Street Fighter 6 director Takayuki Nakayama and art director Kaname Fujioka is sharing more context on Ken Master’s new look and what is going on with his life.
When Capcom initially revealed Ken as a returning character, they gave him this bio on their official website:
“Former US National Fighting Champ, and ex-VP of the Masters Foundation. Accusations of orchestrating a criminal plot have forced Ken to abandon his family and business and go into hiding.”
Reflecting this situation where Ken is on the run, he now wears somewhat homely clothing. A black shirt layered with a jacket, boots, and red pants. Ken also has some stubble, and while he is known for his wild, messy hairstyle, this time it actually looks quite unkempt.
It does seem that Fujioka wanted to make sure that Ken had a look that made it clear he doesn’t have full control of his situation. If you contrast this with similar characters from other fighting games, you can tell that the art team under Fujioka took the trouble to make this a distinctive look.
So for example, in Garou: Mark of the Wolves, we see an older Terry Bogard, wearing a bomber jacket and work boots, alongside a trimmed haircut. Terry’s character in Garou is something of a lone biker who doesn’t actually have a bike. While he may dress differently than other people, nobody would accuse him of looking like a hobo.
Playing off of this a few years later was Paul Phoenix in Tekken 4. Paul was always an American biker, but in the street smart world of this Tekken game, Paul grew some stubble and wore his gi down, to fit the aesthetic sensibilities of the 2000s. Some alternate skins of him even had his hair down, and wearing pattern shirts. While Ken Masters’ new look is realistic, it also is markedly different than Paul Phoenix at this time.
Here is what Fujioka said about Ken’s legacy and where he sees himself taking the character aesthetically:
“The title that left me with the biggest impression was the Street Fighter II series and how I see Ken in the Street Fighter II series is, in comparison to Ryu, who is more stern and serious, I see Ken as a fiery and explosive character. Throughout the evolution of the series, there’s been different kinds of Kens as well. In the Alpha series, he was a little more playful and lighthearted in a way. For 6, we wanted to bring that fiery explosiveness back into it. In comparison, Luke in Street Fighter 6 might be more cheery and a kind of playful character. We wanted to differentiate from that, so we wanted to go with this more fiery type of personality. And there being the story behind Ken and there being a more serious tone to him, we wanted to express that through the character designs as well.”
Interestingly, Ken’s story will actually be explored outside the video game, in a new comic book UDON will be producing in partnership with Capcom. The teasers that have been revealed so far indicate that Ken has been implicated in some kind of terrorist attack, and so he really is in a situation where he just can’t go back home to his family.
As for Kaname Fujioka himself, he is a very old hand within Capcom. He’s actually written and directed stories for the Monster Hunter games, and was designer on several older Capcom fighting games, including Vampire Savior, Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure, and Warzard. There should be no questions on his legitimacy as a creator taking Ken in a new direction.
I remains to be seen where Capcom is taking Ken but this may be the most fully fleshed out and relatable version of the character yet.
Street Fighter 6 will be released in 2023 for Windows, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X, and Xbox Series S.