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Akuma (in Japanese, "devil") known in Japanmarker as , is a video game character from the Street Fighter series of fighting games. Akuma made his debut in Super Street Fighter II Turbo as a secret character and hidden boss. In the storyline of the Street Fighter video games, he is the younger brother of Ryu and Ken's sensei Gouken. In some games he also has an enhanced version named Shin Akuma, or in Japanese. Storywise, Shin Akuma is merely Akuma using the full extent of his power, compared to the "in-game" version which is Akuma voluntarily holding back his power to avoid ending fights prematurely.

Character design

Akuma has red hair, wears prayer beads around his neck, a charcoal gray dōgi and a piece of twine around his waist in lieu of an obi. The kanji 'ten' () - meaning "sky", "heaven", or "providence", (all in the spiritual sense) - can be seen on his back when it appears during certain win animations. Shin Akuma's appearance is very similar to Akuma's; for example, in the Street Fighter Alpha series, Shin Akuma had a purple gi instead of a gray one and marginally lighter tone.

Gameplay

Shun Goku Satsu

Akuma's special move, which is considered to be one of the strongest moves in the Street Fighter series, is the Shun Goku Satsu (lit Instant Hell Murder). The move is normally attributed to a special or ultra combo as the hits varies from version to version but normally the move ranges between 15 to 33 hits. The move starts out as Akuma glides towards his opponents, grabs them, and then whilst the screen turns completely white or black, the players only hear what seems to be a beating, screen returns with the opponent lying down. If the player executes the move with his opponent getting knocked out, Akuma is normally shown with his back against the screen and the insignia on his back lighted. In Street Fighter IV, this move has a stronger version, the Shin Shun Goku Satsu or True Instant Hell Murder, which delivers over half a life bar of damage to most characters and shows Akuma saying "Isshun Sengeki" in Japanese while the four kanji 一瞬千撃 (lit. One Instant, One Thousand Strikes) lights up on screen. He says "Die One Thousand Deaths" in English before the technique hits.

Kongou Koku Retsu Zan

Translating as "Conquering Thunderbolt Slash", it is Akuma's secondary trademark move which gained popularity in Street Fighter III: Third Strike. This technique has Akuma rearing back in a sort of wind-up, with full invincibility, before performing a powerful chop to the ground, with a subsequent wave blast surrounding him on both sides. Although the wave increases the range of it somewhat, the true damage property is a point-blank range. Akuma's victory pose in Street Fighter IV made a reference to this move, as he performs the entire animation for the move, albeit without any supernatural properties. This move has also been noted for being able to instantly kill the character Twelve if he is caught during the transformation stage of his X.C.O.P.Y. super art.

Video games appearances

Street Fighter series

Akuma made his debut in Super Street Fighter II Turbo, the fifth and final arcade iteration of the Street Fighter II games, where he appears as a hidden character. After meeting certain requirements, Akuma appears prior to the player's final match with M. Bison and obliterates M. Bison before challenging the player. In the Japanese arcade version of the game, Akuma would introduce himself to the player before the match, proclaiming himself to be . He also has two endings in the game as well: one for defeating M. Bison, and another against himself. While these endings were omitted from the international releases of the arcade game, they were edited into one ending and included in the English localization of Super Turbo Revival for the Game Boy Advance. Shin Akuma is, however, an unlockable playable character in the Game Boy Advance version of the game, Super Street Fighter II Turbo Revival, as well as the Japan-only Dreamcast version of the game, Super Street Fighter II X for Matchmaking Service. In the latter version, another version of Akuma referred to as Tien Gouki can also be selected, which is essentially Shin Akuma with a super bar.

Akuma appears in Street Fighter Alpha: Warriors' Dreams once again as a hidden opponent and unlockable character. His backstory remains the same as in Super Turbo. Akuma was added to the immediate roster in Street Fighter Alpha 2 and Street Fighter Alpha 3, with a powered-up version of the character named "Shin Akuma" appearing as a hidden opponent. The character's relation with other Street Fighter characters begins to be fleshed out, establishing rivalries with Adon, Gen, and Ryu. Shin Akuma, rather than "Final Bison", is Evil Ryu's final boss in the console versions of Street Fighter Alpha 3.

Akuma was featured in the Street Fighter III sub-series beginning with Street Fighter III 2nd Impact: Giant Attack. Like in his debut in Super Turbo, Akuma is both a secret opponent who serves as an alternate final boss and unlockable character, with the CPU-controlled version being the "Shin Akuma" incarnation introduced in Alpha 2. He is a regular character in Street Fighter III 3rd Strike: Fight for the Future. Akuma reappears in Street Fighter IV, once again as a hidden boss in the single player as well as an unlockable secret character in both arcade and home console versions.

