Glico, the company who makes Pocky, recently released a new campaign for their signature product: a crossover with Street Fighter V. Beginning with Ryu and Chun-Li, Glico would release five different boxes with different paired up characters. The other four are Cody and Lucia, Alex and Rashid, Vega and Cammy, and Juri and Menat. Each pairing of characters had something unique about them. Ryu and Chun-Li are the stars of the Street Fighter series, Vega and Cammy represent Shadaloo, Cody and Lucia represent Final Fight, and Alex and Rashid were the main protagonists of their respective games, SFIII and SFV.
However, the one odd pairing, Juri and Menat, doesn’t really make sense from looking at the boxes. They have nothing in common, and don’t really interact in the game. However, there appears to be a story that isn’t being told on the surface that involve these two characters, and it all starts with a quote from Menat:
“So, don’t take this the wrong way, okay? But it seems to me that you’re actually very lonely.”
Menat tells Juri this in a win quote, and as Menat has shown many times in her own story mode that she’s not above confrontation to pass on prophecies to those she thinks needs them, it would not be out of Menat’s nature to help Juri work out her deeply-rooted problems. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t8xTz4Q1Osg
How does she do this? She starts by getting Juri to relax… at Honda’s sento.
How do we know that Menat brought Juri there? There’s a few ways we can tell. First, based on the eyes of the characters, it appears that they’re looking at each other, meaning there’s some sort of unspoken relationship between the two.
You could argue that Juri is breaking the fourth wall and actually looking at the player, which is not out of her character and something I will address a little later. However, we can tell Menat probably isn’t looking at Laura because that picture of Laura is not unique to this scene; it was used earlier in Honda’s Story Mode.
With Ibuki and Mika already in a friendly, canonical rivalry, it stands to reason that they would go to Honda’s bathhouse together. Since Rose did not appear to come to the bathhouse at all, this leaves Menat and Juri, again, as the odd pair out and suggests that Menat is really trying to get Juri to come out of her shell.
We also know that it’s Menat who brought Juri, and not the other way around, since Juri invites people for aggressive hedonism rather than taking it easy. She provokes Cammy, Chun-Li, Bison, and others to fight her by using strong innuendos and double entendres, meaning fighting isn’t the only thing on Juri’s mind. And there’s one particular picture that shows this more than any other.
This picture is from the game Street Fighter Battle Collection, a Japanese-only non-canon card game featuring characters from across the series that was a predecessor to Teppen. Juri is in the holiday spirit in this particular card, dressed quite sensually and posing for the player in a seductive way.
However, there’s something else to note here – she may not actually be posing for the player.
Now, there’s a chance that this shadow is a representation of the player or even the artist who drew the picture. However, this doesn’t mean that the person doesn’t exist in that particular card. Basically, she’s posing for SOMEONE in-universe, most likely male and Japanese (since the game was produced in Japan and Street Fighter has a male demographic). While this art is non-canon, since we’re still dealing with how a character is presented within the world of Street Fighter, we can safely conclude that Juri enjoys the company of men.
Moreso, this art appears to be a remnant of an idea that was scrapped during Juri’s development. In an interview translated by a person going by the name of Jigsaw that was featured on Event Hubs, Super Street Fighter IV’s scenario designer, Emiko Kawasaki, states, “Originally, Juri was going to be a nice girl who happened to be with the bad guys, kind of like a tragic love story.” https://www.eventhubs.com/news/2009/nov/05/latest-japanese-developer-blog-translated-jigsaw/
If the concept of Juri being part of a love story was and still is being considered throughout her development, then we can probably point to a specific event that affects Juri even more than the murder of her parents: someone breaking her heart, i.e. the shadow man.
I’ve stated previously that Juri is seeking companionship for both business and pleasure, and her pursuit of Cammy is just one of the many ways she’s shown this. Juri likely doesn’t care about the gender of the person she seeks, and her way of dealing with Seth in SFV also brings about the idea that she’s done with men, albeit in a very subtle way (moving Seth from a male to a female body). https://manestreetblog.com/2020/05/16/a-juri-of-her-peers/
This would make sense for Juri, who is known for being vengeful. For a woman who would have had her heart broken by a man she sincerely loved, the complete rejection of male suitors in favor of women, who in Juri’s mind were easier to maipulate and control, would be the ultimate conclusion for someone who was inherently bisexual.
In other words, Juri gave up on love with men because she was so hurt and is likely seeking female companionship to make up for it. This isn’t to say she isn’t sexually attracted to men anymore, as her innuendos to male characters clearly prove. As Jessica Straus, Juri’s voice actress, brought up in our interview:
“I actually assumed she liked men because of the way she was originally written. I think Juri’s basically very comfortable with her own sexuality and often uses it to distract her opponents, male or female.” https://manestreetblog.com/2020/08/08/a-few-questions-for-jessica-straus/
Juri knows what she wants and knows how to get it, at least to a certain extent. This is where Menat comes in, who, being a psychic, knows all about Juri’s inclinations and takes her to the bathhouse where she can mingle with other naked women (and if Juri so chooses, men).
The friendliness between Menat and Juri are the reason they’re on the Pocky box together. The story Capcom wants to tell with these two characters is good-natured, and not just because they have opposite personalities that would make a striking dynamic for cookie packaging.
As the old adage goes, “Opposites attract.”