Based on the research I’ve done, Ibuki’s story seems to be going a number of different ways. With her clan behind the original blueprints of what would become the G Project, her personal ties to the Illuminati, and her apparent soon-to-be blood feud with Akira Kazama, is it any wonder she drinks?
Ibuki seems to be going through the ringer, and it really all stems from one idea: the fact that Capcom really loves the Udon comics, and looks to be wanting to adopt more ideas from them. The main thing they seem to want make canon? Dark Ibuki.
In fact, despite the calls for Dark Sakura to be canon to the game (I would know – I’ve been wanting this myself for decades), it’s Ibuki who seems to be the one character whose story is leading her down a dark path she can’t control. Interestingly, Rose tells her in Street Fighter V, “Naivety has great potential. I see opportunities to better yourself in your future.” She says something similar in Super Street Fighter IV: “Do all you can now. This will help your future self achieve great things.”
So, is Ibuki destined for greatness rather than darkness? Well, the issue is that as powerful as Rose is, she isn’t the most reliable of fortune tellers. The Fool card that has been so prevalent in her story may have been misread this entire time, if her story with G is any indication. Also, Rose’s SFV arcade ending seems to show that Rose still doesn’t have a complete grasp on her own power.
In fact, it’s Oro who shows more knowledge of spiritual forces than Rose by the virtue of being older.
Basically, Rose can’t really give Ibuki anything but a vague “keep doing what you’re doing”, to which Ibuki does not take kindly to. As she complains in SFV:
“Seriously?! That’s my future?! Even more brutal training?! Count me out!”
Ibuki would rather find a boy to spend her time with, and in IV, she asks Rose if she sees “a cute boy” for her in the future. While Rose doesn’t answer her query, interestingly enough, it’s Menat who gives her an answer in V:
“I looked into your future, and saw the perfect boyfriend for you. And… maybe some things are better left unsaid.”
So, Ibuki does have a potential boyfriend lined up for the future. The problem is Menat’s fortune telling is worse than Rose’s, and she is still very inexperienced regarding Soul Power. However, as it turns out, for smaller types of readings, Menat can be dead-on. She predicted Ed and Falke’s future; she also gave prophetic warnings to Oro and Bison. That being said, the way Menat ended her quote is somewhat ominous. For some reason, Menat doesn’t want to tell Ibuki who her future boyfriend will be. It could be that Menat doesn’t want to mess up their relationship. For example, if Ibuki’s college ninja trainer in Third Strike is meant to be her boyfriend, Ibuki could mess it all up by seeking him early, finding out he was actually meant to be a Glade of Ninjas plant, completely erasing her Third Strike ending from canon (and, unfortunately, leading to the idea of multiple timelines that Rose will have to fix by traveling to the past; I really don’t want that to happen).
However, there’s another reason that Menat may not want to tell Ibuki: her taste in men is not the best. We already know that Ibuki is into bad boys. Her win quotes against Cody in both SSFIV and V say it all:
IV: “I do like bad boys. Those handcuffs are overkill, though. Wait – Are they real!?”
V: “I’m loving the whole edgy, bad boy heartthrob mayor thing you got going on! It’s kinda hot!”
If Ibuki’s future partner does turn out to be a bad boy, it makes sense that Menat would keep her mouth shut to protect Ibuki and stave off the relationship for as long as she could, especially if the bad boy was irredeemable.
It could be that Ibuki’s descent into evil could be finalized by her future boyfriend.
So the question now is, “Who would it be?” Who could possibly hold enough influence over Ibuki to make her turn her back on everything she knows? Well, after talking to several people over the last few years, I have a hunch, but the problem with this hunch is that there is nothing I can do with it until the story advances. I can’t create a theory with it. I won’t be able to research the evidence because it doesn’t exist right now. Quite simply, I can’t say anything until more information is given.
This, unfortunately, leaves us up a creek without a paddle. Where do we go from here? Is there anything we can look at that might be able to give more insight on Ibuki’s dark future? Well, the answer might have already been revealed, and that answer lies in science.
