Street Fighter Week: The evolution of Chun-Li and Blanka

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Street Fighter II|Alpha series|Street Fighter III|EX series|Marvel vs. Capcom series|SNK vs. Capcom series|SF: The Movie and Gem Fighter|Sprite comparison|SSFIITHDR and Street Fighter IV|Comics and cosplay|Film, figures, and more

Chun-Li, a Chinese crime fighting vixen with Sequoias for thighs, is the first female character ever to appear in a 1-on-1 fighter. This distinction, however, is merely a side note in the story of her rise to fame, which ultimately branded her as one of the greatest fighters of gaming, and inspired countless future game heroines.

Blanka, also one of the original eight playable characters in Street Fighter II, never quite approached Chun-Li's popularity, but has gained a strongfan following nevertheless. Oh, and he could totally beat up The Hulk.

To welcome the return of Chun-Li and Blanka in Street Fighter IV, we're taking a peek at their pasts - in games, comics, cosplay, and more.

This is part of a week-long series of Street Fighter retrospectives -click herefor more, and be sure to check outThe evolution of Ken and Ryu!

Street Fighter II - 1991

Street Fighter II ultimately made the series what it is, partially due to the inclusion of eight playable characters (Ken and Ryu were the only playable characters in the original). Among them, of course, were the voluptuous Chun-Li and monstrous Blanka, who were cordially invited to the second World Warrior tourney.

The art to the right represent's Chun-Li's depiction on the character select screens of SF II original (top), SF II Championship Edition (middle) and Super SF II (bottom). The orange qipao (a traditional Chinese dress, which Chun-Li wears a modification of) in the top image was the original intent for the character. The blue stuck (not accounting for paletteswapped versions), however, as apparent in the Championship Edition portrait. The refinements from there to Super are unambiguous - her pose has been shifted from modest to direct, her ears pierced, and the pattern on her qipao refined, among other stylistic changes.

Above: Chun-Li concept art from SF II Turbo

Above: Chun-Li normal (left) versus Chun-Li Super SF II (right)

Blanka's original Street Fighter II character art (right)... leaves a little something to be desired. The concept is there - green skin, orange mane, and a ferocious set of chompers, but it isn't until Super Street Fighter II that he's perfected. Look at the rage in that face! And the veins, so many veins!

On the left wesee Blanka's continue screen in SF II Championship Edition, includedbecause we couldn't not include it.

Blanka's SF II story explains his origin - his name was once Jimmy, a little white boy who was stranded in Brazil after a plane crash. We think something involving plants caused his skin to turn green, and eels gave him his electrical properties... for the sake of simplicity, let's just say that Blanka is "one with nature." Growing up in the jungle does weird things to you.

In the end, Blanka is reunited with his mother, who recognizes his anklets. Sweet, isn't it?

Above: Super Blanka versus Super Turbo Blanka (gray)

Trivia: Chun-Li's name means "Spring Beauty" (literally "Spring Beautiful").

Associate Editor, Digital at PC Gamer