Ranma 1/2 starts out with Ranma Saotome
and Akane Tendou
engaged to each other, against their wills, and only shortly after
they find that the engagement exists at all. They get off to a bad
start, which lasts through the rest of the series, with them
bickering and insulting each other. But even though they fight, and
claim they don't like, much less love, each other, let someone of
the wrong sex get too close to one of them, and watch the other go
into a fit of jealousy...
With this love/hate relationship established, various rivals and
suitors for the two keep showing up, eventually creating a love
polyhedron that, save for the absence of long lost twins and
people coming back from the dead, is the rival of any to be found
in an American soap opera. In addition to this silly love
tangle, Ranma and company have to regularly deal with bizarre
forms of martial arts and ridiculously powerful martial
artists. Ranma, though he might loose at first, always wins these
challenges in the end, by:
- Mastering the new form of martial arts.
- Raw skill at martial arts.
- Coming up with some clever trick.
- Sheer bloody-mindedness.
- Some combination of the above.
Among the bizarre forms of martial arts are:
Ranma Saotome: The main character, a 16 year old boy who
fell into the cursed Spring of Drowned Girl at Jusenkyo; now,
whenever splashed with cold water, he turns into a girl, and hot
water changes him back. Having spent the previous 10 years on
one long training journey, doing almost nothing but training in
martial arts, Ranma is an incredible martial artist; he can pick
up new techniques very quickly and make on-the-fly adaptations
to them during battle.
Ranma is basically a very decent person, but has two big
problems which can make him act like a jerk: having been
raised on the road by Genma, he has almost no social skills,
and he has a huge ego which won't let him turn down a
challenge or admit to being second best at anything.
Akane Tendou: Ranma's not-quite-willing fiance, also 16
years old. While called violent by the other characters
(according to her sister Kasumi, "She's really a very sweet
girl; she's just a violent maniac."), she's generally pretty
calm and gentle while not being aggravated by Ranma. She is
very unskilled at any traditional feminine activities (or,
indeed, anything requiring physical skills besides martial arts
and ice-skating), and is especially bad at cooking: her food
doesn't spontaneously develop into life, or send you to the
hospital (as is portrayed in much fanfiction), but tasting it
can send you into agony.
It should be noted that, while Akane does frequently hit
Ranma, she usually does not use a mallet to do so; she
usually uses her bare hands or a shinai (bamboo sword).
Also, other characters will grab a mallet out of hammerspace
and give someone a good whack with it; it isn't Akane's
trademark or anything.
Nabiki Tendou: Akane's 17 year old sister, who is
primarily concerned with making money. She does this primarily
by selling pictures of Akane and female Ranma to Kunou, though
she sometimes uses scams and blackmail; in the anime, she also
acts as a bookie for fights involving Ranma, with the help of a
few cronies. Many people think that Nabiki uses this
money to support her family, since she is never shown using the
money on herself, and her father is never shown teaching any
martial arts classes, but this is never shown directly in the
Kasumi Tendou: Akane's 19 year old sister, acts as the
unmarried housewife of the Tendou household, doing all of the
cooking, cleaning, and laundry; it's not know what her ambitions
might be. Her primary character trait seems to be
Soun Tendou: The father of the Tendou sisters, master of
the Tendou dojo and the Tendou school of Anything Goes Martial
Arts; best friend of Genma, with whom he trained under
Happosai. Seems to care more about the future of his dojo than
he does about his daughters.
Genma Saotome: Ranma's father and teacher, the master of
the Saotome school of Anything Goes Martial Arts; pretty much a
complete waste of skin, except that he's something of an
idiot savant at martial arts. He took Ranma away from his
mother, Nodoka, at the age of six, because he believed that if
Ranma was to be raised to be the heir to the Saotome School, he
must not be softened by a mother's love; he got her to agree to
this by swearing a vow that, if he did not raise Ranma to be a
man among men, both he and Ranma would commit seppuku. We
can see that Genma has some small shred of honor left, as he
is terrified that Nodoka will find Ranma unmanly because of his
Jusenkyo curse, and thus oblige Genma to take his own life.
He is cursed to turn into a panda when splashed with cold
Happosai: The withered, perverted grand master and
founder of Anything Goes Martial Arts, and teacher of Genma
and Soun. Though he's a 100 years old (300 in the anime), and
is about the size of a two year old, he is the strongest, most
skilled martial artist in the series (along with Cologne).
Besides martial arts, the only thing he cares about is groping
women and stealing their underwear. He is addicted to women
and their undergarments, and in the anime he can even derive
some energy from touching them.
Tatewaki Kunou: 17 year old poetry-spouting samurai
wannabe with delusions of grandeur; always goes around dressed
in traditional samurai garb and a bokken (wooden practice
sword). He is in love with Akane, and declared that he would
allow no one to date her unless without first defeating Akane in
combat; this lead to a horde of boys trying to beat Akane up
every morning before school, which in turn lead to Akane's
hatred of boys. He hates Ranma for being engaged to Akane, yet
at the same time loves Ranma's female side (the
"pigtailed-girl"), since he can't get it through his thick head
that Ranma's male and female sides are the same person.
