Real Name: Saotome Genma (family names traditionally come first in Japanese)

Identity/Class: Human transformed/cursed by magic

Occupation: Martial Artist, Martial Arts Instructor (Sensei), occasionally petty thief, part-time chiropractor assistant, freeloader

Affiliations: Soun Tendo, Ranma Saotome, Akane Tendo, Nabiki Tendo, Kasumi Tendo, Tofu Ono, Happosai, Saotome School of Anything-Goes Martial Arts, Tendo School of Anything-Goes Martial Arts

Enemies: Happosai (occasionally), Picolet Chardin II, Ryu Kumon, Ukyou Kuonji; (in the anime only) Kaori Daikoku, Kin’nee, the Jusenkyo Morals Committee, Sankichi Urakishi

Known Relatives: Ranma Saotome (son), Nodoka Saotome (wife, currently separated),

Aliases: Mr. Panda (name his wife gives his panda form, not realising it is her husband), Kumahachi

Base of Operations: Tendou Dojo, Nerima, Tokyo, Japan

First Appearance: Shonen Sunday Vol. 36, 1987

Powers/Abilities: Despite being in middle age, Genma retains an extraordinary level of martial art skills and can perform feats that would be considered superhuman by ordinary standards. He is far stronger, faster, and more agile than normal humans and he can absorb considerable levels of damage and recuperate far faster than a normal human. His abilities are not atypical as many martial artists of his caliber possess similar if even more impressive abilities, including Happosai, Cologne, Ryoga Hibiki, and even his own son Ranma.

Genma transforms into a large panda when he is splashed or immersed with cold water; although his transformations are technically more of a curse than an actual power. He reverts to his normal human form with contact with hot water. These transformations are strictly involuntary and although he has encountered occasional cures, they have all proven temporary. Although he has physically changed, Genma still retains his full intelligence and martial arts skills as well in either form. Genma is physically stronger in his panda form than his human form, something he uses to his advantage on occasion. He is also able to walk on all fours or on his hind legs like a human being. As he is unable to communicate verbally in his panda form, he has taken to using written signs to communicate. He has upon occasion used these signs as weapons or blunt objects as well.

Genma possesses considerable knowledge of martial arts and various techniques, and is a remarkable martial arts instructor or sensei. He is said to be a master of Musabetsou Kakutou Ryu (Anything-Goes Martial Arts), claimed to be the world's most powerful martial art. Although some of his training methods and techniques are highly dubious, they are undeniably effective as shown by his son’s remarkable martial arts ability and skills, not to mention his ability to survive Genma’s bizarre training methods (or, perhaps it says more about Ranma’s not inconsiderable skills at surviving Genma’s training methods). Genma has mastered his battle aura to such a degree that he can cause it to manifest as a gigantic semi-transparent image of himself. He has utilized this for intimidation and bluffing his opponents, as it basically takes everything he has to pull off the projection and he has absolutely no energy left to do anything else, even the most basic attacks or defend himself. Also, he can only maintain this effect briefly before he becomes exhausted.

Among some of his more dubious techniques include the “Cry of the Wild Dog” which involves facing one’s opponents, rapidly shuffling backwards and then calling out loudly “Loser!”, and his “Cradle from Hell” which is a sudden powerful lunge forward towards his opponent and tightly wrapping his arms around his victim and rubbing his face against his opponent reminiscent of a parent embracing their infant child. The combat effectiveness of this last technique is uncertain. Although it is one of the few techniques capable of defeating his son, Ranma; part of its effectiveness is due to the fact that it freaks him out and he personally finds it absolutely revolting and extremely creepy. Genma has employed various other techniques such as his “Embarrassing Photo-Fu” which he uses to distract and annoy his opponents by taunting them and showing them humiliating photographs from their past. Again, the effectiveness of this is questionable as basically it relies on his intimate knowledge and photographs from Ranma's past. Genma’s self-proclaimed greatest technique is “Crouch of the Wild Tiger”. It is a terrible technique that calls for the person to assume a sitting position of the ground, place their palms flat on the ground, and then frantically bowing and screaming, “I’m sorry! I’m sorry! Please forgive me!” which usually shames his opponents into not attacking him while he is busy scrapping and groveling. He has also developed the “Saotome Secret Technique” which is only to invoked in extremely desperate combat situations. He loftily proclaim that the technique involves the tenets of speed, strategy, and separation. But as Akane Tendo put it, “basically it’s just running away until you can think of something better to do,”.

