Ibuki, the Betrayer

In a previous theory, I stated that Ibuki was the hidden evil of Street Fighter. Her clan, the Glade of Ninjas, is essentially a Lamarckian cult with an interest in genetics that piqued the interest of Gill and the Illuminati. Ibuki herself is a willing participant in the clan’s research, although she ended up striking a deal with Gill to not only complete her mission, but to give her the freedom and life she dreamed of. https://manestreet.home.blog/2019/02/20/the-hidden-evil/

Ibuki appears in the comic mini-series Street Fighter Legends: Ibuki by Udon, where it is revealed that an abandoned Ibuki was raised by the Geki clan and was meant to be their greatest assassin. In the fourth and final issue, we get a glimpse of what Ibuki was meant to be:

While this is not canon, Capcom praised Udon for what they did with the story, and there is precedent that if they like an idea enough, they’ll run with it. Look at what they did with Decapre.

Basically, based on certain plot points of the game, there is room for Ibuki to undergo a radical change, from a cute and ditzy schoolgirl to a callous and ruthless assassin, if she isn’t in the midst of that change already. I’ve pointed out previously the evidence that is there to show what is actually going in the Glade of Ninjas, but there’s one point that I sort of glanced over: the idea that Ibuki was the one who threw the kunai at Seth in Feilong’s ending in Street Fighter IV.

Only two characters in the series have been shown to use kunai, Guy and Ibuki, and Ibuki is the only one who uses kunai on a regular basis. It has been speculated that Guy was the one who threw the kunai to save Feilong’s life, and he had more of an involvement with the dealings of S.I.N. than Ibuki did. However, there are a few things wrong with this theory:

1) Guy has no reason to help Feilong. He doesn’t canonically encounter Feilong at all in Super Street Fighter IV, instead focusing on his mission to protect Rose, and the only inkling that he would try to help Feilong is in his win quote to him: “The winds of battle have washed over us both.” This quote reveals absolutely nothing, and the idea that Guy would rescue Feilong (who at this point has already beaten Seth and can fend for himself) simply as a pointless favor is out of character for Guy. Plus, if Guy was the one who threw it, then he’s breaking one of his own core tenets: understanding the narrative of a person’s life.

Feilong was trying to find answers that Seth ultimately never gave him since he took the kunai to the back. If Guy threw it meaning to help, he screwed up by not letting Feilong question Seth further. Guy would have also gotten information to understand S.I.N.’s involvement with Shadaloo and would be able to figure out how best to approach the situation. Screwing up is not in Guy’s character either, so this leads to believe that not only did Guy NOT throw the kunai, but the person who did was trying to do something else, which leads me to my next point….

2) The kunai was a message to Feilong warning him not to get too close. Moreso, it seemed to be intentional on Seth’s part- it was basically Seth’s plan B. We know this because of Seth’s reaction to being hit:

Seth grins before going down, meaning it was their plan all along. Basically, Seth must have employed someone to take them out before anything was revealed, and the kunai thrower did their job exceptionally well.

3) Keep in mind that even though Ibuki desperately wants to live her life as a normal girl, she is still a mercenary for hire, as shown by every story mode she’s had in the Street Fighter series with the exception of IV. In Street Fighter V, she’s under contract to work with the Kanzuki zaibatsu. In Street Fighter III, she is the one assigned to retrieve the G File from Gill. In Street Fighter IV, she breaks away from ninja training to meet cute boys, which would honestly be a terrible reason to enter a street fighting tournament… if that was the only reason she entered in the first place. As her quote to Ryu in IV points out, however, she had something else in mind:

“I get credit for this in both ninja class and phys-ed. Convenient, huh?”

In other words, Ibuki’s stated reason to simply meet boys isn’t the only reason she enters the tournament: she’s on an actual mission given to her by the higher-ups of her clan. So why is she so afraid of getting caught by her teachers in training camp? Because the teachers don’t know she’s on a mission either! More so, as evidenced by the very last frame of her ending, this isn’t the first time she’s been caught sneaking back into her village!

Ibuki’s punishment for sneaking back, while embarrassing for Ibuki, wouldn’t be that severe, especially if she has protection from the higher-ups.

4) There’s one piece of evidence in Feilong’s story that shows why Ibuki’s missions would be so clandestine.

This quote is in reference to the pressure Feilong’s producers got for his movie Street Tournament II. Several changes were made to the script, and several members of the film’s crew were injured. The quote explains the modus operandi of the main antagonist of the movie, an organization similar to Shadaloo and S.I.N. They were forced to make the change since it hit “a little too close to home.” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y22vNp8YWbg

However, there are two points to look at in this quote. The part about causing ethnic violence runs parallel to the Glade of Ninja’s potential Lamarckian ideals. Since they would already have a strong interest in genetics, especially with their experiment involving Don-chan, the idea that their ninja clan would be seen as superior to other races wouldn’t be too far off from their primary goals. The part about money laundering also plays a part in the Glade’s plans, as being paid under the table would serve two purposes: it ensures that the Glade can continue their studies and cleans the money that S.I.N. would otherwise be caught red-handed with.

