Ibuki: The Consequences of Love

I hit a wall after writing the Oro theory. I haven’t run out of information or anything. There were quite a few things I’ve found out since. However, the information I’ve found has been incredibly scattered. I can’t really use a lot of the tidbits that have come my way because they’re too singular. I can tell you that Abel was named by Charlie Nash. I can tell you that Blanka’s name came from Brazilians who saw his white skin before he transformed. I can tell you that Karin is a popular character among the developers.

And I can tell you that Chun-Li got married… maybe.

The guy on the right, in the purple suit, was confirmed to be Chun-Li’s date in one of her endings in Street Fighter II, meaning any hopes Juri has of getting with Chun-Li herself are dashed unless Chun-Li comes out as sexually flexible. It could happen, as Chun-Li does show some signs of same-sex attraction, but nothing that would do more than raise the occasional eyebrow.

However, this theory isn’t about Chun-Li. Her story is quite interesting, but I wanted to write another Ibuki theory. After finding the things I have about the ninja girl, I’m convinced that her story is going to take a dark turn. I’m seeing Geki Ibuki. I’m seeing Cyborg Ibuki. I’m seeing Betrayer Ibuki. I’ve also seen Underage Drinker Ibuki.

What else could there possibly be? How about Gold Digger Ibuki?

When I first saw this scene, I wasn’t sure if Ibuki was trying to stay with the old men around her or get away from them. As it turns out, in Street Fighter Memorial Archive: Beyond the World, it’s confirmed to be the former, as a caption in Ibuki’s profile for this very scene states, “Ibuki is impressed by the number of handsome men at the party.”

In other words, Ibuki is into old, fat guys.

However, she is not exclusively into old, fat guys. She also likes young men and “cool boys” as well, if her quote to Ed in Street Fighter V, among others, are any indication:

“I mean, you’ve got the looks, but you seriously gotta work on your conversation skills.”

She admires Ed’s looks, thinks Cody is hot, thinks Guy is a hunk, and even finds Blanka cute, telling him in SFV, “You really gross me out, but there’s something kinda cute about you too…”

This shouldn’t really be unexpected, as this is a girl who thinks toads are cool. Since Ibuki isn’t all that picky with the guys she wants to be around, it’s pretty safe to say that Ibuki could fall in love with literally any man in the game if Capcom so chose it, even Bison or G! (Editor’s note: Please do not ship Ibuki with Bison or G. I already ship them in a love triangle with Rose.)

So, since Ibuki doesn’t seem to care about looks or age, is there a common theme among the men she finds attractive?

Yes. Wealth and power.

The men at Karin’s party are obviously part of the elite, by virtue of Karin inviting them. When Karin isn’t running girl’s tea parties, she’s entertaining people with influence, and judging by the men with Ibuki, these people are far from random strangers coming in off the street – they dress rich, look clean, and flaunt their wealth.

Ibuki’s love of powerful men extends to Ed, Cody, and Guy as well. Ed is the leader of Neo Shadaloo, Cody is the mayor of Metro City, and Guy is the 39th Grandmaster of Bushinryu. All three have influence within their respective occupations, and Ibuki appears to like the idea of being with a man with that kind of authority.
Normally, this would be an understandable trait, as it’s a preference that is seen in real life as well. Young women around Ibuki’s age tend to be attracted to more mature guys who have some manner of wealth, strength, or intelligence. Ibuki is no exception… but this really brings her background into question.

Ibuki is a ninja prodigy who wants to be a normal schoolgirl. She’s pretty blatant about her dislike for ninja training, even though she’s one of her clan’s best students, if not THE best. However, Ibuki’s story seems to want to take off into a few different directions, the first being that she wants to get with a man so she can get out of being a ninja. This seems to be the path of least resistance. If she can find someone who is willing to take her in, she can finally fulfill her dream. She would no longer have to bend to the will of her clan and would be out of the Glade of Ninjas entirely.

Of course, considering the Glade is a Lamarckian cult, it wouldn’t be that easy. The Glade is not going to let their best ninja walk away. If Ibuki really thinks her clan would just let her go, she’s dumber than how she’s already perceived by those she fights in battle. Ibuki is ditzy, but she’s not stupid. Also, from what I’ve researched about her, she’s very loyal to those she considers family, so even though she’s trying to jump on every guy she sees, she won’t abandon her clan unless she has a very good reason to.

In other words, she’s not gonna leave the Glade for a guy she barely knows.

This leads us to the second scenario: Ibuki wants to live both as a ninja and as a regular girl. She wants to achieve balance between her two lives and would experience the best of two worlds, the one she knows and the one she dreams of. This would be the optimal way of living for her. She could continue to live with her family and her man and be able to freely go between them whenever she wants.

The problem with this, of course, is that it wouldn’t be achievable. Considering that the Glade specializes in secrets, Ibuki integrating into the outside world would be considered a threat to their way of life. Even if she wasn’t, both the Glade and her guy would be demanding her attention at the exact same time. Ibuki would run herself ragged trying to appease both, but in the end, she would have to focus on one and only one, and this leads to our final scenario.

It could be that Ibuki, while certainly looking to fulfill her lustful desires, is nothing more than a puppet for the Glade. They WANT her to find a wealthy, influential man because it would be a boon for them. They would take complete advantage of Ibuki’s partner and use his resources to achieve their own goals. Ibuki would simply be the means of how they do it, and yes, Ibuki would be completely aware of this.

