Ryoga is introduced in chapter 10 of the manga, titled "The Hunter" and in episode 7 of the anime entitled "Enter Ryoga, The Eternal Lost Boy", in which he casually stops a giant boar from attacking rural villagers. He politely asked for directions to Furinkan High School, but overshot the distance by 500 miles (800 km) south, and again shortly thereafter by 500 miles (800 km) north. A week later, he finally managed to reach his destination and promptly attacked Ranma. The latter had to think hard to remember him, but was glad to see him when he remembered Ryoga as a friend from his old boys' school. At first, it seemed like he simply has a grudge because the latter "ran away" from their scheduled fight, at a vacant lot located 500 yards (460 m) from his own house. His bad sense of direction forced him to wander all over Japan for four days looking for his destination, while Ranma only waited three days before leaving with his father for their training trip to China. Ranma recalls the motivation as consistently beating Ryoga to the last bread at lunchtime, slowly building up the latter's resentment towards him.
Ryoga ends up a week late travelling to their next duel. During their confrontation, he discovers Ranma's curse, and the latter accidentally cuts off part of Akane's hair, by kicking away Ryoga's belt-slash, leading both boys to profusely apologise.
After another fight takes place in a rainstorm, female Ranma finds out that Ryoga tracked her to China, and concludes that the reason for his anger lies in being cursed by the springs of Jusenkyo. Ranma finds a dog on the scene which she assumes to be Ryoga and allows it into the house, while Akane finds a suspicious small black piglet in her room and tends to it. Akane tells Ranma to bathe the pig, but when he puts it the hot bath Ryoga appears. Female Ranma almost manages to convince him that he should be mad at the girl who pushed him into the spring, leading him to almost be cooked and eaten, but it turns out to have been herself, during a chase for Genma-panda, aggravating Ryoga once again. Akane decides to adopt the pig, naming him P-chan ("cute pig"; the "P" is actually derived from the English word "pig"), completely unaware of his dual identity and that he has become utterly enamoured with her.
Afterwards, Ryoga frequently finds himself back in Nerima, whether to challenge Ranma, search for a cure for his Jusenkyo curse, bring pastries and gifts to Akane as awkward shows of affection, or simply become entangled in the schemes and chaos that seem to follow his rival. His antagonism towards Ranma gradually lessens with time. It starts out as a fierce rivalry, then shifts back and forth between tense competition, uneasy alliances or non-serious conflicts and, after a brief lapse, progresses to friendly enough terms to repeatedly risk his life to help Ranma. However, they remain highly competitive. Ranma himself considers Ryoga as "generally a friend" and as his only true rival/equal.
Ryoga has collaborated with Mousse on a few sparse occasions, to get a cure for themselves during the Musk arc, and considered competing together during an onsen race. He and Kuno also made two very brief accidental team-ups against Ranma, when independently simultaneously entering after seeing a photograph where he kissed Akane, and for 1 second during a 3-way food fight. In the anime continuity, they both attacked Ranma in the episode "Ukyo's Skirt! The Great Girly-Girl Gambit!". They also allied in the episode "Pick-a-Peck o' Happosai" and to stop Ranma and Akane from getting together in the episode "Let's Go to the Mushroom Temple". They also both beat up Ranma in the OVA "Curse of the Contrary Jewel". Regardless, Ryoga is not remotely friends with either in the manga storyline, and is here on better terms with Ranma himself.
Ryoga stands out in the crowd due to his regularly rough appearance. He spends much of his time wandering, often depressed over having to spend so much of his time alone in the wilderness, with the slightest rain turning him into a defenceless pig at the mercy of hungry humans or animals. His most notable characteristic is that, like his parents, and even his entire family, he has no sense of direction whatsoever. He is unable to go the right way, often sticking to the letter of any directions given to him, regardless of whether the path eventually turns. He has an inability to understand even the simplest of directions or draw any legible maps, once running the wrong way at the start of a three-legged race.
This is not due to lack of motivation, however. For instance, on the way to a date, he was supposed to follow the edge of a lake, to reach a statue in plain sight directly in front of him. Instead, Ryoga follows a brook and gets lost again. In the anime, Maomolin the bakeneko possesses Ryoga and tries to lead him towards the girl he loves. However, Maomolin had as much trouble navigating as Ryoga himself even though the former was doing the thinking.
In real world terms, he would be classified as suffering from autistic limitation or brain damage in this area. It is also possible that his lack of direction might be some form of family curse. Another theorethical possibility is that the Hibiki family suffers from an inflamed or infected hippocampus gland, this gland being the human biologic compass, handling orientation and directional accuity along with short-term memory.
In the anime this condition is worsened by Ryoga's ability to traverse obscene distances in surprisingly little time on foot, although how he does this is unknown. When the two problems are combined, it results in Ryoga having essentially no idea where he is at any given time, which allows him to miss his destinations by insane margins. In one case, he attempted to reach Hokkaido and instead ended up in Hong Kong. Luckily, he carries a backpack, which evidently contains essentials for survival in the wild.
