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Genma Saotome (早乙女玄馬 Saotome Genma?) is the father of the title character, Ranma Saotome. He is married to Nodoka Saotome and is a former fellow student of Happosai's along with his old friend and prospective in-law, Soun Tendo.
Genma can translate into "dark or mysterious horse". Saotome means "rice-planting girl", which applies more to Ranma's cursed condition.
A stocky, middle aged man, Genma wears glasses with a frame that wraps around his ears, a white bandanna that covers his head, and a white gi. He used to have hair, but is now completely bald. As a panda, he normally walks upright and will use signs to communicate. A common means for Genma to avoid answering embarrassing questions or temporarily dodge responsibility is to turn into his cursed form and play with a ball. He is much more comfortable with his cursed form than Ranma, although he does not have as many issues and problems with it as Ranma does with his.
Genma is the sensei of the Tendo Dojo of Anything Goes Martial Arts. During the time when Genma took Ranma on a decade-long training voyage to improve their martial arts skills, he insisted on going to Jusenkyo in China - a place which he believed to be a training ground. However, because of Genma's ignorance of the Chinese language, he did not realize that the ground was unfrequented because it was cursed. Genma realized all too late the mistake he made, after his son knocked him into a cursed spring during this fateful training session.
Genma was knocked into Shonmaoniichuan (熊猫溺泉 Xióngmāoníquán), the Spring of Drowned Panda. Due to the nature of the Jusenkyo curse, a victim who falls into the spring is cursed to turn into who or whatever drowned there when doused with cold water. Thus, whenever Genma is splashed with cold water, he becomes a giant panda. Hot water, as with the rest of the Jusenkyo-cursed characters, can change him back into human form.
Despite the fact that he and his son were cursed, Genma still brought Ranma back to Japan to fulfill an agreement that he had made with his longtime friend and fellow martial artist Soun Tendo: Ranma would marry one of Soun's daughters and carry on the Anything Goes School of Martial Arts.
Genma and Soun decided that Soun's youngest daughter Akane would one day marry Ranma after Akane's sisters made the ruling on their own — against their will, at least at first. Genma currently resides in the Tendo Dojo along with Ranma, in the hopes that one day Ranma and Akane will get married and fulfill the agreement made by the two families. He spends most of his time playing go or shogi with Soun, although he briefly had a job at Dr. Tofu's clinic.
Unlike Ryoga Hibiki, Mousse and Shampoo, Genma automatically regains his clothing when shifting back to normal, despite being too large to keep them in cursed form. The only other characters who shares a similar trait is Pantyhose Taro. Occasionally, primarily in the earliest stories, the top half of Genma's gi and his glasses will also remain on him when he turns into a panda.
Genma follows his own interpretation of the Anything Goes Martial Arts code, which isn't exactly all that virtuous itself to begin with. Though he himself claims to be a model martial artist, and makes a point of telling Ranma about the right thing to do, it is evident that he does not practice what he preaches. He mostly concerns himself with food, generally looks out for himself, and is an occasional coward when it comes to confrontations with Happosai. When confronted with wrongdoings that he has committed, Genma typically either attempts to justify them through pleading or ridiculous logic, or else tries to either flee from or ignore the problems he has wrought.
It is debatable as to whether Genma is so much "evil" as he is "stupid". While definately selfish and cowardly, he usually does not act with deliberate malice. His primary flaws seem to be a strange combination of impulsiveness and stubbornness; Genma can set his goals in a whimsical fashion, and then will immediately start trying to pursue them without further thought and long beyond the point when common sense would suggest he stop. This is exemplified by the matter of Ranma learning the Nekoken; it speaks depths about Genma's character that he would take one look a single page of a training method and immediately force his increasingly-traumatised son to undergo it four times before finally deigning to look at the next page, which warns he should never have started it in the first place.
Despite Genma's usual state of poverty, he was shown as having gotten a job at Dr. Tofu's clinic at the start of the series; it's unclear how long he remained there, though, as Dr Tofu Ono and his clinic vanished from the attention of the manga around the time that the Joketsuzoku entered the story on a permanent basis. Genma has helped Soun Tendo when the latter is called upon for help, though on occasions he has tried to just leave it to Soun. He has displayed a lack of shame in pawning family possessions, most notably when he made several determined attempts to steal the Saotome family treasure to pawn it despite its value of only about 2,000 yen. He also pawned the coats that Nodoka had made for him and Ranma years ago, although he did buy them back. Genma also developed a technique called the Tatami Flip that he used multiple times to beat up on debt collectors when Ranma was still young.
