The Purpose of Akira Kazama?

It’s uncertain what Akira Kazama’s story is going to be about in Street Fighter V until she’s actually released. It could be heavy, light-hearted, or be a careful balance of both serious and funny considering the characters who would most likely be involved. My guess is that it will take that last path, as Akira’s story was pretty dark in Rival Schools: she had to find her brainwashed brother, Daigo, on at least two different occasions and free him from the clutches of both Hyo Imawano and Kurow Kirishima in successive games of the Rival Schools series. This would certainly shape her worldview of certain people, for better or worse, and could play a role to what her story will end up looking like. However, Akira’s story is interesting because it could go in almost any direction and could lead to some valuable insight on certain characters. So, let’s take a look at the stuff that’s available to us and see what this information could be.

To be clear, my Rival Schools knowledge is a bit weak, although I have played the game in the past. Since I must rely on Fandom to understand the plot of the series, if there appear to be some inconsistencies in the direction I’m going, know that it’s because I can only use the limited pertinent information that I can find (I can find a lot more information on Street Fighter than any other franchise). With that out of the way, let’s do a quick recap of Akira’s story in the Rival Schools series.

Akira, at first, hides her identity underneath a biker helmet, in order to keep people from finding out she’s a girl. This is to both keep unsavory characters away who would want to hurt her and make her seem more of a capable fighter to her allies. She works alongside friends of Daigo, Edge and Gan, who also happen to be members of Daigo’s gang at Gedo High School. Since they care about their leader, they want to help Akira find her brother and try to figure out what exactly was going on regarding the overall events of the first Rival School game. They find that Daigo was brainwashed by a student from Justice High School, Hyo Imawano, who had also brainwashed his own uncle, Raizo Imawano, and eventually free Daigo from Hyo’s control. Now, while it isn’t entirely clear what is actually canon, it’s safe to say that Akira freed Daigo, while Raizo was freed by his estranged son Batsu Ichimonji, the main character of the game.

The canonicity of who freed whom doesn’t really matter for this theory; rather, it’s meant for you to understand the relationships between characters, which will become important later on. So, to keep things in order, Akira is Daigo’s sister; Edge and Gan are Daigo’s friends and underlings (for the record, we won’t be seeing them again in this theory); Daigo was brainwashed by Hyo, who also brainwashed his uncle Raizo; finally, Raizo is the long lost father of Batsu.

From Project Justice, we have Kurow Kirishima, the main antagonist, who is a member of the Darkside Society Organization, also known as the Reverse Society. Kurow had a strong hatred of the Imawano clan, due to Raizo, Hyo, and Hyo’s twin brother Kyosuke defecting from the group and turning to good at the end of the first game. Kurow and the Reverse Society sought to eliminate the three and Batsu, in order to move forward with their own nefarious schemes. Kurow also ended up brainwashing Daigo; however, he also had help from his own sister Yurika to aid him in his mission.

Much like the first game, the good guys won. Kurow disappeared, but his sister Yurika, after apologizing to Akira for the trouble she helped her brother cause, ending up becoming a close friend to Akira. So, Akira has yet another relationship from this game… but it’s not the only one. Since Gedo High School was supposed to be boys-only, she was transferred to Seijyun Girls’ High School, which as its name suggests is girls-only. Here she met and became friends with Aoi Himezaki, also known as Zaki, the former leader of her own girl gang, and Akira, Yurika, and Zaki formed their own team during the events of Project Justice. Yurika, at first being Kurow’s spy, bonded with the other two girls over the course of the game, leading to her eventual face-turn.
“What?”, you ask, eyes glazed over. Yes, it’s a lot of information. So, Akira’s relationships in Project Justice go like this: she is friends with Zaki and Yurika; Yurika is the sister and right-hand woman of the main bad guy, Kurow; Kurow brainwashed Daigo (the second time he fell victim to mind control) to help him defeat the Imawano family, which consists of Batsu, Raizo, Kyosuke, and Hyo.

Akira has a lot of connections with people in the Rival Schools series. As a friend of Sakura, though, she’s going to bring these connections with her to Street Fighter V, meaning there’s going to be an even bigger web. Moreso, there will be indirect connections that Akira’s placement in the series will have a role in. While we know that Rival Schools and Street Fighter are in the same universe thanks to Sakura, Sakura didn’t really have a whole lot of in-game connections outside of being friends with a few characters.