Despite his apparently questionable skills, Genma is nevertheless an extremely formidable martial artist. In his youth, he developed two styles of martial arts that he later sealed away. They are the Yamasenken or “Fist of the 1000 Mountains” and the Umisenken or “Fist of the 1000 Seas” (apparently based on thievery). He still retains knowledge of them and demonstrated that he can still utilize the basic technique of the Umisenken by erasing his chi but it is unknown if he can still actually perform any of the other techniques through years of disuse. In addition, Genma possesses considerable and exotic knowledge about a wide variety of martial arts techniques, skills, and styles. Presumably he also has sufficient knowledge of acupuncture and human anatomy to serve as a chiropractor’s assistant.

History: If the road to Hell is paved with good intentions, then an idiot who happens to be a thief and glutton makes for a really fast trip.

Genma Saotome is the father of Ranma and incidentally the primary reason behind his son’s many faults, his multiple engagements, the majority of his enemies, and even his very curse. When he was younger, Genma trained under the legendary Happosai, the so-called Grand Master of the Anything-Goes Martial Arts. He and his fellow student Soun Tendo discovered that Happosai was legendary alright; he was a legendary pervert who took a sadistic pleasure in letting his students take the fall for his many and numerous crimes (peeping at women, fondling women, stealing women’s underwear, and occasionally petty thievery) which he called “training.” To be sure they had to quickly develop their speed and agility in order to escape their outraged pursuers and the thrashings they received did assist in building up their endurance and ability to take arduous amounts of punishment. It was during this torturous training and mutual suffering that a bond of friendship was forged between both men, and eventually Genma and Soun decided to cement it permanently by agreeing to wed their children together, forging a union between their families. This incidentally is how Ranma became promised to Soun’s daughter; Soun's youngest child, Akane, was subsequently nominated (and later outvoted by her sisters) to take the so-called honor years later. It is believed that sometime during this grueling “training” that Genma and Soun encountered the Chardin family and ate at their restaurant. Unable to foot their bill, Genma and Soun promised that the heir of the Chardin family would marry their daughters. Both men agreed but Genma apparently believed that the Chardins would never find them to collect or in Soun’s case, he would never have daughters. Both would be proven wrong of course. Finally Genma and Soun had enough of Happosai and decided to rid themselves of their “master”. They got him drunk, sealed him in a barrel and threw it into a deep cave with several pounds of dynamite, and for good measure sealed it shut with a huge boulder wrapped with spirit wards. They underestimated the amount of TNT however. It wasn’t enough. They did manage to seal him away for over a decade however but their perverted master would return to torment them in years to come.

Either prior or just after his period of training with Happosai, Genma met and married Nodoka, who bore him a son, Ranma. When Ranma was approximately five years old, Genma decided to embark on an extended training mission with Ranma in order to refine his martial arts skills and prepare the boy for assuming control of the combined Saotome and Tendo School of Martial Arts. Nodoka was distraught over losing her only child but Genma was adamant that her presence would only “soften the boy.” To ensure his good behavior on this trip, his wife Nodoka insisted on a contract that Genma would make their son “into a man among men” which Genma melodramatically (and rather foolishly) amended that they would commit seppuku (ritual suicide) should they fail. The trip was both highly successful and a complete disaster. It did manage to forge Ranma into an extraordinary martial artist but he also managed to acquire a formidable number of rivals, adversaries, fiancées, the odd curse or two, and it drove him to undergo bouts of temporary insanity.

Among the many disasters was the Neko-Ken (Cat Fist). When Ranma was approximately six years old, Genma attempted to instruct him the Neko-Ken, a supposedly nearly invincible martial arts technique. The training was deceptively simple (for a moron). It required the trainee to be wrapped in fish sausages and then throwing them into a pit of starving cats. When the first attempt didn’t work, Genma tried numerous times with different applications (fish cakes, fish paste, sashimi, etc.). It was only after Ranma was driven insane that Genma bothered to turn to the last page of the manual and discover the horrifying truth which proclaimed; “... this technique is only to be used by a complete idiot”. As Genma stated, “I fell for it completely.” However the damage was done as Ranma developed a terrifying phobia of cats. But the true danger lies when his fear overwhelms him, his sanity is replaced by a cat-like personality which possesses incredible powers including a devastating strike, the Cat Fist that can apparently slice through virtually anything. However the cat personality (like all cats), is lazy, easily distracted, and playful.

