Ibuki (Street Fighter)
|Street Fighter character|
Ibuki and her pet Don in Super Street Fighter IV
|First game||Street Fighter III (1997)|
|Designed by||Kinu Nishimura|
|Voiced by (English)||Kat Steel (SSFIV, SFXT)|
|Voiced by (Japanese)||Yuri Amano (SFIII)
Ayumi Fujimura (SSFIV, SFXT)
|Fighting style||Ninjutsu (taijutsu)|
|Occupation||Kunoichi, school student|
Ibuki (いぶき Ibuki?, also written as 息吹) is a fictional character from the Street Fighter fighting game franchise by Capcom, in which she is a young female ninja-in-training who seeks to live the normal life of a modern teenager. Ibuki has become one of the most popular Street Fighter female characters and is regarded by some as one of the top ninja characters in gaming.
Ibuki and Elena were the lone female fighters in the Street Fighter III sub-series until they were joined by Makoto and Chun-Li in Street Fighter III: 3rd Strike. After a few appearances in other games, Ibuki returned to the series in Super Street Fighter IV and is one of the characters representing Street Fighter in Street Fighter X Tekken. She also received her own comic book miniseries.
In video games
The character is a teenage girl from a fictional village in the mountains of Japan, home to an ancient ninja clan. Trained in ninjutsu since infancy, Ibuki is otherwise an ordinary high school girl with an attraction to pop idols. She is portrayed as strong, donning ninja clothes for battle, but yearns to be more carefree, and prefers ordinary schoolgirl attire. She uses taijutsu, a fighting style that combines several ancient, Japanese martial arts. Ibuki has a pet tanuki (raccoon dog) named Don (どん?). In Street Fighter III: 3rd Strike (1999), Ibuki shares a special pre-fight introductory sequence with her rival Makoto.
The other members of Ibuki's ninja clan that appear in her stage in the first two Street Fighter III games include Sanjō (三条?), Enjō (円城?), Genda (玄田?) and Raion (雷音?). Ibuki's friend, in her endings in the original Street Fighter III and Street Fighter III: 2nd Impact, is named Sarai Kurosawa (黒澤早雷 Kurosawa Sarai?), who lives in the same village and attends the same high school. The young boy who spars with Ibuki before a match in 3rd Strike is named Yūta Homura (焔悠蛇 Homura Yūta?). According to GameSpot, it was rumored that original Street Fighter character Geki was her father, but this was never confirmed as canon (according to Street Fighter Legends, Geki is a name of the clan that is rival to Ibuki's).
In the plots of the original Street Fighter III and 2nd Impact, Ibuki is sent by her clan to retrieve a mysterious "G file" from Gill's organization, the Illuminati. In Ibuki's game end sequence, Gill hands her the file after their battle. In 3rd Strike, Ibuki is shown preparing to graduate from high school and is studying for her college application exams, hoping to move away from home to enjoy a normal campus life and find a boyfriend. As part of her final exam, Ibuki is sent to find and defeat the elderly martial arts legend named Oro. In Ibuki's ending in 3rd Strike, she is accepted into the fictional Sarusuberi University (私立百日紅大学 Shiritsu Sausuberi Daigaku?), at first without knowledge of its cover for an elite ninja training camp. A kunai resembling Ibuki's is seen in Fei Long's ending in Street Fighter IV (2008). She was later revealed to be playable in Super Street Fighter IV (2010), where her introductory sequence shows her interacting with a fellow Capcom ninja Guy for the first time. Her story for the game depicts her truanting to have fun and to look for boys to date. Ibuki also meets Sakura Kasugano, as she tries to get Sakura to introduce her to a boy.
A super deformed version of Ibuki is a playable character in the fighting game Super Gem Fighter Mini Mix (1997, also known as Pocket Fighter), in which she sneaks off from her ninja training to eat an ice cream in Tokyo. She returns as a playable character in another crossover fighting game, Street Fighter X Tekken (2012), with Rolento as her tag team partner. In it, she is persuaded by her village leaders to accept Rolento's request for a joint mission to the South Pole, serving as his advisor on infiltration. In the story mode, Rolento initially addresses the very annoyed Ibuki as private but "promotes" her to sergeant by the end of the game. According to a backstory for Steam and Xbox Live Marketplace downloadable content ninja costume swap for the Tekken series' Asuka Kazama, Asuka was sent Ibuki's village to learn the ninja arts from her. Ibuki's own Tekken swap costume is in the style of Yoshimitsu, with her latest assignment having her join his Manji Clan. Ibuki also appears in the browser-based social game Onimusha Soul.
Ibuki also makes a cameo appearance in Capcom Fighting Evolution (2004, also known as Capcom Fighting Jam). Producer/director Ryota Niitsuma originally considered her for inclusion as a playable character in Tatsunoko vs. Capcom: Ultimate All-Stars (2008), but she was ultimately cut due to time constraints. The "head student at Ibuki's ninja village" was supposed to be a new player character in the rejected concept of Street Fighter IV Flashback by Backbone Entertainment, which would also have featured a cameo of a much younger version of Ibuki.
