Ryu is a martial-artist and is the most recognized character in the Street Fighter franchise and arguably in fighting game history. Alongside friend Ken Masters, Ryu is one of the two students taught by Ansatsuken master Gouken. As a wandering warrior, Ryu scours the globe to compete against the top fighters in hope to perfect his fighting style.
From Japan, Ryu wears a white gi and black belt while fighting with bare feet. Another characteristic feature in Ryu's attire is his headband that differs in color depending on the series' canon. During Street Fighter IV, Capcom provided another set of outfits for Ryu. Throughout the whole franchise and related games, the iconic fighter was voiced by many including Katashi Ishizuka, Toshiyuki Morikawa, Wataru Takagi, and Kyle Hebert.
Ryu first appears in the original Street Fighter title, in which he is one of two playable characters alongside his friend and eternal rival, Ken Masters. Though his appearance was much different than what we know today (originally, Ryu sported red hair, a white bandanna and for the only time ever, red slippers), his famous arsenal of techniques were already in place including the popular fireball (Hadouken), uppercut (Shoryuken) and hurricane kick (Tatsumaki Senpuu Kyaku).
It wasn't until the release of Street Fighter II that Ryu solidified his role of both the protagonist of the Street Fighter franchise and the face of the fighting genre. With the improved gameplay and popularity of Street Fighter, Ryu's techniques were no longer difficult to perform, but were widely accepted as the norm. In future games, special moves expanded to more advanced and powerful versions.
In 1997, Capcom saw fit to create a sequel to the original Street Fighter series with the release of Street Fighter III: New Generation. Originally, none of the original cast members, Ryu included, were to be included in the game, instead opting for an entirely new cast headed by new protagonist, Alex. The backlash against this decision was so intense in early testing, that Capcom added both Ryu and Ken into the game.
Without any memories of his parents, a young and orphaned Ryu was adopted by Gouken. Growing up, Ryu was trained in the martial arts by Gouken. A friend of Gouken brought his son Ken to learn discipline and the martial arts like Ryu. Both Ryu and Ken become not only sparring partners but the best of friends. As both Ryu and Ken grew older, they completed their training and parted ways where Ryu participates in the first World Warrior tournament.
Ryu would prove himself after he defeated many of the fighters in the tournament including the reigning Muay Thai champion, Sagat, in the finals. The last fight left a devastating effect on both fighters. Sagat's chest would be scarred thanks to Ryu's shoryuken technique. In Street Fighter folklore, the creation of the scar was retconned; Ryu succumbed to a killing mentality known as " Satsui no Hado" after having a strong desire to win. The powerful state Ryu was in allowed him to perform the near-fatal "Metsu Shoryuken" on Sagat. Unaware of the state, Sagat swore revenge on Ryu for what he has done to the Muay Thai fighter.
Street Fighter Alpha Series
After his victory in the first World Warrior tournament, Ryu returns to Gouken's training dojo to discover that his master was murdered by his brother Akuma. Ryu ultimately finds and fights the mastermind of his adoptive father's murder in the island of Goukentou. It was revealed that the fight was a test for Akuma to analyze the Satsui no Hado in Ryu. Akuma would then destroy the island leaving Ryu very troubled.
Ken would find and defeat Ryu sometime after the island battle. Knowing that Ryu hasn't been feeling very well, Ken would give his red headband to Ryu to encourage him and give him focus.
Along the way, a fan of Ryu named Sakura Kasagano finds the student of Gouken in hopes to train her. Ryu would tell her that he himself still need to learn only making Sakura promise to make him teach his techniques to her in the future.
Ryu would be pursued by M. Bison later on in the Alpha games. Bison had interest in capturing Ryu and use the Satsui no Hado for his own intent. Rose would tell Ryu that his battle with Bison will cost him his soul. Ryu would eventually confront Bison but would unfortunately be defeated by the Shadaloo tyrant. Bison would then research on Ryu only to discover that it has similarity to Bison's "Psycho Power." Ryu would be saved after Sagat, Ken, and Sakura interrupting the brainwashing process. Sagat would then confront the brainwashed Ryu only to make him come to his senses and defeat Bison.
After the battle against Shadaloo, Ryu promises to Sagat that they will fight once again in the future.
Street Fighter II
Details of Ryu's participation during the second World Warrior Tournament are vague, though Ryu fights Sagat and Bison during gameplay. He does not attend the awards ceremony but instead searches for his next challenge.
Street Fighter IV
Ryu would later participate in a tournament organized by Shadaloo's arms network division known as S.I.N.. He would meet up with old colleagues including another friendly match with Ken and an encouraging battle with Sakura. Along the way, Ryu confronts Sagat for the promised rematch they both awaited. Despite one of the rivals claim victory, both Ryu and Sagat are satisfied with the rematch.
