Something kept nagging me about Akira’s story mode in Street Fighter V. I hated it with a passion because, on the surface, it’s all fluff and fanservice. I hated it because there was a better story that could have been told that would have given Akira a more solid reason to be in the game outside of fan demand. Mostly, I hated it because I felt it was a complete waste of time for the player. However, I could forgive all of that if there was something substantial in the details of the story that I would have missed.
I must therefore say, reluctantly and through clenched teeth, that I may have to forgive the developers because they might have developed a substantial story that I could not see through my initial visceral rage.
If they would have put something more overt, like Q coming to get the girls (and Daigo), I would have been much more satisfied with the story. It would have cut through all the fluff and I would have praised Capcom for the epic twist.
This did not happen, though, and I was extremely unsatisfied with the story… until I looked deeper, diving into the details of it, desperately swimming through a whipped cream-coated fantasy straight out of Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. (Editor’s note: There is no strife I know than to learn with pure exasperation. Know the lore and you’ll see the main source of my frustration.)
Even though Willy Wonka has a darker tale to tell, this theory would nonetheless be my third dive into the fluff to try to find something. As it turns out, putting a reference to the future of Street Fighter at the end of Akira’s story mode may have been asking for too much.
The reference came at the beginning.
This is just Ibuki walking with Don-chan on the roof of the Kanzuki estate. Ibuki loves to walk on roofs, and this is most likely because the developers want to depict Ibuki as an agile ninja with no fear of heights. In general, ninjas in the series really like to walk or stand on roofs for some reason. However, there’s something that separates Ibuki from the likes of Zeku and Guy: Don-chan.
I’ve talked about Don-chan in the past. He is an experiment in genetics; he understands humans and, unlike the other tanukis in the Glade of Ninjas, is trained in ninjutsu. Not only does Don-chan make for a perfect science experiment, he makes for the perfect spy. Don-chan’s presence at the Kanzuki estate is more than just him following Ibuki around out of love: he’s there to look for information.
Ibuki doesn’t talk about him at all in Akira’s story mode – she seems to be more concerned with the tea party. To be fair, Ibuki is there for the tea party. She wants to hang out with her friends… but to say that she knows nothing about Don-chan’s intentions would be short-sighted. They’re too close. She definitely knows he’s there to snoop around and gather information for her and the Glade of Ninjas.
It just so happens she likes cake, so she is genuinely interested in what Karin has to serve at the tea party. She would literally be having her cake and eating it, too; while Don-chan does all the ninja work, she gets to enjoy expensive tea and pastries.
Basically, Ibuki isn’t just a ninja with an agenda. She’s also a mooch.
This seems to be a theme among some Street Fighter characters. Oro is a mooch as well, showing up at Dhalsim’s place in SFV apparently completely uninvited, but is welcomed nonetheless. This isn’t really proof that Ibuki is evil, but the two have separate goals: Oro wants to pass on his wisdom to Dhalsim, and Ibuki wants to steal information and possibly technology from Karin. One person wants to repay someone for their hospitality, and one person wants to take as much as they can from someone who showed them hospitality.
So why would Ibuki want to steal from someone she considers a friend? Simple: her ninja clan comes first. Karin is a friend, but the Glade is her family, and she would definitely steal from Karin if she felt her family would be in a better position for it. Even though Ibuki yearns to be free from the life of a ninja, she never once actually makes a run for it – she has a sense of duty to the people who raised her.
Now, I’ve stated that she will likely join the Illuminati in the near-future due to her desire to be free reaching its natural apex. It would give her the excuse she would need to break away of her own volition. However, even if she did, the Glade would want her back. I’ve stated in the past that Ibuki was the best ninja the Glade had, and this is all but confirmed by Karin herself.
If Karin is this impressed with Ibuki’s skills, then the Glade were successful in their original plan of creating the perfect ninja. Ibuki is loyal, obedient, and physically capable of doing all the things asked of her. These traits would also make her the perfect soldier for Gill, and he would no doubt use her as a pawn while telling her what she wants to hear.
In the meantime, though, Ibuki remains committed to the Glade and their way of life. As I was discussing how deep Ibuki’s story went with fellow Twitter user @matbookworm2 (who is currently writing an excellent fan fiction called Sidekick which you need to read https://www.fanfiction.net/s/13883093/1/Sidekick), particularly in regard to her relationship with the Glade, he mentioned something that bears repeating:
“The Glade of Ninjas are preparing for something that’s about to happen. Not sure if they’re necessarily evil. They’re certainly survivalists.”
When he said that, that’s when I realized the true nature of the Glade. Even if the Glade’s agenda is shady and, to borrow Mat’s term, “unsavory”, they’re nonetheless survivalists. They live off the land in preparation for anything that is about to come.
