Street Fighter II – Issue #1 – April 1994 (Tokuma Comics)

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TITLE: Street Fighter II Issue #1 of 8

YEAR: April 1994

COMPANY: Tokuma Comics

Story and Art by Masaomi Kanzaki

Translation by William Flanagan

Touch-Up and Lettering: Lea Hernandez

Coloring: Koto Color

Cover Design Artist: James Catechi

Producer: Tsutomu Otsuka

Back in 1991, arcades became cool again thanks to the fighting video game “Street Fighter II: The World Warrior” from Capcom.  The second game in the “Street Fighter” series, the success of “Street Fighter II” led to the fighting game boom of the 1990’s which included “Mortal Kombat”, “King of Fighters”, “Fatal Fury”, “Samurai Showdown”, “Art of Fighting”, to name a few.

The game was made even more popular thanks to the video game release for the Super Famicom/Super Nintendo in the summer of 1992, followed by updates “Street Fighter II: Champion Edition” and “Street Fighter II: Turbo: Hyper Fighting” and in 1993, “Super Street Fighter II: The New Challengers” and in 1994, “Super Street Fighter II Turbo”.   To capitalize on the popularity, Tokuma Shoten Publishing would release an English translated adaptation of Masaomi Kanzaki’s “Street Fighter II” in the United States.

The English release was important for Capcom, who was not thrilled by the way the first English comic book series of “Street Fighter II” from Malibu Comics (released in August-September 1993) killed off Ken Masters (a major character) which led to its cancellation with issue #3.  And so, a storyline that featured the characters and collaborated a bit more closely with CAPCOM, made in Japan and was released in the United States in 1994.

The series begins with an introduction to the man made island of Shad.  Created to be the cornerstone of a new world economy turned out to be a disaster as the world financial panic led to the stock markets crashing and Shad left to fend for itself.

The once prosperous city became dilapidated and Street Fighting were what people did to make money.

The first fighter features Chun Li taking on a human fighter and when Ryu arrives to watch, he knows already who’s going to win the match.

When Ryu starts to get hungry (which leaves him cranky), he goes to a restaurant in which the owner and her little brother are being picked on by a gang.  Having borrowed money to keep the restaurant afloat, the gang wants their money and starts to cause trouble.  Until Ryu arrives and throws one of the gangsters towards the wall.

The leader of the gangster, the former boxing champion Balrog issues Ryu a challenge.  Ryu wants to help save the restaurant, so he gives them money to bet on him to win and the money can be used to save the restaurant.

Who will win between Ryu and Balrog?

While the storyline is quite predictable as Ryu has been the longtime protagonist and face of the “Street Fighter II” games, the street fighting aspect is well-done and the storyline is simplistic and easy for adults and kids to follow.  While we see a little of Chun Li and also Guile, this issue is primarily about Ryu and his battle with Balrog.

While I don’t recall any of the games discussing endings featuring Ryu wanting to eat all the time, considering he is the most mentally focused and stoic character of the video games, the comic does try to have fun with the character and show his fun side.  Which you don’t see at all in the video games, but not all manga adaptations from a video game are perfect or faithful.  If anything, the comic book is more inspired from the video game series.

Featuring cool artwork and a cool story from Masaomi Kanzaki, “Street Fighter II” from Tokuma comics is worth checking out if you enjoyed the popular fighting video game series.


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