In the manga this is not as heavily implied to be a supernatural talent, at least not beyond his comical tendency to pop up at odd moments. He seems to need much longer travel times, and has not explicitly been seen to swiftly and randomly traverse continents under his own power. However, in his first appearance he quickly overshot Tokyo by 500 miles (800 km) twice in a row, apparently within the span of one or two days, though no explicit reference was given. Through the aid of the Kinjakan, he also quickly made it all the way from Jusenkyo to Moscow and back while out to get some dumplings in Peking. His map was also once shown to contain a forest, a café, a road with a red car, the Tendo dojo, some African tribesmen, China, and France.
Ryoga's family house is within sight of Mount Fuji, where his dog Shirokuro (Checkers in the English translation) and her puppies live. However, given the Hibiki family's condition, it is usually empty. Ryoga generally leads a nomadic lifestyle, and only occasionally manages to find it. His dog, however, has no such trouble finding her way and recognises him in both human and pig forms. It has been mentioned that Ranma helped to lead Ryoga home when they went to high school together.
The combination of his poor sense of direction and his curse have regularly subjected Ryoga to imminent misery, constantly placing him lonely and lost in the wilderness, with tight food rations, or at the mercy of hungry predators. When first introduced, he is a very angry and seemingly unapproachable individual. Ryoga is emotional, more often than not following his heart rather than his head, though he has shown capability of using strategy when he is focused or lacking distractions. He is emotionally fragile, straightforward and naive. He regularly feels depressed, which thus far has served as the source for his chi projection. He is generally shy, humble and polite, especially around women. He is often easily tricked and used by some of the more manipulative characters and turns extremely grateful, loyal and self-sacrificing for any kindness offered to him.
A running joke is that whenever female Ranma dons a disguise, no matter how transparent, Ryoga will nonetheless be fooled. Ranma has used this to his advantage to find out about any training Ryoga has been doing, to tease him, or to torment Ryoga during any dates with Akane to destroy the latter's prospects.
Fighting-skill: Ryoga is an exceptionally proficient martial artist, roughly comparable to Ranma, whom he has defeated or fought to a draw on many occasions, especially during shorter or off-screen battles, having triumphed roughly twice as many times as the opposite if these are included (times of outside enhancements or enfeeblements discluded), occasionally in seconds when sufficiently upset or similarly motivated, but also had a great disadvantage when the latter was far more focused while Ryoga was extremely flustered. Sometimes even Ranma has to distract or trick him to triumph in climax situations. Unlike most cast members, Ryoga seems to be mostly self-taught, with immense natural talent, and relentless hard training as his only mentors. Takahashi has mentioned in an interview that the reason for his great power lies in his constant harsh hiking life.
Physical Power: Under regular circumstances he appears to be a few times physically stronger than or, at the very least, as strong as Ranma. They have never outright competed in this area, since Ryoga tends to rely on skill and special techniques.
Ryoga's greatest explicit feat happened during their ice skating competition. When supremely motivated, Ryoga here moved two enormous buoying blocks of ice (to catch/stop Mikado Sanzenin) and far more impressively was shown to hurl at least one of them, with an approximated weight of roughly 206 to 642 metric tons, at least 30 metres, by using the arm he previously gripped it in. He here used Ranma's head as a brace not to fall into the water, but the latter nonetheless supported the pressure from the floating slabs. Although, to throw the weight such a great distance would take some dozen times the effort from simply lifting it. Like with his chi-generation, it seems to undergo a boost depending on his emotional state, beyond his general conscious level, and (much like most 'Ranmaverse' fighters) the force of this seems to be his general power-source, but he has seemingly never used his full capacity to directly empower his physical traits, indirect and dispersed usage of which has been shown to eclipse even Lime in terms of raw power.
Further comparative references include that Ranma broke his legs from the effort of supporting a 50-100-metre fall, while carrying four girls. Then again, the latter likely remained severely weakened from poison at the time, so his peak effort should be greatly multiplied. Ranma also proved unable to get out when trapped under a 90-100 tonne large iron bell, without handicaps, but he wasn’t significantly motivated, and had no hold for his hands to grip.
Female Ranma seemingly effortlessly pushed a roughly 40-tonne boulder into the mouth of the Yamata-Orochi while swimming underwater, when supremely determined to save Akane from being eaten. Also, when under the influence of a magic incense a simple hug from Ryoga almost crushed male Ranma's ribs. Other hints in this vein include that even a casual Ryoga seemed overwhelmingly stronger when Ranma pretended to be his "sister", (almost knocking her out with a playful finger jab to her forehead) but Ranma was in female form at the time. Akane was terrified of his casual power, while she has not reacted this way towards Ranma, though Ranma may simply have better conscious muscle control. He was also the chosen counterpart for Lime, but that may simply have been a case of their most pronounced ability.