5) The final piece of the puzzle, in regards to the kunai, is one quote that Seth makes in Feilong’s Street Fighter IV ending that is extremely cryptic: “…there are times when the truth is close to being discovered.” https://youtu.be/UeOULFKZI_I?t=5

While this may at first glance looks to be a simple boast of the “you can’t stop me” variety towards Feilong, in reality, Seth isn’t talking to Feilong – they’re talking to the player.

That’s right. Seth is breaking the fourth wall.

They’re telling the player that the player is close to the truth, and it is up to the player to figure out what that truth is. Guy holding the kunai in his ending is an intentional red herring by the developers to throw off the players. And before anyone says, “But Ibuki wasn’t implemented until Super Street Fighter IV!”, keep in mind: neither was Guy. Capcom knew that both Guy and Ibuki were going to be in the game at some point, and they had plenty of time to plan this out.

By now, you’re probably shaking your head going, “This can’t be right. It has to be Guy. Guy has more of a stake to stop S.I.N. Plus, Ibuki’s too cute and dumb!” Except… she isn’t. She was the lone representative from her clan to be contracted to the Kanzuki zaibatsu. She was the only person they entrusted to battle both Gill and Oro, two of the strongest characters in the Street Fighter canon, in Street Fighter III. More so, Ibuki was sent to retrieve the extremely important G-File from Gill, and she was told to fight Oro AS A TEST. Ibuki isn’t just some ditzy girl: she’s the strongest ninja they have!

As I said earlier, the Glade has a very keen interest in genetics, and Don-chan was one of the results of their experiments. However, another experiment they have is still a work in progress: Ibuki herself. She is a willing part of the experiment, as evidenced by both her mate-seeking tendencies and her unwavering devotion to her clan’s practices. She never questions the jobs she’s given and just does them – successfully. The only hint that she’s bothered by the tasks she’s assigned with is in her win quote to Bison in Street Fighter V: “Give up on this world domination nonsense already! If you don’t, these weird jobs will never end!”

Even then she sees her occupation as a mild annoyance rather than something to be troubled by. However, she remains a faithful ninja for one reason only: it’s all she knows. If she were to leave her clan, she would be leaving behind the only family she has. Unlike the Udon comics, there is nothing in-game regarding her parentage – much like Ryu’s, it remains a mystery. Her loyalty, forced through strong familial bonds, therefore makes her the perfect subject to experiment on, and makes Ibuki feel even stronger ties to her clan since she feels wanted.

It makes perfect sense that Capcom and Udon, through the free exchange of ideas, would be able to tell their own stories their own way, while having their stories run parallel regarding certain points. However, there is one last thing to consider, one that could change the course of Street Fighter’s plot and set both sets of stories on divergent paths: Ibuki’s involvement with the Illuminati.

Why would Ibuki end up joining the Illuminati if she was so loyal to her clan? As I stated in “The Hidden Evil”, Gill would have offered her freedom – freedom from her responsibilities, freedom to do what ever she wanted. In fact, this is what Gill offers to everyone who helps him fulfill his prophecy. He promises a utopia to those who obey him, and Ibuki has shown signs of interest. This is hinted at in her win quote to Gill in V: “What text? Like a secret scroll or something? Hmm…”

By the time Street Fighter III has come about, Ibuki knows about Gill’s prophecy, and has likely already informed her clan about his presence. They, in turn, send her to fetch the G-File, which at that point was already taken from them (most likely not by Ibuki, meaning there’s another mole in the clan somewhere, but that’s a theory for another day), and from there, Gill officially offers her the chance to join him, which she eventually does.

Finally, we get to the last part that supports this entire theory, and serves as one of the biggest clues to Ibuki’s questioning of her identity: her default costumes in Street Fighter III, IV, and V, seen here in chronological order (meaning IV, V, and III):

In IV, Ibuki retains her ninja outfit. In V, however, she has decided to mix and match her ninja and school uniforms. This caused some outcry among fans, but in the context of this theory, it makes perfect sense: Ibuki is trying to balance her two lives in harmony by the time of V’s plot, yearning for the life she truly wants. By the time III comes around, she decides to return to the ninja costume, knowing she is bound by her clan… but also knowing that there is another option available to her. The change of costumes then are a reflection of Ibuki’s psyche in the timeframes she is seen in, a constant back and forth between what she is and what she wants to do. She is torn in two different directions, and by the time III comes around, she knows she can only choose one.

For the Glade of Ninjas, their experiment is over.

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