Ryu (リュウ Ryū?, written as in the original Street Fighter) is a video game character created by Capcom, the main protagonist of the Street Fighter series.[1]

Premiering in the first Street Fighter, Ryu appears as the lead character from the game along with his best friend Ken participating in the Street Fighter tournament. Further games from the series show Ryu to be highly focused on his training, aiming to become the strongest he can. However, his powers also attract several criminals who want to use him for their plans.

Ryu has been the lead character of the Street Fighter series since the first game and has appeared in crossovers involving the franchise. He is also featured in manga from the series, anime adaptations and the 1994 live-action film.

Character design

In the first Street Fighter game, Ryu has red hair and wears a tattered white karate gi with a white hachimaki (headband), red gloves and red shoes. Also, a constant trait in his design is the Fūrinkazan (風林火山?) kanji motif (meaning Wind, Forest, Fire, Mountain), battle standard of the historical Japanese military leader Takeda Shingen, embroidered into his obi, simulating Karate Dan degrees.[2] In Street Fighter II Ryu is shown to be older, with brown hair and a red hachimaki. He also fights barefooted this time.[3] The Alpha series features a Ryu much like the one depicted in the original Street Fighter, with light red hair and a white hachimaki. In the Street Fighter III games, Ryu has black hair and facial stubble to show his growth in age. Street Fighter IV is chronologically set between II and III and so Ryu has a more mature look than he does in Street Fighter II but still not as aged looking as in Street Fighter III.

Because he was the only playable character in the original Street Fighter, Ryu's designer, Manabu Takemura[4], wanted to make him easy to identify with. In Street Fighter II, the character was selected for inclusion due to his presence in the first game, symbolizing the concept of a Japanese martial artist. As the series progressed, the design was made more muscular to coincide with the concept, while his white gi, considered his most defining characteristic by the development team, was meant to let viewers know he was "a karate master at first sight".[5]

Fighting style

Both Ryu and Ken are practitioners of a fictitious martial art rooted as an assassination style. Both Ryu and Ken learned their art from Gouken, who refined the style as a purely combative non-killing style. When Capcom localized the console versions of Street Fighter II in North America, Ryu and Ken's common fighting style was listed as Shotokan Karate in the game's instruction manual and related literature (although the term was not used in the Japanese version). While Ryu and Ken follow the same martial arts discipline, as the Street Fighter series evolved, the differences between the two characters was portrayed by their attacks: Ryu focused on technique while Ken opted for stylish unpredictability. His Shōryū-ken (昇龍拳?, "Rising Dragon Fist") does only one hit, so Ryu can effectively use this move at full power against airborne opponents. Between himself and Ken, Ryu has the more concentrated Hadōken (波動拳?, "Surge Fist"). In addition, Ryu has mastered the Tatsumaki-Senpū kyaku (竜巻旋風脚?, "Tornado Whirlwind Kick"), a powerful kick performed in mid-air. Ryu has been given special moves in various games, among those, Jōdan Sokutō Geri (上段足刀蹴り?, "High Side Kick"), a fast side kick only available to him in the iterations of Street Fighter III and Tatsunoko vs. Capcom.

His Super Combos are: Shinkū Hadōken (真空波動拳?, "Vacuum Surge Fist"), a powered-up variant of his standard Hadōken, the Shinkū Tatsumaki-Senpū Kyaku (真空竜巻旋風脚?, "Vacuum Tornado Whirlwind Kick"), a stationary variant of the normal move, but much faster, stronger and hitting multiple times, Shin Shōryū-ken (真・昇龍拳?, "True Rising Dragon Fist"), a powerful version of the standard Shōryū-ken. In addition, in Street Fighter III, Ryu masters the Denjin Hadōken (電刃波動拳?, " Thunder Blade Surge Fist"), fast electrified variation of the Hadōken, which has the ability to stun the opponent. In Street Fighter IV, Ryu gains the Metsu Hadōken (滅波動拳?, "Destructive Surge Fist"), an incredibly powerful enhanced Shinkū Hadōken, as his Ultra Combo, however, in Super Street Fighter IV, he gains the Metsu Shōryū-ken (滅昇龍拳?, "Destructive Rising Dragon Fist"), a move which was first used by his "Evil Ryu" alter-ego in Street Fighter Alpha 2, as his second Ultra Combo.

