"Have you obtained the information I desired?"
"Yes, Master Kunou," Sasuke panted out. "It was very difficult. I'm not used to doing this sort of thing. Wouldn't it have been easier to employ a private investigator? This is more along their line of work than mine."
Kunou gave a dismissive wave at his servant. "Ah, Sasuke, you are the only one I trust to obtain such vital information for me. I know how eager you are to please, and you are the only one who would be willing to go the extra distance to uncover the truth, no matter how deeply it might have been buried. No mere private investigator could do the magnificent job you do."
"So what you're saying is, your father cut off your allowance again?"
"Yes, curses!" Kunou spat out, all pretenses gone. "He's invested in a Hawaiian pineapple plantation, and the majority of our funds are tied up. I'm afraid your salary is going to be cut, as well as your benefits package. Damn this recession!"
"Ah, sir, you don't pay me anything. I survive by scrounging what food I can from the garbage disposal. The only source of income I have is the money I find by looking under the seat cushions of the furniture."
"I see. Loan me several thousand yen, then. I need a little for some pictures I wish to obtain from Nabiki Tendou this afternoon."
Reluctantly, Sasuke handed over the money to Kunou.
Kunou rubbed his hands together eagerly. "Now then, did you discover the information that I wanted you to find?"
"Actually, yes. Your guess about Ranma's ancestry was correct. And it was really there in his family registry, too. I didn't have to forge it or anything. I'm stunned that you managed to guess that about him."
"I knew it from the instant I first glanced at him and his sorcerous ways, that he could be descended from none other than that filth."
"Oh, my, Master Kunou. I had no idea you bore such hatred for Ranma's ancestors."
"Any true-blooded Japanese would feel the same way. I'm surprised you aren't as repulsed as I am."
Sasuke shrugged. "I guess I'm more easygoing than most. Do you want to look it over and take the information to school with you?"
"No. The accursed Saotome might destroy it, and then you would have to go back to City Hall and get the information again. Instead, run off several thousand copies, and you can hand them out to everyone in Nerima tomorrow. In fact, give it to everyone in the adjoining districts as well. However, I cannot wait with such important information. I shall deliver the good news personally to Akane Tendou and the pig-tailed girl, and free them from the unholy bonds which Saotome has snared them with. They'll never want to be married to him now. HAHAHAHA!"
Kunou ran off, blissfully composing poetry of how his only true competition had been defeated and how Akane Tendou and the beauteous Pig-Tailed Girl would be his at last. Sasuke shook his head with a sigh as he looked over the copy of Ranma's ancestry he held in his hand. Who would have thought so much fuss would be made over someone that was a Burakumin?
A Ranma ½ story
by D.B. Sommer
Disclaimer: Ranma ½ and its characters and settings belong to Rumiko Takahashi, Shogakukan, Kitty, and Viz Video.
All comments and criticisms appreciated. You can contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org
One of the pedestrians across the street wasn't paying attention to where he was going, and walked right into a telephone pole. He tried playing it off, but failed miserably. Akane Tendou couldn't help laughing at the comical sight, and started to make a comment to the nearby fence when she remembered Ranma wasn't there. She gave a sigh that carried the faintest hint of depression. Ranma was sick with the flu and unable to come to school; not that he had seemed all that despondent about that. Now she had to walk alone, since Nabiki had left early yet again. Not the best way to start the day.
Akane turned to see Ukyou hurrying up the street towards her. At last, some company. Akane paused long enough for Ukyou to catch up. Once she arrived at her side, Akane said, "How's it-"
"Where's Ranchan?" Ukyou said when she caught her breath. She looked intently back and forth, not paying attention to Akane in the slightest.
Ukyou's shoulders slumped. "Great. That was a waste of energy."
"Gee, thanks," Akane said dryly. So much for the company.
The sound of a bell ringing heralded a bright and cheery, "Nihao!" as a bicycle landed on Ukyou, driving her into the ground.
Shampoo smiled at the figure under her front tire until she recognized whom it was. "What Spatula Girl doing under Shampoo's bike, and where's Ranma?"
"Why did you land your bike on me, you bimbo?!" Ukyou shouted as she pried herself from under the tire.
"Shampoo thought Spatula girl was airen. He usually walk to Akane's right."
"Ranma's not here today. He's sick," Akane explained.
"Akane try to feed him her cooking?"
"No! He has the flu!" Akane snapped.
Ukyou sighed. "If I had known that, I would have skipped school and nursed poor Ranchan back to health."