Despite being cursed, Genma actually seems to like his panda form and freely goes about in public in it. He regularly uses it in attempts to circumvent attention when in danger of being taken to task by others by transforming into it and playing with a tire or ball. If he cannot avoid the problem, he often foists the obligation onto Ranma, which usually creates even more chaos. Although pandas cannot talk, Genma is able to communicate his thoughts while in this form by writing on wooden signs (more common in the manga), which he sometimes uses as weapons against Ranma when he is annoyed with his son. In the anime he was once shown as able to produce enough of them to construct an entire boat.
When his wife Nodoka visits, he turns into a panda in an effort to hide his and Ranma's curses from her. In this situation, he is known as Mr. Panda and is Ranko's (Ranma's female form's alias to Nodoka) pet. Nodoka has seemed far more fond of Ranko than of Mr. Panda. When both of them were sick, she fussed over Ranko, while merely commenting that Mr. Panda had warm fur. Another time, when she was helping Ranko cook dinner, she fed the inedible foods cooked to Mr. Panda. Genma's panda form was also briefly given the nickname Kumahachi, when a young boy named Yotaro discovered him and took him in as an incredibly pampered pet.
Genma consistently enjoyed being stronger than Ranma during their training trips, since it allowed him to claim most of the food, but was disturbed when Ranma recently passed his prowess in regular fighting (without special techniques), and the latter used the opportunity to repeatedly severely beat him up.
However, beyond dedicating one and a half decade of his life to teaching Ranma, there have been a few occasions when Genma has been shown to care about his son. While they were both training separately in the mountain to fight each other in a week's time, Ranma fell asleep and was covered in a blanket by Genma, although he found out that his father had also stolen his food. While helping to teach Ranma the Soul of Ice necessary to perform the Hiryu Shoten Ha, Genma wept genuine tears of regret when he had to use Embarrassing Photo-Fu and show compromising photos of Ranma to Akane and Ukyo Kuonji.
Genma is insecure about his baldness and misses the head of hair he formerly had. In the manga he is revealed to have tried out countless hair tonics to regrow his hair, none of which worked. He was overjoyed when an experimental tonic that he was trying out for Cologne had some success. However extreme growth was triggered by anger while laughter caused it to all fall out, ultimately rendering the tonic ineffective.
Genma's tendency to think both only in the short-term and in regards to himself alone is perhaps the primary sticking point in their relationship, with Ranma begrudging all of the trouble he is forced to endure because of Genma's mistakes.
As a former student of the grandmaster martial artist Happosai and the founder of the Saotome Style Anything Goes Martial Arts, Genma is an extremely proficient martial artist. He regularly trains with his son Ranma, who is even superior to Genma in regular combat, but he managed to spar on a roughly equal footing until the "Dragon's Whisker" and "Cradle of Hell" storylines. While Genma is usually too lazy or cowardly to show it, his full arsenal of special techniques would make him one of the most powerful fighters in the series if he ever used them in combination.
Though he looks hefty, especially in his cursed form, Genma is actually in extremely good shape. Like his son, he has great physical strength, enabling him to punch others a great distance or easily shatter boulders. He possesses enough speed to have kept up with Ranma for some time even after the latter's supersonic Amaguriken training. Genma is also surprisingly agile, capable of powerful leaps. Despite his girth and age, he can withstand great impacts without damage, like falling hundreds of meters into solid stone. His panda form is stronger still (most likely because bears are naturally stronger than humans), and even seemed to make Ryoga Hibiki exert a certain degree of effort to restrain him during the final storyline.
As the creator of the Umisenken and the Yamasenken styles Genma is the only one who is a master of both and is extremely proficient in them. While initially teaching Ranma the Umisenken he was effortlessly able to defeat his son. However, he has deemed them too violent, powerful, and evil to use and has sealed them away and has never used it again after demonstrating it to his son.
With Nodoka: Genma was able to convince Nodoka to allow him to take Ranma away from her at a young age by convincing her that this was for their son's benefit. He made the vow that they would both commit seppuku if he failed, with her agreeing to functioning as the kaishakunin by using the family katana to finish them off before using it to slit her own throat. Despite the extreme nature of this vow, Nodoka fully bought into it, which created enormous problems for Genma and Ranma after they were cursed. However after she began making occasional visits to the Tendos, it was revealed that she was much more concerned over Ranma than her husband, possibly due to subconscious resentment at him for taking Ranma away. She consistently demonstrated a lack of concern about whether Genma was alive, dead or present, in contrast to her extreme worry over her son. Despite his general unwillingness to expose himself to Nodoka, these incidents always exasperated Genma greatly, and Ranma had to restrain him from revealing himself. He was once so frustrated that he was willing to take petty revenge on Ranma by attempting to expose Ranma's curse to his wife. When they met again face to face, the first thing that Nodoka asked her husband about was Ranma. Even when they were able to sit down and talk she quickly pulled the katana out before he could say anything about Ranma, although he quickly recovered and claimed that Ranma was after the Saotome family treasure. After learning about her family's curses, Nodoka accepted Genma's cursed form, continuing to pay attention to Ranma's manliness or lack thereof.
