Ranma Saotome (早乙女 乱馬 Saotome Ranma?) is a fictional character and the protagonist of the anime and manga series Ranma ½ created by Rumiko Takahashi. Ranma can mean "chaotic" or "reckless horse" or "a tangled thread".
While he was still a child, he befriended Ukyo Kuonji, the daughter of a travelling okonomiyaki chef and martial artist, although he was unaware that she was a girl. Genma engaged Ranma to Ukyo in exchange for her father's food cart, but he abandoned Ukyo and ran off with the cart without ever telling Ranma about the engagement or correcting him about Ukyo's real gender.
Later, near the end of the trip, Genma took Ranma to a training ground in China named Jusenkyo that few people used, due to the springs being cursed. Falling into them would transform a person into whatever first fell in. Not knowing this, and not having the patience to listen to a warning from the local guide, Genma attempted to train with Ranma atop the bamboo poles which jutted up out of the pools. When Ranma knocked Genma into Shonmaoniichuan/"Spring of 'Drowned' Panda", he was surprised to watch a panda emerge from the pond and leap onto one of the poles. Genma, now cursed, was able to hit a surprised Ranma into Nyannichuan (Niángníquán 娘溺泉), or the "Spring of 'Drowned' Girl". Thus he turns into a female version of his original form when splashed with cold water, which is only (temporarily) reversible through contact with hot water.
Before this incident, Genma had made an arrangement with his best friend Soun Tendo that Ranma would marry one of Soun's daughters and carry on the Tendo Dojo. After learning of Ranma's condition, Soun's daughters Kasumi and Nabiki began to insist that Ranma choose their younger sister Akane, and rationalised that a tomboy would be a more appropriate fiancee for a man who transforms into a woman. Although Akane and Ranma were initially unwilling to be engaged, they develop feelings for each other, while generally struggling to deny or otherwise avoid openly expressing throughout the entire series.
Ranma and Genma moved in as houseguests of the Tendo dojo. Since then, Ranma has endured, among other things, Amazons, old rivals, Dojo destroyers, and even evil demons. Female Ranma has also received a few male suitors, such as Tatewaki Kuno and Mikado Sanzenin.
After receiving a letter from his wife, Genma revealed that he had promised that Ranma would return "a man among men", and that if he failed, they would commit seppuku, a suicidal ritual. Therefore, in order to meet his mother without dying, Ranma changed into a girl during her visit, and presented himself as "Akane's cousin Ranko," accompanied by her pet, "Mr. Panda."
Ranma made several attempts to talk to his mother without revealing his curse, to prove his manliness, but was generally stopped by Genma, and after being caught cross-dressing, he had to pretend to peek on Akane taking a shower to show his manliness. Eventually, after he saved her life, Nodoka accepted Ranma as a boy despite the curse.
Rumiko Takahashi herself has described Ranma's personality as a mixture of nice, clean-cut, frank, energetic, indecisive, stubborn, picky, stingy and sly, and has stated that she finds flawless characters rather boring.
She addressed the origins of the character as: "With Ranma ½, I had thought a lot of doing a series with a male/female like protagonist, and since in the greater part of my previous stories the main character had been a woman, I planned to use a man this time. I was worried about writing a male main character because of the hundreds and hundreds of male readers, therefore I decided on the character being half man and half woman."
Under normal circumstances, Ranma is fairly carefree and generally friendly to those around him. He has stated on various occasions that he sees it as a martial artists' duty to protect normal people from monsters, the supernatural and similar threats, and has saved bystanders in danger of getting hurt. A perspective he apparently shares with several other Japanese martial artist cast members. However, he also lacks experience in social situations and frequently speaks and acts without considering the consequences, or the feelings of others.
He sometimes insults people by bluntly gloating about inflated perceptions of his prowess, or taunting them about their perceived flaws. For instance, he once boasted that his female form had a larger bust than Akane, despite that she was happy about her own growing bosom. Early in the manga, he borrowed Akane's overalls while his own clothes were in the laundry and casually mentioned that the waist area had plenty of room and was tight at the bust. He frequently insults the areas his fiancée has complexes about, by calling her an over-muscled, overweight, un-cute, clumsy, macho jock tomboy with poisonous cooking skills. Ranma has also given other people insulting nicknames, with shifting degrees of justification, for example calling Cologne "old hag" or "old ghoul", Happosai "old freak" or "old letch", Ryoga "clueless moron" or "sucker", Nabiki "heartless bitch", or Taro "pantyhose guy", but this is also a rather frequent trait among other characters.
Ranma apparently has little respect for authority figures, such as his father, his teacher Hinako Ninomiya, or Principal Kuno. His willingness to fight back against the latter seems to have gained him some respect from his schoolmates, but they have also stated a certain contempt due to his shamelessness and weird condition. He is quite irresponsible and almost completely uninterested in academics. Ranma often skips school, flaunts its regulations, and otherwise dodges situations that don't involve martial arts or his personal interests. Other examples include juggling his various paramours and fighting tooth and nail against Hinako's attempts to give him private tutoring in English, though the two of them mutually respect each other's determination in their respective, albeit contradicting, endeavors. He also has a habit of interfering with certain situations that are generally none of his business (this happens twice as much in the anime then it does in the Manga).