Genma also greedily promised Ranma in marriage in exchange for Ukyo Kuonji’s dowry, a okomomiyaki cart (which he promptly stole and ran off with). Ukyo would return and would hold Ranma to his father’s promise as his fiancée. (In the anime Genma has also promised Ranma to various other families as well, supporting himself and Ranma by engaging Ranma to the daughters of various people and then running off with the dowry (once for as little as rice, a fish, and two pickles - hey, he may be a con artist, but no one said he was smart), including the Daikoku Family and even to Kuno Family via Kodachi Kuno; to date in the manga, Ukyo is the only other one than the Tendos ... or at least the only one who ever found him again.) However perhaps the most disastrous event took place in China, at a place known as Jusenkyo, also known as the Pools of Sorrow, a valley filled with over a hundred springs, each one with its own tragic story about someone or something that drowned in them. Genma naturally had no idea about the curses, perfectly understandable considering since he can't read a word of Chinese and so overlooked the numerous warnings about the hazards of the area. It was there that Ranma first knocked Genma into Shonmaoniichuan, the 2000 year old “Pool of Drowned Panda,” and transformed Genma into a panda. In retaliation, Genma knocked Ranma into the “Pool of Drowned Girl” and transformed him into a female version of himself (and inadvertently making both him and his father subject to the strict interpretation of the seppuku clause). Thankfully, hot water cured the transformation. However getting splashed with cold water reactivated the curse.

Just after Jusenkyo, Genma decided to visit the nearby Village of Chinese Amazons. There they both decided to help themselves to the feast, not realizing that it was intended to be the First Prize to the winner of the Amazon’s Annual Martial Arts Contest. As a result, that year’s champion Xian Pu (Shampoo) took offense to a girl and her pet panda devouring her hard won prize. Ranma challenged her and won, incidentally making Ranma a recipient of the “Kiss of Death”; an ancient Amazon law that stated that should an Amazon lose in combat to a female, that they would have to hunt that female down to the ends of the Earth if necessary and kill her. After spending some time running around and doing their best to avoid Shampoo in China, Genma dragged Ranma back to Japan to the Tendo Dojo in Nerima Ward, Tokyo to meet his old friend and former training partner, Soun Tendo. There Akane Tendo was nominated for the position of fiancée and Genma settled down to wait for the two to get happily married and assume control of the Tendo School of Anything-Goes Martial Arts.

It was not to be.

Or at least, not very easily. As it turned out neither Ranma nor Akane felt comfortable with this idea and both greatly resented their parents for deciding this and their futures for them. Their relationship was further complicated by a number of problems that arising from the training trip, such as Ranma’s perennial rival Ryoga Hibiki who also vied for Akane’s affections. Shampoo also reappeared in Japan, having finally tracked down her prey. Things became even more complicated when Ranma defeated her again, this time in male form, and thus became marked by “The Kiss of Marriage,” a subset to the Amazon Law which stated if the Amazon was defeated by a male, then the two would be married. It certainly complicated events for Ranma for a time since as a boy, she just wanted him but as a girl, she just wanted him (or her) dead. Shampoo would ultimately learn the truth behind Ranma’s curse and would bring in various other complications such as her great-grandmother, an ancient and powerful crone known as Cologne who occasionally pulls out some ancient Chinese Amazon lore, magic, or martial art technique to make things worse, and Mousse, who is hopelessly in love with Shampoo and despises Ranma for defeating her. Mousse sees Ranma an obstacle to his eventual marriage to Shampoo and Ranma will stop being an obstacle, the second that he also stops breathing. Ukyo Kuonji, Ranma’s childhood friend and, incidentally, his “cute” fiancée, would also reappear and after smacking Genma around, decided to stick around to enforce her marriage claim after discovering that Ranma didn’t get along too well with his “uncute” fiancée Akane.

To both Soun and Genma’s mutual horror, Happosai finally managed to extract himself from their trap and has the Tendo Dojo as his home and hiding place while he steals women’s underwear and occasionally torments his inept students to amuse himself while he “trains” Ranma as his heir. At least that’s what he calls it. Ranma strenuously objects to being named Happosai’s successor (another thankless job that Genma and Soun foisted off on him) and to Happosai changing him into his cursed form to fondle and try to get him to model lingerie for him. Also thanks to Genma’s foolish seppuku pledge, both he and Ranma had to spend a considerable amount of time trying to avoid Nodoka who visited the Tendo Dojo every so often hoping to find her wayward husband and long lost son. To her disappointment, they were never there. Instead she only found Ranko Tendo, a distant relation to the Tendos and her rather bizarre and unusually intelligent (for an animal) pet, Mr. Panda. She was unaware for a long time that both of them were actually her son and her husband hiding behind their curses and it has only been recently that mother and son have been reunited.

