In Ranma 1/2 Genma comes across as a horrendous, uncaring, selfish father and a useless sensei getting Ranma all those fiancées and complicated messes with his honor. Then I realized, Genma says everything is training. He isn't being an idiot, he's being machiavellian setting up challenges for Ranma to think himself out of and use his skills to outwit his enemies. Even the fiancées and honor messes are training just to get Ranma to think critically about honor and give him the skills to debate his way out of that Seppuku contract. Every time Ranma reaches equilibrium, or begins to plateau in his abilities Genma "messes up" and throws in a new challenge. Even Jusenkyo has improved Ranma's physical, emotional, social and critical thinking skills in the long run. No wonder he laughs it up playing shogi all day, he is the best martial arts instructor after all.
Many of Genma's named Anything-Goes Techniques are completely bogus, like the Howl of the Demon Dog, Crouch of the Wild Tiger, Ultimate Technique (Run Away) etc. He often seems like he's holding the Idiot Ball when he thinks such moves will stand up to serious situations, like when he teaches Ranma the Howl of the Demon Dog as a counter to the Shi Shi Hokodan. Every serious named attack has been taught to Ranma by someone besides Genma, usually Cologne. This makes Genma seem like a pathetic martial artist with no clue how to train Ranma. Then you remember that all of Ranma's base skills, before named attacks and Ki Attacks came into play, were learned from Genma off screen. Genma can also, for most of the series, defeat Ranma in sparring, as well as come through in some rare scenes where he shows powerful martial arts ability including Ki Attacks. This shows that Genma's only aversion is (effective) named attacks. Why? Why can't an expert martial artist like Genma create any good special attacks? Well, he has, and he didn't like the results. The Umisenken and Yamasenken were both created by Genma Saotome, who sealed them away and refused to teach them to Ranma (until Ryo showed up using the latter of those styles). Genma fears creating and using too powerful/dangerous techniques, so he swings too far the other way, creating worthless ones. He probably thinks that allowing Ranma to lose a couple of fights is a lesser evil than unleashing high-powered, lethal techniques on the world. When Ryo showed up, Genma temporarily and partially overcame this reluctance in order to make up for creating those techniques in the first place, by having Ranma fight to seal the techniques away again.
At first glance, Nodoka Saotome appears to be just another quirky character, admittedly with some Yank the Dog's Chain potential (who can forget her entry to the series, where Ranma is awestruck at the possibility of finally meeting his mother, only to discover she's dedicated to the possibility of having to kill him if he doesn't meet her standards), but then, if you think about it, she becomes a lot more unique. Parody, subversion, or just plain strange, but Nodoka Saotome manages to be, simultaneously, both the complete opposite of her Jerk Ass husband and a living embodiment of Ranma's ideal parent. She is kind, helpful, generous and supportive, giving Ranma the emotional and physical support that his father doesn't, yet at the same time she shares his intense belief in the "sanctity of manhood". "My life is one thing, my manhood is another story!" Was Ranma's angry rebuttal to Genma's questioning whether or not Ranma would have forsaken his life for martial arts, and though he does become more shamelessly opportunistic about it, he clings to the dream of being cured throughout the series. Nodoka is practically a living embodiment of Ranma's desire to be masculine, even if it means giving up his own life if he can't measure up.
Akane is such a violent sleeper that she basically attacks anyone who may be in bed with her. Ranma, meanwhile, is capable of effortlessly dodging in his sleep. It's a perfect match.
Ryoga is also made of iron even more than most of the rest of the characters after the Bakusai Tenketsu arc (to the point that in an exaggerated fanfic, a bullet doesn't even wake him up). He could take the hits and get a good night's sleep despite them.
Akane clearly has the capabilities to be regarded as a Kid Samurai, and it's heavily implied that the Tendo Dojo specialises in using samurai weaponry — and yet Akane only ever uses her bare hands or improvised weapons if she can help it. Why? Because she does not like the comparisons, if only in her mind, between her using samurai weapons and her "arch enemy" before Ranma Saotome arrived — the Jerk JockKid SamuraiLord Error-Prone Tatewaki Kuno.
