"Attack me if you dare, I will crush you!" —Ken
Ken Masters (ケン) is a video game character created by Capcom. He is one of the main characters from the Street Fighter series of fighting games alongside Ryu. Although this has been debated by fans, Ken is also stated to be the second most popular character in the series, coming second to Ryu.
While Ryu is the serious and stoic of the two, Ken is the complete opposite. He's flashy, unorthodox, and unpredictable. He can also can be very egotistical,arrogant and short tempered at times. But he is actually a good guy and very easy going. He never backs down from a fight no matter how difficult it looks. He always gives his opponents, whether it be his master Gouken, his main rival Ryu, or his Capcom vs Snk rival, Terry Bogard, the utmost respect. He is also a worrywort when it comes to his family; he nearly didn't enter the tournament in Street Fighter IV because he didn't want to leave Eliza so close to her due date, and only entered when she assured him she'd be fine. He still called her to check in and tell her to be careful on stairs.
Ken is most easily recognized by his sparring gloves (yellow in the Alpha Series, red or brown elsewhere) and bright red karate gi with the arms ripped off, similar to Ryu's (Capcom has said that a red gi was chosen to stand out and to reflect his more flashy style of fighting). His gi is usually seen in better shape than Ryu's, since he can easily afford to keep up with and/or own spares. His hair is blonde (some sources indicate that his hair may in fact be dyed; evidenced that some of his sprites and official artwork depict him with black eyebrows) and has long eyebrows. He wears a black belt at his waist and fights barefooted. In the Street Fighter Alpha series, he had longer hair that he tied back with a red ribbon into a ponytail. The official explanation for the loss of the ribbon is that he gave it to Ryu to wear during the events of Street Fighter Alpha 2 (as stated in Ken's own ending); Ryu was distracted during his fight with Ken because he had just fought Akuma, and ended up losing. Ken gave Ryu the headband to remind him of their fight.
When Ken was about 12 years old, his father, a rich hotel tycoon, thought that his son needed to learn about discipline, or his son will become a spoiled brat all of his life and try to leech onto the Masters' family fortune. In order to do so, the elder Masters sent Ken to Japan to train under his best friend, the mysterious karate master Gouken. At first, Ken was very hesitant to learn from Gouken, wanting to go back to the United States, but later began to respect his master. He even enjoyed the company of Gouken's adopted son, Ryu, since he had a foil to finally pull pranks on, although this got Ken into a lot of trouble. Ryu and Ken would later become best friends and each other's principal rivals.
When Ryu was 23, Gouken decided that both of his pupils had grown up to be fine fighters and decided that their training was over and could now leave the dojo. Ryu decided to travel the world in order to continue his training, whereas Ken was finally happy to be going back home to the United States after his years of straining his back for master Gouken and finally learning the meaning of humility. After coming home, Ken competed in many different Martial Arts tournaments held in the United States, winning most of them.
Street Fighter Alpha Edit
Ken did not participate in the first Street Fighter tournament; instead, he fought in (and won) the premiere U.S. Martial Arts tournament that had been previously won by Charlie, as well as meeting a very attractive girl named Eliza, who became his girlfriend.
After winning the U.S. martial arts tournament, Ken returned to his training ground to tell his master Gouken the good news. There he witnessed his master's death at the hands of Akuma. Enraged and grief stricken, he attacked Akuma, only to be defeated.
He began wandering the world in search of Akuma, and his friend and fellow student Ryu. He wanted to tell Ryu what happened to their master and also hoped to win a match against him. He eventually finds Ryu in seclusion. Ryu is dejected upon seeing his long-time friend, but Ken makes him go try out a spar anyway. After winning, Ken realizes how stressed out his best friend is since his fight with Sagat. Ryu explains to Ken that deep within him there is a burning rage- a power trying to overcome him. Giving Ryu his red headband, Ken tells him to stay focused, which greatly cheers Ryu up. Ken returns home and begins training harder. Knowing even with his recent feelings, that Ryu is always stronger than he looks.