Striking Force: Other displays of strength include completely shattering a roughly 7 m-diameter, solid rock platform simply by prostrating on it, and punching Ranma so hard that the latter made a 4 m diameter, at least 0.5 m deep, indentation in a mountain.
Stamina: Ryoga also appears to have greater durability, honed through years of training in the mountains and through Cologne's Breaking Point Training. Though the possibility exists that it is simply a more overstated trait than for his counterpart. He has been repeatedly struck with dense heavy objects, fallen hundreds of meters into solid rock, been covered in a rockslide, and even been caught in a closing chasm, without any damage whatsoever, and emerged ready to fight on. He was unfazed by a full force blow from Taro's monster form, while a similar effort rendered female Ranma unable to continue fighting. But she was also struck through a wall and in a state of confusion about the latter's transformation. Male Ranma was only briefly stunned on another occasion, when not restrained by these limitations. Ryoga was only slightly discomforted from hundreds of Ranma's punches landed in less than a second, but repeated efforts, and putting both of them in freefall, presumably giving the latter an opportunity to instead land thousands of punches, all instances directed at the same spot, together managed to knock him out. He apparently even stayed unharmed after he and Ranma were hit dead-centre by Happosai's smaller Happo-Daikarin, which are capable of knocking out Taro-monster in a single strike, while his rival was rendered unconscious, although the force greatly varies from occasion to occasion.
Limitations: Ryoga seems far more vulnerable if he is distracted and his guard is completely down, so it is not impossible that his durability is bolstered by active chi-infusion. Lime was able to almost beat him in one full-force blow by taking advantage of such an opportunity, after Mint tumbled at Ryoga’s back from behind, and the latter became angered at Mousse for not keeping his fight contained. He has also been knocked out by an unexpected staff blow to the larynx from Mousse, while completely focused on Ranma, who has likevise managed this feat. For example by showing Ryoga Ukyo's breasts, paralysing him from embarrassment, and then kicking him through the school wall, or by hitting the embarrassed Ryoga's head with a stone pillar from behind, when the latter's eyes were closed, since he was tricked by Shampoo into believing he would get a kiss from Akane.
Speed: While initially an even match, Ranma briefly gained a severe advantage in swiftness and skill after undergoing a power-up at Cologne's hands, but Ryoga quickly catches up in these areas as the manga progresses. By the time of the 'weakness moxibustion' arc, he is able to simultaneously parry, disarm and beat up Mousse, Tatewaki, Principal Kuno and Gosunkugi in under a second. He likewise proved to be swifter than Mousse some volumes later, during an onsen race battle, where he avoided all the latter's attacks. Additionally, when Ranma is turned murderously jealous by a magic koi mark, Ryoga manages to narrowly avoid and parry the latter’s 'Amaguriken'-training enhanced supersonic barrage, and later eventually best his rival. In battle with the physically stronger and extremely durable Lime, he easily managed to stay out of his opponent's grasp until Mint's interruption. In the final story, he managed to effortlessly parry all of Genma-panda's strikes, while looking in another direction.
Development: While he has occasionally thrown roughly 10-tonne boulders a considerable distance, Ryoga has not shown explicit feats of greater physical power later in the series. However he did improve his strength enough to stand up to Lime, who seemingly has an upper maximum of around 100.000 tonnes. More noticeably Ryoga seems to turn into a more balanced fighter, greatly increasing his shown speed, skill, versatility and durability. Near the end of the manga the author spoofs their relationship by portraying Ranma and Ryoga as two constantly feuding and completely evenly matched children, not counting Ryoga's more powerful and dependable force-blasts, which gave him a certain edge.
Possible Potential: In both the manga and anime series Ryoga once helped a starving martial arts calligraphist by sharing his food. As thanks the latter bestowed the "mark of the battling god" on his belly, bringing forth a fighter's full power. Under this influence Ryoga temporarily became the, by far, most formidable character ever shown in the series, and was literally capable of casually defeating Ranma with his pinkie finger, or without noticing when tied up, blindfolded and shackled to the floor. Even his piglet form was overwhelmingly superior, capable of effortlessly beating Ranma with a single strike. However, it is uncertain whether or not this was intended as an indication of his full potential or whether it was a simple source of power.
In the anime continuity Ryoga was recurrently not treated as nearly as dangerous until near the end of the series (among other things the ice-boulder throwing, and casual stone-platform shattering were both edited out, and Ryoga was occasionally used as swift 'demonstration-prey' for comparatively lacking adversaries), after receiving training from Genma, and was shown as dead even with Ranma in terms of fighting skill directly afterwards. At the end of this episode, after finding out that he had been lied to and manipulated, Ryoga struck Genma so hard that the shockwave caused an earthquake across the neighbourhood. However, in an earlier episode, when Ranma attempted a direct grapple attack, Ryoga effortlessly overcame his strength and threw him to the ground, so he apparently remained physically stronger.