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Pet Sins October 2000

Street Fighter

The Street Fighter cartoon series, released in the U.S. in 1995, is based on the Japanese video game series of the same name. The main Street Fighter heroes are Ryu and Ken, a Japanese and a white American who train under Japanese karate master Gouken. Ryu and Ken are best friends and rivals.

It is interesting to note that key plot points differ between the U.S. cartoon and the Japanese official game storyline. The Japanese version unequivocally places Ryu as the best fighter in the world. Ken is a fighter close to his equal, but only Ryu can tap an inner spiritual power unreached by Ken.

The U.S. cartoon reverses this order in the episode The World's Greatest Warrior . In this episode, both Gouken and Ryu were defeated by the evil demon Akuma. White guy Ken is the only one who can save them. Ken defeats Akuma because of Ken's special quality as a warrior who "walks between the dark and the light". That is a quality lacking in the pure-hearted Ryu. The episode flips between Ken's womanizing activities and Ken beating Ryu up in training. Gouken credits Ken's carnal side with providing the "dark" component in the warrior's spirit.

Another point worth nothing is that unsuitable European characteristics appear in the Asian characters. In the episode described above, Gouken, who is Japanese, has green eyes. His brother Akuma has red hair. In the episode The Strongest Women In The World Chunli's Indian fan is a little girl with green-brown eyes, following the larger media trend of marking the 'special' non-Caucasian character by with Caucasian eye color. (This European-eye-color 'marker' is also present in WB's cartoon feature The King and I"). South Asians with blue or green eyes do exists, but they are a small percentage of the population. Why not depict the character with an eye color more representational of the average population? Are brown eyes not good enough?

To give some credit to the Street Fighter cartoon, there are some positive dark characters of color. Dhalsim, an Indian scientist, was formerly enslaved by archvillain Bison. After his escape, Dhalsim uses his powers to fight Bison's evil. Blanka, the noble man-beast, was once a hunky, brown-skinned Brazilian. Bison forced Dhalsim to change Blanka into a green, red-haired monster. Ashamed of his appearance, Blanka ran away, but later found acceptance and shelter in a Native American nation. He repays their kindness by risking his life to save them from the clutches of the evil Bison.

2000