Have you ever gotten tired of being a fan, someone who just sits on the sidelines and suffers the frustration of never becoming part of the thing they love so much? I have, and I’m doing something about it. Let me tell you a story...
Street Fighter is a game I have played since it’s first incarnation hit my neighborhood 7-11 back in 1987, and I’ve followed the game ever since. Am I any good? Not really. I’m in a the top 500 T. Hawk players on Xbox-live in 2012 A.E. for whatever that’s worth. But, in truth, while I do enjoy laying the Mexican Typhoon smack down on other players from time to time, that’s not why I’ve followed the game for decades. I do it for the characters and story.
As convoluted as the Street Fighter story lines are now, and how one dimensional some of the characters might be, they vibrate at the same frequency as my soul. I think it’s in part because of how different they are from the all the superheroes I’ve read about (and still love) since I was a kid. The Street Fighter characters aren’t superheroes. They all have powers of a sort, but they all have their own agendas. Some even have fairly regular lives and goals. I find this fascinating when juxtaposed beside all the super-powered heroes I know who rush to save the world when it’s in danger (Marvel vs. Capcom series anyone?)
I live in Japan now. I’ve been here for fifteen years, and part of what gave me the confidence to come here was my desire to be closer to the place where Street Fighter came from. I’ve been inside CAPCOM’s headquarters for a small personal tour, but for all this I was no closer to being a part of the story I loved so much.
In my hunger for more Street Fighter story, which was in short supply in the years I first moved here, I regularly played Street Fighter Alpha 3 on my SEGA Dreamcast with it’s long detailed endings, and I turned to fan fiction.
Before I go any further, there is something you should know about me. I’m a hopeless romantic. Give me a little romantic tension in a story and, even if the story is less than half way decent (which according to BennettheSage is almost all the anime I remember fondly), I’ll sit through it and enjoy it just to see a couple of characters get together or not at the end.
Anyway, I started searching online for a good Street Fighter story. I’d never spent any time with fan fiction before, but I was so hungry for some Street Fighter story, I decided to give it a go. And what was kind of story was I hungry for?
A Ryu/Chun-li story.
Heck, since I played Street Fighter II way back when it first came out, I found myself entertaining the idea of Ryu Chun-li together. Hell, I’m willing to bet everyone who played the game entertained the pairing at some point. The best male fighter with the best female fighter. Made sense to me.
Not sure why I was craving this particular story, but I was. And I wanted it badly. That’s when I came upon a website called Ryu and Chun-li Forever and a story called Hero of Heroes written by Brian Yip. His story was a bit contrived at the start, but it turned out to be a very tasteful, novel-thick, twenty-six chapter tale that brought Ryu and Chun-li together. And after I finished this story (I downloaded the chapters onto my phone and read them one at a time on my daily train commute), the story didn’t just vibrate with my soul, it set off an earthquake.
A few days after I finished reading Hero of Heroes, I started looking for other Ryu/Chun-li stories, but none could hold a candle to Brian Yip’s plot. Trying to read these other stories was like trying to drink watered-down wine after whiskey. They just weren’t strong enough.
So, I did the only thing left. I tried to write a Ryu/Chun-li story of my own. I tried for four years, and failed. I was too impatient for the thrill I’d experienced from Brian’s story to focus, and I didn’t have any ideas better than Brian’s. So, I finally surrendered and let my desire to write a Ryu/Chun-li story turn into cold dead stone in the back of my mind.
In the decade that followed, I started a family, focused on my day job (At the moment my primary job is a junior high school teacher in Japan). I also invented and started producing an educational game. But as all this was going on, a few other things happened.
The first was in an issue of the UDON Street Fighter comic I’d purchased (I have every issue). In it’s pages, Ryu and Chun-li met for the first time! The moment was something I’d been waiting for since the first issue of the UDON comic years ago! I was hoping for some conversation between the two characters.
All I got was one panel, a few words, and a handshake.
The stone got its first crack.
Next, came Street Fighter Legacy...
Joey Ansah, an actor, stuntman, and Hollywood fight trainer was pushed to the limit of his love for Street Fighter when “Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun-li” came out. He was so disappointed in the film that he and his good friend Christian Howard decided to take matters into their own hands and create a pitch video. The video would go on to get well over two-million views, get CAPCOM’s attention, blessing, and result in Joey and Christian getting enough support to produce a Street Fighter web series that will come out later this year focusing on Ryu and Ken’s origins. Joey had taken matters into his own hands regarding his dreams for Street Fighter and succeeded.
The stone cracked again.
Then I found a series of art by a man named Bastien Vivès. The series was titled, “No Love for Street Fighters.” In the works, Chun-li was being ignored by Vega and Balrog. Cammy and Ryu sat next to each other awkwardly. The art was painful for an old Ryu/Chun-li fan like me.
The stone cracked a few more times, and light was starting to shine through.
After that, Street Fighter X Megaman, a game created by a fan named Seow Zong Hui, was accepted, finished, published, and released to players for free by CAPCOM. Again a fan had decided to act and was successful.
The stone was shaking. Pieces were falling to the ground.
Light was coming out of it from all over.