It is relatively easy to embarrass him. When faced with such a situation, he can freeze up or verbally lash out when found in highly incriminating 'amorous' positions. Nabiki has sometimes taken advantage of Ranma's lack of finesse and weak defenses against crying or emotional girls, manipulating him and various situations to her own advantage.
He takes great pride in his prowess as a martial artist and occasionally brags about it. Although he frequently has the skills to back it up, his overconfidence can also lead to trouble. Ranma tends to rely on blunt tactics and planning, but he is adept at learning from his mistakes in a fight and generally takes advantage of an opponent's weaknesses during a later encounter. He will not back down from a challenge during very serious situations, or when his pride has been wounded, even if he is completely outmatched and unsure of how to overcome an opponent. Despite this, he will apparently refuse a match if he considers the opponent to be too ridiculous, given that female Ranma tried to withdraw when set up to fight the monkey Sanae in "martial arts tea ceremony".
His pride recurrently results in him being unable to accept defeat, and becoming preoccupied with trying to win the next skirmish against his foe. He also has a prominent petty side to his character which manifests itself in these situations. If he's repeatedly defeated, humbled or otherwise feels humiliated, he takes it personally, howling statements of revenge at the moon or even crying on the floor. He will frequently stoop to trickery or cheating in the rematch. Among many examples, he couldn't stand seeing Akane become more powerful through the use of super-strength soba. Nabiki and Kasumi both observed that he held a big grudge after she turned back to normal, which he satisfied through gloating while repeatedly defeating her in arm-wrestling. He was also willing to 'feign' love for her strictly to get rid of a similarly enhancing sentient battle-dougi, since he couldn't stand the thought of her being more skilled than him, but apparently also partially because it was a severe nuisance and kept coming between them.
Ranma is quick to use insults and / or violence when dealing with those who upset him, typically worsening the problem instead of solving it. Using diplomacy, money, or blackmail seems too complicated, or in the last case, dishonourable for his tastes. Although he sometimes uses his sexy female form, in conjunction with a fabricated innocent persona, to convince hormonal boys to treat him / her to food, or buy something he is attempting to sell, alternately to frequently set up simple schemes to fool, make fun of, or play with Ryoga's feelings. Ranma says he doesn't like fighting women, but he has fought them (and a few he's mistaken for women such as Tsubasa and Konatsu) on numerous occasions in both his male and female forms, but has stated that he's held back in a few of them, though he seemed to have no problem holding back trying to harm (or even kill) Kiima during the Phionex Mountain Saga.
While he occasionally blames others for his problems, Ranma has sporadically taken responsibility for matters not mainly his fault, such as when Akane's hair was accidentally chopped off during his first fight with Ryoga, or trying to soothe Ukyo's rage at being left behind.
He has protected all of his fiancees at different times, with one of the best examples being when he saved Akane from the hungry Yamata no Orochi, although she returned the favour, and has saved or helped him a comparable number of times. He's even rescued enemies, such as Herb, who was trying to kill him. Ranma has a low tolerance for people who try to steal from him, manipulate him, or otherwise treat him very badly, such as Nabiki or Happosai. He generally considers Tatewaki, Shampoo and Kodachi to be annoying pests.
He can also be very forgiving and usually doesn't seem to stay mad for very long. For instance, despite that Herb severely tormented him out of sheer malevolence, he still opted to save the latter's life. Ranma has also made efforts to help out Tatewaki or Mousse, and refrained from seeking revenge against the Phoenix people after his conflict with Saffron. While his father frequently stole his food when he was small, and subjected him to the Cat-Fist technique, he usually just seems mildly irritated. Although he has also been vengeful at times, repeatedly beating up Genma upon learning that he had become superior to his father in general hand-to-hand sparring. He has reacted in a similarly harsh manner whenever the latter interfered with the reunion of Ranma and his mother.
Another exception to this rule would be Happosai, whom Ranma has been stated to truly hate, and apparently considers a personal archenemy according to The art of Ranma½ relationship chart. He never misses an opportunity to trick or torment the ancient pervert, and once explicitly attempted to kill the grandmaster by punting him and a 5 m diameter Happo Fire Burst over a cliff (though it was shown later in both versions of the story that Happosai survived and later in the anime version blew the gender-bender up with an another Happo-Fire Burst), even before he almost turned Ranma powerless for life thanks to a weakness moxibustion point, although that may simply have been for comic relief. Even Happosai, however, has been a recipient of Ranma's compassion. Most notably, Ranma permitted him to come back to stay at the Tendo Dojo after finding him marauding a tourist resort disguised as an octopus jar (for thievery and peeping in the manga, and to help a starving young girl named Tsukasa in the anime), when the latter became very sad from loneliness. He also helped to save the sprightly senior's life by eventually deciding to assist in creating a rejuvenation potion, and together with Akane freed him from a death curse cast by a matronly ghost.
One of Ranma's worst habits is that when preoccupied with his own thoughts or training with his father, he is generally oblivious and unmindful about his surroundings. The most notable consequence of this is when female Ranma accidentally kicked Ryoga into the "Spring of the Drowned Piglet" while pursuing his father at the cursed springs of Jusenkyo, effectively ruining the latter's life even further than previously. He's accidentally mowed down child Hinako when late for school, but Tatewaki's head is his most frequent "stepping stone," which appears to be intentional since the two despise each other. Another victim of his carelessness is the Frog Hermit, who was knocked into the "Spring of the Drowned Frog" when Ranma accidentally kicked out his bamboo pole from under him (this only occurred in the anime).