Like, say, an apocalypse that is being pushed into overdrive by a man in a black top hat.
Ibuki’s intense ninja training is all about one thing: the survival of the clan when the world falls apart. They believe that the ways they’ve practiced for hundreds of years would be able to sustain them. So it’s really a matter of what the Glade knows and doesn’t know. Are they run by the Reverse Society from Rival Schools? Do they have a hidden agenda regarding control of the world? Have they been pawns of G the entire time? Is the technology they’ve apparently been secretly acquiring for years part of an elaborate plan to transform their best ninja, Ibuki, into the ultimate Q?
“Slow down there!,” you say. “There’s no evidence that Don-chan is stealing from Karin!” So where was he during Cinematic Story Mode? It was shown that Ibuki was with Don-chan when she was at Karin’s estate. They were in close proximity the whole time.
This brings up of one of the most frequently used artistic concepts in visual media: hammerspace. Wikipedia describes hammerspace as “a fan-envisioned extradimensional, instantly accessible storage area in fiction, which is used to explain how animated, comic, and game characters can produce objects out of thin air.” Street Fighter V uses this extensively both in gameplay, whether it’s for Rainbow Mika’s calling of Nadeshiko, Akira’s summoning of her brother, Daigo, or Ibuki pulling her Fuma Shuriken out of nowhere; and in the story, like when Cammy presented the package containing one of the Black Moon keys to Chun-Li. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hammerspace
Don-chan, even though he was never seen in Cinematic Story Mode, was nonetheless still around, and it could be argued that, much like Nadeshiko, Daigo, Ibuki’s shuriken, and the package, he was simply waiting in hammerspace until he was called on. What makes this unlikely, however, is that while the cutscenes are canon, the battles the player interacts with are not, as their outcomes are subjective to the player’s skill. In Nadeshiko’s case, considering she isn’t seen in the cutscenes of A Shadow Falls and only appears during said battles when she’s called upon, it’s likely that Nadeshiko never canonically entered the base – only Mika did. Any battles where she was used was merely a way for the player to get comfortable with playing Mika. The same could be said for Daigo in Akira’s story mode, but considering he actually appeared in the very last scene, it’s canon that he was around.
Don-chan doesn’t really have this excuse. Even if the developers’ intention was that Don-chan was at Ibuki’s side the entire time when she was at Karin’s mansion and Shadaloo headquarters, since they didn’t program Don-chan into Cinematic Story Mode at all, there’s reason to believe Don-chan was doing some sort of reconnaissance while everyone was distracted. In other words, while Ibuki and Don-chan may work for the forces of good, the truth is they’re only working for the Glade’s best interests.
“But there’s no proof Don-chan did anything!,” you insist. This is where we reach an impasse, since there is no proof either way that Don-chan was doing much of anything at all. However, when it comes to agenda, there is one scene that might show Ibuki’s true colors.
This is the image that people have most requested I comment on in a theory. To my knowledge, I have not commented on it at all on the blog (and if I have, I simply do not remember which theory I covered it in). So now is the time to bring it up. This image shows three characters that Ibuki has encountered, even if she didn’t fight them directly: F.A.N.G, Necalli, and Dhalsim. However, in her memories, she sees them as not just opponents, but supernatural, terrifying monsters. Their ghoulish forms represent what Ibuki truly thinks of them. This is understandable for F.A.N.G and Necalli, one who would love to experiment on, torture, and kill her, and one who would love to eat her after she stuffed herself with Karin’s decadent sweets (Necalli is a straight-up cannibal; he eats the entire bodies of his victims and no matter how much Capcom tries to hide it, it’s pretty clear he likes the taste of flesh if his win quote to Abigail is any indication: “Meat-eat-eat-eat. Delicious-us-us-us.”)
However, Dhalsim is an ally. Even if Ibuki thought of him as being as freaky as F.A.N.G and Necalli due to the nature of his powers, it’s been shown many times that Dhalsim has no ill intent towards her or anyone who fights for good. This leaves us with one of the most terrifying traits that Ibuki could potentially have: the complete inability to determine good from evil.
In other words, Ibuki is a sociopath.
It’s easy to see that Ibuki’s brutal ninja training played a huge role in shaping her worldview, and the worst thing of all is that, at some point, Ibuki may have stopped caring completely when the realization dawned on her that she would never escape the ninja life. This may have come from Dhalsim himself, who tells Ibuki in his win quote in SFV, “We all have a duty to perform, from which none of us can ever run away.” Ibuki is forever trapped, her shattered mind slipping more and more into darkness, something that no amount of tea, cake, and fluff can fix.
Gill really is her only way out.