In fact, Akane may have caused Kuno to first "fall in love with her" because of her skill with samurai weaponry. Thusly, she doesn't use it any more because she wants to try and convince him to fall in love with somebody else and leave her alone.
Sometimes you wonder why Ranma and Genma didn't dump themselves in the right spring as soon as Ranma had cooled off for getting cursed... Then you realize why: while Ranma was cooling off, Genma and the guide tried to boil a piglet that was actually Ryoga. Considering his super-strength and that he had good reasons to kill the two idiots, can you blame them for running away, taking Ranma with them?
Then why has no one ever cured their curses as soon as they got them, and why does nobody ever cure them in the series? Despite the fact a lot of people ask this, it's quite simple, really (even ignoring the whole "Status Quo Is God" thing that Rumiko had serious problems with adhering to). Ignoring the obvious reason why in the penultimate storyline, where Jusenkyo is flooded and, for whatever reasons, they decide they all have to go home to Japan as soon as possible instead of waiting for the floodwaters to recede and restore the magic in the springs, we have the following:
Ranma: Firstly, he gets dragged along by Genma from the angry Ryoga. Then, shortly afterwards, he gets chased out of China by Shampoo. Once in Nerima, Genma refuses to let him go from Nerima while he's not married to Akane, as he doesn't trust Ranma to come back to his fiancée and/or he's determined to get the two kids wed as quickly as possibly. Furthermore, Ranma has no money to afford a quick trip to Jusenkyo anyway, meaning he'd have to swim or stowaway to reach China in the first place and then walk & hitchhike his way to Jusenkyo and back.
Genma: He caused Ryoga to attack in the first lace, and then had to flee China with Ranma. Once in Nerima, he stubbornly refuses to go back to China if Ranma will not marry Akane first. Besides, he's a lazy bum and doesn't mind his curse so much as Ranma does, so he can happily live with it until he can successfully mooch off of Ranma's attempts to get cured.
Ryoga: Chases after Genma (and, unknowingly, Ranma) as a result of being near-cooked and promptly gets lost. Logically not knowing that Nanniichuan can cure him at first, he bumbles around and eventually goes back to Japan looking for revenge on Ranma. Once in Japan, he can't find his way back to China because he can't find his own backside with both hands and a road map.
Shampoo: Got given her curse as punishment for coming home in defeat; ergo, she cannot cure it until she erases her shame by winning Ranma's hand.
Mousse: Honor Before Reason as to why he initially keeps it; he was foolish enough to be cursed, which is clearly a mark of shame to the Joketsuzoku, so he decides to keep it until he proves himself by winning Shampoo's hand. Plus, he's too paranoid about the idea that Shampoo and Ranma might get married if he flies away to Jusenkyo while they're alone in Nerima.
Taro: Actually likes his curse, because it gives him a One-Winged Angel powerup that lets him bully and bash his way through life. He doesn't want to be cured, which is to be expected since he's had it his entire life.
Rouge: Again, her Jusenkyo curse is a One-Winged Angel; it gives her the power to defend herself and destroy her enemies without posing any impact to her life. It's Cursed with Awesome at worst, and just plain awesome at best. She doesn't want to be cured.
Herb: Gets Mode Locked moments after getting cursed, meaning he can't cure himself. The whole point of his story arc, for him, is finding a way to get unlocked so he can then go back to Jusenkyo and cure himself.
Kiima: Deliberately cursed herself for tactical advantages and has no time to cure herself on-screen before things go ka-blooie.
At first glance the Hiryu Shoten Ha, an attack that is formed by the user moving into a spiral with a cold battle aura, forcing up the hot battle aura of his opponent and taking the shape of a tornado seems ridiculous, until you realize that that is exactly how real tornadoes are formed; from dense cold air pushing up light hot air.
