Who Will Bell The Cat? is the title and thematic question raised in Chapter 14 of Rumiko Takahashi‘s excellent manga Ranma 1/2. The title refers to one of a pair of magic spirit bells that may bring about a match in a couple that results in marriage. The cat in this comic is awesome! It arrives in the story in the form of a magic, matchmaking bell that is given to Ranma, who happens to be betrothed to Akane, albeit reluctantly betrothed. The gift giver is a rival girl, named Shampoo, who brings the bell back from a trip to China and presents it to Ranma on her return. Shampoo keeps the other bell of course. I shall not provide any spoilers about how it ends.
Not only is this bell capable of invoking a charm that can bring a couple together, it can also talk and shapeshift itself into a cat, and a monster cat at that. It is a matchmaking charm in possession of spiritual powers. I love this aspect of manga that deals with the spirit world, whether on the dark side like Bleach and The Kurosagi Corpse Delivery Service and Kazuo Umezu‘s Cat-Eyed Boy or on a more fun level like Shigeru Mizuki‘s yokai work or Takahashi’s comic here. Her visual representation of this magical cat is both scary and cute but always comedic. Good fun!