Rumiko Takahashi, Hayashibara Megumi, and others who were part of the iconic anime/manga hit reunite for an incredible meal.

In January, the Ranma 1/2 Cafe opened in Tokyo, celebrating the one of the most popular and influential anime/manga franchises of all time. As part of my continuing quest to document as much anime-themed food as possible for SoraNews24, I made a point of going on opening day, as did tons of other fans who contributed to the six-hour wait for a table (which was entirely worth it, because the cafe is awesome).

But really, we all should have waited about one month from the restaurant’s January 7 opening. Why? Because on February 8, series creator Rumiko Takahashi stopped by the eatery, as did a number of the principal members of the anime’s voice cast.

Pictured in the back row of the above photo, from left to right, are Megumi Hayashibara (female voice of main character Ranma), Noriko Hidaka (voice of female lead Akane), Kappei Yamaguchi (male voice of Ranma), Rei Sakuma (voice of Shampoo), and Naoko Matsui (voice of Azusa). Seated in the front row are Ryusuke Obayashi (voice of Akane’s father Soun), Rumiko Takahashi, and Kenichi Ogata (voice of Ranma’s father Genma).

▼ Yamaguchi and Noriko recreate the poses of their characters from the next panel from the manga sequence shown in the illustrations on the wall behind them.

Aside from being a heaping spoonful of nostalgia, the group photo is also an extremely impressive gathering of anime voice talent, as Ranma 1/2 is just one of many impressive credits the performers can claim on their credits. Hayashibara is arguably anime’s most prolifically successful voice actress, famous for her roles as Evangelion’s Rei and Slayers’ Lina, and Yamaguchi went on to voice the titular roguish hero of Inuyasha, another Takahashi-created mega-hit. Hidaka is best known in Japan for voicing Minami, female lead of iconic baseball anime Touch, while fans of Studio Ghibli would recognize Sakuma as the voice of little witch Kiki’s familiar black cat Jiji in Kiki’s Delivery Service.

▼ Sakuma poses with a delivery box from the Cat Cafe, the in-anime restaurant where Shampoo works as a waitress, which the real-life Ranma 1/2 Cafe serves its ramen in.

▼ Hidaka flashes a smile as Akane looks decidedly less cheerful about her sudden, inadvertent haircut.

▼ Hidaka and Yamaguchi model the Ranma 1/2 Yokosuka jackets from the adjacent (and awesome) gift shop.

▼ Azusa may not have played as big a part in the anime’s story as some of the other characters, but Matsui’s performance as the eminently energized figure skater always commanded attention.

▼ Ogata’s spartan cosplay as his character’s panda form.

Some key members of the voice cast weren’t present, including Tsuru Hiromi (voice of Ukyo, Ranma’s second fiance), who sadly and suddenly passed away last November. Still, this was a gathering of anime luminaries who’ve left an indelible mark on the industry, and so, fittingly, they signed their autographs on the cafe wall.

The Ranma 1/2 Cafe will be open until February 25, so if you want to see the signatures, don’t delay.
[ Read in Japanese ]

Follow Casey on Twitter, where he still hasn’t forgiven himself for failing to get Megumi Hayashibara’s autograph at Anime America ’94,

[ Read in Japanese ]