Ranma has often professed his wish to become all male again. However this has not stopped him from using his girl identity to his advantage. He has often used his female form to conceal his true identity from others, most notably Ryoga, and his mother, Nodoka. Other times he has used it to obtain favours from Tatewaki, or other situations when being female would benefit him. Sometimes, he's even taken pride in that his girl form is more attractive than Akane. In the anime, he enjoys ice cream Parfait, although he is always female when she eats them because he considers it somewhat embarrassing for men to consume.
Ranma's speech is casual and unrefined, using a coarse form of Japanese (English in the case of the American-translated anime and manga). He rarely uses -san, -kun, -chan or any other traditional Japanese honorifics. He does use -sempai (elder student) for Kuno, but that is more for sarcasm. Others he uses honorifics for include his benefactor Soun (Ojisan or "Uncle"), his childhood friend Ukyo (Ucchan), the considerate Kasumi (usually -san), and even Ojiisan and Obaasan for Happosai and Cologne when he's not mad at them. And while Akane usually uses honorifics for other people, she rarely addresses him with one. This is amusing since it would denote that the two are particularly intimate with each other.
Ranma is generally fearless, or so he would have others believe. However, he does suffer from one weakness that leaves him paralyzed in its presence: ailurophobia, the fear of cats. When Ranma was young, his father tried to teach him the "Nekoken" ("Cat Fist") technique. The training technique described the trainee being covered in fish sausage and thrown into a pit of starving cats, but that only made him afraid of them. Only then did Genma read the final page of the training book, which stated that it was "...just another technique that would only be used by a total idiot. Anyone who would teach it should have his head examined", but has stated that he fell for it completely. Genma then tried to desensitize his son by repeating the training, covering the boy in sardines, salted sardines, or fish cakes instead. His efforts only aggravated the phobia. Ranma became permanently afraid of cats; he couldn't even get near one and would usually faint if one surprised him.
The Nekoken turned out not to be a "technique" at all, but an induced psychosis. If Ranma's fear reaches a critical point (the result of being surrounded by cats and / or unable to get away from them for an extended period of time) his mind retreats into a condition of galeanthropy, the delusion that he is a cat. This state manifests by fighting like an unrestrained wild animal, using his power more efficiently, as well as the ability to attack his surroundings with air pressure swipes powerful enough to shred trees, floorboards or water blasts. However he likely lacks ability to strategize or use signature moves. He once willingly entered the Nekoken in order to aid him in a beachside (winter resort in the anime) fight with Cologne (for a "Phoenix Pill" that would allow him to tolerate hot water again). To do so, he tied Shampoo to his back and dashed back into the surf, turning the latter into a cat.
His 'cat' mentality is territorial, playful, sleepy, and has an extremely limited attention span, easily losing interest or being distracted by a thrown stick / plaything or being drugged by catnip. However, he comes out of it after calming down / taking a nap in the lap of someone he trusts. These have included an old woman who lived in his neighborhood as a child (who according to Genma in the anime is now dead), as well as Akane, much to her embarrassment, though she seems to have gotten used to it late in the Manga. Dousing him with water can also work. Ranma remembers almost nothing of what goes on while he is in Nekoken mode, which can cause great problems if his behavior was unacceptable by human standards.
While Ranma's phobia seems to have turned slightly less drastic over the course of the manga, it does not help that Shampoo, who is obsessed with him, is cursed to turn into a cat when hit with water, or that Maomolin the 'monster cat' is counted among his adversaries.
A less obvious, but possibly greater fear that Ranma has is that of defeat. If he suffers a loss that he knows he cannot do anything about, he becomes despondent. Extremely proud of his abilities, he feels humiliated by even one setback. When this happens, he becomes obsessed with avenging his defeat in another battle. He fears only the possibility that he might not be able to do so, even with sufficient training, under these circumstances. But that has not yet prevented Ranma from trying.
Ranma leads one of the most bizarre love lives in anime and manga thanks to his father's foolishness and some bad luck. He has multiple fiancées, none of whom seem willing to give up on him, and who all have a legitimate engagement with him.
The first fiancée featured in the manga is Akane Tendo, to whom he has apparently been promised from a young age thanks to a deal made between his father, Genma and his father's oldest friend, Soun Tendo. Their relationship gets off to a rocky start thanks to Ranma's curse, Akane's short temper, and his smart mouth, but they do end up caring for each other quite deeply even if they rarely openly acknowledge it. They constantly bicker, but recurrently in a non-serious, almost comradely, manner. They are almost always willing to help each other out of tight spots, and will risk their life in an instant to ensure the other's safety. Akane is often shown acting cruel to Ranma, though she cares for him inside. She is also quick to jump to conclusions around Ranma and prone to jealousy for him but is often kind to other males such as Ryoga.
When they first met, Ranma was a girl and seemed to feel a shy friendship with her. When Akane thought he was a pervert after she first encountered his male form as a naked stranger awaiting her in the Tendo bath, he retaliated through insults and she responding by attacking him with a table, although he retained a fondness for her, shown in several awkward moments. Even though they often argue with each other, he has never caused Akane any actual physical harm, and has sometimes taken damage (in one case severely damaging) for her. During the two times they've seriously fought (super-soba and living battle-dougi) he mostly limited himself to attempts to either restrain or talk her down, though he didn't seem so concerned during their initial dougi-battles. Outside of their introductory stories, he has also never caused physical harm to Shampoo, Ukyo, and Kodachi.
