In 2018, I reached out to Daniel Lindholm to understand G’s theme and what his thoughts were as he was writing the song. During my research into Street Fighter, there were a lot of questions that came up that I needed to clarify in order to understand the characters better. So, I decided the best way to do it was to reach out to people who would know the characters better than anyone. I have contacted two individuals involved with the Street Fighter series. One of them is Richard Epcar, who voices Akuma in Street Fighter V. I asked some questions about how he felt regarding certain elements of his character, and he very kindly took time out of his schedule to respond.
(Aside from some minor editing for style and word choices, the interview is listed exactly as written.)
1. As someone whose played different characters in the Street Fighter series, you would have a wider idea of the motivations of certain characters as they’re portrayed in their respective stories. You were Edmond Honda in the Street Fighter II animated movie, which is not canon but reflects Honda’s canon personality, and you are currently Akuma in Street Fighter V. What would you say is the biggest difference between the two characters in terms of both their sense of honor and their reasonings for their actions?
A: Well, you’re asking me about a character that I did like 20 years ago. But as I recall E. Honda was a decent person, whereas Akuma is a brutal character. One who only cares about defeating his opponent. And he doesn’t care how he accomplishes it as long as he wins.
2. In Street Fighter V, Akuma is seen as wiser than he has been portrayed in the past. While he is still the destructive force he has always been, it seems his motivations are more dignified than him simply wanting to kill people. He’s actually trying to “reach heaven” in his own way. From your view, do you feel there’s a disconnect to his view of heaven versus someone who would consider heaven more karma-centric, or is there something more to his actions that go beyond fighting?
A: He may have mellowed up a bit but he’s still the demonic destructive force he’s always been. And I think his idea of heaven is very different than pretty much anyone else’s. He is a demon after all.
3. On that same note, in Akuma’s story mode in Street Fighter V, Gen tells him that he can’t reach the path of the divine because he is trying to reject his humanity. All throughout the Street Fighter series, Akuma is seen as someone who lives to fight and believes that fighting and killing worthy opponents without mercy will allow him to approach godhood and beyond. From your portrayal of him, do you feel he has completed that goal to an extent, or do you believe that something, like Gen’s words, is holding him back?
A: I believe he’s pretty headstrong and believes what he believes. He’s not about to let anyone dissuade him from his mission.
4. A common fan theory is that Akuma is Ryu’s father, something I brought up in one of my recent articles. Capcom has never come out and stated it, but there are at least two pieces of third-party media that hint at it: the Street Fighter Alpha animated movie and Street Fighter: Assassin’s Fist. In Street Fighter V, Akuma shows an apparent patriarchal disappointment in the idea that Ryu embraced the darkest elements of the Satsui no Hado (he didn’t, but the concept sticks with Akuma). Barring the idea that Akuma is Ryu’s father, however, would you consider Akuma to be a sort of father figure to Ryu? In your portrayal of Akuma, did you find this type of patriarchal quality in him, or did you intend to take it in a different direction?
A: I believe at times he is fatherly towards Ryu. As to whether he is Ryu’s actual father I can’t really speak to that.
5. You’ve acted in some significant voice roles, from Daisuke Jigen in Lupin III to Batou in Ghost in the Shell to Ansem in Kingdom Hearts to the Joker in Injustice. Each character I’ve listed here is known for being multi-faceted, and all have a very interesting perspective regarding what they feel is good and what they feel is evil. Akuma is no exception. So for you as an actor, what makes Akuma stand out versus these previous characters and what did you learn from those previous characters that helped you to better understand the psyche and personality of Akuma?
A: Akuma is pretty singularly focused on accomplishing his goal. I feel all of his power and energy is focused to that end. He’s a very powerful character who focuses on his fighting abilities and destroying his opponents more than pretty much anything else in his life.