Evil Ryu

In the Street Fighter Alpha series, there is a selectable version of Ryu known as Evil Ryu (殺意の波動に目覚めたリュウ Satsui no Hadō ni Mezameta Ryū?, lit. "The surge of murderous intent awakened in Ryu", abbreviated Satsui Ryu in Street Fighter Zero 3). The concept of Ryu succumbing to the "Evil Intent" (殺意の波動 Satsui no Hadō?, lit. "Surge of Murderous Intent", sometimes translated as the "Dark Hadou"), the same power used by his nemesis Akuma, was first explored in the Street Fighter Alpha manga authored by Masahiko Nakahira. It was not until the international versions of the game, Street Fighter Alpha 2, that Evil Ryu was introduced as a secret character in the games. Evil Ryu wears a dark grey gi and possesses a faint red glow in his eyes.

In terms of gameplay, Evil Ryu has more powerful attacks than his normal counterpart, strikes faster, and possesses some of the attacks of Gouki (such as the Messatsu Gō Shōryū, Ashura Senkū, and Shun Goku Satsu). Like Gouki, Evil Ryu has a signature symbol that appears when he performs the Shun Goku Satsu. Evil Ryu has had three different symbols: In Alpha 3 and in Capcom vs SNK 2, the symbol was Metsu (滅) for "Destruction." In Street Fighter EX Plus he also appears to have the same sign as Gouki, which is "Ten", for "Sky/Heaven" (天).


Street Fighter series

Ryu debuted in the first Street Fighter as the primary playable character in the game, with his best friend, rival and sparring partner Ken serving as the second player's character. He and his rival Ken (who both trained under the same master, a character later established to be Gouken) compete in the tournament depicted in the game in order to test their strength against the tournament's champion, Sagat.[6]

His next appearance was in 1991's Street Fighter II. Set several years after Ryu defeated Sagat in the first tournament, Ryu participates in a second tournament, inviting his old friend Ken to compete against him. In his ending in the game, Ryu wins the tournament against Sagat and M. Bison, but does not stay for the ceremony, already seeking his next challenge and leaving the player with the quote "The Fight Is Everything". This ending defines Ryu's characterization as a "wandering warrior".[7]

Ryu's backstory, along with those of other Street Fighter characters, would be explored in the subsequent Street Fighter Alpha prequel series. The first game, Street Fighter Alpha: Warriors' Dreams (1995), features Ryu confronting Sagat as his last opponent in a rematch following their first fight.[8] Street Fighter Alpha 2 (1996) depicts Ryu on a quest to confront Akuma, his master's brother and enemy. After their match, Akuma reveals that Ryu possesses the "evil intent" or "Satsui no Hadou[9]" within him, the same power Akuma uses.[10] An alternate version of Ryu using this power is featured in the game as hidden character (see Evil Ryu).[11] In Street Fighter Alpha 3 (1998), Ryu is sought by Bison, who seeks to use Ryu as his next host body. With the help of Sagat and Sakura, Ryu is able to defeat Bison, who promptly retreats.[12][13][14]

Ryu and Ken would return in Street Fighter III 1997, with a new character named Alex serving as the new lead character. It was followed by Street Fighter III 2nd Impact and Street Fighter III 3rd Strike. While Ryu's motivation in the game and rivalry with Ken would remain the same, he was also shown getting acquainted with several of the new characters featured in the game, such as becoming a tag partner for Hugo in 2nd Impact or Oro's pupil in 3rd Strike.[15][16] Ryu appears in Street Fighter IV, which takes place after Street Fighter II but before Street Fighter III.

