The characters are not mine but the plot is. It's a good thing this is a small story. Otherwise my portion of it would be half vast.
Traditional Japanese culture requires great respect to be given to one's parents.
It is your duty.
Ranma was indoctrinated from childhood that a dutiful son provides for his parents.
It is your duty.
No dissent was accepted. His father's every word was to be accepted, his every action left unquestioned.
Oh, the suffering caused by an ungrateful child!
Ranma, age 7, was left as a marker. Genma had forgotten his wallet but would pay the restaurant just as soon as he ran back home.
It's training, boy! Let's see how you get out of this problem.
Give me lots of grand-babies while you're off on your training trip.
Man among men.
Seppuku contract, signed with a six year old's finger-painting.
Boy! You'll marry Akane to join the schools. You'll teach while Tendou and I keep an eye on you.
It is your duty.
Ranma Saotome, man among men, surmounted his many obstacles and challenges before his twentieth birthday. He'd become the Grandmaster of Anything Goes by soundly defeating Happosai. After the epic beat-down, the fathers were afraid to challenge Ranma for the title, even together and even by ambush.
Akane and her father were delighted when Ranma started training her seriously. The delight turned to rage and pain and despair. Akane had no idea what was involved in training up to her potential. Sensei Ranma wouldn't put up with her temper tantrums and half-hearted workouts. He informed her that she would follow his instructions as long as she was his student.
Less than a week after beginning lessons, Akane gave up. She furiously declared that the engagement was off. Ranma calmly informed her that he could never marry anyone who wouldn't try her best at whatever she put her hand to.
Ranma never told her, and Genma never told Soun, that Ranma hadn't asked any more of her than he himself had undergone. At age six.
Ryouga was dealt with at the same time as Ranma's curse. A ki-based variant of the Gekkaja and Kinjakan staves ensured a warm layer always coated Ranma. Cold water never touched his skin. That was a nuisance in the heat of summer but well worth it.
Of course, balance required that a warm layer must have a matching cold layer. Too bad for pig-boy, but he shouldn't have sprung that last sneak attack and almost killed Ranma in his sleep.
The rest of the fiancées, the rivals, Nabiki, and Cologne were handled by beating the tar out of Cologne despite three thousand years of Amazon tradition and three centuries of dirty tricks, and then announcing that he wasn't taking any crap off of anyone any longer. Nabiki in particular looked doom in the face when Ranma burned a hole in one of her ledgers by touching his finger to the cover. Her petty blackmail continued only as long as he allowed it and that time was over.
Ranma had one last task before he could live his life on his terms.
It was his duty.
"Mom, I'm taking Pops on a training trip. It might last a while, so I've made arrangements for you while we're gone."
"Oh, what a dutiful and manly son I've raised! The only thing that could make this better is if you bring me back grand-babies from your trip."
"We'll see about that. Now if you'll just sign here, your room and board will be taken care of for as long as you need."
Nodoka signed and stamped with a flourish, even noting "Proud mother of the manliest man in the world" beneath her name.
"Excellent, Mom! If you want to pack a suitcase, I'll carry it for you when I bring you to Mama Hitomi."
"Yes, Mama Hitomi. The old geisha training school. You'll be living there while Pops and I are on the road. Didn't you read the contract you just signed?"
"C'mom, Mom! You're going to learn to be a woman among women. You agreed to it when you signed the contract."
"Geisha? Contract?" Nodoka shook her head, then her eyes cleared and she made to draw her sword.
"Ah, ah, ah! You won't need that. Swinging a sword isn't a very womanly habit. Why don't I just watch out for the family honor while you're in training? Well, let's get going. Time's a-wasting and I've got to meet Pops soon."
Ranma hustled his mother to a waiting cab, a necessary expense when Nodoka was alternately stupefied and resisting. Sure, he could have carried her on his shoulder and run to the school just as quickly, but that would hardly have made the right impression. She was his mother. How the world saw him showing her proper respect was at least as important as the showing of respect itself.
Introductions between Mama Hitomi and Nodoka Saotome were made without complication. Nodoka had slipped back into shock, so she put up no resistance as she was led into the school.
"Bye, Mom! Have fun with your lessons. And remember, you've promised to become a woman among women or kill yourself for the shame. Have fun!"
Ranma left quickly to avoid a public confrontation – that wouldn't be properly respectful – and picked up his backpack before meeting Genma.