Even though Kunou's weapon is a wooden sword, he can use it to
cut through rock, and his thrusts can create waves of air
pressure that can crack stone.
Kodachi Kunou: Tatewaki's 16 year old sister, a master
of martial arts rhythmic gymnastics. She enters the story when
she ambushes all of her competitors at Akane and Ranma's high
school (though she calls it "fighting in all fairness before the
match"), even though she could easily beat any of the girls she
ambushed. Falls madly in love with Ranma after he accidentally
knocks her off a roof and then saves her. Like her brother, she
can't add two and two together to figure out that Ranma's male
and female halves are the same person. Is often consider
insane because of her anime psycho rich girl laugh and her
penchant for using sleeping and paralysis gasses and potions.
Kodachi's primary weapon is a gymnastics ribbon, which she can
use a lasso or a whip with a sharp edge; she supplements this
with juggling/gymnastics clubs.
Principal Kunou: Father of Tatewaki and Kodachi and
Principle of Furinkan High (where Akane and Ranma go). He is
obsessed with haircuts and Hawaii, and wears a topknot
which is decorated to look like a tiny palm tree. His single
goal as principal is to make his students miserable.
Ryoga Hibiki: Ranma's primary rival and sorta-friend.
He is a great martial artist, and enormously strong, but he has
the world's worst sense of direction; I mean, it's
really bad. If you tell him to go straight ahead, he'll
go left or right, or even back-wards; he needs Ranma's help to
even find his own house. Because of this abysmal sense of
direction, he was four days late to a grudge match against
Ranma. Since Ranma "ran away" from the fight, he (against all
odds) followed Ranma to Jusenkyo in China, where he fell in the
Spring of Drowned Piglet; now, because of the curse, Ryoga is
really out for Ranma's blood.
When Ranma discovers this secret, he vows not to tell anyone,
in the manga because it's against the warriors code to reveal
the secret of an opponent, and in the anime because Ryoga made
him promise to make up for knocking him into the Spring of
Drowned Piglet in the first place. He then takes advantage of
this vow by becoming P-chan, the pet pig of Akane, who he
fell madly in love with. He frequently tries to get closer to
Akane, but either his shyness gets in the way, or Ranma messes
things up in a fit of jealousy.
Shampoo: A 16 year old Chinese Amazon from a village
near Jusenkyo. Female Ranma eats the first prize of a martial
arts contest she just won, and then easily defeats her so he'll
be the first prize winner. However, according to Amazon law, if
a female Amazon is defeated by an outsider, she must give the
outsider the Kiss of Death, chase her to the ends of the
Earth, and kill her! She eventually catches up to Ranma in
Japan, where male Ranma accidentally defeats her. However,
instead of a Kiss of Death for the male Ranma, she gives him a
searing, passionate kiss: turns out that if the outsider is
male, then the Amazon has to marry him; thus, according
to Amazon law, Shampoo is his fiance. Unfortunately for her,
she is cursed to turn into a cat when splashed with cold
water, an animal which Ranma is terrified of.
Though many fans consider her to be a bimbo, she just
speaks Japanese very badly, plus her head-over-heels love for
Ranma often makes her do some not-so-smart things.
Mousse: A 16 year old male Chinese Amazon, master of
hidden weapons fighting, and blind as a bat without his
coke-bottle glasses; cursed to turn into a duck. He is
desperately in love with Shampoo, and has basically been
stalking her since they were both three years old. He hates
Ranma for "stealing" Shampoo from him, and often tries to defeat
Cologne: Great-grandmother of Shampoo, and most
probably a leader of the Chinese Amazons; she is as small and
withered as Happosai, and as good a fighter. She is very
determined to see Ranma married to Shampoo, and has on several
occasions tried to coerce or trick Ranma into marrying her;
however, she seems to be genuinely fond of him, and enjoys
teaching him. Her primary method of moving around is pogoing
on a wooden staff.
Ukyo Kuonji: 16 year old okonomoyaki chef, martial artist, and
Ranma's third, "cute" fiance. When Ranma and Ukyo were 6, Genma
engaged Ranma to her (after he was already engaged to a
Tendou daughter) for her dowry, the family okonomoyaki cart;
Genma then stole the cart, leaving Ukyo behind in the dust.
Embittered by the experience, she renounced her femininity,
dressed like a boy, and devoted her life to revenge. However,
even though she hated Ranma for most of her life, the moment he
calls her "cute", she tosses that all aside and falls madly in
love with him.
Ukyo's primary weapon is a giant metal spatula (resembling a
baker's peel) which she wears strapped to her back,
supplemented by a bandoleer of mini-spatulas which she uses
like shuriken. She also occasionally uses other
cooking-related items, like using a bag of flour to create a