Happy cakeday, Ms. Kikosho
It’s the 1st of March, which means that it’s Chun-Li’s birthday as stated by her creator Capcom. Here’s why she’s the strongest and best female fighting game female there is.
She Started The Female “Fighting F*** Toy” Trend
None of the renowned fighting games prior to Street Fighter II wouldn’t have a female Fighter were it not for Chun-Li’s existence. Part of the title is a derogatory term from renowned feminist Anita Sarkeesian, possibly alluding (since the video has yet to be published or created) to how female fighters like Chun-Li are drawn and created for the male gaze and for a subculture predominated by males who like keeping the FGC real.
While I would argue that Chun-Li isn’t catering to any fetishes on purpose (it’s more ethnic stereotyping than anything really), she does have a point stating the unconventional dress sense of these characters.
In Chun-Li’s case, her iconic look with her traditional cheongsam garb and her hairbuns lean towards the Chinese girl stereotype; let me remind you that this is from a company who made a Brazilian savage and an Indian curry-loving mystic for its roster.
Heck, it may not even be ideal if she’s fighting out in Siberia. But the blue colour makes her stand out among the other World Warriors’ colour palette. Someone needed to be blue, why not the strongest female fighter ever? And besides, she has her Alpha garb which is slick, matches her grace, and is practical in a street fight.
Still, we adore her and her legion of inspirations for her other qualities like her personality, her motivations, and above all her repertoire to beat off the other guys.
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She Has Iconic Moves
Speaking of which, she has quite the skillset in her job as an Interpol agent. Lightning legs/Hyakuretsukyaku. Kikoken. Hop kick. Her lightning-fast Tenshin Shuu Kyaku/flip kick. Her leg variant of the dragon punch. And most importantly, her spinning bird kick.
They’re all hers, they all came from her kung-fu moves (in Street Fighter’s zany lore featuring ki as energy bolts), and they gave her the “rushdown & mixup” style she’s renowned for up to this day. Just look up Street Fighter III: Third Strike’s most-played character list: she’s in the top 5 alongside Ken, Yun, Makoto, and Urien.
Heck, her spinning bird kick is getting more practical in usage with each game iteration. Point is, if you replace her moves, you don’t get a Chun-Li in your fighting game. If you put those moves in your female fighter in whatever game you’re making, you’ve just made someone who’s imitating Chun-Li. Her moves are her own, and these make her unique, and she put her foot first in being a pioneer.
She Fights For Honour & Has Her Own Sense of “Girl Power”
She fights to avenge her dead father while also trying to crack down on Shadaloo and the Illuminati. She also can raise kids without any help from a man. Hell, in a time when women in games were either being rescued or need a guy as motivation, Chun-Li was one of the first few ladies in games (next to Samus Aran) to not be in a game’s story for silly and trivial reasons.
That’s enough to influence a lot of game developers to create their own strong female characters. Heck, thanks to her, a lot of female gamers have an iconic fighting game character to look up to and be inspired by, much like how Sonya Blade inspired Ronda Rousey to kick ass in MMA. I’m sure there’s some girl out there who trained her legs to fend off thugs and rapists.
I highly doubt Nicki Minaj wouldn’t be singing that one song and dressed up the way she did in that music video if she didn’t pick that particular World Warrior in whatever version of Street Fighter she played.
Her Standout Themes
While we’re on the subject of music, her Street Fighter II theme by Yoko Shimomura is damn iconic. It sounds like it’s from China, it matches her graceful fighting technique, and goes well with the colour blue. It’s so good, it’s been remixed time and again in other Street Fighter games and spin-offs.
Her other themes in Street Fighter III: Third Strike and Street Fighter EX ain’t half-bad, with the former being a close successor following Third Strike’s music stylings, and the latter being pretty underrated.
She’s Been Portrayed By The Great Ming-Na Wen
Be honest: if it weren’t for that awful-yet-awesome Street Fighter film and Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D, not many of us geeks would recognize Ming-Na Wen. Oh, and Mulan as well. Let’s not forget that film. She was a badass who wore red just great then and made her mark as one of Hollywood’s pioneer Asian actresses. And she’s still a badass now thank to Marvel and TV.
She Started The FGC Waifu Movement
Related to point 1. You have Cammy, Morrigan, Sakura, Laura, and Menat: prime candidates for waifu debates among fans. You have Chun-Li and Capcom’s inventive mind for creating a rival of sorts (in the form of an amnesiac killing machine who likes one-piece outfits) so that guys back then can use them as playground arguments and watercooler conversation pieces.
And I haven’t even gone to the other fighting games outside of Capcom. Mai Shiranui. Blue Mary. Vice and Mature. Our dumb-as-heck Dead or Alive listicle wouldn’t exist were it not for Chun-Li’s sex appeal and thunder thighs.
And Then There’s That Scene In The Street Fighter II Anime
’nuff said. I’m not referring to the early parts, you perv. The entire fight between Shadaloo general Vega/Balrog/Claws; it’s a visceral thing of beauty.
So that’s it for our ode to fighting game’s first lady. Let us know if she was truly the first female World Warrior or your favourite moments with Chun-Li, either on this post or on Facebook.