneki neko statue built upon its roof. Never ones to hesitate when bold action will suffice, the three immediately start charging the gates.
At roughly the same time, Akane wakes in a bed inside the castle, finding a stranger sitting at her beside. Apologizing for Bujin’s actions, he introduces himself as Seiryu, leader of the “Four Gods” of the Akanekodan – himself, Genbu, Byakko, and Suzaku. When Akane asks where Ranma and the others are, he proclaims they only just fought their way inside and are likely making every attempt to rescue her as they speak.
Inside the castle, Ranma, Shampoo and Ryoga are indeed doing that. Neither the confusing maze of passages, empty rooms and staircases, nor the legion of the Akanekodan’s most powerful troops, stymies them in their pursuit of their missing companion. Finally, they reach the chamber where Seiryu is awaiting them with Akane, and despite her protests, Ranma sadly hands over the three sacred treasures to Seiryu. Being an honorable man, Seiryu gives back Akane and leaves, brushing off Ranma’s attempt to challenge him to a fight in order to try and take the treasures back right there and then. Once he has vanished, though, Genbu reappears in a suit of upgraded armor, eager for a rematch with Ranma. However, while he has upgraded his offensive capabilities, his skills and defensive capabilities still leave much room for improvement. He barely serves as a speed bump before the quartet take off after Seiryu.
Stepping aboard a strange, cat’s eye patterned tile, they find themselves teleported elsewhere into the castle. Despite yet more of the strongest troops of the Red Cat Gang being arrayed against them, they keep pushing on until they find themselves confronted by the last member of the Akanekodan’s Four Gods, Byakko. She lets slip that “Lord Kamusaru” is in the middle of an important ceremony, so it is essential that they do not pass, and proceeds to attack them. But she fares no better then Genbu or Suzaku and is defeated, the four racing on. They have a sneaking suspicion about what this ceremony is.
And it is indeed what they fear: the ceremony to recreate the Star Crystal. For Lord Kamusaru is the name of the ghost cat who used the Star Crystal so long ago to become Nekomao, the Ghost Cat King! While the two lowest ranked Red Cat Gangsters who try to stop them are brushed aside like flies, it turns out they have made a major miscalculation. To one who bears the Nekoken, like Ranma Saotome, a ghost cat like Kamusaru is one of the most terrifying demons that hell can offer up, and being so close to it is making him shiver and tremble with fear. Fortunately for Ranma, Kamusaru is too preoccupied with completing the ceremony to face them personally, so he commands Bujin to handle them.
Which reveals to them that Bujin is none other then Happosai. He joined the Red Cat Gang with the intention of having his service rewarded by being allowed to wish upon the Star Crystal to gain possession of all the women’s underwear in the world. Enraged, and desperate to stop Kamusaru before he can succeed, the four teens gang up on Happosai and manage to defeat him. Humiliated and heartbroken, he runs away, but he has served his purpose, as the Star Crystal is reborn. The teens desperately attack Kamusaru before he can use its power, but their efforts are futile. The terror is too much for Ranma, whose mind is plunged into that of a vicious cat, leaving him a brainless berserker. Furthermore, Kamusaru is no Maomolin, no whining coward, but a fierce fighter in his own right – and, when it seems the battle may just be going against him after all, he summons the power of the Star Crystal, transforming once more into Nekomao. In this new state, he dashes them away with a beam of energy summoned with a flick of his paw, then, exhorting his minions that the world shall now belong to them, teleports away.
When Ranma regains consciousness, he finds himself on a couch in an unfamiliar building, Cologne sitting nearby. She explains that they are in Lily Village, and everyone else is safe. They only woke up shortly before he did. She goes on to remind him that the Ghost Cat King has now been fully restored, meaning there is little hope left for the world. Ranma’s staunch defiance was precisely the attitude she was looking for. Commenting that she always knew he was the right man to wed her Shampoo, she then proclaims that she knows of a way that Ranma and his allies can hope to stand a chance against Nekomao. Lily Village, she explains, was founded by the same warrior who defeated Nekomao the first time around, and buried in a secret shrine nearby known as the Cave of the Ancients is an item that was essential to his battle, the Star Willow. By being waved in battle, it can temporarily block the power of the Star Crystal, allowing Ranma and his allies to open up windows of vulnerability when facing Nekomao.