The next fiancée to show up was Shampoo, a Chinese Amazon, who went from trying to kill Ranma in his female form, courtesy of some extremely strict tribal laws, to wanting to marry him after Ranma accidentally knocked her unconscious in his male form to stop her from attacking Akane. He temporarily drove her off by using his curse to confuse her, but she soon returned, now cursed to turn into a cat with cold water, making her aware of his situation as a male cursed to become female. Shampoo has stated variations on "obstacle is for killing" as a personal philosophy, and made occasional failed attempts to kill Akane, Ukyo and even Nabiki or Hinako, to prevent them from getting close to Ranma, whom she considers to be her husband. She hasn't been above attempting to permanently enslaving Ranma into loving her through the use of a magic pills or imprinting eggs. When angered at him, she has been known to take advantage of Ranma's fear of cats and torment him with her cursed form. Akane has also been known to use Shampoo's cursed form against Ranma when angry at him. However, while he has stated outright that he views her as a pest, and has occasionally shown outrage at her cruel or completely ruthless moments, Ranma usually treats her in a comradely manner. In the anime continuity, it is implied that Ranma does feel some small measure of attraction to her, but these feelings are insignificant compared to his feelings for Akane.
The third and final fiancée to appear was Ukyo Kuonji, a childhood friend of Ranma's. He did not know about the arrangement Genma had made with her father and believed Ukyo was male at first. She initially wanted revenge, thanks to Genma's abandoning her and stealing her dowry, leading her to be considered a social pariah, and believing Ranma was an accessory. During the subsequent fight, Ranma finally learned she was a girl by accidentally grabbing her breasts, then pouring hot water on her to confirm she did not have a Jusenkyo curse. Ukyo was still upset, and he offered to let her beat him up in restitution, but turned extremely unwilling when she took the offer. Ranma told Ukyo that she was cute, to give her faith in her feminity, and let go of the grudge, turning her heavily embarrassed. When he then explicitly presented his 'uncute' fiancée Akane and they didn't seem to get along, Ukyo immediately forgave him and, to his surprise, handed over an okonomiyaki with a heart on it to indicate the restoration of their friendship. She has since treated their engagement very seriously and often has romantic visions of their future together. She helped him recover his strength from Happosai's moxibustion, but was willing to marry him even if he remained weak for life. She also offered her restaurant as collateral to help him win against the Gambling King and was willing to give up her work and greatest passion to be a proper wife for Ranma.
There are others who have tried to win Ranma over - both male and female, depending on the form he was in at the time. Although he does not return their affections, he's not above using them to get what he wants either. Two of his more determined suitors are Tatewaki Kuno and his sister, Kodachi. The anime introduces other suitors as well, though they are mostly for laughs and not meant to be taken very seriously.
Despite his stubborn protests and his pride, he does hold strong feelings for Akane. By the end of the manga, he has admitted to himself that he loves her, even if it was left unclear if he mustered the courage to admit it out loud. Despite this, Ranma will often go to great lengths to avoid making any decision on the matter at all. He also shows no real interest in rectifying the situation with his other fiancées. In fact, in a few instances, he has gone out of his way to ensure that things don't change.
The stated reason in the original manga version of the "Contrary Jewel" saga being that he needs to feel attractive, and "win" any type of confrontation. He here went out of his way to ensure that Shampoo didn't give him up and demanded an expression of love from Ukyo purely for ego gratification, being satisfied when she conceded. Though at the end, all it did was get him beaten, smashed up, and sent to the hospital in a full-body cast for an entire month by Akane (in the OVA, it was Ryoga and Tatewaki who did this). The preceding story arc also introduced Ranma's mother and the "man among men" pledge, which, more speculatively, may have factored into it. He has been shown as extremely enthusiastic to get rid of the curse in several instances, so further loose speculation could make a case that his 'masculine pride' is more easily wounded than it used to be.
However, Ranma was also unwilling to hurt Shampoo's feelings during the onsen race, or Ukyo's during the "secret sauce" arc, so his feelings on the subject seem torn between selfishness and consideration. But beyond Shampoo's introduction story, and briefly during the aforementioned "secret sauce" story, he's never followed through with a serious effort to set either Shampoo or Ukyo loose, though it's unclear if he ever could in the former case. He has, however, chided Mousse for his failures in winning Shampoo, to "make her stop pestering him", and he was happy for Ryoga and Ukyo when he misinterpreted their intentions to split him and Akane up in the "Tunnel of Lost Love," assuming them to be in a relationship. He's also occasionally saved them both from danger, though not nearly as frequently as Akane. It seems that as long as the separation was amicable, he would not mind seeing Shampoo or Ukyo with other people. Although in the case of Akane, any evidence that she has shown interest in another man, more specifically Ryoga or Shinnosuke, has either driven him to paranoia, depression or outrageous schemes.