"Kasumi is doing that just fine," Akane said with a hint of ice in her voice.
"Maybe Shampoo should take the day off and help Ranma."
"Keep away from Ranchan, you hussy!"
Akane was mentally debating whether to let the duo go at it and continue on to school, or try to stop it and hope she didn't get caught in the middle, when the shout of "Akane Tendou!" reached all three girls' ears. The trio stopped to see Tatewaki Kunou racing towards them at top speed.
Once at their side, Kunou proudly boasted, "I have most joyous news for you, Akane Tendou."
"Joyous news?" Akane parroted.
"Yes, it is most joyous, and certain to raise your spirits, and I have come to deliver it to you personally. The largest problem that has been plaguing your existence is about to be solved."
Akane said, "Oh? Are you transferring schools? Well, I suppose it makes sense. I know I'd be uncomfortable too, if my father was as whacked out a principal as yours. We'll throw you a nice going-away party in spite of all you've done. This is a time of joy, after all."
"But I'm not going anywhere," Kunou protested.
"I thought you said the largest problem plaguing my existence was going to be solved."
"But you're the largest problem I have plaguing me."
Kunou grimaced. "I see Saotome's sorcerous influences still have hold of you. It is a good that I have discovered this information when I did, before it was too late."
"What information?" Ukyou asked in a tired voice. They were going to be late for school if Kunou dragged things out any longer.
Kunou looked at Ukyou and Shampoo as though it was the first time he had seen them. "It is good that you are here, for this involves you, too."
"Would stupid Sword Boy get on with it?" Shampoo finally shouted.
"Very well," Kunou intoned seriously. "Long have I held suspicions of Saotome's unworthiness to live under the same roof as Akane Tendou, to say nothing of the immoral nature of their engagement. It has taken great time, cost, and personal effort to uncover the truth of the matter, but I would go to any lengths to save my beloved Akane saved from the evil clutches of the foul sorcerer-"
"Look, either spit it out or forget about," Akane grumbled. "If you keep rambling, we're going to be late for class, and I sure don't feel like cleaning out any toilets."
"Very well. I shall break this to you as gently as I can. I looked up Ranma's family registry. It turns out he is a foul, dirty, dishonorable burakumin."
All three girls paled.
Akane was the first to find her voice. "You're lying."
"Don't be absurd," Kunou said without a hint of doubt.
"That isn't something to joke about," Ukyou told him, fear creeping into her voice.
"As much as I despise Saotome, I would not jest about as important a matter as this. Now that I have positive proof, I shall be pleased to shout it from the highest of mountaintops, but I would never imply such a thing were it not true, not even of Saotome."
"It can't be," Akane said softly, feeling faint.
Kunou noted her demeanor and acted accordingly. "I see you are equally as overjoyed as I. In celebration, let us go out on a date." Kunou rushed forward to embrace Akane. He ended up embracing her foot instead as she punted him far away.
Now with some time to let Kunou's information sink in, the girls looked at each other once again, all with obvious trepidation etched in their faces.
This time it as Shampoo who spoke first. "Aiyah! Is… Is no true. It no can be true!"
"I wish it wasn't with all my heart, but Kunou seems firmly convinced, and even I don't believe that as deluded as he is, he would lie about that," Akane admitted ever so reluctantly.
"Maybe Kunou made a mistake. Maybe it was a different Ranma Saotome that Kunou found out was a burakumin and he got confused. He is pretty stupid and tends to see things as the way he wants rather than the way they really are," Ukyou insisted, though obviously she didn't believe her own words, even for a moment.
Akane knew what Ukyou was going through; trying to hold onto hope while dealing with the fear that it was the truth. She was going through the same thing. She and Ranma had been through just about everything and had still managed to stay together, but this… this was a foe that could not be fought, no matter how powerful Ranma was.
Reluctantly, Akane said, "We have to ask Ranma. Maybe there's some sort of explanation, or maybe he's adopted and not really a burakumin. But, if it's true…" Akane couldn't force herself to say more.
Shampoo nodded her head gravely at Akane. "Maybe Sword Boy is right. Shampoo tried denying it before, but it makes sense of why Ranma resist Shampoo even though she's so nice and beautiful. And it explain why he no hit on Ukyou and Akane, too."
"He was trying to protect us from being dishonored," Ukyou said, never realizing just how much Ranma cared for her honor, despite being a jackass a lot of the time.
Shampoo nodded in agreement. "It also explain why Ranma look at Ryouga funny. Shampoo always wondered about that. At first, she think it only her imagination, but then she begin to suspect otherwise. That's why Ranma was so forgiving of stupid Lost Boy for trying to beat him up all the time."
