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The pathetic history of Dan Hibiki

If you’ve been a Street Fighter fan during the last 10 years, you already know his trademarks: the weeping, the tiny fireballs, the pink gi, the tendency to scream a lot for no reason. Dan Hibiki is the Rodney Dangerfield of Street Fighter, respected by none but beloved by most, and over the years he’s gone from an obscure gag character to one of the series’ most enduring fan favorites. His goofy mannerisms are hard not to like, and if you can win using his weaksauce moves, you know you’re good.

At first glance, Dan is nothing more than a crappy version of Ryu or Ken; kind of like an anti-Akuma. His fists lack any real power, his flashiest move is a super-taunt and nothing, but nothing, is more humiliating than being defeated by one of the piddly little fireballs that whiff out of existence mere inches from his hand.


Above: Do not be like Cyclops. Do not EVER be like Cyclops

The thing is, for all his weaknesses he’s one of the most fun Street Fighter characters to play as. Sure, Ryu or Guile might be able to kick Bison’s ass a lot faster, but Dan’s spirit is unbreakable and his charms are many. His special moves are a blast to play around with, and once you figure out how to make them work for you – instead of just lamenting how they’re not as cool as Ryu or Ken’s – they’re actually pretty effective. Whether it’s an added layer of challenge for experienced players, a way to annoy and humiliate your opponents or just an overtly goofy fighting experience, Dan has a lot to offer. And while it might not seem that way, he’s gone through a lot of changes on the road from Street Fighter Alpha to Street Fighter IV. Let’s look at them now.


Above: Dan had to wait nearly 14 years before he could be this awesome


Dan didn’t actually appear in Art of Fighting, of course, but SNK’s off-brand Street Fighter clone was the basis for his unique look and demeanor. For some reason, the brains behind Street Fighter seem to have taken more offense from AoF than from any of SNK’s numerous other knock-offs, and zeroed in on its two heroes – gi-clad Ryo Sakazaki and ponytail enthusiast Robert Garcia – in particular.


Above: Ryo and Robert set the stage for their bastard offspring

Ryo provided the outfit (later turned a mocking shade of pink) and the moves – the short-range fireball, weak dragon punch and flying flail-kick – while Robert’s douchebag smirk and ponytail were the basis for Dan’s face. Dan’s personality, meanwhile, came from Ryo’s hyperactive little sister Yuri.


Above: This ought to look familiar

These three were apparently the would-be challengers that made Capcom snap. Before long, a character would be added to the Street Fighter pantheon that basically amounted to Capcom going, “HEY SNK THIS IS YOU DUHHH DUHHH DUHHH.”


Above: DUHHH


Above: Horrible Engrish courtesy of our vague memories of SNK’s early ‘90s translations


Some of his fans might not realize this, but Dan’s ignominious beginnings predate the Street Fighter Alpha series by at least a year. Sure, his name maybe wasn’t Dan yet, and his gi was orange (much like Ryo’s), but the sad figure whose face Sagat is clenching in this piece of official Street Fighter II art is unmistakably Dan.


Above: Seriously, just look at him.


After seeing Dan’s first real appearance, you could be forgiven for thinking he was just another experimental palette-swap of Ryu. Casual players probably wouldn’t even see playing as him as anything other than a chance to play as Sagat’s underpowered punching bag.

 

 


Above: Again, the gi might be orange, but that’s clearly Dan

There wasn’t anything to clearly indicate he was supposed to be a joke, apart from maybe the crappy fireball and reliance on taunts. He even had Ryu’s voice, and the ponytail looked a little more like Ken’s than Robert Garcia’s. Not much of Dan’s bizarre personality showed through, either – this Dan was all business.

In terms of his appearance, he looked a little younger and softer than the Dan we’ve come to know, although apart from the lack of bushy eyebrows it’s hard to tell the difference between this and his later incarnations.


Above: First appearance of the Gadouken, aka The Worst Fireball Ever

This was also the beginning of Dan’s story; years earlier, Sagat flew into a rage and murdered Dan’s father after the elder Hibiki blinded him in one eye during a fight. Dan, naturally, wants revenge, although his idea of revenge doesn’t seem to extend beyond defeating Sagat in a fair fight. He wouldn’t achieve that goal in Street Fighter Alpha, but his weird loser’s luck would change dramatically in the sequel.


Above: Bison has a rare talent for understatement


Not only did Dan stop being a secret character in the second Alpha – he was right there in the friggin’ intro, exploding into gamers’ hearts and minds in a way none of the other characters could. This was also where Dan’s appearance came together more cohesively, creating a look that the bushy-eyebrowed, slightly overweight goofball would stick with for a good chunk of his career.

 



Above: HOW YOU LIKE ME NOW, ASSBUTTS!?

Looks aside, Dan actually got his own voice this time around, enabling fans to hear him screaming, among other things, “OYAJI!” (Japanese for “dad”) for the first time. Alpha 2 was also, to the best of our knowledge, the first time he started using Yuri Sakazaki’s thumbs-up, hips-at-45-degrees “YOYUUSU!” pose as a victory stance.