Other games

Akuma has appeared in some form or another through many Capcom games outside the Street Fighter franchise. The first of these appearances was in the fighting game X-Men: Children of the Atom, where Akuma (in his Super Turbo incarnation) appears as a hidden character. He also appears in Marvel Super Heroes as part of the hidden character, Anita's arsenal as she can use a sword and summon one of Akuma's moves and his sprite from XMEN:COTA briefly appears as a special move is performed. He would appear in the later Marvel-licensed fighting games (see Marvel vs. Capcom series), including in Marvel Super Heroes vs. Street Fighter, where he also appears in mechanized form as "Cyber Akuma ( in Japanese), a version of Akuma enhanced by Apocalypse, acting as the final boss. In Marvel vs. Capcom: Clash of Super Heroes, Akuma appears as an alternate fighting style of Ryu. He is also an unlockable character in the humorously toned Super Gem Fighter Mini Mix.

In the SNK vs. Capcom series, Akuma appears in Capcom vs. SNK and SVC Chaos as both regular Akuma and as version of "Shin Akuma". In Capcom vs. SNK 2, a different form of Shin Akuma appears. This form of Akuma achieves a new level of power when a dying Rugal Bernstein pours his Orochi power into him. His name is spelled in Japanese as , with the "Shin" character meaning "God". He also appears in Super Puzzle Fighter II Turbo, Pocket Fighter, and in Cyberbots as a mecha named "Zero Gouki" in the console versions released in Japan. Also, various version of Akuma have appeared in the SNK vs. Capcom: Card Fighters Clash series.

In other media

Although the character was not featured in the 1994 live action Street Fighter movie, Akuma appears in Street Fighter: The Movie, the arcade game based on the movie developed by Incredible Technologies as a regular selectable character (portrayed by Ernie Reyes Sr.). He also appears in the Capcom-developed home version of the same game as a hidden character. Akuma also made cameo appearances in Street Fighter II: The Animated Movie (where he can be seen in the Calcutta scene), and in several episodes of the Japanese TV series Street Fighter II V.

Akuma's first speaking appearance in animation was in an episode of the American Street Fighter animated series titled "Strange Bedfellows", in which Akuma traps Guile and M. Bison on his island, forcing the two sworn enemies to team up. He reappears in another episode, "The World's Greatest Warrior", in which he defeats Ryu and Ken's master Gouken, and challenges Gouken's two students to a duel.

Akuma also figures prominently in the Japanese OVA Street Fighter Alpha: The Animation, where Ryu's encounters with Akuma triggers the "Dark Hadou" in Ryu. Akuma is also the central focus in the OVA Street Fighter Alpha: Generations, which explores his past and ties the character's past with Ryu's. In the English dub of Alpha: Generations, the character is addressed by his Japanese name Gouki, instead of Akuma like in the international versions of the games. In Alpha: Generations, Ryu is hinted to be the biological son of Akuma.

In Imaginationland, an Emmy-winning South Park episode, a representation of the character, along with Sagat, another character from the series, is included in several shots along side other noted imaginary villains. In this episode he is defeated by Popeye.

At DREAM 8 welterweight grand prix round one Lithuanian mixed martial artist Marius Zaromskis dressed up as Akuma during his entrance for his fight with Seichi Ikemoto. He went on to win a Unanimous decision and later the entire Welterweight tournament.

Promotion and reception

In the January 30, 1997 issue of Gamest magazine in Japan, Akuma appeared in the Top 50 Characters of 1996. He ranked at No. 37 sharing the spot with two other characters. He was 11th in Game Daily's Top 25 Capcom Characters of All Time with comments from editor Robert Workman focused on his design and abilities. IGN ranked Akuma at number five in their "Top 25 Street Fighter Characters" article, noting his role as a recognizable "bad guy" in the series. In another article from the same site, Ryan Clements commented that Akuma had one of the strongest movesets from Street Fighter IV, noting his techniques, apart from being able to do a reasonable damage to the opponent, look stylish. He also ranked 9th in the "Top 20 Street Fighter Characters of All Time" from Game Daily, with the writer commenting how different is he from Ken and Ryu despite their similar appearances. Gamespy named him one of the "25 Extremely Rough Brawlers" in video gaming, praising the brutality of his fighting style. GameSpot commented that Akuma is "the most profilic character" in the Street Fighter series due the large number of appearances his character had since Super Street Fighter II Turbo. He was also noted to be the most powerful character to be added to such series, while his Shin Akuma state was commented to be "a truly unstoppable force" due to all the special moves he has. Jeff Keely from Gaming Age said Akuma's introduction in Street Fighter III 2nd Impact was a big improvement for the game, noting him to be "everybody's favorite bad boy".

References

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