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!
Cats In Comics series: Danko’s Cat and Mouse Collage, Doraemon, Felix, Krazy Kat, The Rabbi’s Cat, Ranma’s Monster Neko, Weird Stress Kitten . In relation to Ranma you can also read my post on The Comics Grid: Ranma 1/2: Gender and Genre Shifting in Manga.