Ranma can occasionally be somewhat romantic, but he has a difficult time expressing his feelings. He becomes nervous when confronted with romance, such as with Shampoo during the Reversal Jewel story, or in numerous moments with Akane. Even in the beginning of the series he complimented her haircut, when they were alone on a bridge. His softer side more prominently started to emerge in the latter half of the series. He accepted a hug after coming home alive from his confrontation with Herb and on their way back to Nerima after the Yamata Orochi arc he, with difficulty, forced himself to take the initiative to hold her hand. Ranma was also relieved after accidentally proclaiming his true feelings during the battle dougi debacle and held her in his lap at the end. He was embarrassed by advances from the far more sensual spirit-doll possessed Akane but hesitantly accepted them. Such moments have generally been interrrupted by spying, or othervise interfering, family members, turning the pair very embarrassed.
Although even near the end, during the "love leaf" Tanabata chapter, they remained extremely tense about taking the first step in expressing it, while attempting to tauntingly goad the other into confessing, but in the end they had a quickly interrupted romantic moment. Even during the final chapter, after the concluding battle with Saffron, Ranma was unwilling to admit outright, but this time Akane implicitly knew it for a fact anyway. The end of the manga strongly suggests that Ranma and Akane will marry once they have sorted out their tangled personal affairs.
Although Ranma turns into an attractive girl, he has a very strong heterosexual male gender identity, such that even while female himself, he still feels uncomfortable in the presence of naked women. His masculinity is so strong that he prefers to wear boxer shorts under his clothes even when he dons feminine garments such as dresses. During the moxibustion story arc, however, he learned how to use the emotion dampening aspect of his Soul of Ice training to suppress his pride and posed for pictures in lingerie as part an effort to defeat Happosai, and later did the same to appease Nabiki when accidentally destroying her concert tickets. Men who try to get grabby (even accidentally), such as Tatewaki or Happosai—who especially disgusts him—generally get pummelled.
But since Ranma is a man, he has little feminine modesty. He sometimes removes his shirt in public, as he is generally unaware of the effect that the sight of his unclothed female body has on others. The guys at school appreciate this side of Ranma as it offers them a free glimpse of his exposed chest, and they openly wish there were more girls like him. His worst nightmare is being kissed by a man, and he even has two hideous dreams: one in which he was a girl and married Tatewaki, spawning several children and in the first season when he had a dream about Tatewaki asking him to marry him in both forms. Ranma does however receive his first kiss, excluding Shampoo's kiss of death, while a female from Mikado Sanzenin of the Golden Pair of Martial Arts Skating, an occurrence that, by Ranma's own admission, made him truly angry for the first time.
A running gag through the series is that Ranma is sometimes accused of doing perverted things but rarely actually committed the accused act. During P-Chan's (Ryoga's cursed form) first appearance, Ranma tried to threaten him to get out of Akane's room, but was manoevred into falling on top of Akane's sleeping body. In an attempt to find the Japanese 'Spring of drowned man' he also disguised himself to gain entrance to the girls' locker room while they were still changing clothes, and accidentally tipped Happosai's stash of stolen underwear over himself in front of his classmates. Other examples include when Shampoo has turned up naked and hugged him in the Tendo bath, crept into his bed without his knowledge or when they both ended up in the Kuno bathtub. Usually right before Akane sees him through the open doorway. Another double misunderstanding happened when Kodachi once doctored a photograph to show them kissing, and Ranma tried to get the negative from Tatewaki by offering to bathe with him.
In reality, however, he's a bit prudish, though not close to Ryoga's level. The concept of kissing Akane, even as part of a school play, is enough to fluster him. So was simply receiving a heartfelt hug from her because he survived the battle against Herb. His defences have occasionally been shaken, for example, when Kiima or a spirit doll assumed Akane's form and made sexual advances toward him, or when Akane hid with him in a closet, and he mistakenly believed that she wanted sex. Also notable is when Nabiki assumed a cute face and declared her deep love for him (actually just sadistic play-acting), and Shampoo's soothing and cuddling him during her first appearance. But beyond these few exceptions, Ranma's reaction to such situations is generally one of fear and confusion, possibly because any admission of love on his part will force him into a wedding for which he is not yet emotionally prepared.
Ranma has several rivals. However, his main opponents are:
- Ryoga Hibiki is Ranma's primary rival in the martial arts, and the only one he has stated outright that he considers as an equal. If shorter battles are included he has beaten Ranma roughly twice as many times as the reverse, despite being almost entirely self-taught, occasionally in seconds when sufficiently upset, though all of these were used more for comedic effect, similar to Ranma's beatings at the hands of Akane, and various unarmed but enraged women. He has a non-existent sense of direction, and used to hold a grudge because Ranma accidentally cursed him to turn into a piglet, which makes his constant lost wandering through the wilderness even more dangerous. Their later rivalry circled around simultaneously competing to exceed each other, general annoyance and, most importantly, fighting for Akane's affection. Ranma frequently put on a disguise to fool Ryoga, when he needed something, wanted to make fun of him, or the latter somehow risked to get 'too close' to Akane despite his extreme prudish shyness. This continued until near the end of the series, when Ryoga got a girlfriend of his own. Although they constantly fight or banter, Ranma eventually comes to regard Ryoga as a friend and helps him out on various occasions, most notably hiding his curse from Akane, who keeps his piglet form as a pet. In addition to at least thrice having a crucial part in preventing Akane from being killed, Ryoga has also repeatedly risked himself to assist or save Ranma's life during serious conflicts, including rescuing female Ranma from drowning even in piglet form, entering a closing chasm to unlock his curse, or preventing male Ranma from being eaten alive. Having done so several more times than the opposite. Despite sometimes shouting out "shine"/"die", he's actually always been content to beat Ranma up during the many confrontations when he's prevailed, although he has shown a much greater willingness to use lethal attacks against Ranma than the latter has shown against anyone in the entire course of the series up until the final battle against Saffron.