Above: Nope, the Gadouken hasn’t improved any

It was also in Alpha 2 that Dan’s character and narrative really started to take shape. After being denied a canon confrontation with Sagat in Street Fighter Alpha, Dan finally got his wish and faced down the killer who’d presumably ruined his childhood.

Street Fighter canon states that Sagat, regretful of his actions, threw the fight and let Dan win. That sure seems like the only way a weakling like Dan could overcome a towering hulk like Sagat, but whatever the case he was too overjoyed to notice how hollow his victory was. And rather than simply accepting the fulfillment of his quest, Dan immediately let the victory go to his head.

Convinced of his superior talents, Dan founds the Saikyo dojo and begins to teach his own self-taught, mostly worthless martial art to the world. Or, failing that, to any poor sap who’ll sign up. A pink gi is included with membership.

This is only the beginning of Dan’s real history. It’s also where things start to get weird.

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26 comments

  • XNam360 - March 11, 2013 7:37 p.m.

    Dan = Steven Seagal
  • Nikku7 - October 14, 2012 3:16 p.m.

    Wow, I had forgotten how freakin great these old articles actually were. Totally worth a re-read any day. If you can hear me GR, MORE PICS WITH AWESOME CAPTIONS PLEASE! Also... Harun says, "Let's CARD BATTLE!" retsu ca-do batoru!
  • 2cute2Bcruel - February 9, 2011 11:46 p.m.

    This is one of the funniest articles that GamesRadar had ever done. The captions are great.
  • bidigamesradar - September 6, 2009 3:08 a.m.

    More secret hidden in Dan's sleeves.
  • BizarrePuppet - August 21, 2009 8:31 p.m.

    Ah Dan... The best and the brightest.
  • Mr.Epic64 - March 9, 2009 2:24 p.m.

    DAMN, SON. I laughed so hard at that.
  • deathrebellion - February 27, 2009 11:11 a.m.

    Popeye lolzzz
  • sadowolf - February 24, 2009 6:36 p.m.

    @ Johnny6Gun its dan in the orange gi. sagat killed go hibiki in the same battle where he was blinded, so it wouldnt make sense that hes wearing an eye patch in the picture. not to mention that its sf2 artwork, and the fight happened long before then. besides, go hibiki's gi has always been depicted as green =P
  • fergfighter - February 22, 2009 1:18 p.m.

    @skelt. DO NOT INSULT PINK POLO'S!!!
  • candyman - February 21, 2009 10:33 p.m.

    This is what GR is famous for.
  • Sonneilon - February 21, 2009 9:01 p.m.

    I REALLY enjoyed this article. I had no idea he had such a history. Sure, I just played thru some of the SF2 games, an Alpha here and there, SF vs X-Men... I remember first time I 'met' Dan, I thought he was Ryu/Ken knockoff. His fireball sucked! Reading all this. I'm not sure what GamesRadar is doing here. Great article but it feels like an ad to go buy and play ALL the games that were referenced!
  • Hunter2458 - February 21, 2009 5:39 p.m.

    You should touch on Dan's appearance in the animate Street Fighter movies, pretty funny seeing him try to fight Akuma and stuff. ReCaptcha Konta $140,000
  • Vagrant - February 21, 2009 2:55 a.m.

    Good article. Interesting and wif some funnies. (Sakura's bigger energy ball and the phone bill thing were classic) I'd like to comment more in-depth than that, but I don't know my beat 'em ups well enough.
  • drprofessor - February 21, 2009 2:08 a.m.

    Hey Dan is almost passable in SF4.......almost. His legendary taunt is the stuff of well legends.
  • skelt - February 21, 2009 12:24 a.m.

    what dan wears is the equivalent of wearing a pink polo in real life
  • PCG_Evan - February 20, 2009 11:27 p.m.

    The most comprehensive history of Dan I've ever seen. Do Sagat!
  • Johnny6Gun - February 20, 2009 11:20 p.m.

    The man in the orange gi is Dan's dad, who was killed by Sagat after he took his eye in combat.
  • VaneTrago - May 5, 2009 8:52 p.m.

    Ever since his first incarnation, Dan has and always will be my absolute favorite character in the SF universe. Most people laugh at him and brush him off, but I'll give you a reason to respect him. More and more I've been showing this online in SF4, and if you truly doubt Dan's abilities to destroy all comers by all means, add me. And don't shrug off his Gadoken, or you may perish by it. It's dangerous. P.S. While CVS2:MF has a substantially fleshed out roster at 46 characters, MVC2 has 56, making it still the king.
  • Clownsarescary - February 24, 2009 4:17 p.m.

    Wait, Dan's the token gay guy of street fighter, isn't he? A bit like Zangief's the token Russian bear wrestler? Capcom: they've got the demographics licked.
  • thochaos - February 23, 2009 6:25 a.m.

    Awesome. Dan is the greatest. Is his quote from Millennium Fight from Pink's song "There You Go" perhaps? The colour fits...

Showing 1-20 of 26 comments

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