Ryu has appeared in spinoffs related to the main Street Fighter series such as the Street Fighter EX series produced by Arika.[17] Byron Mann portrays the character in two separately produced video games based on the American film of the series, both titled Street Fighter: The Movie, where he wears Ryu's characteristic white karate gi and red headband.[18]

Other games

The character has also been featured in Capcom's inter-company crossovers such as the Marvel vs. Capcom series, the SNK vs. Capcom series, Namco x Capcom and Tatsunoko vs. Capcom: Ultimate All-Stars.[19][20] Some game of the SNK vs. Capcom series also include Evil Ryu as an unlockable character.[21] In Marvel vs. Capcom: Clash of Super Heroes, Ryu has the ability to change his moveset to the ones from Ken or Akuma while fighting.[22] He also appears in Super Puzzle Fighter II Turbo, a puzzle video game featuring super deformed characters along with the sequel, Super Gem Fighter Mini Mix, which is instead a fighting game.[23] Ryu has been confirmed to be one of the playable characters in Marvel vs. Capcom 3: Fate of Two Worlds. In the trailer, he is shown fighting Wolverine from the X-Men franchise.[24] Ryu also appears as a playable fighter in the crossover fighting game Street Fighter X Tekken, shown fighting Kazuya Mishima during a gameplay demonstration.

Onimusha: Dawn of Dreams features Ryu as an unlockable costume swap for the game's protagonist Soki.[25] Although his incarnation there is much slimmer, this change is merely cosmetic and does not affect gameplay. Incidentally, his stage music can be heard in the aforementioned game's Dark Realm minigame while the player uses this costume swap.

Ryu also has a cameo appearance in the 4th level of the shooting game Varth: Operation Thunderstorm. He will appear in the upcoming Mega Man game, Mega Man Universe.[26]

Cultural impact

In the same way Ryu is the lead character for most of the Street Fighter games, he is also featured as the protagonist of all Japanese animated productions based on the franchise. In the 1994 film Street Fighter II: The Animated Movie, Ryu becomes the target of Bison's organization. Bison captures Ken and brainwashes him, forcing Ryu to fight his former friend, but Ken manages to resist Bison's brainwashing and the two ultimately work together to defeat Bison. He was voiced by Kōjirō Shimizu in the Japanese version and Skip Stellrecht in the English dub.[27]


Byron Mann as Ryu in the 1994 film

Ryu was played by Byron Mann in the 1994 film version of Street Fighter, where Guile is the lead character. Ryu (given the surname "Hoshi"), and Ken are traveling con artists who steal money from rich crime lords through schemes such as selling modified toy guns. He and Ken eventually work with Guile to infiltrate Bison's headquarters.[28] By luring Guile to Bison's base, Ryu plays an important role in Bison's downfall, although it is Guile who ultimately fights and defeats Bison. Ryu also appears in the US TV series. In both these media, his name is pronounced as "Ryu" (IPA: [/ɽaiju/]). Guile and Bison are the only characters who pronounce his name correctly in the film.

The premise of the 1995 Japanese TV series Street Fighter II V centers around a young Ryu and Ken, who travel the world with Chun-Li to improve their martial art skills by challenging other Street Fighters, such as Guile, Fei-Long, Sagat, Dhalsim, Vega, Balrog, Cammy and Bison. He was voiced Kōji Tsujitani in the Japanese version and once again by Skip Stellrecht in the English amaze dub. While in the ADV Films dub he was portrayed by Brett Weaver and then later by Tommy Drake.[29] The American Street Fighter animated series, which also debuted in 1995, follows a loose combination of the depictions of Ryu in the live action movie and in the games. Ryu is once again a traveling con artist, paired with Ken, but like in the games, he is also dedicated to his training. Originally, Ryu and Ken were supporting characters in the series, but later episodes focus around the duo. He was voiced in the series by Tony Lung.[30]

The 1999 original video animation Street Fighter Alpha: The Animation centers around Ryu's inner conflict with the Satsui no Hadou, as seen in the Street Fighter Alpha manga and games.[31] The 2005 OVA Street Fighter Alpha: Generations features a similar storyline, but is unrelated to the previous Alpha anime.[32]