Ibuki's build is depicted as slim and athletic, with black hair held tightly back in a topknot ponytail that drops well beneath her waist. Her fighting outfit is a traditional type of ninja dogi, consisting of a sleeveless upper garment, baggy pants (slit at the sides), arm guards, and a mask that conceals the lower half of her face. Her footwear consists only of cloth bandages wrapped around her shins, ankles and instep. Ibuki's alternative, everyday costume is a blue-and-white schoolgirl uniform, or casual clothes—in the same color scheme—with a chain of miniature kunai knives and a fake tanuki tail, introduced in Super Street Fighter IV Arcade Edition. One of her scrapped costume concepts for SSFIV was a very distinct, partially armored ninja outfit, which was more skimpy and featured two Japanese swords on her back.
For Super Street Fighter IV, the developers attempted "to bring out her feminine side in her lines and dialogue as well as in her proportions." They added that she was probably the most difficult character to make and that they put a lot of effort into her motions and her design while trying to best show "her charm, even behind the mask." Ibuki's English voice actress Kat Steel, hired for her knowledge of the character displayed during the audition, wrote it "was a treat because her character is sassy, mischievous, and oh so girlish!" For Street Fighter X Tekken, Capcom wanted give her a few attacks featuring Don.
According to Computer and Video Games, "Ibuki appears to be one of the most powerful and most popular character[s]" in Street Fighter III. GameSpot felt her to be "most similar", in terms of gameplay, to Cammy and Geki. According to UGO, Ibuki in Street Fighter III "has the strength and speed to face off against any top-tier character", as she is "quick, somewhat unpredictable and easy to pick up", and "she's just as likely to attack an opponent from the front as she is to dash into the air and rain down several kunai. It's this type of diversity in fighting that makes her attractive to players." Retro Gamer opined "this female ninja is fast, mobile and can stun opponents quickly. While she loses in a toe-to-toe brawl against most characters, she has plenty of trickery to get around a tight defence and dictate the match." AskMen wrote that "while her specials lack the dazzle and spark of most of Street Fighter's cast Ibuki's still lethal in the right hands, juggling her opponents with some seemingly endless combos." Capcom producer Yoshinori Ono said Ibuki "is also popular because she is insanely fun to play."
In Super Street Fighter IV, the developers attempted to retain Ibuki's playstyle and feel from Street Fighter III. She was also given a super jump (the only character, other than C. Viper, to have one in this game) and made adjustments to have combos that utilize it. Capcom's Taketoshi Sano said that "Ibuki is suited to those who want to get the most out of a single character" and "beginners can use her too, but if I had to pick I'd say she's suited for intermediate." Capcom Europe described Ibuki’s Raida command grab as having some unique properties and being one of the most powerful moves in the game. According to an MTV guide, Ibuki is "one of the hardest characters to master in this latest iteration" and "you'll have to have a strong understanding of each character's moves and abilities before truly coming to grips with what the weak, yet versatile Ibuki has to offer." In a guide to Super Street Fighter IV: 3D Edition, GameSpy stated that Ibuki has "got some unique strengths and enough versatility that we think she can cope with most opponents. Her damage is a bit lacking, but with enough craftiness in your execution you can make up for it." Listing the biggest mistakes to avoid in the game, GamesRadar advised Ibuki's players to not oversuse her "kunai air-knives", but to rather use them sparingly in not predictably as a tool to help get close to the opponent. According to GamesRadar, "Ibuki makes up for her relatively weak damage by having some of the trickiest mobility in the game, letting a skilled player dash circles around their confused opponent."
Japanese professional gamer Sakonoko, whose preferred character in Super Street Fighter IV is Ibuki, said in interview for Famitsu that Ibuki in Street Fighter X Tekken "is ultimately based on her SSFIV Arcade Edition version" and so it is easy for people familiar with this game "to jump right in." He also noted a few character-specific changes between these games, such as Ibuki's kunai attacks gaining the knocking down ability. According to Edge, Ultra Street Fighter IV's addition of "Delayed Wakeup, which lets you stay on the floor a little longer after a knockdown to put your opponent off their rhythm [was] primarily designed to nerf characters like Cammy, Akuma and Ibuki who are at their most effective when an opponent is getting up off the ground."
Ibuki is a favored character for use in promotional artwork, and has several figurines and action figures made in her image. These include figures from Mega Hobby, MegaHouse, SOTA Toys, Square Enix's Play Arts Kai, and Capcom itself, including one designed by Street Fighter III character concept artist Kinu Nishimura. Ibuki's Xbox Live Avatar costume was released in 2010. In the anime film Street Fighter Alpha: The Animation, Sakura is shown controlling Ibuki while playing a handheld Street Fighter game.
