The Secret to Oro’s Immortality?

The mysteries behind Oro has perplexed gamers since his inclusion in Third Strike. His design has struck critics as odd, but the old hermit has gained a following amongst Street fighter players both for his weirdness and his fun gameplay. However, the biggest secret behind Oro is one that has puzzled real-life scientists for centuries: the secret of eternal life. After some deep and at times contradictory research, I am offering my theory on Oro’s immortality, and there is a lot of real-life science involved. While this theory doesn’t go into everything I would like to talk about, it should provide insight into the biological mechanisms that could lead up to it, and most importantly, provide answers to one of gaming’s greatest questions.

We start off by looking at the turtle, one of Oro’s favorite animals, and a symbol of longevity in Japan. Its long life has been speculated to be a positive consequence of its naturally slow metabolism, and was once thought to have negligible senescence, or the inability to age. While research has shown this to be somewhat untrue, turtles can still outlive generations of humans, and Oro’s interest in them provides the first piece of evidence to Oro’s own longevity. Did Oro somehow found a way to slow his own metabolism down to the point he could control the speed of his own aging? If so, what is it, and how can it be done? As it turns out, the processes behind them are as nuanced as Oro himself.

Cryptobiosis is a physiological state that allows one to slow their metabolic processes to an almost complete standstill. Plants and certain microorganisms have developed this ability, which comes in handy to endure extreme conditions, such as brutal cold and drought. In order to sustain this state, the subject goes through a process of vitrification, basically turning themselves into glass until the danger is over. This would explain Oro’s preference to live alone: he would be in an extremely vulnerable state in this time, and would literally shatter to pieces if he were mishandled.

Though he keeps many pets, it’s possible he thinks animals are easier to train than humans, and has likely trained his pets to leave him alone in this state, except to bring him water, which is important to bring him out of it; he needs water to revive himself, since he needs to replace the water in his body with another element. The water replacement hypothesis regarding cryptobiosis states that something would have to replace water to bring the vitrification process into effect. For the organisms that go through it, that replacement is a sugar called trehalose, which is found in fungi, insects, and shrimp. This sugar is not produced naturally in the human body, and since Oro is, for all intents and purposes, human, he would still need to find a way to ingest enough of it to begin cryptobiosis.

Normally, he would have to eat a ton of shrimp, insects, fungi, or corn starch to do this. However, this is incompatible with his character being an animal lover, and there isn’t exactly a mountain of corn starch in his cave (also, it contradicts another point that’s going to be made later), so this is automatically ruled out. However, what he could do is consume moderate amounts of yeast to get the same results. Since he has a weakness towards women, I wondered if it was possible if he could get that type of yeast from some, shall we say, unfortunate young ladies. As luck would have it, this is not the case, as that particular strain is far different from the yeast required in baking. However, there is another way he could get it: by making it himself. There are plenty of fruits in the Amazon he could use to make it, but it would require him to use a very large amount of fruit. So, how could he possibly get a constant source of yeast to be able to slow his metabolism? It’s like I said: make it himself, or rather make it IN himself.

There is a rare condition called auto-brewery syndrome, where intoxicating quantities of ethanol are produced naturally in the digestive system. The culprit is said to be an organism called saccharomyces cerevisiae, which allows fermentation to occur in the stomach. This same culprit just so happens to be the yeast needed to produce trehalose, and is also naturally occurring yeast in the human stomach.

So, the yeast is already in his stomach, but do we have evidence that his yeast has gone into overdrive to produce ethanol in his body? Yes, we do!

There are two pieces of evidence. The first, his demeanor. Most hermits are reclusive and tend to stay away from people. However, Oro is extremely friendly to outsiders, something that could be spurred by having copious amounts of booze in his system. Also, his physical tics are signs of a neurological disorder that could be caused by long-term alcohol production in his blood. However, there is one very strong smoking gun, something that is a physical attribute of Oro and something I haven’t mentioned until now: his skin.

Excess bilirubin in a human body creates a strong yellow tint in the skin of those affected. Bilirubin is a chemical produced by the liver, and any damage to the liver, like through excessive alcohol consumption, can affect the production of the chemical. Oro’s skin is a clear sign that his liver isn’t working properly. However, it does not seem to affect him in way.

That’s because he’s lucky: he has only contracted Gilbert’s syndrome, which is completely harmless and only causes excess bilirubin. However, his lifestyle only exacerbates it: dehydration, fasting, and strenuous training aggravates his condition, and the more he does that, the more yellow his skin gets. He’s golden because of that excess bilirubin in his system. But the strangest part? That excess bilirubin is actually a benefit! Studies have shown that excess bilirubin in an elderly person leads to higher overall functioning. So, Oro reaps all of the benefits with minimal risk. 

After all, isn’t that the secret to immortality anyway?

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