Fired up with determination, Ranma heads off to explore Lily Village and discover which of his allies, will be willing to face the dread Ghost Cat King again. To his delight, all of them are willing and eager to face down this terrible foe. Not only has Mousse also found his way here, even Genma has returned to Ranma’s side, eager to make up for his self-centered greed of earlier. Though he insists that never again will the two of them have to fight like bitter enemies, Ranma isn’t so sure. Gathering his allies, and paying little fear to the warnings of powerful warrior spirits guarding the cave, he ventures forth. The myriad wandering spirits and walking corpses roaming its depths do not stymie the brave martial artists. Even when confronted by four of the guardian spirits who step forth to duel the would-be claimants of the Star Willow as a test of their worthiness, they show no fear and victory is soon theirs. With the Star Willow in hand, they return to the surface.
Once there, they return to Lily Village for advice and are told to investigate the Devil’s Cave, which lies to the south. Inside the cave, they find three more of those strange cat’s eye tiles, and a door blocked by a barrier of coruscating energy. Seeing no other choice, they approach each of the tiles in turn. Each brings them to a chamber in which resides one member of the Akanekodan’s Four Gods: the left to Suzaku, the right to Byakko, and the center to Genbu. All of them gloat that Nekomao has increased their power, and each challenges Ranma and his team to a duel. Byakko in particular gloats that only by beating all of them can they break the barrier and pass on. So the team proceeds to do just that.
Through a complicated labyrinth crawling with creatures born of Nekomao’s black magic they fight their way, until at last they find a fourth cat’s eye tile. Stepping onto it teleports them out of the cave, and they find themselves standing before a huge castle. This, clearly, must be the lair of Nekomao. Onwards they fight, until they stand before Seiryu, the last of the Four Gods of the Akanekodan. He warns them that he has not received any power boosts from Nekomao, clearly aiming to intimidate them by warning them that his unbolstered self was regarded as still strong enough to be the final guard. This time, though, he intends to fight them. When asked why, he explains he is merely curious to see which of them is stronger… it is, after all, the same reason why he first defeated Nekomao himself!
Ranma and his allies are shocked, but Seiryu refuses to answer Ranma’s questions. Enraged that the man who the people of Lily Village so revere has turned out to be a sham, Ranma leads an attack against the mighty swordsman. The battle is tremendous, but Seiryu falls at last. Beaten, Seiryu explains that he had actually been happy when his ancient foe was first revived, as he had wanted to test his strength against the Ghost Cat King once more, but his beliefs were a grave error. The resurrected Nekomao was even more powerful then the original! Too strong for Seiryu to beat, Seiryu instead bowed to the Ghost Cat King, awaiting a brave young warrior to come, a warrior who would prove even stronger then Seiryu and thusly would stand a chance of defeating Nekomao. Ranma is that young warrior. He begs Ranma to succeed where he has failed, and thusly erase the stains of Seiryu’s flawed judgment. He then vanishes, and allows Ranma to lead his allies on to the final confrontation with Nekomao.
Confronting Nekomao at his throne, such is Ranma’s will and courage he even manages to resist the dread Nekoken. Using the power of the Star Willow to weaken their mighty foe, then striking while he has been reduced to the form of the “mere” Kamusaru, they fight a titanic battle, which ends, at last, with the Ghost Cat King falling to their onslaught.
However, when the devilish form of Nekomao fades away and Kamusaru reappears, the Ghost Cat seems strangely docile, and confused. To the surprise of his opponents, he asks in confusion what happened, and then explains that, when he first looked into the mesmerizing sparkle of the Star Crystal, he was consumed by greed and forgot himself. He is deeply ashamed and regretful for whatever the Ghost Cat King must have done, and Ranma finds himself believing that Kamusaru is sincere. However, when Ranma demands the Star Crystal to make his own wish, Kamusaru proclaims he does not believe that to be such a good idea. There may well be others who covet the Star Crystal’s power, and so he says it would be best to destroy it before it falls into other evil hands. Fortunately for Ranma, his pleas to be allowed to have just one wish cause Kamusaru to stay his hand, just for the moment. Unfortunately for him, Happosai appears at just that moment, looking for revenge, distracting Ranma just as he is about to finish saying his wish. Bemused, Kamusaru comes to the conclusion Ranma was about to wish to be returned, and before Ranma can stop him, he uses the Star Crystal to send Ranma, Akane, Shampoo, Ryoga, Genma and Mousse all back to Tokyo. Once they are gone, he destroys the Star Crystal.
A few days later, Akane wakes Ranma by dousing him in cold water. Ranma is still upset over having lost his big chance to get cured, but, as he returns to his true gender and gets ready to spar with Akane, Shampoo arrives. She asks Ranma to go on a date with her, reminding him of the promise he made when she helped him after “Bujin” kidnapped Akane. This makes Akane livid, and Ranma tries to escape both girls, but they just chase after him. And so things go back to normal...