The kanji in her name are shān "coral" and pú "uncut/unpolished gem". The real pun in Shampoo's name though, is that many of the Chinese characters from her village are named after beauty products, such as Mousse and Cologne.
Soon after getting cursed at Jusenkyo, Ranma (as a girl) and Genma (as a panda) drop into a contest in a village of the Joketsuzoku (Chinese: Nǚjiézú 女傑族 - "tribe of women heroes"; "Chinese Amazons" in English versions). Half-starved, they feed on the next available food-stuff - the feast that was to be the first prize for the contest - and are instantly challenged by Shampoo, the village champion. He swiftly defeats her, but this was a bad move. According to Chinese Amazon tribal laws, if a female Amazon is defeated by a female outsider, she must give the outsider the "Kiss of Death" (死の接吻), hunt her down to the ends of the Earth, and kill her (as Ranma tells Akane, "and when they say 'to the ends of Earth', they mean it"). Ranma and Genma manage to elude her and settle down in Nerima, thinking that they've lost her.
However, Shampoo eventually tracks female Ranma down and resumes her attempts at murder. Unsuccessful upon first locating her target in Japan, she finds Ranma, this time a male, in the Tendo household—where she managed to enter courtesy of Kasumi, who thought Genma had invited her, when she was actually stalking him—and declares her intent to kill Akane for hiding female Ranma from her. Ranma stops her attack by kicking the ball off of her Chúi, which knocked her cold when it landed on her head, accidentally defeating her a second time. However, instead of receiving a "Kiss of Death," Ranma gets a kiss on the lips; it turns out that if a female Amazon is defeated by a male outsider, she has to marry him. She continues on the path of trying to marry male Ranma and kill female Ranma, until Ranma tricks her into thinking that the male side is a disguise for the female side.
Heartbroken, Shampoo returns to China, where she undergoes re-training at the hands of her great-grandmother Cologne and finally receives a cat curse at Jusenkyo, which causes her father to become concerned. Realizing that Ranma had been cursed as well, she goes back to Japan with Cologne to try to marry him once more, learning in the process that he is actually male. Unfortunately, this revelation comes at a price: Ranma has been completely phobic about cats (ailurophobic) since childhood.
Shampoo has managed to gain at least two strong rivals in the herbalists Pink and Link, twin sisters who live in Yaokaicun, a village near Joketsuzoku. The twins and Shampoo have held a grudge against each other since they were very little girls, and there’s no sign of it ending anytime soon. In their latest attempt at getting back at Shampoo, Pink and Link declared to Joketsuzoku’s local newspaper that Shampoo’s husband was ugly and weak; Shampoo had previously lied to the newspaper, stating that she had already married Ranma and was living with him.
Even if she has been chased by the Ghost Cat Maomolin a couple of times, Shampoo really has only one strong suitor, her childhood friend Mousse, whom she rejected when they were both three. Cologne has stated that this holds true by Amazon law, regardless if he manages to beat Ranma, but he remains stubborn despite her multiple rejections and frequent cruel and derisive treatment. In Shampoo's defense Mousse is very clingy, often trying to glomp her and will not take no for an answer. Then again she behaves exactly the same way towards Ranma, to an even more severe degree, and has been repeatedly shown as far more inconsiderate towards him than Mousse is to her. As is standard for the series, either behaviour is frequently used in a comical manner. Shampoo generally seems annoyed and contemptuous towards Mousse, but occasionally shows some concern when he drives himself too far. Late in the series, when her love for Ranma has been turned to hate by a magic jewel, Mousse decides to take advantage of the situation to approach her. She rejects him in her usual manner, which may imply that her feelings towards him contain elements of both appreciation and derision.
She has stated variations on 'obstacle is for killing' as a personal philosophy of expediency, and has enthusiastically attempted to hold true to this towards Akane, Ukyo, Miss Hinako, Nabiki, and presumably anyone else she'd suspect of getting too close to her declared airen. However, even before the 'engagement', during the initial hunt, she was willing to casually kill Akane simply for suspecting that she might hide Ranma, so it seems more generally applicable. That said, shortly following this, after Akane prevented Shampoo from serving her pet pig as dinner, and the latter responded by choosing to apply the kiss of death. During the subsequent fight, Shampoo simply opted to erase Akane’s memories of Ranma. Once these returned Shampoo made another attempt to kill her rival, so she does not strictly limit herself to fatal methods if alternative means can serve her better.