Since I’ve looked deeper into Ibuki’s background in the past, now’s a good time to call back everything I’ve researched thus far. This would be my sixth theory digging into Ibuki’s story, with her narrative being expanded on as I go. These theories bring a lot to the table, and really show how much there is regarding Ibuki’s portion of Street Fighter lore:

The Hidden Evil: https://manestreetblog.com/2019/02/20/the-hidden-evil/
Ibuki, the Betrayer: https://manestreetblog.com/2020/07/07/ibuki-the-betrayer/
Ibuki vs Predator: https://manestreetblog.com/2021/04/01/ibuki-vs-predator/
Street Fighter’s (G)roup Project: https://manestreetblog.com/2021/05/21/street-fighters-group-project/
Where the Summer Breeze Blows…: https://manestreetblog.com/2021/06/27/where-the-summer-breeze-blows-a-few-thoughts-on-ibuki/

So, after everything I’ve written over the past couple of years, the question is what direction will Ibuki’s story go? The answer depends on what Capcom is willing to do. Do they want to keep her as a ditzy ninja schoolgirl forever or are they willing to give her the much needed character development and explosive villain turn her story is desperately wanting? Capcom is known for playing it safe, but with Takayuki Nakayama directing the Street Fighter series into the foreseeable future, there’s a good chance that Ibuki’s story will indeed become more fleshed out. Considering that Ibuki is one of the central characters involved with the G File, leaving her out of the main roster of the next game could prove to be very detrimental to progressing the story. So what could Nakayama potentially do to set up an Ibuki villain turn?

Let’s take a look:

1) Ibuki, having lived with the Glade of Ninjas her entire life, could be fully indoctrinated with their shady beliefs. She isn’t entirely without her own will, but everything she does revolves around what’s good for the Glade. She wants a boyfriend not just because she’s seeking companionship, but because the Glade is pushing her to find someone who can help them.

2) While she still considers Sakura, Karin, and Akira friends, as a kunoichi, she can serve the Glade by gathering intel. She shows up to Karin’s parties not just to work under contract or indulge her sweet tooth, but to spy on Karin and her zaibatsu. If Karin knows, this would cause an interesting bit of tension between the two.

3) At this point, Ibuki needs to make a decision: either leave the Glade and keep her friends, losing the only family she’s ever known, or leave her friends and continue her intense ninja training under the Glade. The Glade would try to force her hand and coerce her into staying, even if that means physical threats. The Glade would not let her go peacefully.

4) The Glade’s plan for Ibuki, to turn her into a super soldier, is sped up into high gear. By this point, Ibuki will have already retrieved the G File, the last piece of information the Glade would need to finish their “Ibuki Project”. Now, Takayama has a choice: does the Glade complete their mission and convert Ibuki into the Geki/Cyborg Ibuki they have always wanted or does she escape?

5) Little does the Glade know that Ibuki has already made an agreement with Gill: her life for the G File. She has voluntarily become a member of the Illuminati since she saw the writing on the wall. She is now a lackey of Gill.

6) …Or is she? This is where stuff can get weird. Remember Fei Long’s ending in Street Fighter IV where Seth got stabbed in the back by a kunai?

At this point, it’s time to reveal that it was Ibuki who threw the kunai, having worked for Seth under contract before they went nuts, and now we have a whole new weird situation where Ibuki has worked for at least four factions: the Glade of Ninjas, the Kanzuki zaibatsu, the Illuminati, and S.I.N. Ibuki lives up to her mercenary roots.

7) No matter what fate Takayama decides, there will be a conversation between Ibuki and her now former friends who want nothing to do with her because they don’t trust her, leaving Ibuki hurt and feeling like an outcast.

8) Finally, it all ends one of three ways: Ibuki gets transformed, she joins the Illuminati, or she sets out, with or without Don-chan, on her own, becoming a wanted woman the world over, leaving her as Ibuki the Wanderer.

Now, this is a dark and ultimately tragic turn of events for a character who has been comic relief for over 20 years, but these events may also be the only way to advance the story of Street Fighter while keeping her central to the plot as the game demands. Certainly, it’s Ryu who will save the world, but Ibuki’s the one who’s setting him up for his moment.

Takayama could decide not to include her in the story or game at all, but this is the one chance he has of creating a great narrative around G and the G File. Leaving Ibuki out of the running would mean he would have to find a way to tie loose ends that aren’t very clean.

“But wait!,” you say. “G doesn’t fit into Ibuki’s story at all! Why would Ibuki even matter?” I’d argue that G indeed does fit since it’s his name on the G File, but you’re right. Which is why there is one potential scenario that Takayama can use that not only fits the overall narrative but actually would fit Ibuki’s character:
Ibuki works for G.

This would be the fifth on-screen faction she would work for, but considering she’s a mercenary for hire, she would take the job. G has the money, but he could end up just turning her into a Q, which would ironically work out in the Glade’s favor as that’s pretty much exactly what they wanted to do to her.

Admittedly, it would be quite interesting to see Ibuki don the Q mask. She’d be no stranger to face coverings considering she already wears one and she spent her whole life training in the shadows.

In a sense, she’s already a Q.

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