- Mousse is angry at Ranma for taking Shampoo away from him, even though she has found him severely annoying since they were children and even stated outright that she hates him. Since Shampoo only likes extremely strong men, Mousse tries to prove his worth by beating her declared groom, but she has been enthusiastic in sabotaging his prospects if she suspects that he may succeed. In three of his fights with Ranma he has come very close to prevailing, despite handicaps in each of them. That said, he is more interested in winning Shampoo than beating Ranma and was enthusiastic at the prospect of a wedding between the latter and Akane.
- Tatewaki Kuno is Ranma's rival at school, as well as his suitor (for his female counterpart, often referred to as the "pigtailed girl"). He is the only student at Furinkan High School who does not know that Ranma can change into a girl (except for Hikaru Gosunkugi), disgusting Ranma by his silly attempts at intimacy. When Nabiki told him that the 'pigtailed girl' belongs to Ranma, body and soul, he reached the conclusion that Ranma has enslaved her. He also pursues Akane's affection, and has tried to convince Ranma to hook up with his sister or Nabiki instead, in which Ranma tries to convince Tatewaki to go with Nabiki.
- Happosai is the perverted founder and grandmaster of the Anything Goes School of Martial Arts, and is mainly interested in stealing food or female underwear, peeping, or being a general nuisance. He occasionally attempts to force female Ranma to model lingerie for him, or male Ranma to acknowledge his superiority as a humble student to a teacher, but Ranma continues to refuse his requests. As previously mentioned he was willing to turn Ranma powerless for life, when the latter sufficiently displeased him. He is technically far too dangerous to be considered a rival, rather than an irritant and antagonist.
- Kodachi Kuno, a master of "martial arts rhythmic gymnastics," is Tatewaki's eccentric, exhibitionistic and aristocratic sister. She has viewed Ranma as her chivalrous knight ever since he rescued her from a fall off of the Tendo Dojo's roof. She regularly tries to paralyse and have her way with him. She has stated that she desires him as an overwhelmingly enamoured servant. Like her brother, she is oblivious to Ranma's curse and sees his female half as a rival to gain the affection of the male half. Kodachi and her brother share a strong sibling rivalry, in part because they are each in love with the other's object of hatred.
- Pantyhose Taro is one of Ranma's few almost completely evil recurrent adversaries. Ranma has consistently helped him out to change his name and saved his life, but despite this Taro is willing to betray and kill him without a second thought, and remains completely unrepentant about his behaviour no matter how charitably others treat him. Rather than training to improve, his focus seems to lie in finding shortcuts to enhance his very powerful monster form, through bathing in the Spring of Drowned Octopus, or seeking to claim the 'power-source' of Rouge / 'Asura'. He has even harboured plans to take over the world some day, but is apparently quite clueless in this endeavour.
Ranma had other rivals throughout the series, although most of them only appeared in a single story arc, such as Mariko Konjo, Ryu Kumon, Herb and Saffron. They all tried to kill and / or tormented Ranma for various reasons. In the first case for love, in the second for legacy and fulfilment, and in the final two for petty pride, sadistic vengeance and conflicting interests. But unlike his primary foes, none of them have apparently had motivation to keep their rivalry, alternately visit the Nerima area, after the conclusion of their conflict.
See also Ranma's Techniques.
Fighting Style: Trained from the time he was very young by his father in the ways of the Saotome family's style of Musabetsu Kakutō Ryū kenpo ("School of Indiscriminate Grappling," more commonly known in the West as "Anything Goes Martial Arts"), Ranma is a master of several styles of martial arts, utilizing a blend of Chinese and Japanese techniques. The other branch of Anything Goes, the Tendo School, is practiced by Sōun and Akane. Ranma is seen as the school's primary heir.
A practitioner of the Anything Goes Martial Arts is expected to be prepared to do almost anything to triumph, regardless of the challenges, humiliations, or cheating involved. This versatile combat style can produce a warrior who is strong in virtually every aspect of battle, both mentally and physically, with limited weaknesses. In most fights, neither form has a discernible advantage, as they both perform equally well. Ranma is, however, stronger with a longer reach in his male form, and faster and more agile as a female. His training has made him a very balanced fighter, though he can still be surprised by opponents whom he has never fought before.
His impressive physical abilities include incredible strength, and outstanding speed. He also has superhuman endurance, enabling him to continue fighting even after he has taken many powerful blows or fallen from a great height.
Swiftness: As a gauge of the extent of Ranma's speed, he has been able to land 518 blows during a very brief ice-skating skirmish with Mikado Sanzenin, even before undergoing Cologne's speed training. Afterwards, he was referred as able to land "a few hundred punches" on Ryoga so swiftly that it looked like a single strike, or shown to catch over a hundred pebbles from the latter's Bakusai Tenketsu rock explosion within at most a few seconds. If the above gauges are accurate this would make him able to move at supersonic speeds, but apparently only uses it in combat situations, and was stated as greatly exerted from intensive prolonged usage.
