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Even as a joke, Dan Hibiki started out as a Street Fighter character with an intriguing and high-stakes story, but that went away in Street Fighter 4

With the character en route to Street Fighter 5, what will Capcom do with his lore?

Posted by John 'Velociraptor' Guerrero • September 11, 2020 at 4:38 p.m. PDT • Comments: 31

You wouldn't think a character primarily inspired by petty copycat practices would end up with a rather rich and intriguing backstory, but Capcom's Dan Hibiki has proven to have a tendency to surprise from time to time.

Dan is slated to be the next DLC character en route to Street Fighter 5: Champion Edition later this year, and so we figured a look over his canonical history would be fairly apt at the moment. We'll kick things off, however, with a brief recap about why Capcom decided to make a fighter who was bad on purpose in order to rib their rivals at the time: SNK.

The short of it all was that SNK's Art of Fighting featured characters that were a little too obviously close in design to those in the first Street Fighter titles. This makes some sense considering that a few key development figures behind the first Street Fighter, Takashi Nishiyama and Hiroshi Matsumoto, wound up jumping ship to SNK and working on Art of Fighting.

Dan wound up as a hidden character in Street Fighter Alpha and was designed to be a mixture of SNK's Ryo (really, just a single letter change?) and Robert. Dan's physical features and in-game abilities echo some of those of seen from Robert and Ryo, though Mr. Hibiki almost always has poor form or weakened versions of the moves he's using.

The character is widely known for taunting almost as much as he fights, and the reason behind this was because taunts actually helped build meter in AOF. It was very clear to anyone who'd been following along that Dan was designed to playfully insult Capcom's rival company, though this feels like it's rooted more in good fun than in animosity. Dan received a Mr. Karate mask in one of his alternate costumes in Street Fighter 4, a title Nishiyama served as Executive Director on.

You can see in the gallery below (which I nabbed from Catalyst's 2018 article on the subject) visual comparisons and SNK nods in some of Dan's portrayals.

Dan comparisons to Ryo and Robert in Art of Fighting image #1 Dan comparisons to Ryo and Robert in Art of Fighting image #2 Dan comparisons to Ryo and Robert in Art of Fighting image #3 Dan comparisons to Ryo and Robert in Art of Fighting image #4 Dan comparisons to Ryo and Robert in Art of Fighting image #5 Dan comparisons to Ryo and Robert in Art of Fighting image #6
Click images for larger versions

The start of Dan's story is heavily tied to his relationship with his father, Go Hibiki, who was a strong and respected mixed martial artist. The young Dan was already exhibiting some signs of poor social integration as he was arrogant and lacked humility to an obnoxious degree, especially considering his somewhat below average abilities.

As we heard in our Sagat history article, Go gave The King a real run for his money by taking out his eye during a fight. An enraged Sagat proceeded to take his foe's life and thus incite a revenge-fueled story line for Dan.

Much of the character's motivations from there on out were to get Sagat back for killing his father. He migrated about seeking a dojo to train in, and eventually wound up under the direction of Ryu and Ken's master, Gouken. Unfortunately, Dan's lack of social skills paired with his less than noble motivations for learning martial arts turned Gouken off to the idea of continuing to train him, and the old man ultimately decided to hit him with the ban hammer.

Dan proved to be nothing if not persistent, however, and simply decideed to create his own form of martial arts: Saikyō-ryū, or "Strongest style," a mix of both Sagat's Muay Thai and Gouken's Ansatsuken. Spoilers: it doesn't end up being the strongest style.

Fast forward to Street Fighter Alpha 2 where Dan is a full blown roster member. He actually encounters his rival, Sagat, who has no idea who the pink gi-wearing fighter is. This just makes Dan all the angrier, driving him to come at Sagat with all his might, which isn't a lot, but winds up being enough for a victory.

What Dan didn't know (because he hadn't read the aforementioned Sagat history article) was that The King was going through something of a transitional phase away from being fueled by anger and resentment. Once Sagat got a clearer idea of the situation he decided to let Dan win because it was much more of a "good guy" way of going about things.


Dan talks smack after "defeating" Sagat in Alpha 2

Street Fighter Alpha 3 sees Dan promote his martial art style around the world and come into contact with a few of the franchise's heavy hitters including Chun-Li, Balrog, Sagat (again), and M. Bison. He defeats all of these characters in his Alpha 3 story, but this really doesn't appear to be canonical nor carried into the lore of Street Fighter 4.

What does carry over is Dan's development of relationships with both Blanka and Sakura. Both of these characters wind up training in Dan's dojo, but the latter is simply doing so because she feels like she can get closer to Ryu through this particular avenue.

Dan's presence in Street Fighter 4 is very much a side plot as his story mainly revolves around his struggling dojo business. He is initially angered that he was not invited to the second World Warrior tournament while Blanka was, but it's later revealed that Blanka's attempts to try to contact Dan to get him to come were halted by the mere fact that Dan hadn't paid his dojo phone bill.

His story mainly surrounds his trying to further promote his dojo and his bumbling around and bumping into more important characters without understanding the gravity of most situations. His major achievement in SF4 winds up being the production of a Saikyō-ryū dojo commercial, but Sakura points out after the fact that his phone is still disconnected and so they would have missed any and all calls from potential new students.

It's pretty clear that the character's story in the more recent SF4 has a lot less impact than his earlier appearances, but we're now headed into Street Fighter 5 and will see what the next chapter holds in store for Dan. He has made a few appearances in other characters' SF5 story modes (one of which shows that he finally has successfully paid his phone bill) and serves as something of a guide in the game's shop.

You can see his three appearances in SF5 story modes below, including Rashid and Alex's pre-stories and G's Arcade Mode ending. He shows up as part of the easy mode of a Shadaloo training program for Alex and as one of the many fighters G shakes hands with during his worldwide campaign.

Dan SF5 Stuff image #1 Dan SF5 Stuff image #2 Dan SF5 Stuff image #3
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What do you think is in store for Dan in Street Fighter 5? Will Capcom go back to giving him higher stakes scenarios through which to traverse, or will he still be fumbling around with everyday tasks like paying phone bills? Let us know how excited (or not) you are for this joke character to join SF5 in the comments below.

Source: SF Wiki.

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