She is extremely vengeful. After the psychotic Pink poisoned her as a young child, and the righteous, identical, Link saved her life, Shampoo regardless continuously struck both of them a hundred times every time she visited their village, during a span of over 10 years. When they later attacked her with lethal Mandragora poison gas, she casually reflected it on her Nekohanten customers, afflicting them instead.
She is unafraid to occasionally use mind control techniques to try and make her 'groom' love her or to achieve other goals unrelated to Ranma. This includes attempting to enslave him for life through a permanent love-inducing pill, while Mousse made a conscious choice to free her from Kiima's mind-control when given the same opportunity. Even if Shampoo can tolerate or even get along with Akane at times, she's occasionally attempted to assassinate the latter, even when she was tied up, gagged and completely defenseless, since it presented an opportunity to blame Pantyhose Taro for the incident. At the time of her servitude to Kiima she also independently tried to force Ranma into becoming her permanent slave, in an attempt to spare his life, by offering to cure the helpless, doll-sized Akane in return, and othervise kill her.
When she came back to Japan with Cologne, her great-grandmother opened a Chinese restaurant in Furinkan called the Cat Cafe. In addition to her pursuit of Ranma, Shampoo works as a waitress and cook at the restaurant. She also has a bicycle that she uses to make deliveries and occasionally enters scenes while riding it en route to a customer's house with their order. If she spots Ranma in the midst of one of these excursions, she sometimes uses it to slam down on top of him with an energetic "Ni hao!" Otherwise, she often enters a room by punching or kicking a hole in the wall.
Of all the fiancées, Shampoo is the most sexually uninhibited and the most sensual, possibly due to her upbringing in a society including extensive warrior training for both males and females. Nudity is also not a problem for her, as she rather enjoys being naked and has attempted to seduce Ranma many times, even in dangerous places like under a giant bell. Early in the series, Kasumi Tendo had a talk with her about modesty. Although she did cease her faint-inducing habit of popping out of the tub naked anytime Ranma tried to take a bath, the conversation has apparently had little effect on her behavior other than that.
In "The Art of Ranma½", Shampoo is described as 'innocent and aggressive,' which is an accurate summation of the dichotomy of her simultaneously cheerful, open, affectionate, hard-working, spiteful, sadistic, murderous, and manipulative personality. Despite her frequently harsh treatment of other people, and recurrently even towards Ranma himself, her love for him seems genuine.
In the anime continuity Shampoo is occasionally shown with strongly manga-contradicting characteristics. An early example of this is the plot line surrounding the appearance of the Dojo Destroyer. In the manga Shampoo gleefully torments and outsmarts Ranma on a date in return for a fake cure, and tries to prevent him from assisting Akane in a hopeless fight, while in the anime she does relent in the end and willingly allows him to return to help Akane.
She attempted to prevent Cologne from cooking P-chan after recognizing the piglet as Akane's pet (and being unaware of his status as Ryoga Hibiki's cursed form) and saved Akane from a fall in the Phoenix egg storyline, which is in direct opposition to her manga willingness to dispose of Akane at first opportunity she can get away with it. In the anime she was also completely removed, along with Ukyo and Kodachi, from the introductory story of Miss Hinako, in which they originally plotted to either assassinate or hospitalise the teacher. The combined result of these changes seems to be to make her seem more sympathetic, and she generally seems less devious. However, on occasion she has behaved more like the original. She remained willing to murder Akane during the first Pantyhose Taro storyline, attempted to mind-control Ranma into loving her with the "Red Thread of Fate", and intended to take opportunity to kill both Akane and Ukyo Kuonji when asked to help train theformer for fighting Natsume and Kurumi in the second half of "The One To Carry On" OAV.
In the anime, Shampoo was shown as serious enough about Ranma to give the Kiss of Death to Ling-Ling and Lung-Lung, Chinese Amazons who were like sisters to her, when they came to Japan seeking to kill female Ranma. She was also extremely willing to get married in the "reversal jewel" story, and opted to go back to China, rather than further attempt to kill Ranma, after first being told that Ranma's male and female forms were the same despite the fact she had Ranma's female form helpless and at her mercy. Likewise, in the anime, particularly the episode 'Shampoo's Cursed Kiss', Ranma has been implied to carry some romantic affection for her, but not comparable to his feelings for Akane. Shampoo is the first girl singing in the OAV ending theme Red Shoe Sunday; her lyrics imply she is hoping Ranma will drop by and see her, and that she is growing sad that he continues to avoid her.