Ryu would eventually fight against the tournament organizer and leader of S.I.N., Seth. It was discovered that Ryu defeated a copy of Seth. Ryu then would be consumed by the Satsui no Hado once again by the human energy-harnessing BLECE machine. With little of his senses remaining, Ryu manages to destroy the BLECE machine with Sakura witnessing the destruction.
He would later encounter Gouken, who actually survived his battle with Akuma during the Alpha series. Aware of the Satsui no Hado in Ryu, Gouken uses the special "Power of Nothingness" to rid of the destructive power once and for all. With an unconscious Ryu on the side, both Gouken and Akuma battle to the death for him but both survive the ordeal with Gouken saving Ryu from Akuma's hands. Satisfied with both of his students' progress, Gouken leaves his pupils with Ryu bidding farewell to him.
Ryu would later meet with Sakura leaving for Japan who promises to him that they will meet again. During his travels in Japan, Ryu is discovered by an older Sakura and happily approaches him.
Street Fighter III
With the third World Warriors tournament into play, Ryu enters and encounters a new generation of formidable opponents along with another friendly match with Ken. One of Ryu's opponents, Hugo Andore, was able to withstand one of Ryu's strongest of attacks, the "Shin Shoryuken." Impressed by Ryu's power, Hugo encourages the fighter to serve as a temporary tag team partner. During the tournament, Ryu confronts and defeats American powerhouse Alex. Ryu gives words of encouragement to Alex who sets his quest to combat Ryu for a rematch.
Not limited to Street Fighter, Ryu has been a featured character in many of Capcom's other games including Marvel vs. Capcom, Capcom vs. SNK, and Super Puzzle Fighter II Turbo. He appears on many of the games' cover art and promotional items. Ryu also appears in some other games like Mega Man Universe, LittleBigPlanet, and Harvey Birdman: Attorney at Law.
In every Street Fighter game, Ryu has been featured as a playable character along with his move set. This allows players to engage without trying out a new character with ease despite having game-specific tweaks.
When Street Fighter released, there was some difficulty when performing Ryu's moves. With the improved gameplay and popularity of Street Fighter II, Ryu's techniques were no longer difficult to perform, but were widely accepted as the norm.
Taught under Gouken's supervision, both Ryu and Ken have a similar move set albeit slightly different; Ken is flashy in his execution while Ryu's performance of his special moves is straightforward. Both can perform the Hadouken projectile, Shoryuken, and the Tatsumaki Senpuu Kyaku. Depending on position and move, they are performed using quarter circle motions.
Throughout the franchise, Ryu learns new moves as well as more advanced versions of existing ones. In later versions of Street Fighter II, Ryu can perform a Tatsumaki Senpuu Kyaku in the air. A flammable version of the Hadoken called the "Shankunetsu Hadouken" also emerged during this time where it inflicts more damage when hit. In Street Fighter III, Ryu learned a new move called the "Joudan Sokutou Geri" where he performs a side kick that pushes the opponent away with great force. With the emergence of the EX ability, the power any existing special move increases.
Super moves/Ultra moves
The most common in Ryu's super moves is the "Shinku Hadouken," a powered version of the regular Hadouken. In the Street Fighter IV games where it features both super combos and "Ultra Combos," Ryu has another and more powerful Hadouken known as the "Metsu Hadouken." Another of his Ultra Combos is the "Metsu Shoryuken" (the move that scarred Sagat) that replaces the "Shin Shoryuken." These Shoryuken moves involve two to three powerful hits with the last hit being the Shoryuken motion. In Street Fighter III, Ryu has a "Super Art" choice where the player can charge an electrical Hadouken called the "Denjin Hadoken" resulting in stunning an opponent and a quick and free opportunity to strike. More common in the Alpha games, Ryu can perform an advanced hurricane kick called the "Shinkuu Tatsumaki Senpuu Kyaku" where Ryu stays in one spot for a prolonged period. Although it exists in Street Fighter III and IV, the Shinkuu Tatsumaki Senpuu Kyaku serves as more of an EX attack than a super move.
In Marvel vs. Capcom: Clash of Super Heroes, Ryu can trigger a special mode where he can transform his gi and fighting style to either red (Ken) or black (Akuma). Each transformation includes their own super moves; for example, the Akuma transformation features the signature "Shun Goku Satsu."
Consumed by the Satsui no Hado, Ryu turns to the much more violent Evil Ryu. In Japan, Evil Ryu is referred to as the "Satsui no Hadou ni Mezameta Ryu" (translated as Ryu who has Awakened to the Surge of Killing Intent).
Introduced in the manga series to Alpha, Evil Ryu was later officially part of the Street Fighter cast starting with Street Fighter Alpha 2 as a secret character. He also appears in Street Fighter Alpha 3 and Capcom vs. SNK 2: Mark of the Millennium. Evil Ryu also exists in Super Street Fighter IV: Arcade Edition.