Finally, when my educational game was was complete and on the market, I asked myself what I wanted to do next. That’s when it happened. My old fanfic desire broke out of the stone I’d put it in like a Gargoyle at sunset.
The desire leaped into my conscious mind and roared. It was angry and would not be denied. It demanded I write the Ryu/Chun-li story I hungered for because I knew definitively I was never going to get the story I wanted in my lifetime unless I did something about it.
However, having worked on my educational game with an artist and all the delicious art that resulted, I couldn’t just write another fanfiction. I couldn’t just add another bunch of text to the ocean of Ryu/Chun-li text that already existed. Brian Yip set the bar. The best Ryu/Chun-li text-only fanfic was already out there. If I was going to do this, I had to do better. I asked myself what I might be able to afford with some donations to help, and I settled on a graphic novel. I was getting excited.
But then I calmed down and came to my senses. I looked my old desire in the eye and said, I have no ideas. I have no story to write. I’m not going to waste another four years trying to write a story that I don’t have. The desire’s eyes glowed hot white. It roared loud enough to scare me out of my wits. Then it said two words....
Hire a writer? Yeah! I’d already hired an artist before in my previous project. Surely I could find a writer. Maybe I could even get Brian Yip, himself! So, the search began. If I couldn’t write the Ryu/Chun-li story I wanted, I would find a talented writer I could guide. Together we would do something awesome.
During my search I learned Brian Yip had passed--an untimely death at age 29. Damn. I would have loved to see if we could have teamed up, but it wasn’t meant to be. So, I took this unfortunate knowledge and used it to become even more passionate about making a Ryu/Chun-li story happen. If I couldn’t work with Brian, I would honor him by what every great kohai should do for their sempai. I would work hard to surpass him.
The quest for a writer continued. I scoured the fanfiction sites, homed in on Ryu/Chun-li stories, and after working through and contacting the writers of the few complete stories that exist–so many unfinished works!–I hit pay dirt with a writer. Her name was Bob. Bob had it all. Not only was her story directly inspired by “Hero of Heroes”, but her writing skill was well above any of the other Ryu/Chun-li story writers out there, even Brian himself. Did I like her story enough to just straight out ask her to use it? No. Brian’s plot was way better. There were also elements of Bob’s characterization of Ryu I just couldn’t stomach. But Bob’s skill… Oh her delicious skill! And, she had commented how producing a graphic novel someday was a dream she vowed to complete. Could I ask for better potential partner? If I could convince her to help me maybe together we could do something great.
I contacted Bob. She was really excited about the work. I was so thrilled! We made a tentative deal, and she would start work for me on December 21, 2012. In the meantime, I went to work making documents to make her feel welcome and show her the direction I wanted to go.
Then the waffling began. Oh how she waffled! Her day job suddenly put a lot on her plate. Our conversations became less about the project and more about her troubles. She talked at me, not with me. I felt like a psychiatrist, and Skype was my sofa. Finally, after two months trying to boost her confidence in her ability to do the project (I was so hopeful!), I asked for a definitive answer on December 21st. Yes or No.
I got a No. The world was supposed to end on this day. And while it didn’t, I sure thought my hopes of a Ryu/Chun-li story had.
But, if you love something, let it go. So, I did. I let Bob and her delicious talent off the hook. I told her I was glad she finally made a decision and wished her well.
Then the anger came.
I was mad at Bob, of course, but more mad at myself. In hindsight, I knew in my gut from the beginning Bob was not a good fit for the job. She wrote for herself, which is fine. However, she was not a writer who could take direction, which I needed. If anything, she was way more interested in simply rehashing the Ryu/Chun-li story she had already written. But, thanks to the anger I was filled me with, something miraculous happened.
With my anger came clarity. I looked at all the documents I had put together to guide Bob and saw I had inadvertently created a Ryu/Chun-li story outline. After over decade of nothing, I HAD AN OUTLINE!!!! My anger transformed into hot creative euphoria. The writer’s block that had kept me from writing a new fresh Ryu/Chun-li for years melted like ice in hell. I grabbed my laptop computer and wrote like a man possessed. Tired as hell but happy as heaven itself, I completed the first draft of the script in three days. The script still needed a lot of work, but I’d written a complete original Ryu/Chun-li story. Finally.
Thanks, Bob. Couldn’t have done it without you.
So, on January 1st, 2013, I assembled a team and started the Ryu X Chun-li Project on Facebook, and it’s blog on Wordpress. The project’s goal? Why, to raise money to create the world first non-profit English, tasteful, Ryu/Chun-li love story in digital graphic novel form!
And, I’m pleased to say, our fundraising efforts have been successful! We’ve been in production for a month now.
Sure, we are still accepting financial donations and art contributions from people who want to help the book be better than it is already going to be, but the only thing between the world and my dream book now is time.
I’m not just a fan anymore. Like Brian Yip, Joey Ansah, Seow Zong Hui, and all the other people who have taken their Street Fighter love to the next level in order to satisfy themselves and to honour CAPCOM with their creations...
Thanks, Retrojunk. It’s good to be back on your article page. It’s been a while.