Akane nodded her head. "Yes. It makes perfect sense… wait a minute! That makes no sense at all. Why would Ranma's being a burakumin explain why he looks at Ryouga funny?"
Shampoo cocked her head quizzically at Akane. "Because it means he likes boys. Is that no what burakumin means?"
"NO!" Akane shouted. "It does not mean that. You're thinking of 'homosexual'. Burakumin means that means Ranma is descended from filth from the Tokugawa era. His ancestors did unclean jobs back then, and the dishonor is still carried down through their ancestry."
"And everyone knows you can't get involved with one of them. It's just not natural, they're, you know, burakumin," Ukyou added in.
"Oh. That make sense. Of course you two is right. Shampoo not know what she was thinking. Sorry to get confused." Actually, it didn't make the least bit of sense to the warrior, but she wasn't about to admit her ignorance to Akane and Ukyou. If Ranma's being this burakumin thing offended them, it was no doubt serious. That meant it was going to offend her, too, unless it was proven otherwise.
"We'd better go find Ranma and confront him about this," Ukyou said.
The other girls agreed. Deciding a truce was in order, all three left together. Just as they started to head back to the Tendou home, Ukyou said, "Umm, Shampoo. Do you really think Ranma looks funny at Ryouga?"
"What? It no obvious?"
Akane said, "I have caught them in the bath together a couple of times, and always thought it was a bit odd. And they do seem awfully close sometimes. And every now and then they get really secretive, especially around me. I wonder if that's why they act that way? It would explain a lot."
Ukyou said, "Do you think we ought to mention Ranma being a burakumin to Ryouga too, just in case Shampoo's right?"
"It's something to consider, I suppose. He would have a right to know," Akane said as they continued on their way to the Tendou home.
The trio entered the house, catching Kasumi's attention as they headed towards Ranma's room without a word exchanged. They arrived in front of Ranma's bedroom. Akane threw the door open and was the first one inside, followed by the other two girls hot on her heels, and then followed closely by Kasumi, whose curiosity had been piqued.
The noise awakened Ranma and made him sit up from his futon. There were dark rings under his eyes and his face had a ghastly pallor. He examined the three girls, the look of concern obvious even to someone as thickheaded as him. "What is it? What's going on? Someone bothering you guys or something?"
Shampoo pointed in an accusatory finger at Ranma. "Okay, airen, spill guts. Is true you is homosexual, right?"
A large spatula connected with the back of Shampoo's head. "That's burakumin, you bimbo! Not homosexual."
"Right, right. That what Shampoo mean: bur-a-ku-min." She pronounced slowly while rubbing the sore spot on the back of her head.
Akane looked at her fiancé through sorrowful eyes. "Is it true, Ranma?"
An involuntary shudder shook through Ranma. "How… how did you find out?"
The strength seemed to leave Akane's legs as she fell to her knees. "Th… Then it is true?"
"Ranchan, no," Ukyou gasped as the contents of her stomach threatened to spill out.
"Poor, poor airen," Shampoo said sympathetically, still unsure exactly why she was supposed to be feeling sympathetic.
"Oh dear, how unfortunate," Kasumi said. "It looks like I'll have to clean the house, if not fumigate it outright. I'd better get to burning those sheets too." She went up to Ranma, ripped his sheets away from him, and grabbed the futon as well, humming pleasantly as she did so.
"It was Kunou," Akane said, feeling more rage then she ever had in her entire life towards him. It as all that bokken-wielding idiot's fault. If he hadn't been digging around trying to discredit Ranma, none of this would have come to light. It would have been a thousand times better to live in blissful ignorance than to know this impossible truth.
"Man, I'm really going to pound on him this time, once I'm over this bug, anyway," Ranma swore.
"But what are we going to do?" Akane nearly sobbed.
Ranma looked at her in confusion. "Do? Why would we have to do anything?"
"You're a burakumin," Ukyou barely got out through her tears. "Obviously we can't associate with you anymore."
"What?!" Ranma shouted.
"Is true, airen," Shampoo said.
"Now hold on just a minute. I think you guys are overreacting here. It's not that bad," Ranma insisted.
"Of course it is," Akane said, trying hard to keep from crying as hard as Ukyou. She wanted to be strong for Ranma's sake. He would need her strength to help him, at least as much help as she dared offer.
