Pantyhose Taro (パンスト 太郎 Pansuto Taro?) is a villain as well as a cursed character.
Pantyhose Taro is a young martial artist who was born in Jusenkyo. Unfortunately for him, Happosai was visiting the cursed springs that day and decided, in a rare moment of altruism, to help the mother out with her birthing. Once he had the newborn baby in his hands, Happosai decided to bathe him and accidentally chose to use water from the most accursed spring in Jusenkyo: The Niuhōmanmaorennīchuan (Níuhèmànmáorénnìquán) or spring of drowned "yeti holding an eel and crane while riding an ox" (literally, "ox-crane-eel-hairy-man-drowned-spring"). Because of this, he transforms into a giant, winged minotaur-like creature when splashed with cold water. While others would consider it a tragedy, Taro in fact enjoys having the massive strength and power his cursed form grants him.
However, Taro’s real misfortune was that according to the laws of his village, the person who gave him his first bath was also the one in charge of naming him.
aving learned this Happosai deliberated for several days and eventually named him “Pantyhose Taro”, a name the old pervert believed everyone would love. Taro hates his name and has made his goal in life to somehow have it changed. The laws of his village, unfortunately, state that only the person who named him has the right to do this. Because of this, Taro has held a grudge against Happosai, who plainly refuses to give him a new name.
When Pantyhose Taro first tried to force Happosai to change his name, he stole the Jusenkyo visitor registry and then searched for him by attacking the people who had visited the cursed springs. This, however, eventually put him into a direct conflict with Ranma and his friends. After a brief fight, Pantyhose Taro kidnapped Akane in order to lure Happosai to his lair. In the anime, he kidnapped her on purpose (even going as far to say that he wanted her to go with him), while in the manga, his kidnapping was more implied as accidental as he did not ask Akane to come with him in this adaptation. Eventually, Ranma managed to defeat Pantyhose Taro’s monster form and to deliver Happosai to him. Unfortunately, the old man didn’t grant his request.
Later, Pantyhose Taro returned with a jar of water he thought was from the cursed spring of the drowned Samaritan. He planned to use that water to turn Happosai into a gentle old man who would be more than pleased to grant his wish of a new name. The water, however, was from the spring of drowned twins, which would have split Happosai in two. This mistake once again placed Pantyhose Taro at odds with Ranma, with the fight ending once Pantyhose Taro realized he had water from the wrong cursed spring. When they met again, Pantyhose Taro had added octopus tentacles on his back using one of the other cursed springs of Jusenkyo.
Pantyhose Taro was to cross paths with Ranma yet again. Only now he was not searching for a way to change his name, but to somehow end his conflict with Rouge, a Chinese girl who was also cursed in Jusenkyo and now transforms into the powerful Hindu Goddess Asura when splashed with cold water. In the end, Ranma got involved in the fight and Pantyhose Taro, who was by now attempting to steal Rouge’s source of power, was defeated one more time.
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Taro is sadistic, arrogant, conscience-deprived, ruthless, ambitious, traitorous and power-hungry. He's completely dishonourable and finds it amusing to repeatedly cheat and betray during confrontations, or ambush and assault people who have done nothing to him. He's not used to being helped, and generally gives disdainful insults as thanks for offered aid. Ranma drew the conclusion that it's because he doesn't have any friends, likely due to alienating them.
Taro is especially intolerant of Ranma, whom he hates because the latter called him "Pantyhose-guy" before he knew his true name, and calls Ranma "cowardly transvestite" in return, although the chosen insults can seem quite strange given Taro's own rather feminine appearance. Perhaps to remind himself of the shame his moniker brings, he wears a pair of pantyhose around his waist like a belt and used them to tie up the kidnapped Akane.
He remains completely unrepentant no matter how charitably he's treated by the people he's attacked or tried to murder. Free room and board, aid to get his name changed, or attempts to use polite reason all mean nothing to him beyond a few minutes at most. Though Ranma has repeatedly helped him out, he has no compunctions about gleefully attempting to kill the latter briefly after having his life saved. He has also stated an unrealistic goal to "take over the world", but seems very clueless in this endeavour.
Given the context of continuously using water to change Jusenkyo victims into their helpless animal forms to then knock them out, trapping Happosai with underwear, repeatedly sucker-attacking Ranma during their second human battle, and even assaulting the latter after he saved Taro from Rouge, he apparently holds no affection for remotely honorable confrontations/tests of skill. He would rather increase his abilities through finding shortcut power sources than have to train to improve his prowess.
