The Crisis of the Tiger King

The last time I touched on Sagat was in my theory on the Satsui no Hado, where I claimed that Satsui was based in internal sexual conflict. In his Street Fighter V Story Mode, Sagat briefly, and unwillingly, had an experience with the dark power, staving off the desire to kill people with his willpower alone.

The Satsui no Hado can certainly be associated with the internal struggle some people have with their own sexuality, if his vision of seeing the girl Namupun as a fearsome spectre is any indication. For Sagat, however, there’s more to the story (and his personal conflicts) than just struggling with his sexual identity – he’s struggling to find his personal identity as well.

It can be said that Sagat is a “what you see is what you get” character, much like several other characters in the roster like Rainbow Mika, Zangief, Dhalsim, and Abigail. There isn’t really a nagging mystery behind him. We’ve known his story since Street Fighter 1: he’s a Muay Thai master who was the best at what he did, lost a match to Ryu in which he received the scar on his chest, joined Shadaloo to seek revenge, left Shadaloo because he disagreed with their methods, and now spends time meditating and honing his skills in a secluded Thai village. Sagat’s story is one of change and redemption, and his character development is one of the most dramatic in the series.

However, Sagat’s personal journey is only beginning, as Menat reveals in her win quote to him: “I can see you’ve been through a lot, but your hardship is not yet over…” It’s clear Sagat knows this, as he’s still trying understand the epiphany he had in Street Fighter IV.

While his revelation makes things clearer regarding the path he needs to take to achieve his goals, it’s not going to be easy for him. This isn’t because personal journeys are difficult – they already are, so it’s a given. Sagat’s is going to be harder because of the stuff he’s already done. His past is catching up with him, and we can see proof of this in Street Fighter V.

Take a look at Sagat’s in-game model:

Sagat is covering up his body in order to hide his scars from the villagers he mingles with. Aside from the one Ryu placed on him, these scars have not been seen on Sagat in previous games. While this is most likely because of a changing art direction, his scars nonetheless tell a story, and it’s an interesting one.

Based on the look and color of the scars, it’s possible they’re fresh, especially compared to the scar that Ryu made which is far darker in color. If this is the case, it tells me that he received the scars shortly before he arrived at the village. Where did he get them from? Sagat’s concept art profile states, “His body is covered in scars from training and his fights.” However, the character design book “How To Make Capcom Fighting Characters” proposes another idea.

In Street Fighter IV, Sagat had already had a falling out with Shadaloo, only entering Seth’s tournament to test his own skills. It’s very possible, though, that he wasn’t out of the organization completely – Bison may have tried to recruit him one more time with Sagat turning him down. In response, Sagat was beaten for his efforts.

What I find even more interesting is that there’s a very small, but easily overlooked piece of evidence that could show who his attacker was. This piece of evidence reveals that this person was in close proximity to Sagat at one point, and was likely working a mission for Shadaloo.

It’s a person who has a mysterious past, and are themselves covered in scars.

It’s a person who is considered one of the good guys.

It’s Abel, who was working undercover as a Shadaloo soldier. The evidence that proves it was him? It’s on Rashid’s phone.

Abel, who is part of the same social media group as Rashid, stated that he found Sagat in the mountains. He specifically refers to him as a “former member of the Shadaloo kings”. However, he has no real reason to be there unless he was personally sent to find him, and as an undercover agent trying not to draw suspicion.

“Wait, Abel has no reason to attack Sagat,” you say. “Like you said, he’s one of the good guys.” He is, but he’s also extremely susceptible to mind control. As a creation of Shadaloo, Abel is sensitive to Psycho Power, enough that he gets taken over by it in Cinematic Story Mode.

As shown in the story, Abel can be influenced by it anywhere on Earth, as he’s taken to Karin Kanzuki’s estate from the Shadaloo base and needs to have the energy taken directly from his body for it to release its hold on him. Nash is the one who accomplishes this.

With this in mind, it’s safe to say the following events happened:

1) Under orders from Bison, Abel found Sagat.

2) Abel went online into his and Rashid’s social media group and stated that he found Sagat.

3) Abel encountered Sagat, and told him he was there to recruit him for Shadaloo.

4) Sagat refused. Abel, being on the same side, likely said something along the lines of “I knew you would say that, but I have to make it look like I’m working for Shadaloo.”

5) Abel’s Psycho Power began to emerge, fully taking over Abel’s body.

6) The two fight. Sagat wins, but Abel leaves Psycho Power-enhanced scars all over his body.

This opens up a very interesting possibility. When Sagat ended up feeling the Satsui no Hado in his story mode, it could have been that it was brought on by the lingering Psycho Power Abel had used on him. In other words, even though we know it was Satsui Sagat had felt because of his appearance in Kage’s story mode, Psycho Power could have been the catalyst needed for it to reveal itself.

While this is difficult to prove, there is at least one instance in the Street Fighter series where it’s outright stated that Psycho Power and the Satsui no Hado are related: Sakura’s Street Fighter Alpha 3 ending, in which Bison says this….

If the two powers are related in some way, then it makes sense for Psycho Power to draw out Satsui in Sagat and allowing Kage, as the embodiment of Satsui, to transfer himself to Sagat’s location.

There’s one problem with this theory, though: other characters have taken attacks from Psycho Power without them falling victim to the Satsui no Hado. Why would it affect Sagat and literally no one else? Why weren’t Zangief, Nash, Guile, Chun-Li, or Karin corrupted by it? For that matter, why aren’t those who are already Psycho Power-affected like Cammy, Ed, Falke, and Decapre turning into beings like Akuma? In the latter cases, their bodies were created and manipulated to handle the full effects of Psycho Power. For the others, it’s because of one simple reason: their lack of internal conflict.

In Chun-Li’s case, this leaves me with a bit of dilemma because, according to my research, she actually IS going through an internal sexual struggle, making her a prime candidate for the Satsui no Hado. However, it’s also possible that her strong sense of moral values combined with her incredible focus on finding out what happened to her father keeps Satsui at bay.

Sagat, however, doesn’t have any external challenges or personal missions outside of proving himself as a great fighter. This makes him more prone to the Satsui no Hado’s influence since he isn’t distracted by something else. Certainly, he would want to protect the village that took him in when he had nothing. As it states in “How To Make Capcom Fighting Characters”, Sagat’s clothes were given to him by the people of the village.

With no real threats and plenty of time to focus on himself, though, he is able to fully explore the question of his identity. In fact, it was what he was searching for before he ever joined Shadaloo.

However, he was so good of a fighter and so certain of his own skills that he became arrogant, proclaiming himself the King of Muay Thai. He was finally beaten by Ryu, holding his infamous grudge for years. While Sagat eventually mellowed, his arrogance stayed with him. He still calls himself “The King”, and he even acknowledges this in his SFV story mode when he fights himself.

After facing his shadow, what does Sagat say to his pet tiger?

This is where Sagat’s true conflict comes from. Sagat’s fight is with his own ego. After being humbled by Ryu, then humbled by the people of his village, Sagat is struggling to stay humble. His ego won’t let him, and the fight is so strong that, with Psycho Power being the final push, it awakened the Satsui no Hado within him.

The last scenes of Sagat’s story mode allude to this.

Sagat wants to have his cake and eat it too. He wants to be called “King” while at the same time working hard to earn the title. He wants to live up to the moniker, and will do whatever it takes to be worthy of the name he’s given himself. It is his identity. He is arrogant and humble at the same time, and the conflict between these two opposite forces drives him towards his goals and towards the path of the Satsui no Hado.

The way it looks, it’s a path he must proceed on.

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