The fridge brilliance of it is a little less so, since Cologne outright explains this is how the move works during the story. However, what we do have is a case of In-UniverseFridge Brilliance in that Ranma realizes what the move is trying to accomplish and thusly completes it on his own when Cologne forgets to explain the final step after completing the spiral.
Compared to other gender benders, Ranma takes the Jusenkyo curse in stride. Sure, he doesn't like it, and he keeps trying to cure it; but he ALSO doesn't suffer from typical issues faced with turning into a girl. At first, this seams just as simple as Rumiko not wanting to get into that, but then it hit me, what does Ranma do? He adapts! By the time Ryoga shows up, Ranma is beginning to abuse the curse to get what he wants. When Kodachi comes along, Ranma is already ready to be a girl just to beat someone in something. Of course he wouldn't get depressed, be constantly afraid of being girly, or be afraid of losing himself, he's adapted! His whole life has been adapting to the circumstances that come his way, being a girl is cakewalk for him! Yes, he doesn't like it, but he did use it to his advantage in so many ways that it all he has to worry about is the pesky pledge. Heck, Ranma has done practically everything a virgin teenaged girl has done (In Japan). He dressed in numerous types of female clothes including swimwear and formal wear on his own accord, went on dates, deal with perverts, and even find the perks and disadvantages of womanhood. But many people forget this because it isn't made to be a big deal. It shouldn't anyway!
Minor and unsure if this belongs as Fridge Logic or Fridge Brilliance: In the episode "Ranma, You Are Such a Jerk!" (season 4), Akane bakes a pie to celebrate the 2nd anniversary of Ranma and Genma arriving at the dojo. It's Fridge Logic because that would suggest that Nabiki should have graduated high school by now, since she is a year older than Ranma and Akane, among other things. However, the episode did air 2 years after the first episode debuted in Japan.
At the end of one episode, Ranma has a neck injury. His father takes a look at it and says it should be better in a week. It's better in the next episode. The episodes aired on a weekly basis.
When reading the Battle Dougi arc I wondered two things: Why only Akane could wear it? And why Akane could soundly defeat Ranma the first time she used it but ended up losing handily the second time? And I've just found the answers, all coming from the first one: Akane was the only one who could wear it because, among the martial artists of the Tendo households, she was the only one who couldn't use her style to the full potential. Knowing this, everything else falls into place: Akane could defeat Ranma the first time because he didn't take seriously until he realized she could defeat him and by then it was too late, but won handily the second time because, in the end, Ranma was just that stronger and faster than Akane.
More Fridge Unfortunate Implications, but when Shampoo & Cologne introduce themselves to Ryoga at the start of the Bakusai Tenketsu arc, it happens because Cologne finds "P-chan" and brings him home to make him into dinner. As Eat the Dog may mention, a rather old bit of anti-Chinese slander, one popular enough it still survives in some Urban Legends, has them kidnapping and eating peoples' pets — and P-chan is Akane's pet. Though the Unfortunate Implications are rather lessened when Shampoo, upon recognizing P-chan as Akane's pet, immediately tries to stop her great-grandmother — Cologne didn't know about P-chan being somebody's pet (and neither of them knew about him being Ryoga) in the first place.
Ryoga Hibiki's combined curses in Ranma ½. Being eternally lost is bad enough on its own, and Ryoga is known to frequently find himself alone deep in forest and jungle. Forest and jungle filled with dangerous animals. Luckily, Ryoga, being a martial artist of nearly unmatched skill, has nothing to worry abo—oh, wait, every time it rains, he needs to cross a river, or he accidentally falls in a puddle, he turns into a tiny, defenseless, extremely edible piglet. And, like the other Jusenkyo cursed, the entire universe is actively conspiring to soak him whenever possible. Good luck finding hot water to turn back when you're miles from civilization, five inches tall, have no thumbs, and are surrounded by hungry predators.
Another one for poor Ryoga, or anyone unlucky enough to visit the cursed springs: when Ryoga first turned into a pig from falling into Jusenkyo, the tour guide nearly ate him. He seemed to consider the possibility of someone having fallen into the spring, but laughed it off as he threw P-chan into the boiling pot. There's the distinct possibility that some other poor unlucky fool fell into one of the springs, transformed into an animal, and was then killed, cooked, and eaten by someone.
