The biggest mystery of Street Fighter 5 is the inclusion of Necalli. He is the face of the game, and yet nothing has been established about his story, other than the idea that he is a strong entity looking to devour the souls of powerful warriors. Necalli is supposed to fulfill an ancient prophecy as told by the Warrior Prophet before he ends up being consumed by the being. The cinematic story mode has him completely fail at fulfilling it, and even Necalli himself questions why he is unable to consume Ryu’s soul.
However, there is a reason, and it is likely setting up for one of the most elaborate stories in the history of Street Fighter. The clues to the backstory of Necalli are in the game, as well as in the details that have lead up to his creation. We must first look at his Aztec heritage, and then we will continue to his story in the game.
Some of the things about Necalli’s design have already been established, and can be found on the Street Fighter Fandom wiki: https://streetfighter.fandom.com/wiki/Necalli
As stated there, he is primarily based off the Aztec god Huitzilopochtli as well as the elite warriors of the Aztecs, the Cuauhchicqueh, or “The Shorn Ones”. This indicates the type of power he is capable of wielding. However, it’s the third thing on this wiki that truly tells of what Necalli is. The wiki states he has elements of the female demons the Tzitzimiteh, primarily their characteristic of coming down from the sky during solar eclipses to eat people. This is exactly what Necalli does, so is it safe to say that he IS a Tzitzimitl? We can, but the biggest hurdle to this is that they were FEMALE demons, and Necalli is addressed as a man. So the question that really should be asked is “Is Necalli a woman?”
The answer? It doesn’t matter whether Necalli is male or female, as the Aztec gods, and especially those related to the god Tezcatlipoca, were capable of changing their gender at will. Also, the Tzitzimitl, while distinctly female, had a unique feature that TV Tropes ever so succinctly reveals (they have a page on Aztec mythology; I will not link it, so read it at your own risk as what is seen can not be unseen, and will make you eternally glad that Street Fighter is NOT rated M). Because of these traits, Necalli can be whatever he chooses to be.
However, the Tzitzimitl were seen as protectors of the feminine, and were worshipped by pregnant women. Their leader is the goddess, Itzpapalotl, and it is her influence that directs Necalli. There is proof of this starting off with Necalli’s choice of victims; Ryu, Dhalsim, M. Bison, Nash, and Rashid are all men. While in one-on-one contests, Necalli speaks of devouring the souls of the women he faces (especially Juri’s), this is because they challenged him to battle. As a Tzitzimitl and under Itzpapalotl’s influence, he can only attack men at will. There is more proof to this. Take a look at the cutscenes in this video, and focus at what occurs at 00:46, 1:23:22, and 1:25:42: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K_3XCypxmCY
For those of you who don’t want to look, those are the times that glowing butterflies appear. And what animal is Itzpapalotl associated with? The butterfly. Her name literally translates to “Obsidian Butterfly,” and while obsidian is normally black, it also comes in other colors, including green, the color of the butterflies in question.
So, we have proof that Necalli is being guided in a particular way. His wildness is evident, as he does some things his leader does not approve of. This is just him being a Tzitzimitl. It’s just who he is. However, he has been stopped by Itzpapalotl from consuming certain people, particularly Nash and Ryu. But if Necalli is meant to fulfill a prophecy, why doesn’t the goddess let Necalli eat Ryu?
Because he isn’t supposed to. Ryu is NOT part of the prophecy.
The prophecy as stated by the Warrior Prophet is this:
“Once every few hundred years, stars herald “The Hour of the Battle”, and Necalli walks this plane. Necalli wields an unearthly power, in order to devour the souls of strong warriors. When the next “Hour of the Battle” comes, many warriors will nourish him to his satiety. The first of these warriors agonizes to proceed on his path. Inside him the red power burns at his soul. When the man who agonizes along his path devotes himself to the battle, the red power will be awakened. The next warrior is the one who serves the god of fire. But even the god’s fire will not be able to stop Necalli. All warriors will find themselves unable to avoid the fate of Necalli. The next warrior to fall is the one who fills the world with destruction. The force of absolute destruction will clash against the force determined to consume everything.”
It seems to state pretty clearly that there are three warriors Necalli will devour, and the game explicitly shows this. However, the truth is that there is one warrior that fulfills all three of points of the prophecy. Take a look at them again:
1) A man who “agonizes to proceed on his path. Inside him the red power burns at his soul. When the man who agonizes along his path devotes himself to the battle, the red power will be awakened.”
2) A man “who serves the god of fire.”
3) “The one who fills the world with destruction.”
So who is the warrior? It’s Bison.
Bison agonizes along his path, having to replace his body every time he gets killed. It’s pretty clear that his deaths are pretty painful, as seen in his death animations in Street Fighter Alpha 3. He struggles to find the perfect body that is capable of wielding his immense power, and he must find a new one to keep him from dying again. Also, take a look at the second part of that first bulletpoint. He devoted himself to his battle with Ryu, and upon his death, his red power awakened, turning him into the red Phantom Bison.
So does Bison worship a god of fire? Yes. His monuments in his headquarters are evidence of this. He worships himself and himself alone, and since Bison’s Psycho Power is also seen manifesting as flames, it can safely be said that Bison himself is the god of fire stated in the prophecy.
The third part of the prophecy is a no-brainer. It’s already been established that Bison is the ultimate force of destruction in the Street Fighter series, and the two did eventually come to blows. However, Bison won. So does this mean the prophecy was wrong?
Necalli is meant to consume Bison, and the biggest proof of this is that nowhere in their fight do the green butterflies show up. Itzpapalotl will not try to stop him. This is her will.
However, Bison is aware of the prophecy. He just wants to fulfill it in his own way. He intentionally summoned Necalli with the Black Moons. He waited for Necalli to show up to fight him. He even states that Necalli’s presence is according to his plan. What is his plan? To intentionally have Necalli consume him.
It’s already been established with Necalli devouring the Warrior Prophet that his biggest vulnerability is him taking the traits of whomever he consumes. If he devours Bison, Bison will be able to exploit this and in turn take over Necalli’s body from the inside. Plus, because of Necalli’s insides being hollow and vast, Bison will have found the perfect vessel to expand his Psycho Power.
Why didn’t Bison just let Necalli win then? Because he needed his “red power” to be awakened. He had to fight Ryu first. He knew he would lose to Ryu, but he needed to fight him to destroy the body he was in and unlock his full potential as Phantom Bison.
So the final question is why would Necalli’s goddess set him up to fail? It’s because of his purpose as a Tzitzimitl. He doesn’t just destroy: he is part of the preparation of a new age. Necalli will eat more people than just Bison. All of those souls will be brought to Itzpapalotl’s kingdom to be resurrected in a new world. The Aztecs believed that there were four worlds the gods created prior to the present, fifth one.
The goddess is planning for a sixth.
(You can find all of the research done on the Aztec Gods and the Tzitzimitl mentioned in this article on Wikipedia.)