"Well, I think you're overreacting. A lot," Ranma said, crossing his arms in defiance. "Here you are, making a big deal about my family history. It's not like I have any say in the matter, and it doesn't change the sort of person I am that all of you fell in lov… err, like a lot."
"I know it's not fair," Akane said, a part of her agreeing while another part of her, one she loathed with a passion, found itself wanting to draw away from Ranma for being the burakumin that he was.
"It's the way society is," Ukyou insisted.
Ranma looked at them in open-mouthed shock. "No one is going to be ostracizing me like that. I mean, sure, the truth might be a surprise to some people, but we're talking about my great-grandfather here. It's not like I even look like one, you know. Pop and my grandmother only married full-blooded Japanese, and no one's ever had the faintest hint of my ancestry just by looking at me-"
"Wait a minute!" Akane did the math in her head, and two and two was coming up six. "What do you mean, 'we're talking about your great-grandfather?' That doesn't go back far enough."
It was Ranma's turn to look confused. "It doesn't go back far enough for what?"
A creeping suspicion was beginning to settle in on Akane. "Ranma, when I accuse you of being a burakumin, what exactly does that mean to you?"
"That my great-grandfather was Irwin Burakumin from Israel, of course. What else could it mean?"
"What was that for?" Ranma shot a weak glare from his position flat on the ground, trying to shove his joints back into place.
"You big dummy!" Akane cried out, as delighted as she was angry with him. "How could you be so insensitive and scare us like that? When someone accuses you of being a burakumin, there's no way they mean it in relation to your great-grandfather's name."
"That's right," Ukyou said, just as angry and happy as Akane. "They're going to assume you're burakumin in the sense that you're homosexual. Wait a minute… that's not right."
As Ukyou wondered where line of thinking went wrong, Shampoo plucked the spatula from the chef's back and hit her in the head with it. "What Spatula girl mean is, it burakumin in the sense that you is dishonorable filth whose ancestors did unclean jobs back during the Tokugawa Era." Shampoo, finally repeating aloud what the other girls had told her, had the information set in. "Hold on. Why that bad? Someone have to do the job or everything get even dirty and more awful than it was. And even if such people was thought of as being dirty, why blame descendants of them who have nothing to do with it?"
Ukyou and Akane gave her a sad look. Ukyou said, "You're Chinese, and wouldn't understand."
"For once, Shampoo is happy she is too ignorant to understand that stupid way of thinking." Disgusted over getting worked up over nothing, Shampoo left the room.
Ukyou, emotionally drained by the whole ordeal, told Ranma she hoped he'd feel better and headed back to school.
Akane remained behind, looking softly at Ranma, who was shaking his head in disbelief.
"What is it?" she asked.
"I never realized that Burakumin sounds exactly the same as burakumin. What a coincidence."
"I guess it is," Akane said, still relived. After a moment of silence, Akane softly said, "Ranma?"
"Even if you were a burakumin, and that's with a small 'b', I… I'd still want to be engaged to you."
Ranma looked at her wide-eyed. After a moment, he gulped and said, "Akane?"
"Yes?" she said softly.
"That has got to be the most disgusting thing I have ever heard."
"I mean it. I can't believe you'd do something as obscene as even considering marrying a burakumin. I mean, they're unclean, and you know, burakumin."
"Are you saying you wouldn't marry me if I was one?"
"Of course not! What are you, crazy? I'd rather have Happosai rename me Garterbelt Saotome than marry a burakumin. Heck, I wouldn't even want to talk to you if you were one of those. "
"But you were willing to marry me when you though I was permanently changed into a duck!"
"Hey, marrying a waterfowl is one thing, marrying a burakumin is something else. Ewwww. Even the thought of being near that kind of human trash is making my skin crawl."
A bright blue aura formed around Akane. She raised her fist and said, "Ranma, by the time I'm through with you, your skin isn't the only thing that's going to be crawling."
Ranma tried to flee, but his illness slowed him down enough to prevent him from eluding her initial grab.
"Ow!" *SMACK* "Don't blame me just 'cause" *WHAM* "I got principles and stand-" *THUD* "-ards, you uncute" *SLAM* "tomboy!"
"I'll show you principles and standards, you jerk."
And she did so for the next half hour.
Author's notes: Well, a little bit of a parody from the usual 'Ranma is a burakumin' story idea that's made its rounds throughout Ranma fanfiction over time. I'll admit this isn't my best work. I can't help but feel the humor's a bit off in places, but I don't know how to rectify it. Hopefully you might have gotten a snicker about it.
Special thanks to Miashara for looking this over and giving some advice.
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