Chun-Li, the strongest woman in the world


Chun-Li, the strongest woman in the world

Chun-Li is not only considered one of the first protagonists of fighting games, but also the icon of a whole generation

When it comes to revolutionary female characters , Chun-Li's name is a must on any list. This powerful-legged warrior is not the first woman to star in a game, but she was one of the pioneers who proved that female characters are much more than damsels to rescue or satellites in the shadow of a male protagonist. The Capcom heroine became the dream of many girls who wanted to be like her. After his debut in Street Fighter II , a title that became the paradigm of fighting, Chun-Li transcended the video game medium to become the icon of a generation. Last March 1 was her birthday, and she recently made headlines by becoming one of the guests at Fortnite. Today at OkayGotcha we review its history.

The fighting game revolution

It was 1987 when Capcom premiered its first Street Fighter in arcades , as Polygon reviews in a report on the saga. Based on two previous studio titles Karate Champ (Data East, 1984) and Yie-Ar Kung Fu (Konami, 1985), this work featured a very bare cast of fighters and an imprecise combo system. Despite the bittersweet taste that it left in the players, Street Fighter laid the foundations for a next installment that would be revolutionary.

Street Fighter II was one of the first titles that favored competition between two players, who faced duels instead of relegating one of the opponents to a secondary role. Also, the title presented a great depth in its combat system. GamaSutra sums up : “[Street Fighter II] brought unprecedented depth and complexity to arcades. It introduced players to a wide cast of characters, with their respective fighting styles, each with an extensive set of special moves and combos. "

Chun-Li's token in Street Fighter

Likewise, Street Fighter II brought together all its characters with a joint story, which had a common element: the crime syndicate Shadaloo as the main villain and with M.Bison at the head. Each of the fighters had their own biography, which included personal data such as date of birth, country of origin and blood group. Diversity would be the key to success , since each player would find a character with whom they identified and with whose fighting style they felt most comfortable.

Breaking gender stereotypes

Chun-Li was one of the most striking figures among the new protagonists who joined the classics Ryu and Ken. Vice, in an essay on the fighter, reels: “In the midst of this digital world designed, developed and tamed by men, Chun-Li defied expectations of women in video games. He wore a qipao with athletic modifications, combat boots, spiked wrist guards, and had huge, highly toned thighs. In addition, he was one of the best Street Fighter characters at a competitive level, since his speed, agility and his super combos, which could put an end to a confrontation, became a devastating cocktail for his opponents. This ensured it dominated the top-tier charts throughout the series. " 

Chun-Li vs. E.Honda

On CBR they analyze Chun-Li's fighting style as an interpretation of Chinese kenpo that puts all the emphasis on kicking. The lightning kick became the heroine's stellar move and later the Kikoken would join one of the energy projectiles that the young woman would launch at her rivals. "She was originally a much faster fighter than her opponents, but more fragile, and in later installments her abilities were balanced more fairly," the post notes.

Akira Yashuda, character designer for Capcom, recounts in Style of Games how he came up with the idea for Chun-Li. Inspired by Tao from the animated film Genma Wars , the artist aspired to create a beautiful woman: “I designed her with very baggy pants and a front and back apron. It wasn't very sexy, and my design lacked personality and visual impact. So at the last minute I started experimenting with a bunch of pixel art changes . At first, I wanted to put her in a tight dress that would expose her legs. This is how a wrestling fighter or a kung-fu fighter would look like, albeit in a more fanciful style. "

Some of Chun-Li's original designs

The designer also had to modify the young woman's limbs and also readjust the color of her stockings several times. From there, Chun-Li's outfit evolved into what we know today: with a perfect balance between the delicate and the aggressive.; a feminine dress, the hair in bows and the boots and wristbands to complement a design full of charisma. In later editions of the game, we would see subtle changes to the clothing, such as the tights in Street Fighter Alpha or a more radical change such as the sensual battle suit of Street Fighter V, where she also retains her classic dress. As for her iconic thighs, Yoko Shimomura highlights Yashuda's exalted fetish for muscular legs on Polygon: “Chun-Li has huge thighs, doesn't she? Back then, I asked Mr. Yashuda, 'Why do you have such big thighs?' And he started screaming and freaking out like 'I don't know how you can't see how attractive he is!'

Of course, the creative process of the fighter has always aspired to offer a beautiful woman, but her constitution was groundbreaking in a decade where the aesthetic canon dictated stylized bodies. Writer CS Voll analyzes : “Many fans appreciated this representation of a different femininity. Muscular women and vigorous physical activities were considered unladylike. However, icons like Chun-Li represented a different idea.Her muscles are visual representations of her power and are not reduced to being an erotic trait, but show a physical strength that she has earned herself. And it is with his legs - which in other female characters are sexualized - with which he defeats his opponents, most of whom are men. This paradox is always present in its design. "

The Evolution of Chun-Li (Arkreiders)

Unfortunately, the Chun-Li we know also had to fight her way through certain sexist sketches, as we can see in the aforementioned Polygon report. Yoshiki Okamoto, one of the chief designers, thought of giving it a shorter life bar , since he conceived that women are physically more fragile than men. Akira Nishitani, another of the designers, objected to this, and finally decided not to set said handicap. This disadvantage would have hurt the character competitively, and robbed her of her popularity.

