Blanka, the Uniter

Writer David Roth, prominent freelance journalist, recently put out the following tweet:

A lot of people in the FGC, myself included, took offense to this tweet. I fully understand the context of it. It was meant in jest, and was a simple posture comparison of a certain president that wasn’t this guy:

That being said, what riled me up about the picture wasn’t that Roth made the comparison, but that it wasn’t a fair one. Not about the guy in the blue suit, but of Blanka himself being compared to a man who couldn’t unify a glass of water with his mouth (plenty of pics out there – go look at them yourself). Since a good chunk of my readers lean conservative, I will try to keep this as apolitical as I can; however, please keep in mind that since the tweet above brought politics into the mix, this particular article is going to focus on the idea that Blanka is a great leader and, in my not so humble opinion, has done more to unite the world than the man with the spray tan.

No bull – Blanka has done more to unite the world both in and out of Street Fighter than many, many politicians.

Let’s start out with some context. Street Fighter II, the game Blanka first appeared in, was originally released in 1991. The game eventually took off to spawn the series Warriors of the World would know and love, and in turn launched a gaming revolution that continues to inspires developers to this day. One of the original eight playable characters in Street Fighter II, Blanka quickly became a fan favorite, and to this day is a beloved legacy character. In fact, Blanka himself has entered the mainstream as a symbol of Street Fighter, and when your name (and the names of several of your fellow characters) is mentioned on Family Guy, you know you’ve become part of the zeitgeist. https://youtu.be/L6FIrRwaRBk?t=11

However, since Street Fighter is a world-renowned game, Blanka has gone from being a selectable video game character to becoming a symbol of national pride. Blanka’s home country of Brazil loves the character so much, that as far back as 2009, Brazilians lobbied to make Blanka a symbol for the 2016 Olympic games, complete with artwork, as you can see here on Global Voices. https://globalvoices.org/2009/10/21/brazil-the-challenge-of-hosting-a-worthwhile-olympic-games/#

Someone even went as far as creating a Facebook page lobbying for Blanka to be the OFFICIAL Rio Olympics mascot (it didn’t get much traction, but it’s there).

More so, in 2010, when Tommy Tallarico brought Video Games Live to Brazil, this happened: https://youtu.be/W3uDcU-9aEA?t=105

Yes, that’s several thousand Brazilians chanting Blanka’s name as Tallarico and the band play Guile’s Theme. After listening to this, it’s pretty clear that Blanka can bring up some strong feelings in people.

However, this is “just” the real world! Blanka has been able to change things in his own world as well, a lot of it with the help of his friend, Dan Hibiki.

In Street Fighter Alpha 3, Blanka meets up with his friend Dan for the first time in a long time, and the two have a friendly match. In Street Fighter II, Blanka enters the Street Fighter tournament in the hopes of finding his mother. He succeeds, and is living with her by the time of Street Fighter IV. However, as Fandom states, “Blanka leaves his mother because people kept staring at him, and goes to Hong Kong with Dan. [He decides] to enter the S.I.N. tournament… with Blanka himself wanting to win and earn people’s respect.” https://streetfighter.fandom.com/wiki/Blanka

As of IV, Blanka has not been accepted by society at large, and he tries to clear up any misunderstandings about who he is. As Blanka puts it, though, it was Dan who got him through the worst.

As I’ve pointed out in a previous theory, Dan, despite being a goofball who can’t fight very well, is an incredibly intelligent and empathetic man who tries to help people as much as he can. https://manestreet.home.blog/2019/12/07/great-teacher-dan-hibiki/.

In fact, Dan helps Blanka reunite with his mother after he leaves her to enter the SFIV tournament. https://youtu.be/BAa0QeWRvd8?t=52

In Street Fighter V, it appears that, for the most part, Blanka is more accepted in society, as his frightening appearance doesn’t seem to bother people as much as his antics, especially the pushing of his Blanka-chan dolls. His Story Mode makes it unclear if the Blanka-chan dolls actually succeed in the in-game universe, although Blanka-chan became a popular meme around the FGC and elsewhere, with people even cosplaying as it in real life. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rD5ccA0F3zA

However, based on a canon side reader, Blue Christmas In Summer, it can be assumed the Blanka-chan dolls did become popular, as Laura Matsuda ends up using the same manufacturer for her own merchandise. https://game.capcom.com/cfn/sfv/column/132150

This means that Blanka, through luck and perseverance, became a successful businessman, being able to sell his likeness and allow more people to accept his image through it. In other words, he was able to unite people through the power of a toy. It’s interesting how this actually reflects real life. In-game, Blanka uses a toy to make money, help his mother out, and promote his image as acceptable. Outside of it, his creators, Capcom, used a game to make money, help their fledgling company out, and promote their game heavily, making Blanka a world icon and a symbol of Brazil.

Blanka, therefore, can be considered the ultimate good in Street Fighter, and a figure of hope for the world. Who else could be created by a Japanese company whose name is chanted at a Brazilian concert led by an American musician?

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