Ken begins to wonder about his own life. Ryu seemed to be on the right track again, but what of him? Along the way to prove himself again, he encounters Karin who tells him she has followed his career and is trying to best her rival Sakura to prove she is superior. Ken advises her it's good to have a rival, but not for supremacy, but to keep on training harder and focusing. With this, Ken finds himself again and is focused once more. Going off to meet up with Sakura, they too have a friendly match and Ken finally realizes that Ryu has the right idea all along. Both he and Sakura begin to travel to find Ryu, but find out that he's being brainwashed by the dictator M. Bison. Ken and Sakura both take Bison on together to distract him as Sagat (who had come along to also find Ryu struggling against Bison) took Ryu under control. Ryu eventually came to his senses and confronted and defeated Bison, destroying him temporarily. Then Ryu talked to each of his friends and told Ken to wait for his rematch, knowing he still had much to learn. Ken himself promised to train harder.
Street Fighter II Edit
Ken received an invitation to the second Street Fighter tournament but since his last U.S. Martial Arts tournament, he had let himself spend too much time with his girlfriend, Eliza, rather than training. Only Ryu's personal challenge rekindled Ken's fighting spirit and persuaded him to enter the second World Warrior tournament. After the events of Street Fighter II, Ken is married to Eliza, something he vowed only to do after winning a decisive victory against Ryu. However it is unknown if the two fought during the tournament, or if Ken actually won. No details have been stated, although it is implied that Ken won the fight.
Street Fighter III Edit
Ken then entered the third Street Fighter tournament. By this time, a Brazilian teenager named Sean had been pestering him to become his student, and Ken reluctantly accepted, beginning to train him. He fought Sean and won against him in the tournament, however during the course of it, he drops out when realizing Ryu was defeated by Oro. Ken begins to train his son Mel in rudimentary fighting techniques. He also told Sean to go find Ryu and challenge him, giving him some free time with Eliza.
Though bored, Ken hears about a mysterious organization and goes to investigate, and may have confronted Urien. He does win his third straight U.S. Martial Arts tournament victory, which is a new record, and offers the trophy to Sean, although his student says he wishes to earn it for himself. He also learned that Ryu had sought him out and traveled all the way to New York from Oakland for their long-awaited rematch. Tossing some friendly jabs at each other, both have a good fight. Since then, Ken has continued to train Sean and Mel, handle his family and business, and keep up with his old friend Ryu.
In the original Street Fighter, and in the first iteration of Street Fighter II, Ken was identical to Ryu, in terms of game play, with only one attack (a throw) appearing to be aesthetically different. In later Street Fighter II editions, Ken's character was modified to be a variant of Ryu, using modified versions of Ryu's special attacks, though his animations and other attacks were still very similar to Ryu's, as Ken's sprite is always a head swap of Ryu. In the original version of this game, the only way to effectively have two characters with similar abilities fight each other was to have one player play as Ryu and the other play as Ken.
With the advent of "mirror matches" (same character vs.) in Street Fighter II: Champion Edition, Capcom needed to vary the two characters' playing styles a bit. Ryu was given a stronger, faster Hadouken and a one-hit knockdown Tatsumaki Senpuukyaku, while Ken was given a wider arcing Shoryuken and a multi-hit Tatsumaki Senpuukyaku (In the "Marvel vs Capcom" series, the Tatsumaki Senpuukyaku went on an angle, making it effective against airborne opponents). In Super Street Fighter II, Ken began deviating from Ryu further being given a multi-hit flaming Shoryuken. In the next SFII installment, Super Street Fighter II Turbo, Ken was given the super combo Shouryuu Reppa (which was simply Ken's Jab and Strong Dragon Punches chained together) and a number of different command kicks, plus a new jumping Forward and a Knee Bash hold. These command kicks would be incorporated as the standard move list in the Street Fighter Alpha series, but remain commands in all others.
Ken mainly focuses on the Shoryuken move, to the point where his Shoryukens set the opponent on fire. Ken's Tatsumaki Senpuukyaku does not allow him to dodge projectiles at the start of the spin, but spins faster, allows him to hit his opponent up to five times. Ken's Hadouken attacks are less concentrated than Ryu's, but Ken's Shoryuken is more powerful.
Super Arts Edit
By Street Fighter III, Ken has two Shōryūken Super Arts (Shōryū-reppa and Shinryūken) and Shippu Jinrai Kyaku, and in Street Fighter EX 3, he has a "meteor combo" (a Level 3 super-combo) called Kuzūryu-reppa (九頭龍裂破, "Nine-headed Dragon Destroyer"), a mix of his other three Super Arts. Kuzūryu-reppa would be seen again in SVC Chaos: SNK vs. Capcom with it being one of Violent Ken's supers this time.
