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Street Fighter
by yo go re

SOTA Street Fighter: Ryu in Series 1, Ken in Series 2. Jada Street Fighter: Ryu in Series 1, Ken in Series 2.

Country of Origin: USA
Fighting Style: Martial arts rooted in Ansatsuken

Let me tell you, I was utterly shocked when I met a legally adult man who was named "Ken" because his father was such a huge Street Fighter fan. I assumed Real-Ken was joking when he told us this, but nope - dad named son after his own favorite videogame character. Street Fighter has really been around long enough for there to be grownups who have never lived in a world without it. And like, it's weird enough that anybody's favorite Street Fighter character is Ken, but also: Real-Ken is Japanese. Ken is his legal name, not some Americanized nickname or something. I guess it's racist to automatically assume Dad would have named his kid "Ryu," but still. Ken? KEN?!

Ken was one of the SOTA figures I never got, so this is technically the first Jada release that's entirely new to me. Where Ryu was quiet and serious, Ken was jocular and outgoing. Despite this, the two became best friends while studying together, and are constantly pushing each other to get better. Also, while Ryu is flat broke, Ken is heir to one of America's largest companies.

Unlike SOTA, who tried to do a sort of "greatest hits" version of Ken, covering as many games at once as possible, Jada's is pure Street Fighter II. That means no Street Fighter Alpha-style long ponytail here, just a thick blonde bob that makes him look phenomenally like the Filmation version of He-Man. That's on both heads: one angry, one smiling.

Still, there's only so much "difference" you can get between characters who were basically palette-swaps of each other, so Ken uses a lot of the same sculpts as Ryu. In some cases, those are literally the same parts (arms, chest, etc.), but the magic of digital sculpting means even things that are different, like the gi having un-torn sleeves and pantlegs, can be the same piece of physical art with just the specific details changed. You can tell, because the clothes get the same wrinkles, even if the edges are distinct.

You'll also recognize that reused parts means Ken's going to have a removable shirt and bare body beneath. Like so many action figures these days, different parts of the toy are visibly different colors. It wasn't too bad on Ryu, but Ken's knees are darker than the rest of his leg, and his upper chest is more muted than the rest of the torso. It's not great, but if we're not telling you not to buy Hasbro figures for constantly having this problem, we're also not going to hold it against Jada very hard. It would still be better if it were fixed, though.

It wouldn't do for Ken to have less articulation than Ryu when they're meant to be evenly matched fighters, so Ken is fun to play with. He's got swivel/hinge ankles, swivel shins, double-hinged knees, swivel thighs, balljoint hips, a balljoint waist, balljointed chest, swivel/hinged wrists, double-hinged elbows, swivel biceps, swivel/hinge shoulders, pectoral hinges, balljointed neck, and barbell head. The head is minorly restricted by the length of his hair, but it's barely worth mentioning at all. Fortunately, Street Fighters rarely have occassion to look up.

Ken includes two pairs of hands: open striking hands, or fists. The gloves he wears are neither sculpted nor painted at the wrist, so when you flex the hands you see flashes of pink skin, which is even more obvious here than it was on Ryu since the gloves are dark brown. We get a fireball for him, in orange instead of blue because his martial arts ability is tweaked slightly differently from Ryu's. Basically, he can punch people so hard he sets them on fire. Something visible here that wasn't in Ryu's are a pair of hands molded inside the fireball! Keen! As before, the fireball gets a clear, articulated stand to hold it aloft.

If you pay attention to the Street Fighter lore, Ken is a better fighter than Ryu. Like, they're consistently shown as being on par with one another, to the point where when one of them beats the other, the loser then goes and trains to get better for their rematch. Okay, solid. But while the only thing Ryu ever does is travel from place to place and get in fights, Ken spends most of his free time at home relaxing with his wife and son. So if one guy has to bust his ass daily to find himself at the same level as another guy who chills at home and rolls out of bed in the afternoon? Second guy's got the advantage. Remember, kids: hustle and grind culture is for low-quality wannabes. If Ken was really applying himself, he'd make Ryu look like Dan Hibiki. Plus, nobody ever swears eternal vengeance against Player 2.

-- 05/12/24

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