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The Ranma ½ manga series features a cast of characters created by Rumiko Takahashi. The story revolves around the Japanese teenage boy Ranma Saotome who has trained in martial arts since early childhood. As a result of an accident during a training journey in China, he is cursed to become a girl when splashed with cold water, while hot water changes him back into a boy. Throughout the series Ranma seeks out a way to rid his curse, while his friends, enemies and many fiancées constantly hinder and interfere.
Many of the characters are similarly cursed to turn into animals or other creatures when splashed and are skilled in different and unusual types of martial arts. The large cast's intricate relationships with one another, unusual characteristics, and eccentric personalities drive most of the stories. Although the characters and their relationships are complicated, they rarely change once they are firmly introduced and settled into the series.
Ranma Saotome (早乙女 乱馬 Saotome Ranma?), alias: Ranko, is the series' main protagonist. A 16-year-old proficient martial artist, he spent most of his youth on training trips with his father. The last of these trips led them to Jusenkyo, China, where he fell into the Spring of Drowned Girl. Since then, he changes into a red headed, well built girl when splashed with cold water. When splashed with hot water, he changes back into a man, but only until the next time he is hit with cold water. Thanks to an agreement between his father and Soun Tendo, he is engaged to Soun's daughter Akane. Due to a series of other involuntary entanglements, he has several additional love interests, most notably the Chinese Amazon Shampoo, okonomiyaki chef and childhood friend Ukyo Kuonji, and Kodachi Kuno, the younger sister of rival Tatewaki Kuno. He is very much in love with Akane, but does not want to admit it. When another man shows general interest in her, he can't help but grow jealous leading him to becoming depressed, scheming something to separate them, or growing worried.
Martial arts is the 16-year-old hero's life. Whenever his pride is damaged, Ranma will go to great lengths to rectify the situation. He can come across as petty, arrogant, and disrespectful, as he is prone to bragging and tossing insults. Despite these flaws, he retains a moral center throughout the series and has little to no problems helping those in need. Ranma also has an extreme fear of cats resulting from when his father trained him in the misconcepted 'Cat Fu' (猫拳 Neko Ken?) technique. If he is isolated with a cat in a very small space, or when he can no longer cope with his fear of cats, he begins behaving like a cat himself and becomes a master of the 'Cat Fu', and only Akane can calm him down. He and Akane drift closer throughout the series, each going to great lengths to save the other when in trouble. The reason why Ranma tolerates his big number of suitors is not only because he is generally very friendly and caring towards them (going through great lengths to make sure Shampoo doesn't hate him, for example), but mainly because he considers himself a hunk. In spite of this, Ranma is the butt of most of the violence that happens in the story.
Akane Tendo was the undeniable "winner" of last week's poll, which determined whose cooking ANN readers would least like to eat.
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