Street Fighter: Virtues and Sins

There hasn’t really been a whole lot to write about recently, since Street Fighter V’s story has concluded and Street Fighter 6’s is about to begin. I have bounced a few theory ideas around, though, trying to figure out what a good topic would be. I wanted to stay away from G, Q, and Ibuki because I’ve written A LOT on them, and they’re always my go-tos for article ideas. Karin would also be on that list, but she’ll be involved in this article and I would like to write more on her anyway.

Before you jump off, no, this is not a Karin article. However, she holds a particular quality to her character that is pertinent to this theory. Let’s see if you can figure it out from Akira’s story mode in Street Fighter V.

As Sakura points out, Karin has the tendency to “go big” in order to impress her guests, spending countless amounts of her immeasurable financial wealth just to get some cakes for a tea party. Karin, despite being known as stuck-up and arrogant, likes being flashy with her money, and spends generously just to make sure her friends have a good time. Because of this, Karin’s most notable positive trait is her charity.

This runs contrary to her tarot card, however.

The Street Fighter tarot cards give several characters a definable quality, and Karin got Strength. Considering the Street Fighter tarot deck does not have a “Charity” card, it makes sense for Karin to get Strength as she exemplifies the positive attributes of the card: “Power, energy, action, courage, magnanimity; also complete success and honours.”

What makes this more interesting, however, is that, historically, the card was known as Fortitude. What do Charity and Fortitude have to do with each other and why can’t Karin have both traits? First of all, Karin does have both traits. However, in the Street Fighter universe, she is the only conceivable character who reflects the trait of Charity – she is actively giving her money away. But these aren’t the only traits she carries; she also holds Prudence, Justice, Temperance, Faith, and Hope. You should recognize these qualities as the seven heavenly virtues.

Considering Christian mythology played a role in the creation of both the Illuminati and G, it stands to reason that it continues to play a part in the ongoing story, especially when it comes to individual character lore. Karin holds all of the heavenly virtues, as do several of the “good guy ” characters. However, if Karin reflects Charity the best, who best reflects the other six?

This is actually difficult to answer without making some changes to the virtues list. Faith and Hope are less definable qualities than the other virtues. Perhaps Ryu and Sakura could fill those spots, but there are too many characters who reflect those attributes, so because of that I’ll have to remove them from the list.

So, what do we replace them with? The Seven Virtues Wikipedia article above discusses three different lists, and the most pertinent to our needs are the heavenly virtues and the list that was revised by Pope Gregory V, which included Chastity, Temperance, Charity, Diligence, Kindness, Patience, and Humility.

The two lists share the traits of Chastity and Temperance, so we can include them on our list. So, what do we do with the rest? Since we’re primarily basing this theory off of the heavenly virtues and are including Charity as a trait, and because Karin represents both Charity as a heavenly virtue and Strength/Fortitude as a tarot card, we can replace Karin’s Fortitude with something else that has a similar flavor, Diligence, and give this trait to her best friend and rival, Sakura, who is the character in Street Fighter that best exemplifies this trait, if her constant training and chasing down of Ryu are any indication.

So, we now have four traits on our virtues list – Charity, Diligence, Chastity, and Temperance. What are the other three? Prudence, Justice, and Humility. Prudence and Justice were part of the heavenly virtues, and since Kindness and Patience were shared by too many characters, this left Humility as the final virtue for our list. So, as it stands, the seven virtues of Street Fighter are Charity, Diligence, Chastity, Temperance, Prudence, Justice, and Humility.

Temperance and Justice both have corresponding tarot cards.

Along with Karin, these firmly plant Crimson Viper and Chun-Li as the representatives of Temperance and Justice, respectively. Prudence is also represented in the tarot cards, even though it’s more the attribute of the card than the card itself.

Since the Hierophant represents teaching, and Prudence, being essentially logic and reason, is a trait of teachers, Guile would be the character who best embodies the virtue.

This leaves us with Chastity and Humility, and Ryu and Dhalsim would be the characters who best represent those characteristics. Ryu shuns the idea of a family (and all of Sakura’s advances) in order to focus on the meaning of the fight, and his nature embraces Chastity as a means to do it. Dhalsim is faithful to his religion, and shows his own form of Humility by wearing the skulls of dead children around his neck to keep himself grounded to his path; he knows he isn’t fighting for himself.

With all of this in mind, we now have a list of Street Fighter characters who best represent specific virtues:

Charity – Karin
Diligence – Sakura
Temperance – Crimson Viper
Justice – Chun-Li
Prudence – Guile
Chastity – Ryu
Humility – Dhalsim

“Wait, this is confusing,” you say. “What’s the entire point of this? Why are you associating Street Fighter characters with singular traits if you stated yourself that many characters share these attributes?” Simple. We need a personification of the virtues of Street Fighter because their more famous opposites already have personification.

“Their more famous opposites?” Yes. We know them as the Seven Deadly Sins:

Greed – Balrog
Sloth – Cody
Gluttony – Birdie
Wrath – M. Bison
Envy – Urien
Lust – Juri
Pride – Vega

All of these characters have represented the dark side of humanity at some point in time. Both Birdie and Cody have reformed, but nonetheless still hold onto the sins that ruined them in the first place – Birdie’s uncontrolled appetite runs counter to Viper’s virtue of balance and Cody’s uncaring, slothful nature runs counter to Sakura’s exuberance.

Balrog’s love of money, Juri’s love of sex and killing, and Vega’s love of himself are the polar opposites of the virtues wielded by Karin, Ryu, and Dhalsim. For Envy, I had considered Sagat in the role to be able to include the original four Shadaloo Kings on the list, but since he walked away and reformed completely, the only character that I could say personified Envy was Urien, who continues to harbor intense jealousy towards his brother, Gill.

As for Wrath and Bison, Akuma could have easily fit in this role, but the tarot cards showed another story. Akuma’s card was the Devil, and that tarot card made him the personification of a tempter. Bison’s card, on the other hand?

Bison’s Judgement card, quite simply, personifies Wrath, and Bison has shown himself to be judge, jury, and executioner to those who oppose him or even those who wish to join him.

Now, after pointing all of this out, what does it all mean going forward? Will there be some sort of clash between these two groups? Perhaps, if you consider my idea that Street Fighter 6 will be a faction game. That’s not really what I’m thinking for this, though. I’m expecting a darker story in the future, and since the above seven virtues and the seven deadly sins are shown to exist in-game, I’m thinking the story will play more into individual battles between morality and temptation. If Jamie can be defined by something considered a vice, why couldn’t other characters as well? Some will rise, some will fall, but in the end, Street Fighter 6 will have a story we can really drink up.

A story so good, it’s sinful.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s