The character has also appears in several Street Fighter comic books. To coincide with the release of Super Street Fighter IV in 2010, UDON Entertainment published a special four-issue miniseries Street Fighter Legends: Ibuki, written by Jim Zubkavich and drawn by Omar Dogan. One alternative cover was drawn by Adam Warren and the miniseries was later included in the compilation Street Fighter Legends: The Ultimate Edition. In Ibuki, the character's fictional background was revealed: she had been destined to become a perfect assassin for the Geki clan, but one of them, Enjō, fled with the baby. She also interacts with Elena, in addition to Makoto and Sarai.
Jim Zubkavich said, "Ibuki's a more complex character, more flawed. She's a great ninja but she isn't even sure this is what she wants out of life. (...) Sakura's never-give-up attitude may be more of a classic anime archetype, but I feel Ibuki's a character more people can empathize with." He added, "Ibuki’s personality has been limited to game endings and oh-so brief lines of dialogue from her victory quotes, so expanding upon those with this focused story is an honour and a challenge." In a poll by Omar Dogan on his deviantART website, most of voters wanted to see Ibuki "wearing something cute", and precisely something in the Harajuku-style Lolita fashion. Dogan's own favourite part of the story was "the part where Ibuki and Oro battle."
Ibuki was met with a positive critical and fan reception regarding her character design, attractiveness and personality, and with a mixed reception regarding her gameplay issues. Despite her debut in a relatively obscure entry in the series, Ibuki has become one of the most popular Street Fighter female characters. Capcom's Taisaku Okada said Ibuki was the most popular of the Street Fighter III female characters, probably because of her appearance contrasting a young girl "of the current times" with "this old-time ninja look". In 2002, she was voted the 12th most popular Street Fighter character in Capcom's own poll for the 15th anniversary of Street Fighter. In an official poll by Namco ten years later, Ibuki was the 16th most requested Street Fighter side character to be added to the roster of Tekken X Street Fighter, garnering 7.41% of votes (results as of February 26, 2013). Street Fighter IV director Takashi Tsukamoto described her as "a character that many people were waiting for." A teaser trailer suggesting her inclusion in the game, revealed by Yoshinori Ono at the Evolution Championship Series 2011, resulted in the crowd shouting "Ibuki".
GameDaily placed her 15th in its list of top Street Fighter characters of all time in 2008, expressing surprise that "all she wants to do is live a normal life." That same year, IGN ranked Ibuki as the 22nd top Street Fighter character and the only ninja on their list, and in 2009 featured her among the characters they wanted to appear in Street Fighter IV. Similarly, Mikel Reparaz of GamesRadar listed Ibuki among the 12 characters he would like to see in Super Street Fighter IV, despite her being "one of the weaker characters" in Street Fighter III, citing her "enduring popularity", "rapid, skill-centric combos and high-flying special moves" and her costume "which leaves her hips conspicuously bare and devoid of any sign of underpants." Martin Robinson of AskMen too named Ibuki as of the five characters it wished to be included in Super Street Fighter IV, writing that "ninjas might be ten-a-penny in videogames, but none are as effortlessly cool as Ibuki" and adding that she "makes this list primarily for her style" but is "no slouch in combat either." According to the GameZone review of the game, "it’s unfathomable to think that anyone could not fall in love with Ibuki and Makoto, introduced in Street Fighter III, all over again." GamesRadar's Lucas Sullivan called her inclusion in Street Fighter IV "a stroke of genius" and requested her return in Street Fighter V. GamesRadar compared the Killer Instinct 3 character Sadira to Ibuki, as also being "an agile fighter who can orchestrate a lot of very tricky setups from the air."
In 2004, Nich Maragos and David Smith of 1UP.com ranked Ibuki as the sixth overall best ninja character in video games, calling her "one of the coolest-looking characters" in Street Fighter III but "also one of the least capable in competition." In 2011, Becky Cunningham of Cheat Code Central too ranked her as the sixth top ninja in video games. That same year, Aubrey Sitterson of UGO featured her on a list of the 25 "foxiest fighting females to ever be pixelated" and commented that Ibuki is "not only super-hot, but she's also a ninja, which is like a 'chocolate in my peanut butter' situation." UGO's Paul Furfari further stated that she "set the new standard in female fighters," adding, "forget Chun-Li". GameZone included the "amazing" Ibuki in their 2011 list of "best video game ninjas" and stated: "We’re glad she’s still a staple in this series to this very day – but when is she going to come over to Marvel vs. Capcom territory?" In 2012, Gelo Gonzales of FHM included Ibuki among the nine "sexiest ninja babes in games" and compared her to Sam Pinto. Márcio Pacheco Alexsandro of Brazil's Game Hall placed her at tenth spot of his 2014 list of top kunoichi (female ninja) characters in games, opining that that she is "far from having a status of Chun-Li, but has her charm, especially if you like Japanese schoolgirls."
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