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PUNCHING DAY

Street Fighter the Animated Series

You know what the easiest thing in the world is to write? A film adaptation of a fighting game. We explore a bit of each character’s background, and then they fight. Because there’s a fighting contest. They have enlisted in this fighting contest, and that is why they want to fight: Because they have already agreed to do that by, remember, signing up for a fighting contest. That’s it! Stop fucking overcomplicating it! You just Madlibs Bloodsport and you got yourself a movie. None whiff this extremely simple setup more consistently than the Street Fighter franchise, who are desperate to introduce the world to their Street Fighter concept but are certain the world does not want to see any Street Fighting. Street Fighter has failed in every direction, but today, we’re going to talk about the first episode of the 1995 US animated series: 

Because this is the US version, Guile is obviously the main character, being the most flat-topped white American male of the group. And he travels the world using the international fighting circuit to conceal his mission as head of an elite squad of crime fighters, with the code name Street Fighter. 

Why do you do this? Do you think people don’t like fighting? A Dragonball Z season is two minutes of exposition and then 600 hours of screaming and powering up and we watch it every time because we know there’s a punch at the end. The only thing we like watching more than two people fighting is two people fucking, and yet Hollywood still calls me a monster every time I pitch Fucksport. Cowards. Cowards!

Street Fighter does a few other things boldly wrong, immediately: Blanka and Chun Li are the only other ones named in the intro, meaning that’s our main trio. Ken and Ryu, the protagonists of the game and driving focus of its plot, are not mentioned.

They really just wanted to make the Guile show, huh? Guile is the shitty middle child of Street Fighter. Guile is nobody’s favorite. Guile was a crutch used by emotionally damaged children so they could learn why hiding in a corner and lashing out at anybody that gets too close is a bad strategy. Guile is boring. If you mained Guile, your favorite show is the news and you masturbate to Playboy. You’re the margin for error in the census. You are a human NPC.

The show almost seems to know this. Guile is somehow both plain and fantastically stupid. Like for his first mission, the commander tasks Guile with investigating a dangerous new virus discovered in the Amazon. This is that actual exchange:

For backup, they research other Street Fighter operatives. Chun Li is available, and mercenaries Ken and Ryu are also in the area. At the mention of the actual protagonists of the source material, Guile groans and says “not them!” The commander wishes him luck and Guile says “with Ken and Ryu? I’m gonna need it!” 

That’s right: Ken and Ryu are our wacky comedy relief.

They’re both voiced by idiot bros, they bicker incessantly, and they’re only in the rainforest because they heard rumors of native treasure. So the show doesn’t just sideline Ken and Ryu, it recasts them as dipshit criminals targeting indiginous people. It doesn’t seem like they just want to do their own thing with this show; it seems like they actively hate the source material. It’s like adapting Uncanny X-Men and making Jubilee the main character, then reworking Cyclops and Wolverine to be scumbag amateur porn stars who spraypaint native petroglyphs. 

When we finally see those natives, they’re referred to as “Incan mystics,” and they’re wearing ponchos and headdresses. I don’t know much about the aboriginal people of the rainforest, but I’m like 70% sure that’s racist in a very strange and archaic way. It’s like talking about rural Egyptians today and then smash cutting to a bunch of slaves building a pyramid. It’s time travel bigotry. The Incan Mystics are having themselves a good ol’ fashioned inscrutable ritual when soldiers step out of the brush and attack them with sonic weapons that fire bitchin’ guitar riffs. It is the most ‘90s thing I’ve seen since X-Files pogs. 

It is unquestionably rad. 

Then Blanka explodes out of the temple! It turns out the Incans were keeping him imprisoned, but he’s… mad that they’re being taken away?

So Blanka was consensually staying in that dungeon, could break out at any time, and loved his captors who dressed like archaic ethnic stereotypes? Cool, super cool. I just wanted to verify that we meant to feature racially charged psychosexual monster bondage in our children’s cartoon.

He’s too late, anyway: The soldiers escape with the mystics in tow, and soon Blanka meets up with Guile and the rest of the Street Fighter crew to get them back. Well, most of the crew: Here’s where Ken and Ryu peel off to raid the abducted natives’ home for “treasure.” In case you thought Street Fighter was going to keep the colonial crimes politely implied. But oh no! Ryu runs into a pig and catches the virus!

I’m not even kidding, that’s what happens.

