It left Chun-Li with highly unrealistic body proportions. But then again: neither are Blanka’s or Ryu’s. Their cartoon bodies speak of their functionality in a video game built for entertainment.
Capcom’s game developers admitted as much in interviews. After the first Street Fighter (released in 1987), game director Akira Nishitani and his team wanted the sequel to be ‘more entertaining’ than the first game. Introducing Chun-Li was a huge part of that idea, said game artist Akira Yasuda. “Having a female character in the game completely changes the game’s dynamic, she brightens up the entire palette.”
At the same time, the team struggled to make her fit the ‘plain’ environment of rough fights, Yasuda said. “Ordinarily, you don't see women participating in global martial arts tournaments. Just by adding her we were starting to push things to the 'fun' side. I didn't think about it at the time, but thinking about it now, from the moment we put Chun-Li into the game we were already pushing things towards the full-on entertainment side."
Alas, it would not just be fun and games for Chun-Li. Just like the other fighters, she was given a back story that explained her motivation to engage in martial arts from a young age, and join Interpol as a young adult. In her youth, her father was murdered by M. Bison, leader of the Shadaloo crime syndicate, and she was on a quest for revenge. Which in proper comic book fashion she would get, over and over again, as players beat up her evil nemesis M. Bison, one of four computer opponents in Street Fighter II.
NB: all Chun-Li art in this article is on sale as fine art print. Click the Chun-Li gallery below for details on individual images, print details and pricing!