In The Making of Street Fighter we see other original ideas to bring Chun-Li to life. One of them consisted of making her a military man inspired by Vasquez from the movie Aliens (an idea that Cammy would later depart from). Also, one of the names that were being considered for her was "China Daughter" (the daughter of China).

Chun-Li in Street Fighter Alpha

The strongest woman in the world

When Chun-Li debuted together with his teammates in 1991, he conquered the players. It was not only her beauty and great prowess in the ring , but also her passionate story. By defeating her enemies, she bragged that she was "the strongest woman in the world," a declaration of intent from someone who dismantled gender barriers. The overflowing joy with which he celebrated his victories conveyed a jovial personality that underscored his charm.

Vice highlights how her kindness and sense of justice give her strength beyond kicking: “Martial arts expert and secret Interpol agent seeking revenge on her father. Your mission is to overthrow the criminal organization Shadaloo and its evil leader M. Bison. Throughout the saga, we discover that she is a passionate advocate for just causes , committed to honoring her father's legacy and protecting the caring citizens of her world. In Street Fighter III: Third Strike, she retires from street fights and becomes a martial arts teacher to the children. Shortly after, he has to use force and comply with justice to rescue one of his students, who has been kidnapped by Urien, an evil and genetically modified super fighter ”.

Chun-Li proclaims herself the strongest woman in the world

The success of Street Fighter II established it as one of the greatest references in fighting games, and today it is remembered as one of the best titles. On the other hand, the cultural impact of Chun-Li has inspired various essays on its importance in the environment. Bryan J. Carr, in 100 Greastest Video Game Characters , notes: “Chun-Li has perhaps been the introduction [in video games] to the idea that a woman is as capable as a man both in the virtual world and outside. of the".

For her part, Patricia Sakar in Geeks, describes : “Street Fighter pioneered feminism within the video game industry thanks to the character of Chun-Li. Video games at that time, in general, were sparing when it came to portraying female characters and they continue to be to this day. The main roles, as in the rest of the entertainment industries, were filled by white men. Chun-Li was the exception to that rule and started a new route in favor of the diversity of characters. A Chinese woman who, perhaps, was one of the first best female characters of all time ”.

Chun-Li wearing the battle suit in Street Fighter V

Beyond video games

Street Fighter, in turn, has transcended digital entertainment to offer us series, comics and animated films, as well as a live action film that is remembered with amazement and affection: Street Fighter: The Last Battle . Ming-Na Wen played a Chun-Li who was a reporter rather than an Interpol agent, and shared the screen with stars like Jean-Claude Van Damme (Guile), Raul Julia (M.Bison) and Kylie Monogue (Cammy). . It's never been possible to conceive a Street Fighter play without including Chun-Li in the cast, and her cameo in Wreck-It Ralph is worth mentioning . , the Disney movie that pays tribute to video game culture. 

Chun-Li also starred in her own movie, although the box office success did not match the popularity of the heroine. Thus, Kristen Kreuk played the fighter in Street Fighter: The Legend . However, the bitter result of this production has not sullied a legacy that has been alive for decades.

Ming-Na Wen as Chun-Li in Street Fighter: The Last Stand

Even in the world of music Chun-Li has inspired songs like Nicki Minaj's self-titled single. The singer had also winked at the heroine in Fireball , a song she sings along with Willow Smith and whose lyrics read: "OK, I'm the street fighter, call me Chun-Li."

Chun-Li is considered the first female protagonist of a fighting game, although she already had a couple of predecessors with less impact than hers: Onna Sanshirou - Typhoon Gal (1985) was a fighting game that featured a girl as the protagonist called Yuki. However, it was the Capcom lady who established a new paradigm in the genre. After her, we find other ladies who, although they have ended up establishing their own identity, have been compared to her almost inevitably. Thus, SNK created Mai Shiranui (Fatal Fury), whose eroticism would compete against Capcom's heroine, as he recallsThe newspaper. In addition, Chun-Li has been compared to other Asian fighters such as Ling Xiaoyu (Tekken) or Pai Chan (Virtua Fighter), whose physical resemblance is evident. However, the protagonist of Street Fighter has not only been a muse, but an icon today for all the women who felt powerful at the controls of a tournament that invited fighters from all over the globe to be part of its ring.

Chun-Li celebrates her victory.

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