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Sasuke Sarugakure (猿隠 佐助 Sarugakure Sasuke?) is the ninja of the Kuno family. He is especially loyal to Tatewaki Kuno, whom he serves almost without question, although he will go to Tatewaki's rival, Ranma Saotome, should he feel that his master's well-being is at stake. In the anime, Sasuke serves as a temporary replacement for Hikaru Gosunkugi, taking his place during the anime counterpart of Neko-Ken Arc, You Really Do Hate Cats!
Sasuke is an anime-only character and primarily serves Tatewaki Kuno, though Kodachi Kuno is also able to call upon his services if she desires. While his official position is household defense, he is more of an oddjob's man in practice. He performs menial tasks about the household, spars with Kuno, prepares his meals, puts on a shadowpuppet show at night for Kuno (he can't sleep without it), aids him in battle, spies upon Ranma and sometimes Akane, and otherwise does whatever Kuno may ask of him. Sasuke is much more level-headed and aware than Kuno is, and tries to act as the voice of reason when he sees potential danger; however, he is also loyal, obedient, flattersome and servile to a fault, which means that all too often, Kuno simply dismisses Sasuke's warnings and advice. Indeed, Kuno and Kodachi both abuse Sasuke terribly; they pay him virtually nothing, routinely beat and berate him, and subject him to absolutely terrible living conditions - in Kodachi the Black Rose! The Beeline to True Love, he mentions that he once had to make a bowl of brine last ten days, as it was all he had to eat, while in Les Misérables of the Kuno Estate, it is shown that he sleeps outside and beneath the house in all weather and drinks water from the storm gutters.
Sasuke first appears in the episode You Really Do Hate Cats! and remains the servitor of the Kuno family throughout the series afterwards. According to the episodes Kuno's House of Gadgets! Guests Check In, But They Don't Check Out, Les Misérables of the Kuno Estate and Sasuke's 'Mission: Improbable', he is the ninja responsible for household defense and is the seventeenth generation of his family to serve the House of Kuno. It is later revealed he comes from the hidden ninja village of Sarugakure Village, in the episode A Ninja's Dog is Black and White.
Sasuke is trained in traditional ninja skills, but is much more a parody of a ninja compared to Konatsu, or even the vaguely ninja-themed Happosai. His combat skills are almost non-existent; he has little reach or strength and his attacks are more likely to backfire - he has caught himself in his own traps on more than one occasion, and, in The Abduction of Akane!, he accidentally catches Kuno in a ninja spider web attack. He has a massive threshold for pain, although he tends to get knocked out quickly in combat, and he is incredibly fast. His capacity for stealth is quite high indeed, but his disguises are notoriously shoddy.
Sasuke is more dangerous in his home turf, the Kuno estate. There, he has access to all of the many boobytraps and can take advantage of its myriad secret passageways and hidden doors. He also has access to a several particularly elaborate traps. In the dub, these are referred to as the "Kuno House of Gadgets" techniques, while in the official subbed version, they are called "Sarugakure School, House of Gadgets". There are four specifically displayed:
- Wheel of Death: sealed into a massive octagonal room, the room begins to rotate as numerous giant balls are released into the chamber, forcing the victims to run around and around in circles to avoid being crushed under the myriad plastic spheres. If need be, Sasuke can also open up myriad holes in the "floor" of the chamber, causing a party of multiple attackers to be scattered seperately and randomly throughout the labyrinth. Subtitle name: Year-End Lotto Jackpot Draw of Terror, a reference to the fact it looks, from the outside, like a lotto ball drum being spun around and around.
- Paddleball of Doom: Sasuke whips the ball part of a kendama back and forth at incredibly high speed, delivering rapid, painful strikes to the victim and enabling him to trip them up. Subtitle name: Rapid-Fire Cup-And-Ball. The subtitles also note this as just being a general technique of the Sarugakure School, which makes sense, given that it consists of an unorthodox weapon technique and not an actual trap.
- Washing Machine of Destruction: a room with a massive fan-like system on the bottom fills with water and starts spinning, creating violently churning water that can batter and easily drown a victim. Subtitle name: Washing Machine of Agitation.
- Fountain of Despair: By pressing a button concealed in the belly of a tanuki statue in the bath house, Sasuke can trigger massive gouts of water that blow everyone inside the baths through the roof and out into the garden. Subtitle name: Silky Wave Fountain.
- Early in the anime Sasuke takes over the role of Hikaru Gosunkugi who does not appear until episode 114.
- Sasuke acted out of character in Kissing is Such Sweet Sorrow! The Taking of Akane's Lips where he independently kidnapped Akane in an attempt to get the role as Romeo in the school play.
- This is probably because he was filling in for Hikaru Gosunkugi who had yet to be introduced in the anime. In other episodes Sasuke has no attraction to Akane and only bothers Ranma due to orders from Kuno or Kodachi.
- Sasuke's character was mostly likely introduced into the anime so that the production team could continue having Shigeru Chiba on as a voice actor, given his work in previous anime adaptations Rumiko Takahashi series' (he provided the voice of Megane from Urusei Yatsura and Yotsuya from Maison Ikkoku).