Even if he is a cold, haughty and cruel person who regularly mocks everyone around him out of derision, Taro has still shown good moments. He's been willing to save at least three cute helpless girls from wild animals. Though he found them attractive and hoped for a relationship, he was too ashamed to give them his name, instead fleeing in tears each time. This, however, doesn’t mean he’s not willing to kill and betray anyone in order to get what he wants. After being beaten by the similarly attractive and demure Rouge, he wasn't content with simply allowing her helpless human form to fall to her death. He wanted to feel her dying as he personally crushed her body in his hand.
More often than not, Pantyhose Taro favors the use of his powerful cursed form to gain a great advantage in his battles, which helps him overcome the fact that his fighting ability and strength, although seemingly approaching Ranma's during their first confrontations, are still comparatively low in human form. Male Ranma seemingly had a significant advantage during their first encounter, although it was too brief to say for sure; and in their second Taro did manage to gain a clear advantage against female Ranma by continuously using bait and sucker-attack combinations, in an area filled with water-traps, but she did well during the intervals when she didn't simply attempt to keep him from changing into monster form. Taro has stated himself that he has since mostly focused on shortcuts to enhance his cursed form like bathing in an additional spring or trying to usurp the "power-source" of Rouge/"Asura" to "take over the world". More importantly, although his physical abilities are probably roughly comparable to Ranma's own, he has no repertoire of special techniques in his human form.
Taro's cursed form is one of the most powerful Jusenkyo curses in the series, second only to Rouge/'Asura'. His cursed form has the unique appearance of a Minotaur, with small crane wings which allow him to fly great distances despite his enormous size, and an eel sticking out of his lower back which works as a second set of eyes for Taro during combat. He later integrated an octopus curse to gain a set of tentacles, which he uses to constrict or confuse his enemies. A side effect of this grants him the ability to shoot blinding ink out of his fingertips.
It is extremely strong, and even more durable, and was able to seemingly effortlessly (and ruthlessly) toss a boulder towards Ranma and Akane, when the former attempted to save the latter's life. It only took some damage from a full force kick to the head by Ryoga, (to save Akane) despite that the latter has shown feats strongly indicating that he at least approaches it in terms of raw strength. A combined fist strike from Ryoga, Ranma, Mousse and Shampoo combined only stunned it for 5 seconds, while he took about twice as long to recover from Rouge's small meteorite assault.
Taro's chimera/"minotaur" form is hardly unbeatable however. Happosai has repeatedly defeated it in one blow when in a remotely serious mood, through battle aura, chi-blasts, or Happo-Daikarin (Hapo-Fire Burst), and, as Soun Tendo evaluated, Taro would likely need an army of twins to overcome "the master" in an honest confrontation. Rouge also outmatched him, but not as severely, and her most powerful lightning strike instantly defeated him. Cologne was able to easily send him tumbling skywards with a single strike from her staff. Ranma has been able to barely stand his/her ground through superior strategy. Ryoga and Herb are by all appearances powerful enough chi-generators to knock him out or even kill him, Lime is evidently considerably physically stronger and of at least comparative durability.
For some reason Ranma has refrained from using his/her more damaging special techniques during their encounters, but given that the monster is even more more durable than Ryoga, and probably considerably stronger after being enhanced from the octopus curse, it would probably take quite a lot of Moko Takabisha blasts to turn the beast unconscious, and since it can fly the Hiryu Shoten Ha turns hard to apply efficiently.
It is hard to evaluate how Mousse or Mint would fare if they aimed for killing combat, but the swift bladesmen might actually be better suited than the others to handle it, although it would probably take a while if either succeeded.
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Taro is a playable character and the final boss in Ranma ½: Hard Battle. He is selectable in versus mode from the beginning, though the game has to be beaten first for him to be selected in single player mode, where the final boss is Happosai. In the game, Taro is the only character besides Ranma that can be selected in both his normal and cursed forms. Most of the cursed characters of the series appear only in their normal forms with the exception of Genma Saotome, who appears only in his panda form.
- "Taro" is a common ending for male given names in Japanese, or even a common name by itself. The actual pun in the Pantyhose part of his name is that all of the Chinese characters are named after beauty products, musk fragrances or lingerie.
- Taro only had one appearance in the anime, but three in the manga, making more appearances than any other non-regular character.
- A character from Rin-ne, another of Rumiko Takahashi's works, named Masato bears a strong resemblance to him. As a matter of fact, he's a demon, just like Ryoga referred Taro as a demon.
- His voice actor would provide the voice of Leo in Urusei Yatsura.