"Looking forward to the trip, Pops? Happosai couldn't make it. He won't be out of the hospital for at least another week. Speaking as your former master, he asked me, the grandmaster, to make sure you got back into shape. Can't have anyone embarrassing the noble school of Anything Goes, right?
"Hey, where are you going? I know you want to get started, but you're heading the wrong way. Here, let me get you pointed in the right direction. We'll start your training a bit early."
Ranma easily herded Genma out of town. Nodoka had conditioned her husband to fear the family honor sword, so all Ranma had to do was wave the blade to make Genma run in the opposite direction.
"Keep running, Pops! It's just your warm-up. Why are you slowing down already? C'mon, move it! I haven't even added a second backpack to your load. You call yourself a martial artist? Keep going. Everything is training, Pops. Remember that! Whoops, not so easy to avoid those dogs when you've been running for two hours, is it? A martial artist's life is fraught with peril!"
That night Ranma cooked supper while Genma struggled to set up the tent. Grandmaster Ranma insisted that Genma develop a kata: White Crane Builds His Nest While Assaulted by Crows. Everything is training!
Ranma took most of the supper that night. Genma defended his portion as best he could, but he was too stiff and too slow and too out of practice. "Speed it up, Pop! You can eat more when you get better. Everything is training!"
The next several days passed in the same fashion: extreme physical training intended to condition the body and strengthen the will. Sparring to increase ability as a fighter. Hazardous exercises to develop courage as well as hone skills and encourage flexible thinking.
Within days Genma was sore, exhausted, and starving. He tried to sneak away in the night, but Ranma didn't have Happosai's weaknesses. He hadn't drunk himself into a stupor. Ranma punished Genma for his disobedience to the grandmaster by starting the training over from the beginning.
After a week, food was getting low. Ranma sent his father out to obtain food – honestly.
"Pops, it's because of you and Happosai, and Mr Tendou, too, that Anything Goes has such a bad reputation. We're thieves and beggars and the school doesn't have anything to offer, just steals from other schools. Well, you caused the problem so you get to fix it. Anything Goes is the ultimate in adaptability, so here's you're chance to practice that. Your task for today is to get food. Honestly. I'll be watching you. I want you to work in a way that helps the reputation of Anything Goes, but that might be too much for you to figure out so I'll accept any honest work to earn the food.
"Go on now and earn our food. And remember: Honestly, and I'll be watching you."
Genma was unable to bring himself to work for his meals. What was he supposed to do, clerk in a shop? Paint houses? No, he had The Way of the Quiet Thief, much better than any job. And the boy, no matter how fierce a fighter, had not mastered his sealed technique.
The pilfered carton of cup ramen dropped to the ground. Genma followed immediately as an elbow to the top of his head knocked him out of his invisibility mode.
Ranma grabbed both the carton and Genma's ear and brought both to the shopkeeper. "I'm very sorry, sir. My student came to me with several bad habits that I'm trying to break. How can he repay you for the theft?" A short negotiation had Genma unloading delivery trucks and hauling trash for the rest of the day. Ranma's gimlet gaze kept his fingers from getting sticky.
Supper that night was skimpy. Especially for Genma. He still wasn't fast enough to keep Ranma from getting the lion's share.
The next day was a repeat. Genma was sent off to get food honestly. He wouldn't even try. The settlement with the shopkeeper after Ranma caught him was harsher. Supper was skimpier.
The next day was another repeat. Genma was cleaning toilets all day. There was no supper that night. And his demon of a son still wouldn't get drunk or chase after women or do anything else to let him escape.
Genma's misplaced pride finally broke. On the fourth day he approached the first shopkeeper and asked if he could unload trucks and take payment in food. That night Ranma praised his good work ethic and didn't steal his supper.
And so it went for a very long training trip. Everything Ranma did was intended to improve his father as a man, not to punish him for Ranma's hellacious childhood. The fact that improving his father required punishing him was just a bonus.
After five years, Ranma and Genma finally returned to Nerima. Both were men among men, master martial artists, honest and trustworthy, and skilled in arts and letters. They reunited with Nodoka, who was graceful and gracious, consummately pleasing to her husband in public and in private. Genma began teaching martial arts, quickly gaining both dedicated students and financial success due to his enormous skill as both martial artist and teacher. Nodoka kept house and raised their next batch of children. They lived happily ever after.
None of which affected Ranma. He had left right after his parents' reunion. He'd done his duty then gotten away. He couldn't stand either of them.