Early in the manga Shampoo indifferently stated outright that she hates Mousse, and in the closing chapter, that he makes her sick, and that that she'd like to personally kill him for his "foolish behaviour" and "ruining her happiness". However there have been a few hints that her feelings for her childhood 'friend'/nuisance are not restricted to contempt, loathing and annoyance. She beat him up in the regular manner while wearing the Reversal Jewel, which turns love to hatred, incorrectly (although turning hatred to love, was never explicitly implied). Cologne commented that "It seems as if Shampoo does not hate you as much as before". Shampoo also agreed to go on a date with him, after he eventually abstained from using magic apology-inducing glasses during his duels with Ranma, while the latter retaliated by using any petty cheats available. However the goodwill Mousse earned by appearing in a better light than his rival, was eradicated when he took Shampoo to a zombie-demon show, which she found disgusting and not romantic in the least. Later, when Mousse was almost drained of life while enchanted into dating a magic jizou statue he believed was Shampoo, she initially didn't care at all, and stayed home to play video games instead. Eventually, she reluctantly gave him a scarf she was making for Ranma to wake him from the trance.
Nevertheless, it always takes extreme circumstances for her to give him any leeway whatsoever since she generally harshly rejects, and treats him in a very cold manner. For example, she cheerfully repeatedly threw bombs at him (which are non lethal by Ranmaverse standards) during a duel with Ranma, since she didn't wish to give him a promised date if he either managed to prevail, or Ranma lost on purpose. While she temporarily felt bad about it and cradled his beaten duck form afterwards, she quickly got over it, tying him with a chain to the neck, and taunted him by holding his food out of reach. When she found his duck form beaten (by Taro) on the street she didn't bother to brake and casually ran over him, but seemed somewhat concerned or at least curious afterwards. After Ranma pinned Mousse's duck form to a wall and said 'If you weren't such a moron I wouldn't have Shampoo pestering me all the time,' she did turn into a cat and began to chase Ranma, but not to save Mousse, but because she was maddened by the statement. After Mousse decided to free Shampoo from Kiima's slavery instead of taking advantage, she didn't feel the least inclination of gratitude, or even spared him a moment's thought, but rather immediately took the opportunity to hug Ranma instead.
It is sometimes believed that, in the separate anime continuity, there are occasional hints that Shampoo actually does hold some love for Mousse despite vehemently professing the contrary. However, these come from two events: in one episode of the anime's 5th season, Mousse announces his intention to leave Japan and return to China, though he ends up staying in Japan after all when he resumes his belief that Shampoo may actually care for him. In this episode, however, Mousse remained in Japan all along, hoping that he would find proof he was missed, and Shampoo & Cologne decided to use that when they decided to go on a vacation trip to a hotspring. They did ask him to come back, and even prepared a small feast for him, but this was solely to make him agree to look after the Nekohanten while they were gone. The second event is the second movie; Nihao, My Concubine. In this, Mousse saves Shampoo after she is abducted by the bird-man Toristan, and Mousse rescues her despite being grievously injured in the process. Shampoo catches him as he falls and tells the unconscious boy that he didn't need to go through all of that for her sake. However, during the end credits, she is shown as treating Mousse just as shabbily as before, making him haul a large number of dirty bowls around while she relaxes in a sunchair. So, in general, her attitude towards Mousse does not change in the slightest between the two canons.
See also Shampoo's techniques.
Having been trained in the martial art techniques of the Joketsuzoku since birth, with Cologne as her personal instructor and the young female village champion, Shampoo is highly skilled in unarmed combat, particularly involving speed and acrobatics, and is strong enough to casually walk through stone walls on a regular basis.
Despite this, she uses a pair of "chúi" as her primary weapons, but is also shown using sword, spear, bow, and a variety of polearms. However, she apparently doesn't remotely compare to Ranma himself, and was completely outclassed and effortlessly overpowered the few times she's seriously faced him in one-on-one combat. She suffered a one-hit loss during her village's martial arts competition, where the goal was to knock the opponent off the log they were standing on, and an accidental identical result when focused on killing Akane, both times before he was powered-up by Cologne. On the first occasion she had fought previous battles and Ranma was starved, but neither was shown as the least bit exhausted. She was likewise completely outmatched in the "Reversal Jewel" arc, despite his holding back by only using restraining tactics, and her 'programming' to truly hate him, explicitly shown as completely motivated, but she also didn't use her chúi. It's noteworthy that Shampoo did manage somewhat better when armed with these in the final arc, but female Ranma also held back by sticking to defensive/restraining regular fighting, due to Shampoo being brainwashed. In comparison, Mousse has displayed vastly superior mettle in several of his battles with Ranma, but this has gained him very limited respect.