UDON's comic book adaptation of the Street Fighter plot places Ryu in the center of the events of the comic. Ryu grows up training in the art of Shotokan and all the while fighting off the urge of the Satsui no Hadō. He trains to be a strong fighter without relying on the hatred and consumption it brings. After returning from the first Street Fighter tournament, Ryu discovers that his master (Gouken) has been slain by his brother (Akuma) and sets out (along with Ken Masters) to avenge his death. Like in the Alpha series, Ryu is a target of Shadaloo as a powerful fighter who shows great potential and this draws the attention of Interpol and more specifically, Guile, who believe there is a criminal connection between the two.[33] He also trains Sakura during the second arc of the comics and later on trains with other fighters (specifically Dhalsim and Gen) to give himself a better chance against Akuma.[34] Like the official story, Sagat is consumed with thoughts of revenge against Ryu for taking his honor at the first Street Fighter tournament but he does seek him out to warn him of Shadaloo's advances.[35] During the final series of comics, Ryu attends Bison's tournament and advances all the way to the final stage (including getting his long-awaited rematch with Sagat). However, before he is able to fight Bison, Akuma intervenes and soundly defeats Bison instead. The plot then shifts to the battle between Akuma and Ryu as the concluding fight of the comic series. During the battle, Ryu is tempted to give into his dark intent to defeat Akuma at any cost but refuses, which allows Akuma the upper hand. All seems lost but at the very last moment, Gouken's spirit is revived and he finishes the battle with Akuma. Ryu passes out before the fight can conclude and is rescued from the sinking island by Dhalsim. Following the battle, Ryu's mind is finally freed from the Satsui no Hadō and he believes he no longer needs to rely on it if he wants victory.

Despite not appearing at all in Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun Li, Ryu is mentioned at the end of the movie as a formidable Japanese fighter entering a tournament.

John Foo played Ryu (given the surname "Takashi"), in Street Fighter: Legacy which was co-directed by Joey Ansah and Owen Trevor.

Promotion and reception

Ryu is consistently ranked as one of the most popular and memorable characters from the Street Fighter franchise among critics. IGN ranked him first in their "Top 25 Street Fighter Characters" article, stating "Ryu is a testament to the virtue of simplicity in character design. White gi, dark gloves, red headband for a little touch of color, and that is it. It's rare, when you think about it, to see too many fancy pieces go into the making of an icon".[36] GameDaily listed him at number two in their "Top 20 Street Fighter Characters of All Time" article, stating "He always seeks a bigger challenge, and that determination makes him one of our favorites";[37] in a later character profile article for Ryu, they stated "Ryu is a formidable fighter that gets the job done...Bottom line, you can't go wrong with Street Fighter's most iconic character."[38] The same site ranked him 6th along with Ken in the Top 25 Capcom Characters of All Time with editor Robert Workman saying "It was just impossible to choose between one of these world warriors".[39] He additionally ranked number seventy-one on UGO.com's "Top 100 Heroes of All Time" article.[40] In the February 1992 issue of Gamest magazine in Japan Ryu ranked 3rd in Best Characters of 1991.[41] In the January 30, 1997 issue Ryu ranked at No. 13 in Top 50 Characters of 1996.[42] He also took the No. 1 Spot in the "Top 20 Characters of 2008" of the issue February 2009 of the magazine Arcadia. In GameSpot's "Great Loves" article Ryu was described as "one of the most independent men in the world of video games" as he is only interested in training to become stronger fighter in contrast to other Street Fighter characters who have romantic interests.[43] In GamesRadar's article "The 56 characters of Marvel vs Capcom 2", Ryu was described as "The heart and soul of the Street Fighter series" and "probably the most well known fighting game character in the world".[44]

A Ryu-inspired costume for players to use in Sony's LittleBigPlanet was released on December 12 of 2008 as downloadable content for the title.[45] GameSpot featured him in their article "All Time Greatest Game Hero".[46]


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External links

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