We’re not going into any particular branch of science, though. We’re not measuring anything. What we are doing is determining how science, in general, has an impact on Ibuki’s life. Yes, her ninjutsu requires science and precision, like what the best angle to throw her kunai would be. However, we want to know how much science has on her personal life.
It turns out, quite a bit.
I’ve stated previously that Ibuki’s clan appears to be a Lamarckian cult that believed certain physical traits among animals (including humans) could be inherited by progeny. This was shown to be more or less true regarding the clan’s usage of tanuki. Based on my research, Don-chan was the end result of this type of experimentation. He could do things others couldn’t, like understand human language and practice his own form of ninjutsu.
Since Ibuki is his caretaker, she’s already taking part in a scientific experiment, testing Don-chan’s aptitude in stealth, fighting ability, and, the most important of all, human interaction. Ibuki treats Don-chan less as an experiment and more as a pet. This comes off in her win quote to Cammy in SFV:
“You like cats? What about raccoons? Wanna cuddle my Don-Chan?”
Ibuki isn’t shy about giving other people a chance to pet her anthropomorphic tanuki. Unlike Seth or G, this closeness doesn’t seem to be the case of trying to brainwash people or get data. It seems like a genuine interaction… which in itself is a test for Don-chan to make sure he isn’t clawing at people out of fear and skewing the results of the tanuki experiment.
What it all comes down to is this: how much does Ibuki know? Yes, she hates doing ninja things. We know she’d rather be out with friends rather than being forced to train every day to keep herself in pristine fighting shape. However, she retains a sense of duty, which tells me that all she really knows is how to be a ninja, and she feels that she can’t just get up and leave.
Unfortunately for Ibuki, she’s fully indoctrinated into the Glade of Ninjas. Their truth is her truth. Their knowledge is her knowledge. Having been described as a “young ninja prodigy” in her character profile, it would make sense then that Ibuki would have a mastery of ninjutsu. Her profile continues, “She’s an expert in ninja tools and hand to hand combat.” This means that whatever lessons Ibuki learns from the Glade, she ends up succeeding and excelling at. https://game.capcom.com/cfn/sfv/column/131109?lang=en
This means that, even though she can be a very silly character at times, she’s also incredibly intelligent. I’ve stated it before: she’s the best ninja they have. They sent her to work for Karin, who utilized her for the strike on the Shadaloo base. They tasked her with retrieving the G File from Gill. They sent her to fight one of the most canonically powerful fighters in the game just to complete her ninja exams.
Ibuki is secretly one of the strongest fighters in the game, and this is reflected in her top tier gameplay status. Some characters think she’s weak, but they’re underestimating what it is she actually does. Think of her as the midway point between Dan and Akuma. She has intelligence much like Dan’s, but she can use it in an effective way. She has several of Akuma’s strengths, including energy blasts, offensive pressure, and even something of a teleport (she achieves this with smoke bombs, but it counts).
In essence, Ibuki is something of a shoto.
“Wait. Are you going to say that Ibuki is going to fall to the Satsui no Hado?” It’s possible, considering literally anyone can fall to it whether they use Ansatsuken or not. The stuff going on with Necalli and G could lead her down that path, but even if she did, it would be a different type of fighting style. She would still be a ninja – she’d just be a Satsui no Hado-powered ninja.
Capcom could certainly pull this off. What I see, besides the fact that the Glade of Ninjas wants to convert her into a cyborg, is that Ibuki has the ability to learn anything quickly. Sakura is similar – she can pick up things simply by watching others do them. Ibuki, however, has been formally trained to do what she does, and she is able to adapt her techniques as needed. If she wanted, she could probably copy any shoto move perfectly and add it to her repertoire.
In other words, Ibuki’s greatest strength is her adaptability. She’s the Glade of Ninjas’ version of Seth, and this might be what the Glade had in mind this entire time. This would fit the narrative as, since the Glade’s experiments predated the Doll Project, it could be Ibuki, and not Juri or Chun-Li, who is the basis of Doll Unit Zero.
This, of course, is all dependent on what Capcom wants to do with her story. After seeing everything that’s there, it’s clear that Ibuki is going to play a bigger role in Street Fighter’s overall plot. Still, it all comes back to the original question: what does Ibuki know?
I don’t know, but I suppose we’re going to find out.