Ryu and Chun-Li: An Analysis on a Classic Bond

ryu_x_chunliI can’t help but notice that certain developers/publishers get flack for using the same characters in their games, mainly fighting games like Street Fighter. In particular, Ryu gets called out for being a “boring Shotoclone with no personality”. The series leading lady, Chun-Li also gets dissed due to overuse and, ironically, her legs. There are plenty of other reasons, I’m sure, but let’s discuss the main ones. Mainly, why the two are used so much.

It’s understandable why some classic characters get hated or disliked. They’re too iconic to discard entirely. Not everyone is going to like the main character of any series right off the bat. This is why a cast needs to be as diverse as possible; there needs to be something for everyone.

That being said, however, may I remind you that part of Street Fighter III’s initial lack of appeal to the general public was the lack of familiar faces, and it would have gotten worse if Ryu and Ken were absent like Capcom originally planned. SF III’s cast was considered too wacky overall.

Familiarity is always an important factor in long-standing franchises, regardless of medium. One has to be sure to keep things current while making sure people still know what to expect and will keep coming back.

There’s always going to be some people who just don’t get the appeal of the characters that are seen the most often. It’s the same way with anything else that you’re not particularly fond of but keep seeing or hearing about anyway (certain games, movies, songs, etc.). Everyone else likes it but you and it turns from a minor annoyance to single-minded hatred (how quickly that happens depends on the individual and the person/thing in question).

All I can really say is to give them a shot; really look into it if you haven’t already. You may like it, you may not. What have you got to lose? Of course, if you already know all about it and you still can’t stand it, then don’t let it ruin your day. Just say, “Whatever,” and shrug it off. Go on about your life, and don’t look down on those who do like whatever you don’t. Live and let live.

Well, now that I’ve gotten that out of my system, I can discuss my favorite characters. ^_^;

Ryu was designed with simplicity in mind. His moves are easy to use and there’s nothing too complicated about him at first glance. Sadly, the first glance seems to be all the majority of players care for, as he’s been labeled as “boring” or “dull” by people.

What plenty of people fail to realize, though, is the meaning behind his actions and design. This blog entry goes into the hard details of his creation and design process over the years, but basically there was a lot more work and thought put into Ryu than most realize. While he was created with the intent of getting players used to the game (as most main characters are), Capcom didn’t just say “Let’s have a karateka throw fireballs” and call it a day.


Another thing that people fail to take into account is his quest to become a true warrior. Among the cast of Street Fighter, Ryu is one of the most spiritual, and a character martial artists, philosophers and other spiritually minded players can get behind, and that’s beside the fact that he’s inspired more than one character of the cast to better themselves. He holds a deeper understanding of fighting than most and that is to be admired and respected. At least, it is to me. If I had half of his dedication, I’d be in a much better place in life than I am now.

Now, Street Fighter’s leading lady is more than just a pretty face and a great pair of legs. Her inclusion was a boon to the fighting game genre. It’s not likely we’d have lovely, strong ladies like Cammy, Elena, or even Maya if it weren’t for Chun-Li.

It goes beyond that, too. To me, Chun-Li represents the kind of kinetic beauty that can only be found in a woman who has experienced great joy and great pain, only to come out of it with great strength and just have it radiate off of her. Each movement and strike is graceful and strong, without being needlessly showy when not warranted.

Though she is powerful, Chun-Li doesn’t necessarily need to shove it in people’s faces to prove a point. She doesn’t fight so much for recognition. For her, justice is one of three main reasons she has for fighting. A second is to protect the weak and keep them from suffering her pain.


The third is to connect with the friends she has bonded with throughout her life as a fighter. One such bond will be the last point I make.

To be frank, Ryu and Chun-Li have chemistry. Romantic, platonic, whatever; they have a connection. Seeing them together just makes sense. While some might argue that this is because of the many times they’ve shown up in the same games, I feel it goes beyond that.

In Ryu’s ending for Street Fighter Alpha 3, as Ryu fought off Bison’s control (and the Satsui no Hado), images of people who made an impression up to that point (for better or worse) flashed in his mind. Chun-Li was there, and this is what she said:

“You will be stronger when I see you next… won’t you?”

I don’t know about you, but I think that was pretty damn important. To have allowed herself to say something like that to a guy she’d only met and fought a few times had to have counted for something.

From first glance, it’s easy to tell that the two at least have great respect for one another. Chun-Li loves fighting him every chance she gets and is amazed and admired by his dedication. She has faith that he can win, no matter what. For Ryu’s part, he thinks very highly of her and always has something positive to say to her. He knows he can count on her. Whenever they have particular quotes towards one another, it’s always positive, playful or encouraging on both sides.

I believe that, as far as narrative goes, something amazing can be done with these two together, if Capcom were willing to take advantage of it. I can only hope that they do at some point.

All in all, I love Ryu and Chun-Li as characters. I’m glad they’re still around and look forward to seeing them grow.

About The Author

Keith Mitchell
Editor-in-chief and all-around good guy!

Keith Mitchell is the Founder and Editor in Chief of The Outerhaven. A grizzled IT professional during the day, but a passionate lover of video games after his 9-5 grid. Loves playing the Dark Souls series and has been gaming since he was 6 years old. Available for podcasts upon request.