Haha, what? Why didn’t you just have Ryu fucking that pig? You guys clearly despise him. How did Ken and Ryu wrong you, writers of Street Fighter? Did somebody’s big brother pin them in the corner with endless fireballs? It goes jump, block, jump, block, then pause to bait him into a shoryuken and there’s your opening. There’s simply no need for this elaborate, undignified revenge!

Anyway, the rest of the team figure out it was Bison who kidnapped the mystics, so they raid Bison’s compound and this is about how it goes:

Nobody has lost this immediately and this humiliatingly since that pig revoked Ryu’s consent. Actually, knowing what gets him off, Blanka probably shame-came while gently spinning in that magnet grasp. Bison makes his escape as Blanka cleans up, and the Street Fighters come to realize that not only had Bison abducted the Incan Bondage Shamans, he was also the one who kidnapped the missing scientists! You see, he wants to use the virus as a targeted weapon, but for that, he first needs control of the cure. To speed up research, he means to infect more people. As Bison zooms away on a very stupid hovercraft, he explains that he’s put the virus into a balloon which will pop when the timer runs out:

Putting a plague into a pinata is so stupid that I can’t help but love it — really adds that festive element that biological warfare is missing — but you know how the rest of this goes: the Street Fighters are going to catch the deadly virus and have to fight through the illness, and since this is the ‘90s, the Incans will whip up a cure made from pure uncut rainforest. For the rainforest, you see, she is the woman who has everything.

That’s what you think, huh, idiot? Well, you counted the number of fucks Street Fighter gives wrong. You thought it was greater than one. It is not.

Holy shit!

The plot of the VERY FIRST EPISODE of the Street Fighter cartoon hinges on unethical scientists infecting aboriginal people with deadly viruses to research a cure for use in the civilized world. That uh… that kind of thing actually happened, Street Fighter. A lot. A lot of native peoples were subjected to dangerous medical experiments so the “real world” might have a cure. It is actually a form of genocide. Are you sure — are you absolutely sure — that you want to tackle it in the pilot episode of your children’s cartoon about punches and, if there’s time, kicks?

Now, to be fair, Street Fighter pulls back just shy of the line, and doesn’t actually show colonial genocide. Instead Blanka jumps in and takes the viral moneyshot like a good sub. But to everyone’s surprise, he wakes up just fine and his blood turns out to be the cure. Let’s check in once more with the character we had to restructure the entire game’s plot to focus on, our daring and charismatic frontman, Guile: 

Good stuff, Guile. You deserve this spotlight. 

Chun Li and Blanka join Guile, forming the Street Fighter squad. While our actual main characters, Ken and Ryu, leave the show sans native gold, and head to Tierra del Fuego for “killer waves.” But that’s not important. What’s important is that you know the pilot episode of the 1995 cartoon adaptation of Street Fighter was about ethnic cleansing. That way you can tell this anecdote to people who talk to you, so they can stop talking to you.

12 replies on “Street Fighter the Animated Series”

Holy goddamn! You knocked that out of the park, and now I have been asked to leave the library.

I feel like everything was a kids cartoon show in the 90s. Mc Hammer had one, Micheal Jordan, and every Jim Carrey movie. Maybe it’s why we’re all so cynical of hollywood as adults, because we saw how stupid they thought we were as kids.

Also, Mortal Kombat and Highlander. Because what better properties to adapt in to cartoons than two series about people dying horrific, violent deaths.

Catching a virus from a wild animal… did Street Fighter the Animated Series make any other apocalyptic predictions that we could learn from before it’s too late??

Listen, if Psychosexual Monster Bondage isn’t your next album title, I’m afraid you’re off the payroll, my man.

In the image from the intro sequence Ken and Chun-Li are having an imaginary-pogo-stick race

Good lord. I remember this show being terrible when I watched it as a kid, and I didn’t even notice the genocide then.

I think that pig was a tapir. Sorry to be pedantic, but a tapir’s nightmarishly huge genitalia just makes your commentary that much funnier.

Here’s a fun fact that I’m surprised no one has brought up (myself included) in the nearly one year this article has been up: this horrendous animated series is technically the sequel to that Van Damme live action Street Fighter movie! Like I don’t think there are really any story tie ins or anything, but this version of Guile is William Guile, total dipshit. Ryu is Ryu Hoshi, grifted dipshit. Etc. I don’t know why, but I feel like this fact explains so much…

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