Through it all, Genma has managed to make matters worse in his son’s life. He frequently pushed his offspring to face new threats and challenges and incidentally made him new dangers and new enemies. Genma often portrays himself as an honorable martial artist but it is clearly evident that he does not practice what he preaches. Although he is not cruel or evil, he is greedy and a glutton and rarely thinks about the consequences of his actions. He does his best to avoid any confrontational situation, either by palming it off onto his son or by relying on his curse and pretending to be a dumb and simple animal. He has even used this to become a wealthy young boy’s pet panda Kumahachi, enjoying the lavish large quantities of expensive food his owner gave him before Ranma finally dragged his father home. Unlike many of the other Jusenkyo cursed, Genma frequently spends much of his time in his panda form, apparently by preference; to the point where he has developed a taste for raw bamboo. He attempts to utilize this to his advantage, proclaiming with his sign, “I’m a cute innocent panda!” which does not fool anyone who knows him very well.

As Genma portentously states, “the path of a martial artist is fraught with peril”. He has failed to mention that he is directly responsible for much of that peril with his thoughtless and stupid behavior, such as the incident with Piccolet Chardin II; the heir to the Chardin family who had finally found Genma and sought to make good on his unpaid bill. Luckily, Genma didn’t have any daughters ... but Soun did. To save the other Tendo sisters from a horrible fate, Ranma was forced to duel Piccolet and narrowly managed to snatch victory from the glutton in a no-holds barred eating match. Or from Ryu Kumon, who was trained in a deadly style of martial arts known as the “Yamasenken” or “Fist of the 1000 Mountains” that Genma had created in his youth and then sealed away. In order to defeat Kumon, Genma reluctantly taught Ranma, a counter to the Yamasenken, the Umisenken or “Fist of the 1000 Seas”. Both Kumon and Ranma were both dumbfounded when they belatedly discovered that the two styles were not designed as martial arts skills at all but rather were based on the style of thievery. Basically the Yamasenken is the style of the “Noisy Bandit” who breaks into houses with a sudden crash, startling its occupants and quickly disabling them with rapid blows to prevent them from raising the alarm while the final maneuver, the Kijin Raishu Dan (Fierce God Assault Blast) is a powerful arm strike that creates a vacuum wave that can cut through almost any obstacle was actually used to force open any locked rooms.  The Umisenken is the subtle, quiet style of the “Sneaky Thief” who breaks into houses like a cat burglar by hiding their chi and erasing their presence while the so-called cloth that is used to hide and disguise the moves are nothing more than the empty burglar sack for holding the stolen goods. Its ultimate maneuver, the Yasha Tankai Ho (Demon Sea Wrap) which crushes the opponent with a huge cloth bundle, is nothing more than a bag filled with heavy stolen goods.

Despite all of this, both Ranma and Akane have slowly grown closer and although it would probably kill either of them to admit, neither of them find the idea of getting married to the other to so terrible as they first thought it would be. And Genma Saotome will undoubtedly be doing his best (or worst) to screw things up. As usual.

Comments: Created by Rumiko Takahashi.

In the running for the title of World's Worst Father, Genma has a history of theft and con-artistry over the ten year trip and beyond. Every problem that he can't run away from he pushes off onto Ranma to deal with. In Japanese, Genma translates in roughly “Dark Horse” and an alternate form of spelling his family name of Saotome is “woman” which is probably more of a play on his son Ranma’s curse. In Japan, most anime based on manga does generally follow the original storyline, though usually the anime incorporates some differences. Often, the studios may create their own unique characters which they will focus episodes on in order to extend the length of each season and sometimes they will develop a standard episode plot; in Ranma 1/2 the usual plot format for the anime was to bring some sort of unusual martial arts and a new fiancée for Ranma to deal with.

Although much of the basic storyline is somewhat identical in both the manga and the anime, the anime has somewhat exaggerated the various aspects of Genma’s character with the inclusion of his selling off his son numerous times to other individuals, not just Ukyo Kuonji but also Kaori Daikoku, who was created solely for the purposes of the anime. In the anime, Genma was voiced by Ken’ichi Ogata in Japanese and in English, Robert O. Smith had the honors.

Thanks to Scott Ryktarsyk for many details on Genma, and Michael Higuchi for major updates and expansions.


Any Additions/Corrections? Please let me know.

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