First things first. watch this episode of Street Fighter Red Tape from the long-since-cancelled TBS show “The Pete Holmes Show”. It will give you a better understanding of what this theory will be about. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HYDza1iznhI
From a logistical standpoint, holding a tournament with this amount of flamboyance would break even the mega-rich Bison. I did a theory on how much his Black Moons cost once upon a time, and let’s just say the man is making some bucks what with being a drug warlord and all. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zwct2AEikts
That being said, it makes you wonder how it’s even feasible to hold a worldwide fighting tournament that spans multiple locales around the globe. After reading the “Street Fighter: Sakura vs Karin” comic given away during Free Comic Book Day, I believe I have the answer on why, and how, it’s able to be done.
First, let’s talk about the comic. Like it says in the title, it’s Sakura vs Karin going head to head in a… video game tournament. The game they’re playing is a revamp of Pocket Fighter. This is the first page.
Now, I’ve blacked out all of the text so as not to spoil too much. However, as you can see here, Chun-Li and Morrigan are facing each other in combat, with gems all around. Obviously, this is what the game looks like in the comic, and, *** SPOILER ALERT *** Sakura is the one controlling Chun-Li in the game.
In fact, it’s revealed that there are a number of other Street Fighter and Darkstalkers characters in the game as well. This has nothing to do with the main plot outside of being a transitioning panel, so it isn’t a spoiler. However, as I read on, I noticed several things in the comic: Sakura wearing a Capcom shirt, several references to business exchanges, and of course, this panel:
As you can see, there’s something very peculiar about it. Notice anything?
Yep, that’s Blanka on the side of the cup. As you can see, with this and Chun-Li (and several other characters) being in the Puzzle Fighter parody game, Udon unleashed the Easter eggs in this comic. It fits with Street Fighter’s brand, as the game is very self-aware and leans on the fourth wall quite a bit. However, with the series being genre savvy, there’s an unintended consequence – the self-awareness is canon.
Chun-Li leans on the fourth wall in one of her quotes in Street Fighter Alpha 3: “Hey, leave me alone. I’m a fighter, not a news reporter.”
However, Ken pretty much breaks it in Street Fighter 4:
One of the more prominent FGC memes floating around at the time was that Ken players followed a flowchart when attacking. https://knowyourmeme.com/memes/flowchart-ken
Of course, you’re probably saying, “These were Versus Mode generic quotes. They didn’t say these in story.” You’d be right, but remember: these quotes were specifically made to fit the personality of their respective characters. Therefore, fourth wall breaking is a personality trait, and it doesn’t just affect the characters. The stages and costumes in the game also lean heavily on the fourth wall (even though most of the costumes aren’t canon, the stages most certainly are).
So, the real question is why are the characters being so meta? For us in real life, it’s just Easter eggs and fanservice. But what are the implications for the game itself?
Well, this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TeXatquVqAc
“Money?,” you ask. “Well, I guess that makes sense. But what about someone like Ryu who does it for the fight?”
You would think that’s all Ryu cares about, if his Street Fighter II ending is any indication. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aR0TYZm7V-I
However, money was never mentioned in his ending; it was the ceremony that wasn’t really his thing. Also, there’s something else I need to point out: street fighting tournaments in the world of Street Fighter don’t pay anything at all. Makoto’s ending in Super Street Fighter 4 proves this. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vsgR2neGGlQ
So, what do the tournaments do that can give the fighters the resources necessary to get them money? It makes them famous. Look at all of the cameras surrounding Sakura in her Ultra Street Fighter IV trailer. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V3720qXA5rU
Also notice how much Dan was hyping Sakura as well as his own dojo. As I stated in my theory, “The Horror of Ken’s Blue Eyes” (https://manestreet.home.blog/2019/02/20/the-horror-behind-kens-blue-eyes/), Dan, despite being destitute in his Super Street Fighter 4 ending (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t-PNKQo0l9s), has enough influence to be acknowledged by G in his ending. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TA4q01T_kOY
In fact, G’s story mode addresses the issue of how much influence a famous fighter has, as Rashid (and to an extent, Menat) is able to increase the viewership of his Footube channel. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a4GdkNgMpLo
Now to address the elephant in the room: how did Dan make the money to be able to create the Saikyo Channel, as seen in G’s ending, and get the influence he needed to have a steady stream of students? Quite simply, he sold his image.
So did Ryu. So did Ken. So did Chun-Li. In fact, every single character in the game, even Necalli, sold their image. How do we know this? Chun-Li’s and Ken’s meta quotes. Ken’s quote implies that the Flowchart Ken meme is a thing in the Street Fighter universe, but it’s CHUN-LI’S quote that is more impactful! Why? Because it implies that the 1994 Street Fighter movie, the one with Jean-Claude Van Damme, is a thing in the Street Fighter universe as well!
By becoming famous in the Street Fighter II tournament, each of the fighters, from Ryu to M. Bison, were approached in the hopes of getting their images in a movie. They all agreed to it, and the rest as they say is history.
You’re no doubt rolling your eyes at this idea, so let’s take this even deeper. We’re going into full meta territory, because Bison saying “This is delicious entertainment,” while a great line, is otherwise kind of unbecoming of a man with Bison’s power. https://youtu.be/P6KKsSAbbaM?t=1207
When you put it all together, the meta jokes lead me to one conclusion: Street Fighter is an actual video game franchise in the Street Fighter universe, and the games we’ve been playing are the same games they play.
Udon references this idea in their comics quite a bit, but it wasn’t the first time that Street Fighter got meta outside of the games. In Street Fighter Alpha: The Movie, in the hospital, Sakura plays a Wonderswan with Pocket Fighter, playing as Chun-Li. (I tried finding a good screenshot, but there was nothing clear enough to put here.)
The only possible way any of this could happen is through in-universe licensing. It explains how Ryu can afford traveling the world without Ken constantly giving him money. It explains why the tournament is so important to fighters in the game even if it doesn’t pay.
Mostly, though, it explains one of the oddest, funniest images in Street Fighter history:
If you pay close attention to this picture, you’ll realize that AKUMA is the one taking the selfie. It’s Akuma’s phone!
“Ok, that’s a reach,” you say. “How do you know it’s his phone and not Elena’s?” Simple. Akuma knows how to work it. If Akuma didn’t, Elena would be the one taking the shot. “But Elena could have just told him how to use it!” In a volcano with lava bearing down on them? Do you think Elena has enough time to explain how to use a phone before they get covered in molten rock? Plus, knowing Akuma, do you think he’d have the patience to listen to the advice of a stranger he just met? “Well, couldn’t they be using a regular camera?” Do you honestly think Akuma knows anything about camerawork?
Akuma NOT being technologically illiterate isn’t as shocking as it would seem. Take a look back at G’s ending and you’ll see two people who have been watching his videos that logic tells you shouldn’t be: Dhalsim and F.A.N.G.
Dhalsim has never been shown to utilize technology in-game until this very moment, and F.A.N.G., while he certainly has access to technology, wouldn’t seem to be the type to watch Rashid, let alone anyone else, in a video anyway. So to say Akuma wouldn’t have access to some type of technology, even if he doesn’t use it that much, is the real stretch.
Finally, to put everything in perspective, once the licensing is done, there’s a little matter of payment. And while it might seem odd to picture everyone standing in line to pick up a royalty check, the good folks at Capcom have conveniently provided this as well. https://twitter.com/JWonggg/status/1073691162303582210
As you can see, money makes the world go ’round.