With Ranma: Genma and his son have a somewhat rocky relationship. Ranma does love his father, deep down, but at the same time resents the many indignities and hurts that Genma has forced upon him - the Nekoken and the disasterous trip to Jusenkyo particularly rankle him - and is often exasperated by Genma's bungling or self-absorbed occurences. Genma, in turn, loves his son, but is inherently self-centered enough that he often puts his own desires and wants over Ranma's wants and even Ranma's safety, which only adds further wedges to their relationship. Genma has even known to become jealous of or angry at? Ranma and undertake extremely petty plots for revenge. These have included threatening to expose Ranma's curse to Nodoka (both canons), learning his Cradle from Hell technique to make Ranma submit to him again (both canons), and pretending he was going to disown Ranma and make Ryoga Hibiki his heir instead (anime).
With Ukyo: Genma strives to avoid Ukyo whenever possible, who likewise does the same, so it's difficult to say for certain how they really feel about each other. In all likelihood, Ukyo disdains and/or resents Genma, given that he "caused" her to pretend to be a boy for over ten years by agreeing to engage her to Ranma only to then break the deal and move on - whilst Genma claims that he did so after Ranma proclaimed he preferred okonomiyaki to Ukyo, there are multiple reasons why this would be invalid as an excuse... which, of course, presumes that Genma actually did talk to Ranma as he says he did; Genma is confirmed on multiple occasions as being willing to lie, wheedle and blame others to save his own skin, and Ranma officially remembers no such conversation. Genma's feelings for Ukyo are even more vague; on the one hand, he did originally try to avoid getting Ranma engaged to her because of the Tendo agreement, only agreeing in hopes of stealing Ukyo's dowry and then abandoning her. On the other hand, he did openly declare Ukyo to be Ranma's betrothed when she tracked them down, rather than lying and insisting that her claims of engagement were a falsehood - thus giving Ukyo some official ground to stand on in her insistence that she and Ranma are supposed to be a couple.
With Soun: Genma and Soun are each other's best friends, and genuinely enjoy each other's friendship and company, so much so that they wanted to extend their friendship to the next generation and have their families be united by the marriage of their children. That is not to say that their friendship doesn't have its rough spots; Soun is, if only marginally sometimes, more moral and upstanding than Genma, and Genma's willingness to stoop to low levels offends and outrages Soun on some occasions.
With Akane: Genma favors Akane, and seriously believes she and his son are made for each other. He is always friendly and supportive towards his desired daughter-in-law, and is quick to take her side whenever she and Ranma fight. Akane, on the other hand, tries to be polite to her would-be father-in-law, but often finds him irritating and disreputable; she has no qualms about pointing out when Genma is doing something stupid or self-centered.
Genma appears in the fighting games in his cursed form while in the adventure games he appears in both forms. In the live action special he is portrayed by Arata Furuta as a human, who has visible hair beneath his skullcap and is capable of using the Mōko Takabisha. His panda form is an actor in a panda suit who uses white cardboard signs to communicate.
- When asked how Nodoka married Genma, Rumiko Takahashi says that Genma was probably really cool back when he was young and had hair. She speculated that he lost his hair due to stress or a heriditary trait.
- In some of the earliest flashbacks in the manga and anime, young Genma does not have visible hair coming out of his bandanna. This is likely an oversight or it was decided later that Genma had hair in his youth.
- In chapter 4 of Takahashi's latest manga series Rin-ne, there is a boat which looks like Genma's cursed form.
- Genma was the cause of Ranma having three legitimate fiancées, mostly due to his foolishness or selfishness: Genma and Soun planned for Ranma and Akane to be married years before they met. Because of Genma's training/travels with Ranma and the Amazons' strict tribal Laws, Ranma accidently defeats Shampoo which makes her his fiancée. And due to Genma wanting the okinomiyaki cart from Ukyo's father, he agreed to have Ukyo as Ranma's bride without thinking only to leave her behind, though she eventually came back to remind him and Ranma of their promise.
- One of Genma's boards made a cameo in the manga Codename:Sailor V in Volume 2 and was found in an Airport.
- He is obsessed on monetary gain and pork buns. This is shown when someone tells him that there is 100 yen or more and pork buns lying around him, and he tries to find it and get distracted
- In The Obstacle Course Swim Meet OVA episode of Urusei Yatsura he appears in his cursed form as one of the drown students.