This state causes Ryu to aggressively defeat his opponents, even if it kills them. The state was ret-conned into the original Street Fighter during the fight with Sagat. Evil Ryu performs the Metsu Shoryuken on Sagat, causing the Muay-Thai fighter's chest to be left with a large scar. During the Alpha series, Akuma and M. Bison has strong interest in tapping into Ryu's Satsui no Hado state. Ultimately in Street Fighter IV, Ryu's master Gouken rids of the state once and for all with the Power of Nothingness.
Evil Ryu's moveset is fundamentally similar to his normal version. Both have the ability to perform the Hadoken, Shoryuken, and Tatsumaki Senpuu Kyaku. What distinguishes Evil Ryu from normal Ryu is an expansion of moves and inflicting damage. Evil Ryu obtains some moves from Akuma including the teleport technique and the deadly super move Shun Goku Satsu. When executed, the kanji in Evil Ryu's Shun Goku Satsu is translated as destruction (as opposed to Akuma's heaven kanji). With moves from Akuma, Evil Ryu also obtains Akuma's high damage yet low vitality.
- " The only ones who call for me are the voices of the dead. "
- " I can see clearly now. I shall devour all! "
- " To destroy, devour, and decimate... That is all I long for! "
- " True power is now in my grasp, but why am I not yet sated? "
- " You can hear them, can you not? The voices of the dead welcome you. "
- " Run, weaklings! Lest you perish before my fist! "
- " For now, I am satisfied. But I will soon require another sacrifice. "
- " If you still draw breath, stand and face me again! "
- " Sink into the depths of hell! "
- " Blood... "
- " It's over. "
All characters in Street Fighter X Tekken have access to a power-up by sacrificing their partner thanks to a device in the game's story, the Pandora Box. When activating it Ryu can be heard shouting, "so much power!" much like Evil Ryu. His fighting style seems to remain the same however.
Unique to Ryu in Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3. Much like Ryu's Denjin Hadoken Super Art from Street Fighter III, Denjin Mode adds lightning elemental properties to Ryu's attacks, including wall bouncing properties and a lightning storm to the existing Shinku Hadoken and Shinku Tatsumaki.
The USA division of Capcom referred to Ryu's martial arts as the "Shotokan" style during promotion for Street Fighter II. However there is little connection of the Shotokan art and the fighting style Ryu performs in Street Fighter. To categorize Ryu along with Ken and Akuma, they have been referred to as "Shotos." The term expanded to general fighting games where any character who features special moves similar to Ryu in their move list.
After Street Fighter II's success, many characters inspired by Ryu began popping up in many fighting games. These games include Fatal Fury, Art of Fighting, The King of Fighters, and Fighter's History. Characters from those series including Darkstalkers' Morrigan Aensland and Art of Fighting's Ryo Sakazaki feature projectiles and other moves with motions similar to Ryu's special moves. These types of Shoto clones still exist today and is considered a staple in most 2D fighting games.
During the release of the Street Fighter II games, one of Ryu's win quotes led to the recurring character hoax of Sheng Long (a Chinese translation of the Shoryuken kanji). The English localization of Street Fighter II had a mistranslation of the quote from "If you cannot overcome the Shoryuken, you can't stand a chance" (translated from Japanese version) to "You must defeat Sheng Long to stand a chance." This led to players believing that another character by the name of Sheng Long exists.
Electronic Gaming Monthly took advantage of the misinterpretation and created an April Fools joke in 1992 dedicated on how to fight Sheng Long. The joke article detailed that Sheng Long has a plethora of special moves from many of the existing characters including the Shoryuken. In order to fight Sheng Long, EGM provded a certain set of requirements including playing the game without suffering any damage with Ryu. The joke went overseas with no permission from EGM. On the December issue, EGM confirmed that the Sheng Long fight was a hoax. EGM revisited the joke once again in 1997 during the development of Street Fighter III: New Generation.
It was rumored that Capcom added Akuma to the final Street Fighter II game, Super Street Fighter II Turbo, after being inspired by the joke. Both of their requirements to fight are similar where the best of players will be able to combat. These special challenge fights would occur in many future Street Fighter games including Street Fighter IV where it features Ryu's master, Gouken; another character believed to be created thanks to the Sheng Long joke.
During the time of Street Fighter Alpha, Street Fighter: The Movie was released to theaters, in which Ryu was played by actor Byron Mann in both the film and game based upon it.
Street Fighter IV
- "The answer lies in the heart of battle."
- "I still don't have what it takes. I must train harder."
- "This time victory is mine."
- "You must defeat my Dragon Punch to stand a chance"
- "You must defeat my Shoryuken to stand a chance."