Street Fighter is very accepting in terms of allowing people to participate in it’s world championship tournaments. Not to the extent of Tekken by allowing animals to compete but still, Street Fighter accepts fighters from all walks of life, fighting style, gender, and sexuality. But I would’ve thought they’d at least set an age bracket for this urban kumite. People can get seriously hurt before they can even learn how to drive! This was my mindset after reading Sakura Ganbaru vol. 1.
Street Fighter Sakura Ganbaru! Volume 1 (2007)
Author: Masahiko Nakahira
Publisher: Udon Entertainment
Binding Reviewed: Softcover (200 pages)
Street Fighter has never been about the story. They just needed an excuse to get colorful characters to kick the shit out of each other. But like a porno, a story has to be there no matter how bad just to give players context. Set in the Alpha/Zero period of Street Fighter (before Street Fighter II), our main heroine Sakura is balancing her life as a school girl whilst moonlighting as a Street Fighter under the tutelage of Dan Hibiki. The book is about Sakura and her desire to pursue the life of a pugilist. It’s an interesting concept but sadly doesn’t go anywhere apart from wanting to meet “that guy”.
The book plays it safe when it comes to writing each character, always first introducing a character then reaffirming to the reader (if they’re a fan) the common knowledge about that character. For example; we are introduced to Ken Masters, instantly characters will proclaim he is America’s no.1 fighter. While its nice that they don’t tread on any canonical toes set in stone by Capcom, there are still major errors that any die hard Street Fighter fan can spot. The main story introduces Sakura’s main rival Karin who would later make an appearance in a Street Fighter game (Alpha/ Zero 3). I like this character. She’s a natural foil to Sakura yet doesn’t go for the lazy clone approach as Ken to Ryu.
The book sells itself as an off the wall high school action-comedy and while I can agree there is action and comedy, whether it’s off the wall is hard to say. The humour is typical manga humour; exaggerated faces and dopey moments that are worth a chuckle. The action isn’t up to par with the today’s shonen jump, but the super moves pulled from the games into a double page spread are a nice touch. I’m typically not a fan of any anime/manga art style outside of the noughties but Nakahira does a good job at making Sakura look cute and determined at the same time.
This is a typical Udon production. Taking existing works in Japan, translating it, making it look pretty then selling it in the west. I’m a fan of their work and this is no exception. The translation, while sometimes hard to read due to the spine swallowing up the pages, is complete down to the sound effects and background signs. I also really like Omar Dogan’s redesign of the front cover. It is one of the best representations of Sakura I have seen to date.
Sakura Ganbaru! shows lots of specific character relationships that cannot be seen in-game outside of the opening and ending cinematics. This is useful for anyone wanting to enrich themselves into the lore of Street Fighter’s auxiliary cast. Nakahira delves deep when drawing up characters to include in the book as its nice to see video game background characters get speaking roles in this comic. There are lots of fun references to Street Fighter and Final Fight that fans will get kick out of.
It’s most likely that Sakura fans would have already picked this book up to learn more about their favourite bloomer wearing Street Fighter. Regular World Warriors may want to pick this up to add to their extensive collection of memorabilia other wise it depends on how much you like fighting school girl trope. For casual readers, this may be a disappointment. The art isn’t great and neither is the story, more of a ho-hum than a recommendation. The bottom line is, if you don’t mind losing an hour reading about a pubescent girl beating up people twice her size in black and white then give it a shot!