Stamina: He's durable enough to withstand the full power of Ryu Kumon's, large, stone Buddha-statue splitting, "demon god assault bomb" vacuum blade-barrage, and immediately continue to fight afterwards, (which, at the very least, would qualify him as bulletproof), managed to withstand exposure to Rouge's and Saffron's firestorms, and has fallen hundreds of meters into solid stone with only minor bruisings. Regarding his limits, when in a state of surprise, a single strike from Taro in his cursed form almost rendered female Ranma unconscious after crashing into a stone palisade. Although later, during their aerial battle against Rouge, he was only momentarily stunned.
Ryoga's regular Shi-shi Hokodan (a technique used to clear out cave-ins, or to help blow tunnels through the earth) has knocked him out in one blow, or required a few to several shots, depending on the latter's focus. This version even managed to stun Ranma for a few seconds when Ryoga was turned into a small child.
Even being partially hit by the outermost limit of the perfect version was enough to instantly knock him out, despite attempting to lessen the impact with his weakened Moko Takabisha. Although a later, attempt, during the their fight, only stunned him for a minute at most (note: no change was noticeable in the size of the crater at this point), and he was able to handle them much better by distracting Ryoga into absorbing most of the impact. At the end of the fight he synchronised his movement with a falling, even more powerful, "ultimate" version, defeated Ryoga by merging the impact with a surprise blow to his head, and remained conscious long enough to declare victory.
Happosai's smaller Happo-daikarin are also shown as capable of downing him in one strike, which is understandable, given that they have proved able to repeatedly do the same to Taro's considerably more durable cursed 'monster' form, but he's withstood them on other occasions, so it apparently depends on the force his grandmaster puts into them.
Strength: Ranma's physical power seems to be portrayed somewhat inconsistently depending on story convenience. He broke his legs from the impact of a 50-100 metre fall while carrying four girls, but was likely still severely weakened from poison at the time, so his peak effort should be multiplied. Male Ranma proved unable to get out when stuck under an 90-100 tonne large iron bell, but wasn't significantly motivated and had no grip. Female Ranma almost effortlessly pushed a roughly 40-tonne boulder into the mouth of the Yamata-Orochi while swimming underwater, when supremely determined to save Akane from being eaten, and also managed to support the pressure Ryoga exerted on two enormous floating slabs of ice, one of which had an approximate weight of roughly 206 to 642 metric tons, when the latter was standing on her head. Thus, he would presumably have succeeded with better leverage and motivation.
Given his ability to contend with Ryoga, who by all appearances could exert force equivalent to lifting at least several thousand tonnes under optimal circumstances, he must be at least a tenth as strong himself, and very likely considerably higher. Although comparatively weaker, Ranma seems to have superior conscious control of his abilities, and can more easily dial it back during basic social interactions, while Ryoga occasionally breaks anything he touches. That said, he has stated outright that he generally honours his opponents' pride by fighting full force, and refuses to give up both for himself and because he thinks a hollow victory would never be satisfying in a battle between honourable men. More notedly in battles with Mousse and Gosunkugi, but he has also occasionally restrained himself, as in battles with Akane, Shampoo, or (initially) Ukyo and Konatsu.
Striking Force: As a gauge of female Ranma's hitting power, a few moments of focusing her energies proved sufficient to split a 3m-3.5m diameter boulder with a single strike, while male Ranma managed to immediately shatter a 2m-2.5m version.
Attitude to combat: As noted previously Ranma has stated that he tends to fight upfront at full force against male opponents, as he considers any less as an insult to his opponent's pride as a fighter, but also that he "always takes advantage of an opponent's weak spots", and recurrently uses trickery, severe distractions or sucker-punch combinations if he cannot win through other means, or if it is most expedient for handling situation as quickly as possible. He generally seems to trust in his own power, but under extreme circumstances he is willing to use multiple crutches if he thinks the opponent does as well.
However, he has also stated that he hates fighting women, and initially greatly held back against Konatsu because of this reason. He has likevise explicitly tried to strictly tie up, or othervise incapacitate without harming Akane, and Shampoo, but has apparently at least been willing to render Rouge, and Kiima, unconscious. His overconfidence has been taken advantage of by Cologne by holding back her true power, allowing Ranma to believe that he had the edge, and tricking him into accepting a bet to marry Shampoo if he lost. He has also been manoeuvred into inefficient fighting by an opponent even more prone to cheating than himself, as Taro managed to goad him into repeated sucker-punch attacks, in an area filled with water-traps.
Ranma has repeatedly been unable or unwilling to accept defeat, regardless of how outmatched he is, or how irrational this may turn his behaviour, although his confidence can be shaken enough to not be able to use the Moko Takabisha. He recurrently brags about his inflated sense of prowess, arrogant in the face of hurt feelings or possible payback. However, with the possible exceptions of Happosai, or Ryoga and Akane (while not remotely himself due to magical brainwashing), he has apparently avoided consciously attempting to kill his opponents, and even saved the vicious Herb from being crushed under a crumbling mountain. Although, when given no apparent alternate solution he did deliberately take this step against Saffron in the final storyline.