Ken's super moves consist of the Shōryū-reppa ("Rising Dragon Destroyer"), in which Ken does two or three Shōryūken; the Shinryūken ("Divine Dragon Fist"), a spinning vertical flaming Shoryuken (dedicated to his master Gouken, who Ken thought was dead at the time) that lacks range, but does greater damage and more hits, especially if the kick buttons are pressed rapidly; and the most recent addition to his move-list since Street Fighter III — the Shippū-Jinrai-Kyaku (疾風迅雷脚, "Gale Thunderclap Kick"), which Ken does a flurry of kicks before ending with a vertical Tatsumaki-Senpū-Kyaku (a diagonally vertical Tatsumaki-Senpū-Kyaku in Street Fighter Alpha Anthology's port of SFA3).
In Super Street Fighter IV Ken's 2nd Ultra is the Guren Senpu Kyaku, a move similar to Shippū-Jinrai-Kyaku visually. Ken charges toward his opponent in an angled Hurricane Kick with a fire effect. Ken then adds one more kick at the end "for good measure".
Violent Ken Edit
Violent Ken is an alternate version of Ken that appears in SVC Chaos: SNK vs. Capcom. This Ken has absorbed Orochi power from the King of Fighters series and thus making Violent Ken. He was inspired by Sennou Ken (Brainwashed Ken in Japanese), which was depicted in Street Fighter II: The Animated Movie, which M. Bison induced a considerable amount of Psycho Power to transform Ken into a killing machine. Though Brainwashed Ken has little to do with the Satsui no Hadou, Ken, while fighting against this form in game, wonders if, deep down, he desires this.
However, Violent Ken also used purple flames instead of regular ones in his Shoryuken, which is a feature of Akuma's Hadokens and Shoryukens from the Marvel vs. Capcom series, and a pillar of energy appeared at the end of his Exceed move, which is a feature of Rugal's DMs from The King of Fighters series.
While his original voice was a re-use of the Ryu audio samples, beginning with Super Street Fighter II Ken's voice was performed by Kenji Haga, who also did his voice in the Street Fighter II anime movie. Tetsuya Iwanaga did Ken's voice in the Street Fighter Alpha series, and Koji Tobe did Ken's voice in the Street Fighter III games. In SVC Chaos: SNK vs. Capcom, he was voiced by Atsushi "Monster" Maezuka. He was voiced by Scott McNeil in the Street Fighter animated series. He was voiced by Kazuya Ichijo in Japanese and Steven Blum in the dub for the Street Fighter Alpha movie. In Street Fighter II V, he was voiced by Jimmy Theodore and in Street Fighter II: the movie, he was voiced by Eddie Frierson. In Street Fighter IV, he is to be voiced by Reuben Langdon in the English version, who also voices Dante from the Devil May Cry series.
Damian Chapa portrayed Ken in the 1994 Street Fighter movie, where he is a conartist alongside Ryu. After the two unsuccessfully try to scam Shadaloo Tong leader, Sagat, they are arrested by Allied Nations forces. Guile offers them their freedom in exchange for infiltrating Bison's base (to whom Sagat runs guns) and revealing its location so that the AN can make a military strike and free the hostages captured earlier in the film.
Ken and Ryu are forced to betray the vengeful GNT news-crew (Chun Li, Balrog and Honda) in order to gain Bison's trust but later try to free them and are captured. When Guile eventually infiltrates Sagat's base and chaos ensues Ryu and Ken try to help free the hostages but split up when the AN forces arrive (according to Ken the soldiers get paid and that they should not risk their lives). Ken later comes to Ryu's aid when he is ambushed by Vega and Sagat. While Ryu kills Vega, Ken defeats Sagat and drops a heavy golden statue on his hands parting him with the line: "If I hadn't met you, I might have become you."
Interestingly Ken and Sagat are portrayed as rivals, switching the usual scenario from the games where Ryu and Sagat are rivals, with Ryu's rivalry switched to Vega.
Christian Howard played Ken in Street Fighter: Leagcy which was co-directed by Joey Ansah and Owen Trevor.