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Pet Sins October 1999

Gender benders in Japanese animation - Ranma ½ and El Hazard

A feature of Japanese animation which you definitely don't find in American cartoons is the presence of gender-bending characters and even *gasp* homosexuals in cartoons available to children on public TV networks. So much for the American stereotype of Japan as a socially conservative country. Start at home!

EL Hazard, the Magnificent World

Synopsis

In this wildly popular series, a Japanese schoolboy is summoned to the world of El Hazard to impersonate a missing princess. He and his human friends run into a bevy of beauties, including Arere, a lesbian. The artwork in this anime is quite pleasing.

Fujisawa, Makoto, Nanami and Arere

Characters

Makoto: feminine-looking Japanese schoolboy, lookalike of Princess Fatora of El Hazard

Nanami: classmate and initial love interest of Makoto, accompanies him to the world of El Hazard

Jinnai: class President, brother of Nanami and self-proclaimed rival of Makoto.

Fujisawa Sensei: teacher at Makoto's school

Fatora: The missing princess of the Kingdom of Roshtaria, in the World of El Hazard

Rune Venus: sister of Fatora, First Princess

Arere: 15-year-old girl, lover of Princess Fatora. She has the habit of throwing herself at girls.

Miz Mishtal: Priestess of water at Mt Muldoon

Afura Marn: Priestess of wind at Mt Muldoon

Shayla-Shayla: Priestess of water at Mt. Muldoon, nineteen-year-old attracted to Makoto

Diva: the queen of the Bugrom, enemies of Roshtaria

Ifrit: Girl who summoned Makoto to El Hazard

Ranma ½

Ranma in girl form

Synopsis

Japanese boy Ranma (literally Chaos Horse) falls into a magic pool in China. The water contains the spirit of a dead girl. Ranma would henceforth be transformed into a girl on touching cold water and restored to his normal self on contact with hot water. A series of other characters then fall into a series of other pools containing similar spells, e.g. Spring with spirit of dead pig, dead panda, dead cat etc.

This series has been around a long time and is still very popular internationally. It employs plenty of soap opera parodies. Ranma also spoofs the cinematic conventions of the East Asian martial arts movie genre.

Characters

Ranma Saotome: teenage schoolboy who transforms into a girl on contact with cold water.

Akane: Ranma's fiancee.

Genma Saotome: Ranma's father. Transforms into a panda on contact with cold water.

Ryoga: Ranma's rival for the affections of Akane. Transforms into a pig on contact with cold water.

Kuno: Ranma's senior in school and a rival for Akane's affections. Also has a crush on the female Ranma. Can't decide who he wants..