Friday, July 3, 2015


Story: Ken Siu-Chong | Artwork: Omar Dogan | Lettering: Marshall Dillon
Chief of Operations: Erik Ko | Managing Editor: Matt Moylan

Note that I've made a slight change to my originally advertised order. I was unaware at the time I planned this all out that STREET FIGHTER LEGENDS: SAKURA was published more or less concurrently with STREET FIGHTER II and ties loosely into its events. Now, with that disclaimer out of the way...

STREET FIGHTER LEGENDS: SAKURA is the first in a trio of LEGENDS mini-series, all spotlighting female characters and drawn by Omar Dogan. It's interesting to me that UDON chooses to lead off with a mini spotlighting Sakura rather than the higher profile Chun-Li or Cammy. But Cammy's story is one of the major threads in the ongoing STREET FIGHTER comics, so it's likely there wasn't much that could've been done with her here that wouldn't have stepped on the ongoings' toes. And Chun-Li will spotlight the next mini-series, so her time isn't far off

But the question remains, if you're going to do a Chun-Li story, why not start with it? My best guess is that Sakura is completely sidelined from the main action in STREET FIGHTER II and UDON wanted to keep the character in circulation. Which works out fine, because this is a fun little series that never takes itself too seriously; something nice to see when compared with the STREET FIGHTER ongoings, where, for the most part, melodrama is the order of the day.

The story opens with Sakura, as usual, on a quest to become a better fighter at the cost of all else in her life, such as school attendance and grades. Meanwhile, the always amusing and perpetually delusional Dan Hibiki, glimpsed briefly in previous backup stories as a would-be apprentice of Gouken, is on her trail with plans to challenge her and, if she proves herself, to accept her into his training. As the series progresses, Sakura attends a wrestling match between Rainbow Mika and Zangief, then she's challenged to a fight by her rival, the obscenely wealthy Karin Kansuki. But Sakura chooses the method of the duel: entry into Japan's tenth annual hot dog eating contest, presided over and judged by Edmond Honda. As one might expect from a STREET FIGHTER comic, the contest turns into an actual fight when Karin is revealed as a cheater and underhandedly attacks Sakura while her belly is full of hot dogs.

If the story sounds aimless, that's because it is. Not that there's anything wrong with that now and then. As long as it isn't the standing order of the day, I have no problem with the occasional series of unrelated events. And that's what we have here, as Ken Siu-Chong doesn't seem all that concerned with any sort of narrative arc, choosing instead to toss Sakura into a handful of goofy situations in which she meets various second- and third-tier characters. And, to be fair, he does loosely tie the ending back into the earlier events by implying Sakura became a better fighter by picking up a few moves from Mika, Zangief, Honda, and even Dan.

Among the characters we encounter through these issues are Sakura's classmates, some of whom are clearly natives of another video game. Their designs are far too peculiar and elaborate to be mere background characters, and the fact that they have sports related gimmicks and participate in the big fight at the end proves that theory for me. I know UDON has or had the rights to another Capcom property called RIVAL SCHOOLS, so I assume these characters come from that series. There will be more of this interconnected Capcom universe crossover in STREET FIGHTER II TURBO.

And speaking of character designs, let's rewind for a moment and discuss the afore-mentioned Rainbow Mika. The STREET FIGHTER series has some outlandish looking characters in its pantheon, yes -- but Mika takes the cake. She's always looked bizarre to me even by this series' existing standards. I get that she's a professional wrestler, so she's wearing an actual "costume" unlike many of the others, but even so -- her outfit is completely nuts. Huge pigtails, a mask, twin hearts on her breasts... I just don't get and I don't really like it, either.

That said, Omar Dogan sure draws her nicely. In fact, he draws everyone quite well. he's a great cartoonist, fitting the story's lighthearted tone to a tee. And besides Sakura, Karin, Dan, and the other previously mentioned characters, Dogan also tries his hand at a cameo from Ryu, off in China per his travels in the STREET FIGHTER II series, chatting with Sakura via the computer (using an account Ken had set up for him back in the first series, with the screen name "Boring Ryu"). Plus Dan recalls a behind-the-scenes meeting with Gouken, Ken, and Ryu at Gouken's dojo, and Honda has a very brief flashback to his fight with Vega, also from the first series.

So SAKURA is a nutty story, and maybe a bit aimless, but that doesn't mean it's not fun. And, as usual with most any UDON project, the artwork is pretty much worth the price of admission. It's nowhere near essential to the UDON STREET FIGHTER canon, but I liked it as a little diversion from the world of Shadaloo, Killer Bees, and Dark Hadous.


No comments:

Post a Comment