However, this spawns a bit of Fridge Brilliance: the fact that this Fridge Horror exists explains why the Guide hoiked a living pig into boiling water instead of killing it; as someone who lives near Jusenkyo 24/7, he's naturally well aware that nothing around the springs can be trusted to be what it seems to be. He's not being a sadist, he's deliberately checking that Ryoga isn't human!
Because the series is a comedy, who could believe that Nodoka Saotome would actually be so Honor Before Reason as to call Ranma in on the seppuku contract. The fact is, she is serious about doing it if Ranma ever proves himself unmanly, but that's not the Fridge Horror. The Fridge Horror is that she is not only a genuinely loving mother in every other area, but this is actually an extension of that love. She sincerely believes that Ranma must be a man, and that if he is even the slightest bit "unmanly", then the most loving thing she can do is make him commit suicide to atone for it.
In another story involving Kuno, Ranma has to get Kuno to compliment his bathing suit or it will drag him to the bottom of the ocean. While Kuno eventually compliments it at the last minute, its heavily implied that there were other girls who were drowned by it.
In one of the final manga stories, a Jusenkyo spring that turns into people a replica of Akane is created. Imagine in one thousand years the Spring of Akane will still be the Spring of Akane. It's still highly probable someone will fall into the spring, possessing Ranma's personality, completely nonchalant about preserving her modesty. Akane proved it's now entirely possible to have someone run around destroying your reputation whilst you are still alive...
Ranma's situation in how he was raised, most particularly the Cat Fist, is portrayed as comedic, given the silliness of acting like a cat and so on. But the depths of Genma's child abuses becomes increasingly more disturbing with each storyline.
The Cradle From Hell arc is just a mounting array of these. So, Ranma proves he has progressed to the point Genma can't beat him up anymore. Genma is horrified by this and decides to invent a new "super move"... which is designed to basically horrify Ranma into submission. Not only that, Genma's idea for the one thing guaranteed to frighten Ranma into submitting? Hugging his son. And it works like a charm. And it's quite explicit that it's not the embarrassment of being hugged by his father that makes Ranma stop, the move genuinely scares him. Think on what that says about Ranma & Genma's relationship.
Even though it is always played for laughs, Ranma's life sucks! He is A) sexually harassed both by girls and boys (in his female form, where it's a lot creepier, B) stalked by several people who want to defeat or even kill him (even getting inside his house or attacking in his sleep), C) has an abusive father, and an estranged, implicitly crazy mother who might execute him over her own warped sense of honor, D) goes through near death-injuries everyday! And even at the very end of the series (apart from his mother reuniting with him), nothing ever changed.
What would happen if one day, Akane accidentally kills Ranma during one of her trademark poundings... sounds like a Robot Chicken sketch waiting to happen!
The big Shipper on Deck scene from Dr. Tofu in regards Ranma/Akane is actually pretty creepy, when you stop and think about the implications.
First of all, there's the fact that upon finding out that Ranma's injuries, which he describes as "brutal", were inflicted by Akane, he stops being horrified by them and instead laughs them off, treating Akane's brutalization as just non-serious fun. This guy is supposed to be a doctor! No wonder Akane can be such a brat if everybody who should be using their authority figure status to call her out on her temper tantrums and violence is instead laughing it off and letting her get off scotfree.
Afterwards, Dr. Tofu, who again is supposed to be a reasonable, rational authority figure, stealth-paralyzes Ranma because he believes that crippling him again will bring out Akane's nicer side and help them get closer together. This despite the fact he knows that Akane and Ranma are fighting to the point that Akane will viciously brutalize Ranma. Again, it just makes one question how sane Dr. Tofu really is, especially when you see his madness around Kasumi.
Considering Shampoo's incredible martial arts talent and disturbing willingness to commit murder, one has to wonder... has she killed before?