While Shampoo has been shown to join Ranma against Taro and the Phoenix tribe in the manga and fights against other opponents in the anime, it could simply be due to her being available at the time, or, more pragmatically, being suitable for the story purposes. Thus this is by no means conclusive evidence of her ranking.
Her only shown skirmish with Ukyo (beyond a couple of brief, or off-screen free-for-all gang-ups against Ranma, Hinako, or Genma), happened during the onsen race, and consisted of Shampoo being kept busy deflecting Ukyo mini-spatulas, while their feet were tied to Ranma and Ryoga's respectively, but Ukyo didn't use her more powerful special techniques, and also managed to hold her own against Ranma for a much longer time during their initial conflict. Ukyo's better performance is at least partially due to being surrounded by a hot grill and that Ranma initially held back, but she also managed to avoid two of his attacks and strike him with a flour bomb when this was no longer the case, as well as fight and parry with Ryoga for a brief time before being overcome. In the end there has been no clear-cut contest of relative skill between the two in the manga. In the anime continuity their comparative ability is more clearly displayed. In "Ranma the Lady-Killer" they are both exhausted after a duel that has gone on for hours. Shampoo was not shown using her bonbori, and Ukyo not shown employing her superior range of special techniques. While Ukyo is distracted by talking to Ranma just as the fight resumes, Shampoo uses the moment to sucker-attack Ukyo with a barrage of thrown forks, pinning her to a tree.
Kodachi seems of comparative, or slightly lower, ability outside of tournaments, while Mariko may be stronger than all of them. It's uncertain how to compare with Kuno, as the latter can either pose a challenge for Ranma, with powerful air-pressure swipes, be treated as a one-hit joke, an even match for his sister, or even as vastly superior to his nemesis.
Shampoo was explicitly shown as possessing considerably greater speed, agility, and accuracy than Akane during her introduction story in both continuities, when summarily avoiding an attack and knocking her out through a memory-erasing shiatsu technique. Shampoo was also shown as physically stronger than Akane's non-enraged state when rather swiftly beating her in arm-wrestling during the "Super Soba" storyline, by hiding inside a sumo wrestling stall machine, although while Akane greatly exerted herself, she was not expecting a genuine battle. It is unclear whether this advantage continues to hold by the end, as Akane has managed to defend herself admirably against Kodachi and Kiima, and in the anime, since she trained to fight Natsume and Kurumi, it is even more questionable. However, it is possible that Shampoo had improved her ability as well by this time.
Shampoo's most impressive moment in the manga came when she was freed from Kiima's enslavement, became supremely motivated to let her captor "suffer a thousand deaths", apparently managed to hold her own against the Phoenix tribe captain, although, in the one full page dedicated to their battle, Kiima was shown as mostly interested in freeing the Kinjakan to assist her lord Saffron (Ranma ½) in his confrontation with Ranma. They are later shown as completely focused on watching the fight, with Kiima in a headlock.
In the anime, a similar fight occurred with Mon Lon in the movie "Big Trouble in Nekoron, China". Shortly afterwards Mon Lon is incapacitated in Mousse's arms (who believes her to be Shampoo) while Shampoo is shown to be okay.
In the manga, Shampoo makes a strike at female Ranma after the latter reveals her dual identity, but Ranma's hand was positioned to block it, and Shampoo stopped herself before delivering it. In the anime continuity Shampoo attack is more aggressive, using her bonbori, and Ranma eventually trips while dodging Shampoo's attacks and is left on the ground anticipating a hit, but Shampoo is unwilling to land the blow and stops her attack at this point.
Beyond basic fighting ability, Shampoo has displayed knowledge of ventriloquism/voice imitation, shiatsu-induced unconsciousness, mind-control or memory loss, sleep-fighting, intuitive multi-step strategy, defense against enchanted herbs, Chinese cooking, and incredible tracking-skills enabling her to hunt Ranma from rural China to the east of Japan. She also has access to minor magic equipment, and is capable of using her bike to literally bounce across the city. Her true strength may lie in sheer versatility.
Shampoo made several cameos in Kappa Mikey in crowd scenes, usually dancing, and also appears briefly in the opening theme.