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The Musk Dynasty are presented as an ancient community of Chinese martial arts masters, at one point claimed to have existed for 14000 years, who went to extremes to emulate the movements of wild animals. To this end they threw animals into The Spring of Drowned Woman at Jusenkyo and used the Pot of Preservation to trap the animals in their human forms and breed with them, and produce heirs with bolstered genetic fighting potential. The Royal line tracks its lineage to transformed dragons, which is the source of Herb's thorough chi-mastery. In present day however, they simply interview skilled female martial artists in the vicinity of their village, but continue their tradition of being raised separated from all women, including their mothers, by the time they are weaned, all in order to strive for the pinnacle of the world's martial arts mastery. It is unknown what happens to mothers, once they have 'fulfilled their duty', or to female offspring.
Cologne believed that the Musk Dynasty had been destroyed many years ago. However, later during a flashback, Herb is shown in a throne room with a young servant girl, and a chamberlain or vizier (?) advising him about making a marriage interview. Apparently they have kept their survival largely unnoticed.
Like all other males in the Musk Dynasty from the point they no longer have to be weaned, Herb was raised with virtually no contact with women whatsoever, and is subsequently very unnerved by femininity. His bodyguards Lime and Mint have been stated to have served him since they were children, though unlike them he apparently made use of a young servant girl during adulthood, so he could not have been entirely unaware, but apparently only actively considered them after being reminded of his duty to get married.
Before wedding, he wished to familiarize himself with women and decided to use the Jusenkyo spring of drowned girl to do so. After he had thrown a monkey in to the spring, he became distracted by her naked breasts, allowing her to knock him into the spring and use the ladle of preservation to permanently lock him in female form.
After this incident, Herb and his two flustered companions traveled to Japan in order to find the lost treasure of the Musk Dynasty, the "Kettle of Liberation", in order to cure him. After they came to the Cat Café to speak with Cologne about the location of the Pot, she told Herb its location was on Mount Horai. As he was about to leave, Mint and Lime came back with Akane and Shampoo, but Herb told them to leave the girls because they were about to leave. After Herb treats Akane roughly, Ranma angrily fights him only to be easily beaten and intentionally trapped in his female form. Ranma comes after Herb for revenge and tries to win back his manhood in the process.
The three Musk men arrive at Mount Horai, and rapidly reach the boiling wall of water where the kettle is kept. Herb regained his male form (but still changes to female when doused with cold water), much to his satisfaction and Lime and Mint's disappointment, since they had marvelled at Herb's breasts.
When Ranma arrives at the mountain, Herb engages in a massive battle, and consistently outmatches his opponent, despite female Ranma repeatedly distracting and enraging him by baring her breasts (As she personally states, she always takes advantage of an opponent's weaknesses, and breasts are Herb's), and being explicitly stated to have his aim thoroughly destroyed in his fury. He also demonstrates his ability to create or counter Ranma's Hiryû Shôten Ha, and assumes his enemy has been beaten, but is taken by surprise when a now male Ranma descends from the tornado (due to being cured by Ryoga), having collected the excess chi from Herb's wild blasts and funnels it into a single concluding attack to smash Herb into the ground. The already crumbling mountain is given a final push and collapses, but Ranma rescues the unconscious Herb and carries him to safety. Herb, Lime and Mint are later seen on a ship heading back to China, and Herb reassesses his opinion of Ranma as a man who might be worthy of respect. Although he remains afflicted by his curse, he may have been able to cure it later, given his apparent relative proximity to the Jusenkyo area.
Herb is callous, vicious, sadistic, disdainful, haughty, irate and annoyed for most of the story, He off-hand treats Akane like a bag of trash, shows little respect for the worth of anyone beyond himself, and is more than willing to destroy someone's life, or smugly slowly cut their heads off, for having the audacity to land an attack when standing up to him. But some of this may stem from his distress after being locked in an alien form. When Herb is calm, he appears to be intelligent, and was willing to reevaluate his opinion of Ranma after the latter saved his life in return for repeated murder-attempts and gleeful casual cruelty.
Due to his experience with the girl/monkey that cursed him, Herb possesses an irrational hatred towards female breasts, and will be distracted or enraged by the sight of either.
See also Herb's techniques.
Herb is an immensely skilled, swift, dangerous and ruthless martial artist and consistently outmatched Ranma in direct combat. As a distant dragon-descendant he has claimed to be apprised about all the arts of manipulating chi, but this assumption may have contributed to his surprise in the face of an unmemorized technique. The combined effect from extensive usage of all his attacks, during his prolonged final confrontation with Ranma, is shown to directly create a 2m-3m wide, deep chasm in Mount Horaisan, with a shown span of at least 14m, but which stretches off page. Herb commented that the mountain was crumbling under the force of his attacks, and later Ranma, funnelling the spent energies from Herb's earlier blasts, gave it the final push. However, individually his shown abilities have been far more limited in power.
He is also easily distracted or infuriated by being shown breasts, and is arrogant enough to be taken by surprise attacks, when assuming a premature victory or underestimating a physically overmatched but more creative opponent using a move he is not familiar with.
Herb is the final boss and a secret character in the Ranma ½ video game Super Hard Battle, in which he was voiced by Katsuaki Arima. Strangely, he seemed to want world domination in this arguably canon appearance and his girl form did not make an appearance. Mint and Lime did not appear in the game.
- Though he has yet to appear in animated form, the antagonist of the first movie Kirin has similar facial looks. Herb is also similar in appearance to Ryura of the Four War Gods from the fourth InuYasha film.