Ranma has purported himself as able to win any competition in which martial arts are involved, and as the story progresses, he learns to use several outrageous or virtually useless styles, such as Martial Arts Figure Skating, even though he initially couldn't skate, Martial Arts Tea Ceremony, Martial Arts Dining, and Martial Arts Cheerleading, although he's never been seen to use them outside of the original environment.
The author Susan J. Napier quotes Rebecca Bell-Metereau describing Ranma's situation as: "Impersonating a woman involves anxiety over a loss of power, because it means the male must identify with a typically lower status figure." However, when questioned about if the character "could be taken as an effort to enlighten a male-dominated society", Takahashi replied "I came up with something that might be a simple, fun idea. I'm not the type who thinks in terms of societal agendas. But being a woman and recalling what kind of manga I wanted to read as a child, I just thought humans turning into animals might also be fun and märchenhaft... you know, like a fairy tale."
It is commonly presumed that Ranma is based on Ryuunosuke Fujinami from Takahashi's earlier work, Urusei Yatsura. Ryuunosuke is a female martial artist who was raised as a boy by her overbearing father, who she also frequently fights with. Ryuunosuke can also be considered a more direct inspiration for Ukyo Kuonji, who is likewise a tomboyish girl who crossdresses as a boy.
Ranma shares a first name with the male lead of the series Cinderella Boy by Monkey Punch, who also happens to transform into a girl under certain circumstances; it should be noted that Cinderella Boy was originally written several years before Ranma 1/2 started.
- Female Ranma's hair was not originally shown as red. Within the black and white manga it was depicted in the same wholly dark nuance as her male half, and shifting in irregular multiple colours on covers or other colour inserts. Ranma's mother has also mistaken his male and female sides when she only saw the back of their heads. However, towards the end of the manga, Takahashi more frequently used the anime's pattern of red hair in her color drawings to provide a contrast between male and female.
- ↑ Ranma½ Memorial Book http://www.animedat.com/Ranma/Raninte.html http://www.furinkan.com/takahashi/takahashi2.html
- ↑ Animerica Vol.9, #6, June 2001; http://www.furinkan.com/takahashi/takahashi10.html
- ↑ Kappa Magazine #5, November 1992; http://www.furinkan.com/takahashi/takahashi8.html
- ↑ Lips at a loss; Volume 3, chapter 8
- ↑ Fast break; Volume 6, chapter 8
- ↑ The tragedy of Yamasen-ken; Volume 28, chapter 8
- ↑ Two Platonic Flames; Volume 32, chapter 4
- ↑ Akane's Smile; Volume 38, chapter 8
- ↑ Aerial Battle at Mount Phoenix; Volume 37, chapter 7
- ↑ The demon's true identity; Volume 18, chapter 2
- ↑ Secret fist! Empty-handed filial piety random strike!; Volume 32, chapter 5
- ↑ Prelude to failure; Volume 20, chapter 2
- ↑ The Shishihokodan; Volume 20, chapter 1
- ↑ Bad things happen; Volume 20, chapter 3
- ↑ The mushroom of ages; Volume 33, chapter 3
- ↑ Fight!! Lion vs. Tiger; Volume 20, chapter 5
- ↑ A gravitating victory; Volume 20, chapter 6
- ↑ For example: The most Dangerous Woman in History: Volume 25, chapter 5; Ranma and Akane: Volume 38, chapter 9
- ↑ Taro's introduction arc: Volume 18
- ↑ Attack of the killer secret herb; Volume 29, Chapter 7
- ↑ Super Badminton; Volume 11, Chapter 10
- ↑ Take care of Akane; Volume 26, Chapter 8; Boulder radius 1.5->1.6 metres. Density used: 2.7 tonnes/cubic metre
- ↑ 23.0 23.1 Ryoga explodes!; Volume 4, Chapter 3. By comparing the fragmenting boulder with the almost 2 m tall 'tiny' Mikado, and taking an upper gauge based on presumed area below the water surface, with a very rough estimated weight of between 1.5m*10m*15m*917kg/m^3=206*10^3kg and 2.0m*14m*25m*917kg/m^3=642*10^3kg. This thrown at least 30 metres with one arm.
- ↑ Cinderella's Favor; Volume 23, Chapter 6
- ↑ Strike Back with Hot Water; Volume 18, Chapter 7
- ↑ Volume 10, Chapter 8; Volume 23, Chapter 11.
- ↑ Herb’s Angry Confession; Volume 24, Chapter 10
- ↑ Volume 27, Chapters 4-6.
- ↑ Volume 35, Chapter 10.
- ↑ Volume 11, Chapters 9-11; Volume 32, Chapters 8-11
- ↑ Volume 22, Chapters 7-10; Volume 37-38
- ↑ Volume 32, Chapter 1-5
- ↑ Volume 37
- ↑ Volume 6, Chapter 1-3
- ↑ Volume 18
- ↑ Volume 11, Chapter 6
- ↑ Volume 23, Chapter 8-10
- ↑ Volume 25, Chapter 2
- ↑ Volume 38
- ↑ Volume 6, Chapters 9-11
- ↑ Anime from Akira to Princess Mononoke: Experiencing Contemporary Japanese Animation; Napier, Susan Jolliffe; ISBN 9780312238636
- ↑ Animerica Vol.1, #2; http://www.furinkan.com/takahashi/takahashi7.html