Akira changes this. Through Akira, at least three more characters have gained a level in importance, all of them girls. Two of them, Ran Hibiki and a minor character known as Chairperson, have direct ties to Dan Hibiki. Ran Hibiki shares Dan’s family name, implying a familial bond between the two. This means that Ran is possibly Dan’s sister, meaning Dan could potentially have two sisters, the other one being Yuriko. Chairperson is interesting as she took some mail-in correspondence karate courses from Dan’s Saikyo Dojo and actually uses Saikyo-style to fight. Combined with the idea that Akira fights Dan in her trailer, it’s almost guaranteed that Sakura and Dan will play prominent roles in Akira’s Street Fighter V story.

As to what purpose Sakura and Dan will serve, I’m not entirely sure. My guess is that they will be used as a light-hearted way to introduce Akira to the series. However, it’s the third person that Akira’s presence raises who could arguably have the biggest connection to the story.

Hinata Wakaba is a friend of both Batsu and Sakura. As such, any ties she has to other characters would automatically pull them into the primary conflicts of both Rival Schools and Street Fighter. Hinata herself is a fighter who studied under Ken Masters’ own online courses, meaning she utilizes a similar style to both Ken and Sakura. However, while this link gives her a connection to Street Fighter, it isn’t the most important one she carries. The link isn’t something she does. It’s something she wears.

Hinata’s school uniform is standard for all girls who attend Taiyo High School. Batsu also attends Taiyo, and wears a similar uniform for boys that has the same color scheme. In other words, their uniforms identify them with that school. Why is this important? Because the uniform was originally seen on someone else and was adapted to become the uniform for Hinata and Batsu to wear. Who was it?

I’ve stressed the importance of Ibuki’s story for the past few years. Now things are becoming more fleshed out. Hinata’s designer, Hideaki Itsuno, mentioned in an interview that he liked the design of Ibuki’s school uniform so much that he wanted to use it for Hinata. Moreso, he states that, just like Sakura being made playable in Rival Schools as insurance that it sold, he believed that making sure Hinata and Ibuki had the same uniform and attended the same school would ensure the game became popular.

In other words, this is confirmation that Ibuki attends Taiyo High School alongside Hinata and Batsu.
So what does this actually mean? It means that Ibuki was there for the events of Rival Schools, but did not participate in stopping Raizo, Hyo, or Kurow. She was most certainly busy with the events going on in Street Fighter, but could this be a clue to Ibuki’s true nature? I discussed this with laxorangebookworm, who believes it to be so, and he has good reason to believe it. He was the one who brought forth some of the ideas and evidence seen here. His idea was that Ibuki could be serving under Kurow’s Reverse Society, or at least the leaders of the Glade of Ninjas could. I expressed my doubts over this because of the lack of direct evidence. Certainly, Ibuki’s non-involvement during the events of Rival Schools and Project Justice is a definitive talking point. However, there is one other connection that raises flags, and is Ibuki’s solitary tie to Kurow, Raizo, and Hyo – her ninjutsu.

The Reverse Society is, at its core, a ninja clan, and its members all appear to specialize in some form of ninjutsu. While Raizo’s fighting style is not officially described as ninjutsu, he nonetheless learned to fight from the clan; Kurow’s style is explicitly stated as Kirishima-style ninjutsu; Hyo has a mastery of the katana, a typical sword for samurai, but as seen before in Satsuki’s case, ninjas in Street Fighter can and do wield katanas.

Has Ibuki been taking orders from the Reverse Society all along? It’s definitely possible. Perhaps the Glade of Ninjas has been a front for them this entire time. I’ve shown evidence on several occasions that the Glade isn’t the peaceful village it appears to be. No matter what happens regarding the Glade, though, there seems to be one thing that is destined to happen – Ibuki and Akira will be at odds.

Considering Ibuki is also friends with Sakura, an Akira-Ibuki showdown appears to be inevitable. Even if Ibuki turns out to be completely oblivious to what’s happening behind the scenes, Akira will have a strong distrust of her. Her brother, along with several others, were under the control of a ninja clan who operates similarly to Ibuki’s, and it’s understandable that Akira would want to eliminate a perceived threat.

Basically, Akira’s entire purpose is to shed light on Ibuki’s story, which is as shady and mysterious as any villain’s in the game. This isn’t to say Ibuki is a villain, even though my research points to proof that she might be. Rather, Akira will need to have a strong story to justify her inclusion in the game, and this gives her a potential rivalry and relevance that can carry into Street Fighter 6 and beyond. Now, admittedly, Capcom could make her story much like Dan’s – one of pure comic relief. However, Akira’s story doesn’t warrant a completely comedic tone. Plus, Akira’s too cool of a character to go that direction anyway.

A biker girl fighting evil ninjas? Now that’s pretty cool.

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