The Decline of Dan Hibiki

Dan Hibiki returns to Street Fighter V as the Dan we all know and love: the buffoonish, self-centered, tactless goof we’ve all grown up with. Everything about Dan’s appearance in the game fits his character. There is absolutely nothing different about him. He’s learned nothing, he’s still reliant on his friends, and his head remains in the clouds. His grandiose delusions also make a comeback. He thinks he’s famous. He thinks he’s cool. He thinks he won the last fighting tournament (at least he does in the English translation – in Japan, he merely states he was a participant… although I like the idea that he thinks he won it all).

For better or worse, Dan is still Dan. Everything I’ve stated about him in my previous theory on him still applies. He’s still an aggressive, bitter, egotistical hypocrite. Look at the way he treats poor Blanka!

If anything, Dan has become worse with time, his illusions of greatness completely blinding him to his own faults. For example, the TV commercial he created was flawed – he never put an address in, so no one knew where he was. It also appears that Dan, being as smart as he could be, seems to be bereft of original thought. He finds his greatest successes in copying the work of others. As I stated in “Great Teacher Dan Hibiki”:

“While he can’t fight, it isn’t the fighting that makes him stand out. Rather, it’s his ability to create and adapt as the situation demands it. While Saikyo is an amalgam of different martial arts, the idea that he’s able to create it at all means he’s done his research regarding multiple forms of martial arts.”

From copying other martial arts to fit his style to copying Blanka-chan to market himself, Dan seems to have an inkling to plagiarize everyone to make himself seem that much better. Then again, the idea that he has knowledge of what others do shows Dan is paying attention. He can at least recognize what works well enough to make it benefit him in some way.

So, we’ve reached something of a wall here. Dan hasn’t changed one bit. There isn’t much in the way of character growth for him as he is incapable of growing. Even Sakura alludes to this in her win quote to him: “We all have to grow up eventually. How about it, Dan?”

In fact, Sakura’s entire story was about personal growth, going from “I want to fight Ryu” to “I want to have Ryu’s kids”. Dan’s story is the exact opposite. He changes his tactics to pursue the same goal: to make Saikyo-Style world famous. He has failed at every attempt at this, although it needs to be said that even though his business is a failure, he still has enough influence to get G to shake his hand in G’s ending.

This brings us to a very interesting focal point in Dan’s story: he actively seeks out G in his Street Fighter V Arcade Mode much like Gill does in his. The difference is that Dan only imagines that he beat the President.

This tells me that Dan and G have likely canonically met. I mentioned all the way back in my E. Honda theory that G has the power to create fantasies, and that’s exactly what happened to Dan in his SFV ending – he got beaten up so badly he went into a dream-like state where he thought he won.

You could argue that G had no intention of putting Dan into an unconscious fantasy and that this was just a consequence of losing… and you’d probably be right, because G didn’t seem to want anything to do with Dan at first glance. As of this writing, Dan is the only character who doesn’t encounter G as a secret boss; that honor goes to Sakura, who is probably chasing Dan for the money he owes her.

Since G is the end boss for Dan’s Arcade Mode, we can make the assumption that G was not watching him closely like he was with other, more competent fighters. G simply didn’t care about him enough to seek him out. Dan’s persistence won in the end, though, and the two finally met, Dan fighting G to a loss. G was obviously irritated to have to fight him at all, but as the ending clearly shows, there wasn’t really much he could do about Dan’s free will… at least not until he turns Dan into a Q.

As weak as Dan is, he’s going to get turned into a Q anyway, since even though G recognizes Dan’s not going to be a very useful Q, it would go completely against his message and ideals if he didn’t. As G himself says in his win quote to Dan, “It is no contradiction to say we can all be the strongest! I am here to prove that!” In other words, G really doesn’t have much of a choice – even Dan Hibiki has to be included in his plans, and G feels he can make Dan strong through him.

Even though G feels he has an obligation to make Dan strong through Q-ification, no other character feels the same way. In fact, no other character feels anything at all for Dan with the single exception of Karin, who straight up calls him out for his relationship with Sakura: “I fail to see what Sakura could possibly learn from a miscreant like you!”

Almost every character besides Karin and G either just wants Dan to go away, or they realize how hopeless he is and provide quotes which can be visualized with a facepalm. Here’s just a few examples:

“You could be so much stronger, if you took this seriously.” – Ryu
“I only accept worthy challengers. Why did you think you could challenge me?” Sagat
“I suffer no fools!” – Urien
“Unnecessary data. Deleting…” Seth
“Begone, filth.” – Bison

Even poor Necalli can’t do much with Dan: “Devour-our-our…Ack!”

However, there is one win quote that truly stands out from everyone else’s, and it comes from an unexpected source:

“To not know what one seeks… perhaps that too is harmony.”

This comes from Gill, of all people. His quote, much like many of his other ones, indicate him as being a deep thinker, and he ponders what Dan’s purpose to the overall world of Street Fighter is. What makes this such a surprise is that every other confirmed villain in the game treats Dan like a nobody. Even most of the heroes of the game don’t like him.

Gill philosophises him.

So, what do we make of this? Is there a reason why Gill is letting Dan off so easy when he wouldn’t even let Sakura off the hook?:

“You seem lost. All you must do is my bidding.”

In comparison, he asks nothing from Dan, merely contemplating that Dan has achieved his own kind of harmony. What is Gill’s mindset here?

It seems that Gill realized something about Dan that no one else did: that Dan has no idea what he wants, that everything he does is to achieve a goal that is vague even to him, that he has no clue what he’s doing and no idea how to get where he wants to be. This seems to be the one secret that Dan has hidden away. We know why Dan does what he does – he wants to honor his father. We know how he wants to do it – he wants to honor his father through martial arts. The one thing we don’t know is the what – what is Dan’s main goal?

“Well, it’s to spread Saikyo around the world, right?” Sure, but to what end? Is Dan truly honoring his father’s legacy, or is he using his father’s death as a crutch to advance himself? With everything we know about Dan, it’s probably the latter, and what makes Gill’s quote so on the nose is that Dan likely doesn’t know that he’s doing it.

In other words, Dan is oblivious to the fact that he’s not carrying out his father’s legacy, but his own. How do we know this? Because Go Hibiki did not practice Saikyo – he practiced Buraiken. Dan created Saikyo himself.

Dan is trying to honor his father with a martial art his father never used. Dan may have thought he was advancing what his father had taught him, but the truth is he destroyed everything his father held dear, including himself.

Leave it to Gill to know all of that just by looking at him.

One thought on “The Decline of Dan Hibiki

  1. I also was hoping for more out of Dan’s story. Given the mechanical facelift he got and that his leading the charge on this season of DLC was weirdly celebrated by fans and Capcom themselves, I let myself believe that maybe he’d get a more satisfying story. Finding some other purpose for himself. But status quo is god. Still, there is one other win quote that’s curious, and that’s Rose’s after she beats Dan: “Folly is the mask worn by the… Hmmm, I see no harm in you walking your own path.”


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